Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ben Of "Ornana Films"

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/64493407 w=500&h=281]

Why did you create "Ornana Films"?

Ornana started as an umbrella to make films under as a group of friends. Really, that is what it still is. We’ve all known each other for years and have become trusted collaborators through working on each other’s projects.

What is the current project you are working on?

We just self-released our first feature, euphonia, after premiering it at SxSw this March. It is available for free on Vimeo. We are working on putting together a little fall tour for the film to screen at film programs and be able to talk to students about the film, and how it was made.

We are also a year into production on a new hand-drawn animated short, Confusion Through Sand. It is story of modern desert warfare, done on gorgeous recycled paper. We are hoping to have it finished in time for next year’s festival season, as long as we don’t have to take any shortcuts in production or post-production. We believe deeply that you only make each film once, and you have to take that opportunity to do everything for it. Not that you can make something “perfect”—but I can’t imagine watching your own film and wishing you had worked a little harder.

How does it feel when your films win an award?

We always feel appreciative. When someone gives you an award, they’ve watched your work and had a genuine connection to the film. Making films is a little like driving at night, recognition can be a nice sign that you’re going in the right direction. I think it is the connection though, that is most satisfying. I deeply appreciate anyone who takes their time to give something we made a careful watch.

Where do you see independent film going in the future?

The digital world is a little like the wild west, but with no gold rush. I think there are going to be a lot of heroes and a handful of villains to come out of this transition. First hand, I’ve seen tremendous, hard-working, talented filmmakers that are creating staggering work. In the last year, I’ve cried more times in the movie theater watching small independent films (These Birds Walk, Call Me Kuchu, In the Family…) then I have the rest of my life combined.

The issue is how do we make sure these amazing creators can have viable, sustaining careers. There are plenty of great folks working on that problem too—new projects like Simple Machine and Elevision, as well as more established groups working on progress like Vimeo and everything involving Ted Hope. I think there is a lot of opportunity in the new independent film landscape, but we need to figure out monetization and how we can scale it. I hope these changes bring a lot more artistic freedom for the filmmakers and that we can narrow the gap between ourselves and the audience, make theses changes in community. Cultivating and growing the platforms will be as much of a challenge as building them. It will be all of our responsibility as filmmakers, media, and audience members to create the independent film world that we want to see.

What do you want people to take away after they watch your films?

On the wall at our office I put up a quote by the Portuguese poet Machado, “Wanderer—there is no path; the path is made by walking.” I think that message is in all of our films. If someone can walk out of euphonia and feel inspired to go home and do something genuine (in whatever their own polymath form is), then we have added into the positive feedback loop of creative inspiration. I just hope people can watch our films and want to create a path for themselves.


Thanks for doing the interview Ben.  I applaud you and the Ornana crew for releasing euphonia for free. It's great that anyone, and everyone can see this film.