In celebration of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month, we're conducting a series of Q&A Features and this week we're bringing you Director and Writer Vincent Fitz-Jim of Emma & Eva.
Name/Position: Vincent Fitz-Jim, director/writer
Film: Emma & Eva
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
A friend of mine told me about her father having an affair with his wife’s sister. In my imagination, I thought about a woman who would go pretty far to get her sister’s husband. That’s basically the story of Emma & Eva.
I also noticed that most people tell their stories backwards. People almost always start with the end (have you heard about that that woman who killed her sister?) - to go backwards to explain how an event evolved. In “Emma & Eva,” we start with the dying sister and her funeral - to go backwards and learn why and how that happened.
The story basically wrote itself. All I had to do was put it on paper. Just a few weeks later we shot the film.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
I’d like to thank everyone who cooperated on this film. We had no budget at all - all cast and crew worked voluntarily on this film, camera rental company Camalot gave a huge discount. Without them, this film could never have been made.
One of the biggest challenges was to find a cemetery to cooperate - for free, since we didn't have any budget except for my savings account. We could have created a fake cemetery in someone’s backyard but that would never feel like the real thing. I didn't want to compromise on this so I spoke to dozens of funeral homes and found the city of Lelystad eventually willing to cooperate - as long as we didn't disturb the visitors too much.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
The Sunset Gower Studios is a landmark in film history. So it is pretty exciting to be a part of that. It is my sincere hope that this will not be my last film to be shown in Los Angeles.
What inspires you?
It might sound cheesy but life is what inspires me. I love observing people.
Also my own personal life inspires me. I remember having a fight with my friend when I suddenly realized that the discussion we had would make a great short. I told him and that ended the fight.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I admire my mother. Apart from that, I’m not admiring any particular person. Some people have interesting work that might inspire me but there’s no one who’s work is all perfect. I’m influenced by everything I see around me and try to do things in my own way. That might sound stubborn but that’s the way it is. When it comes to film it is architecture, art and the human nature that influence me the most.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
I’ve learned that filmmaking is all about collaboration. To become a better filmmaker you need to surround yourself with a good cast and crew. But despite the help of all these people you can feel pretty lonesome while making film. In the end, the responsibility of the entire project is on your shoulders as a director.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Since this is a hypothetical question I’ll take the liberty to answer it like that. I would love to collaborate with Leonardo Da Vinci. As a homo universalis he had such a broad knowledge of virtually everything that I would love to be his scholar for some time.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
Life is the toughest experience I’m still trying to overcome as it involves death, separations, hope, despair, disappointments. But as I grow older I find it easier. I’m not that worried anymore. It now inspires me to observe people in their way to overcome experiences and life itself.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Prepare a scene as thorough as possible - know what you want. Then, on the set, let go.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
1) Never compromise. Having that said - film is something you create together, not just the director. A director is merely a conductor who needs to channel the creativity of cast and crew, making decisions and convince everyone that that decision is the best one.
2) Leave your ego at home when you're on the set. It's not about you - it's about the film.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I have just finished a short poetic coming-of-age film (Daniël) about a teenage boy who finds first love. The boy meets a girl but finds himself attracted to the girl’s brother. Like in a dream the reality of the surroundings disappears, leaving the mysterious beauty of a sweet memory. Hopefully you’ll see this film at the NewFilmmakers screening soon.
So what’s next? Who knows? I’m still exploring my voice as a director so I’m trying to make my shorts all different from eachother. By making "Emma & Eva" and "Daniël" I feel like I'm a little closer to finding the stories I want to tell.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
My professional work can be found at www.popcornmedia.nl
My new film Daniël has it’s own website: www.danielfilm.nl
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for your interest in me and my projects.
For more information, visit: http://www.newfilmmakersla.com/
About the Author
Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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