Thursday, October 27, 2011
Filmmaker Marc Buhmann
What is the current project you are working on?
My current project is a feature film version of a web series I did called "Genrefinity". It was supposed to be seven episodes and we had planned to shoot all of them in 2009. But then my son was born, and the actors had other things going on in their personal lives, so we only managed to complete four over a two year period. Scheduling conflicts was the main reason for this.
How do you measure success?
I would say success is doing what you love. I love filmmaking and telling stories. I love helping breath live into characters. In that respect I feel very successful. It would be nice to focus on filmmaking exclusively, but I haven't achieved that yet.
How do you handle rejection?
They say in this business you need a thick skin, and that's very true. My first feature film got some very good reviews from indie critics, while viewers on Netflix and whatnot blasted it. You can't read too much into it though. There will always be people who like your work and others that don't.
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
No. I originally wanted to be a computer programmer but during college I realized I didn't want to sit in front of a computer all day working code.
What inspired you to become filmmaker?
After I realized I didn't want to get a computer science degree I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. During a break I sat down and watched The Abyss. This was in '96. I had seen it in the theater but it never had left much of an impression, but for some reason during this second viewing I was inspired to pursue filmmaking. I now consider the special edition one of Cameron's best works.
What is the best thing about being one?
I love the idea of creating a world. It can be identical to the real world, or you can make it wholly unique and strange. Working with talented people to bring this world and the characters that inhabit to life is such an amazing and gratifying feeling it's hard to put into words.
What is the worst thing about being one?
I absolutely hate the development stage. Primarily trying to find funding. It's something you're never taught how to do and is a very complicated process. I was always told after you successfully complete a feature film it gets easier. Not so. At least not in my experience. Though the recession could be to blame for that since it was in 2008, and it was at this time I started working on finding funding for my second feature film.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
Of my own released projects nine and that includes my feature and short films. I have helped on a lot of other projects though.
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
I have several. James Cameron is a big one. He's probably the best at directing action films. You have a lot of directors who use close shaky shots to try and create action, but Cameron has this amazing ability to just pull back and let you see things in long shots and they are much more effective than not seeing what's going on in close-up. David Lynch is another. His stuff is so creepy and beautiful to look at. I think one of the most artistic directors at the moment is Darren Aronofsky. While it wasn't a box office winner for him, The Fountain is probably one of the most brilliant films of the past decade.
How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?
It really hasn't. I still have a day job because filmmaking doesn't pay the bills. I've lived in the same home with my wife since 2005. The only big difference is we've had one son with another on the way.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?
Keep at it. You will be discouraged and want to quit, but if you're truly passionate about filmmaking keep at it. Write if you can or do shorts. Just keep at it.
What do you like to do besides filmmaking?
I like all forms of entertainment. Music, computer games and television. Reading. But most of my free time these days is focused on spending time with my family.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?
I've had several different types of day jobs but for the last eight years I've worked as a freelancer. This allows me more free time to pursue filmmaking when I want.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
I've already mentioned The Abyss and The Fountain. I love Amelie. Lynch's Twin Peaks was brilliant except for that middle portion of season two. I'm in the "love it" came with Lost, and I think Fringe is probably one of the best shows on television now.
How would you describe your film education?
I went to Columbia College in Chicago. I'd say it was a typical education. Most of the instructors worked in their fields so that was really helpful.
How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?
That's hard to say since I'm not really involved in that scene. I sort of do my own thing. It's nowhere near as big as LA or New York, but we do have a lot of talented filmmakers and actors here.
How has social media changed the independent film industry?
Social media allows for indie filmmakers a greater chance of getting their work out there. It's still really hard to interest people who are used to big budget Hollywood pictures to low budget films, but with social media makes it a little easier to have your work discovered.
What's your opinion on crowdfunding?
I like the concept of it, and we're trying it for our current project. (Kickstarter campaign is still going on at http://kck.st/nTSG44.) The big appeal is that you don't have investors or distributors to answer to. People invest in your project because they believe in what you're doing and want to be a part of it and not from a business standpoint. They believe in what you're doing and your only responsibility is to not disappoint them, but you can make your film any way you see fit.
How does independent film differ from the mainstream?
The only major difference is indie filmmakers don't have to play it as safe as mainstream films because we're not working with $100+ million budgets. Very few mainstream films are willing to challenge the audience because they have so much invested in their projects. As a low budget filmmaker I have more freedom to try and challenge the audience, and try and create something unique.
You could go back in time and see any film being made. Which film would it be and why?
Touch of Evil without a doubt. I would love to see how Wells directed that opening ten minutes as a single shot with cameras of that era.
What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?
Sequels are okay if they are expanding on the original story and not there just to capitalize on it. Remakes are just stupid. Not only is it an insult to the original film and the talented people that made it, it also shows a complete lack of creativity on the part of those remaking it.
What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?
If it can be done well I have no problem with it. I even worked with an author in adapting one of his books, and while it was looked at by some people in the industry it never happened. The main reason for this was because in the third act the stories focus shifts to a secondary character for a while and they didn't like that. But in the context of this story it worked and I wouldn't change it. Not to say I'm even remotely like Hitchcock, but it's sort of like Janet Leigh in Psycho. She was the biggest name in that film, and what does Hitchcock do? He kills her off in the first forty minutes completely throwing the audience off. We weren't doing anything that bold, but it was necessary for the character in the adaptation to become secondary for a time.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Support indie filmmakers because that's where you're going to find truly original content. It may not have the gloss of Hollywood, but they can be much more rewarding.