Deep in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Washington, on Main Street, you’ll find the Kiggins Theatre, run by a small team of film lovers, including today’s guests, Dan Wyatt and Richard Beer. From storytelling and searching for meaning to the changing nature of audiences and the cinematic experience, our conversation weaves between a multitude of topics. There’s a lot here about the struggles and triumphs of running an independent theater in an industry owned by giant corporations. You’ll get a glimpse into community building and grassroots marketing at its finest. Not to mention a healthy list of films to watch after you listen to the show.
There is something magical about music and how it brings a film to life. From a melody that finds an emotional and psychological connection to characters to the unique soul of instruments, music goes deeper than other storytelling mediums faster. Ian Honeyman is a composer, music producer, and multi-instrumentalist with over 60 feature film and TV credits. In this conversation, he talks about how he comes up with ideas, his interest in unique instruments from around the world, and the secret to creating music and telling stories. He also has a lot of great advice for directors on how they can work with composers.
When I think about people who love movies, my friend and today’s guest Kyle Shold instantly comes to mind. An illustrator by trade, who created the fantastic poster for this podcast, he uses his passion for film and storytelling tools—from cinematography to scores—to influence his work. In this conversation, we cover a lot of ground, from his first cinematic memory that sparked his imagination to the score that fuels his creativity. We also talk about how movies shift through time, the differences between physical and streaming media, and why quality and control are crucial elements in curating your film library.
How do you reclaim and redefine the stories and American iconography present in films? Kanani Koster is a filmmaker from Portland, Oregon, flipping the script and telling stories that explore race, power, and privilege with violence, gore, and brutality, without feeding collective trauma. From her early days in Seattle meeting amazing mentors to the community atmosphere and punk vibe of Portland, Oregon, Kanani brings her imagination to life by collaborating and ensuring that her team challenges and checks one another’s perceptions and ideas.
With over 8,000 and counting film festivals worldwide, how will you make sure your film gets into the right festivals? Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith is the founder of The Film Festival Doctor, a company that helps filmmakers create a focused film festival strategy, including planning, organization, logistics, and support. Suppose you are a filmmaker who hasn’t considered the life-changing impact of film festivals. Rebekah is adamant that you’ll discover community and new voices, not to mention the chance to polish your film’s vision.
Never before in the entire history of cinema has animation been more crucial to film and television production. Not to mention technologically possible and affordable for artists around the world. From his early days programming draw functions in computers to currently teaching students rotoscoping and animation, Karl Jahnke has been exploring stories and the surreal much of his life. In this conversation, he shares the significant influences in his early career, his approach to storytelling, why he created the Mobile Animation Film Festival, and his prediction for the future of animation.
What does it take to build and connect with an audience in the digital age of independent film? Taylor Morden of Pop Motion Pictures discovered the answer in his early musician days: make friends, not fans. The transition from music to film was natural as the do-it-yourself punk rock work ethic made sense in the world of documentary film. Learn whatever you need to learn, do what you need to do, and always build your community. From his first documentary about the band, The Refreshments, to his films about ska music and the last Blockbuster Video store in Bend, Oregon, Taylor brings movies to life that matter to both him and his audience. On top of that, he makes sure to have a good time.
I’m always fascinated with stories of how people have built long-lasting and sustainable careers. But what happens when someone burns out doing something they love, decides to learn a new trade, and ends up not only rebuilding a career but creates a more meaningful life in the process? That is the story of Robb Mills, an independent audio contractor for over 20 years, working on films and video games as a sound designer and music composer. From the hustle and grind of his early days to resetting his life with yoga therapy, Robb candidly shares story after story of honing his craft around his love for sound and music while serving and sharing life with others.
I met Benjamin Ironside Koppin in 2013 on the set of his indie horror feature, Made Me Do It, where I ruined a long handheld take by dropping the camera into my lap. Fortunately, he was cool about it, and we went on to collaborate on several other projects throughout the years. The philosophy of his production company, Ironside Films, is simple: tell the stories we want to tell in the way we want to do it. Partnering with his wife Kristin, they work together to bust through limitations and manage expectations to make one feature film a year.
A statement on their website is boldly simple yet deeply profound: “We only make Good things.” That’s Good With a capital G! The founders of Farsighted Creative, Maggie Hart and Brittany Zampella, are here to talk about what it means to not only create media that’s good but also put good into the world. They also share how their creative partnership’s power propelled them forward to create short films, write music, launch two podcasts, and work with ethically sourced clients. It’s refreshing to talk with two passionate professionals who are doing work that truly matters to themselves and the world.
How do you learn to speak up and step into the power of your voice? For filmmaker Jhanvi Motla, it started with a physical journey from Mumbai, India, to the United States to study filmmaking and bring stories to life that matter to her. In this engaging conversation, Jhanvi shares story after story about how she had to become resilient and disciplined to be independent while also learning to accept other people’s support. Throughout the conversation, the weight of family and culture is present as she steps into her voice to tell the story of herself, her mother, and the unacknowledged heroes of the home in her upcoming documentary feature, Household Heroes.
In this conversation with J. Blake Fichera, author of the Scored to Death books and host of the companion podcast, we explore his love for music and how it relates to the work he does as a film editor, podcaster, and blues musician. We talk in-depth about music as a language, the importance of rhythm and structure, and his work as a development editor for reality shows. He also shares about the growth he experienced writing his latest book, Scored to Death 2: More Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers.
How driven are you to create the work you see in your mind’s eye? Will you produce more excuses than scripts and films? Or push through adversity and rejection, doing whatever it takes? From the Gold Coast of Australia, today’s guest goes by the name of gough and is the director of Beernuts Productions, “a prolific producer of film, television, audio downloads, books and other forms of creative media.” And he happens to be legally blind.
What do you do when you are going through a health crisis, and you are a filmmaker? You turn the experience into a film. When Erica Taylor Davis was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, a medical condition that 80% of African American women and 75% of Caucasian women suffer from, she saw a much larger story unfolding. In the midst of her own pain and struggle, she courageously pushed through to objectively tell her story, and the stories of countless women with the impact fibroids and endometriosis have had on their lives in a documentary called Red Alert: The Fight Against Fibroids. If you are currently struggling with gripping self-doubt as you tell your own story, I hope you find a glimmer of hope and encouragement in Erica’s story of courage, patience, and perseverance.
The question at the heart of this conversation was inspired by a moment of brutal truth on a recent job: How does filmmaking change as you get older? I reached out to two filmmakers I madly respect, Beth Harrington and the Angry Filmmaker, Kelley Baker. We had a fun and engaging conversation about the changing nature of filmmaking as you get older. With over 40 years each into their careers, both continually move forward into the future, telling stories that matter to them, building supportive communities, remaining fiercely independent, and realizing that they are in this pursuit for life.