Introducing Filmmaker Jim Granato Competing in the Kodak Super 8 Video Contest
How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
As long as I can remember I wanted to “direct” movies. It took me years to figure out what that actually meant, but I’ve pretty much known for most of my life I wanted to be involved. I think being turned on to many adult themed films of the 70’s by my Dad, as naive as he may have been with some of this, played a big part on me growing up in the 80’s. I’ve been hooked on a lot of that “New Hollywood” magical aesthetic ever since, which has made me look at movies and storytelling in many unique ways.
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
My favorite part is that it’s short! I think there’s so much one can do in a film under five minutes that leaves a viewer so much more satisfied than say in 90. Maybe that means cutting out some fat or a lot of it, or perhaps it’s the right kind of shot in the arm that begs to challenge those time constraints in new ways.
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
Joan, my wife, is the film’s subject. This collaboration between Joan and I has waited nearly ten years for her story to be told. Although we believe the subject matter deserves much more than a 5-minute format we hope that this small glimpse we’ve created will inspire discussion and raise some awareness about the blind confidence given to pharmaceutical companies.
What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.
In this case, I used many of Joan’s still photos from the actual location (West Africa) where the story happened. There were some mementos from that experience that was used to dramatize as well like a sarong seen as a curtain blowing in a window. A couple of rural locations near San Francisco were picked to dramatize a couple of moments such as simple interiors which were lit in certain ways to suggest her mental state during this difficult time. All the editing was done mostly in camera, with a couple of small pickups added later on. Like a lot of my short films, I did all the technical things on the film.
What is your next project?
I’m making a feature length rock n roll “60’s” exploitation type film in black & white super 8 and video. This project, also part concert film, will star the irreverent underground rock n roll band called The Mummies.
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated? Where do you see the industry going in the future?
I have to say I’m not one to follow the business aspects of independent film. Perhaps that’s not smart if I want to “make it” in this business, but the truth is I make by doing what I do. In addition to making my own films, I produce and direct videos for various institutions and artists and I find myself very fortunate to do that. All of my work keeps me sharp whether it’s another rock show I’m documenting or someone giving a speech from a podium. I’m grateful to keep doing this consistently. Now, I have had tastes of success with my own films and the ability to not get burned out is amazing to me, especially in the distribution category. Unless you have a company behind you, it’s one helluva hill to keep climbing everyday with meager yet well intended efforts and resources. I guess now is the present, and I can only hope for more in the future, that it will get easier with the internet and more VOD opportunities (and the like) where more viewers are certainly turning to.
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
John Cassavetes & Werner Herzog, although more in spirit than a direct influence even though I love most of their films. Certainly most of the New Hollywood directors of the 70’s like Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, William Friedkin and Peter Bogdonavich all have a lasting influence. I’ve learned a lot from watching films by the Maysles brothers, Bruce Conner, Les Blank and Maureen Gosling.
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
I occasionally get to talk with film students in various venues, whether it be a classroom or on a shoot and the one thing I think is important to keep reminding people is BE NICE. No matter what, remember to be nice. You ask for a lot of favors in filmmaking and whether you have a multi-million dollar budget, or like me, a no to very low budget, you’ll always be asking a lot of someone. It’s not that I meet a lot of people who aren’t nice, but it’s so easy to forget and to get wrapped up in your own head and project where niceties take a back seat and that’s just not cool at the end of a 14 hour day. Even if you paid for it, acting like its all about you is the thing folks will remember and not so much the film.
Is there’s any other info you want included?
Jim Granato is a self-taught, award-winning filmmaker based in Oakland, California. He has directed and produced several short films and music videos since 1996. His most recent shorts, A Day With My Boy: Slug War (2014), premiered on PBS Online Film Festival, and Angels (2013), currently on Fandor, screened recently at the San Francisco International Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Gate Award. He has made music videos for Sonny & The Sunsets, Ramon & Jessica, Pancho-San and The Bobbyteens. D Tour (2009), his first feature film as director and producer, has won several awards including the Golden Gate Award for Bay Area Feature Documentary from the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Jury Prize for Best Documentary from the Bend Film Festival. D Tour premiered nationwide on the PBS Emmy award-winning program Independent Lens in November 2009. He is currently working on a second feature film project with underground punk rock legends, The Mummies. As a freelance Director, Producer, Videographer and Editor, he has worked on projects for ITVS, The History Channel, The Travel Channel, Court TV, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Oakland Museum of California, The Exploratorium and dozens of independent filmmakers and organizations worldwide.
Visit Jim Granato’s website http://autonomy16.net
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