By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood April 23, 2014 at 10:00AM
Eva von Schweinitz is a Brooklyn based interdisciplinary artist, working in theater, film, and interactive media. Holding a B.A. in screenwriting, she has expanded her interest in storytelling into exploring ways of using media as a narrative device and technology as a performatic tool. She is a 2014 MFA candidate at the Performance and Interactive Media Arts program at Brooklyn College. (Press materials)
The 16-minute "A Film Is a Film Is a Film" will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23.
Please give us your description of the film playing.
"A Film Is A Film Is A Film" is about creativity, passion, patience, and focus. These qualities are inherent to working with film; they are something that it teaches you. I spent countless hours in the dark room to get the chemical formula right, as well as the order of the process and the timing. Something about the developing process is innately magical. The fact that you have something in your hands that is there, but that you can't see yet, and that will disappear if you try to look at it too soon, reminds me of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Many a time, I turned into Orpheus, and my Eurydices vanished into nothingness, leaving me with clear strips of film, and the only difference was that I never knew, was never able to see, what I had lost before it disappeared. An hour of work, gone.
Ultimately, "A Film Is A Film Is A Film" is about time. It's about fleeting moments, it's about aging, and about the turning wheels of history.
What drew you to this story?
The inspiration to create this documentary came from the urge to record a moment in history. While many written pieces appeared about the death of celluloid and the developments in the film industry, I felt the necessity to offer a direct view, a visual report from the projection booths, a place I've known and loved for many years, and where, worldwide, a drastic shift was occurring. When full functioning 35mm projectors began to be removed from movie theaters around me, I just had to pick up a camera and document this change. So my particular point of view and my personal and emotional connection to the topic became the catalyst to tell this story. I wanted to allow the audience a glimpse into the occurrences behind the scenes of the movies they were watching.
Further, I kept asking myself: What does all this mean? What does it mean that we're constantly moving away from the analog into the digital? Then what are we going to do with our physical bodies? I'm a child of the digital age myself, yet I didn't and still don't want to miss celluloid film. I began to investigate its particularities and uniqueness by working with it creatively. My intention is to show why the loss of this beautiful material is worth caring about.
What was the biggest challenge?
To continue working on my film, while in grad school, was difficult. I had started shooting a few months before I began my MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts at Brooklyn College, and had to figure out how to make room for it in my academic life. I took a couple of Independent Studies and little by little worked my way forward. Eventually, I scheduled 60 to 90 minute sessions into my mornings to finish the edit. So I guess the short answer would be: Get up early!
What advice do you have for other female directors?
I can only pass on what I took home from a masterclass with Christine Vachon: Don't ask for permission! For me, this meant that I didn't wait for someone to tell me that I was talented or capable enough to make this film. I knew that I wanted to tell this story, so I pushed any doubts or insecurities aside, and went for it. There is no need for approval from anyone before you start a project, and even during it, other than your own passion driving you forward. There is no threshold between you and your first step towards making your film, whatever that first step may be, and between the next step, and the one after that. Also, you have to ask for things. Often, it turns out, people are not bothered, but happy to help, and excited to become part of a project that you're glowing for. Even if they're bothered, it's still okay to ask. Just don't ask for permission! This has become my mantra. Don't apologize for your desire to create something. It's a given.
Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest
challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution
mechanisms for films?
The internet certainly has opened up a lot of opportunities in terms of getting yourself out there, be it through crowdsourced financing or self-distribution. The bigger challenge is to get noticed in the ocean of uncurated content.
Name your favorite women directed film and why.
There are many to love. One of them is Wendy and Lucy by Kelly Reichardt. It's a film about a young woman with a dog, an old car, and no money. She decides to drive up from Indiana to Alaska to find work, but inevitably the fact that she is poor poses a lot of challenges, including feeding her dog. It's a simple story with a strong female character, painting a picture of a precarious society. It left a lasting impression because it's told so close to the protagonist and spends time on how much effort it takes for her to fulfill most basic needs. It is agonizing and moving, but it never victimizes Wendy.