Friday, March 04, 2011

Recap of "Southern Stories" - Johnson City

A young student reporter who attends ETSU wrote a lovely write-up of our screening on March 1st. Thanks for the kind words, Stacey!
Three Films, Two Filmmakers Inspire Aspiring Students
By Stacey Laughlin

Film students, professors, and general appreciators alike walked out of Culp Auditorium on March 1 awe-inspired after watching: Gina, An Actress, Age 29; Quick Feet, Soft Hands; and For Memories’ Sake. As a part of the Southern Circuit Tour hosted by ETSU’s own Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, students were able to view these independent films made by the Tennessean advocates for do-it-yourself filmmaking, Paul Harrill and Ashley Maynor.

“The way that Paul and I approach films is that we try to pick a film that we could make no matter what—if we had to use our own money or if we had a very small budget,” Maynor said. “Because then you’re not waiting on money to say whether or not you can make your art.”

After the showing of these three films, the audience participated in a question and answer session about technical aspects of the films. Following that was a reception for one-on-one conversations with the filmmakers.

“Last night's event and the Southern Circuit Tour as a whole is an incredible opportunity for filmmakers to connect with audiences, including students and aspiring filmmakers, and to have conversations about films and what they can offer,” Maynor said.

Maynor had some helpful suggestions for film students.“I think one of the best things you can have for making a film is someone who can give you honest and frank feedback,” Maynor said. “It’s really hard to get that kind of feedback because it’s usually kind of painful.”

Maynor went to film school for this reason. Improving as a filmmaker, as with every profession, is vitally important. Some filmmakers have more natural talent and some have to expose themselves to many different films to improve. “I think natural talent exists,” Maynor said. “But for the vast majority of us, we should see as many films as possible, and expose ourselves to many different styles and viewpoints.”

To achieve this, Maynor spent a year in France and a semester in Poland.
“It was the best thing I did. There are a lot of scholarships that can make it possible for just about anybody,” Maynor said. “Filmmaking has so many great filmmakers that have come before us. I think it’s important for us to study those masters and see what they did well.”

Along with studying and honing their abilities, Maynor suggested that film students could benefit from asking the Rilke question. “One thing I have my students do is read Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet,” Maynor said. “In that letter he says, ‘If you were denied the ability to write, would you die?’ I think you have to have that kind of passion. If you have that, then I think you’ll figure the rest out.”