Friday, 8 June 2018

Interview with filmmaker Joseph Snyder

Tent City & Serendipity will be screening at Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films? I have been making films since I’ve been very young, around 10 or eleven. At first, they were silly films for my friends and classmates. I continued making videos casually and decided to enroll in the Peck School of Arts at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where I began taking film more serious and focusing on documentary cinema. With documentaries, I find that I can throw away my voice, and instead work with the voices and personalities of those who live fascinating and authentic lives. 

*What inspired you to make your movie? My inspiration for my films is based on what I witness when I venture around the cities where I live. Serendipity was inspired by the housing projects (where we shot the interior apartment scene) and seeing the influence of alcohol and drugs on the Milwaukee community. For Tent City, I would drive by the various tent cities surrounding the Chicago area and began to get curious what they are like. I have always had an affinity for individuals experiencing homelessness, so when living in Chicago, the tent cities immediately caught my eye. 

*How has your style evolved? My style has evolved drastically throughout my short career. Originally, I intended to make genre fiction such as comedy or horror films, but found it far more interesting to explore social issues within the urban area. My attention to detail, my approach and my camera work have changed drastically as well, making a keen focus to pay attention to the experience I am attempting to convey. 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film? My whole experience with the late Jeb Platt, the main subject in Serendipity, was very memorable. An ex alcoholic turned alcohol abuse counselor, he would often take me to his sessions where I would film and observe him counselling individuals experiencing homelessness. In fact, the film’s name comes from a catch phrase that Jeb would often state, claiming after every good luck we had to be “serendipity, my friend”. 

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind? The Misrule Film Movement and Pink8 provide for alternative filmmaking means that rely on visual truth rather than conventional or approachable forms of filmmaking. While the tradition of filmmaking is always relegated to the technology of its time, filmmakers are now embracing current forms of technology to film, that which is often times discounted. From the early days of cinema, DIY cinema has provided the bases for new and innovative forms of storytelling within cinema. Unfortunately, as large scale multi-million dollar productions become the standard (even as far as “independent” cinema) and the former methods of distribution (such as theatre chains) focus on profitability making oligarchical contracts that prohibit “pure” independent cinema from being screened, the world of underground cinema is now relegated to the newest and most accessible form of distribution; the internet. We need more people that appreciate “pure” forms of cinema such as Fabrizio Federico and the Pink8 film movement, so that new and upcoming filmmakers can embrace their passion for filmmaking, and create a community without the burden of adhering to an exclusive market. As the digital age progresses, filmmakers can now take a hold of their creative freedom like never before and hopefully change the paradigm for how cinema is seen and understood. 

*What can we expect from your next film? I plan to make travel films, bringing a camera to interesting and relevant locations that I can fly to and stay for cheap and explore with my camera. I want to film that which I am not accustomed to, and find stories in an environment that I know very little about. I’m still making a decision, however, on the list is Tulum, Mexico or filming the volcanoes in Hawaii or Guatemala and taking true accounts of the destruction and the experiences of those whose lives were destroyed. I also will be seeking to make a true crime documentary, however, due to logistical issues I have put that on the backburner for now.