In anticipation of his visit to the Walker February 26, filmmaker Brent Green was kind enough to answer some questions.
1) What first interested you about movies? Did you have an artistic bent as a child?
Oh, I was a sports kid. I liked Ty Cobb. When I found out movies could be eloquent, mean, and moving like Ty Cobb I joined in. As I get older, I like Yogi Berra type movies more and more.
2) What films impressed you as a child?
It’s A Wonderful Life is still my favorite film.
3) Your film, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, is a fascinating instance of art imitating life to some extent. How did you happen upon this enchanting tale?
Brendan Canty (who’s playing drums at the Walker performance, and is also the drummer for Fugazi) has a film series called Burn to Shine, where a bunch of bands from one town play one song each over the course of a day in a condemned house in that town. Someone called Brendan and said “we have a house for you in Louisville.” I went down there with the Burn to Shine crew and just stumbled into Leonard’s house—into this story.
4) When you first started making films, was there a certain director or artist whose work had a particular influence on you?
Kurt Vonnegut. He was perfect.
5) Considering this is your first feature-length film, did your approach or style change much as a result?
I had to think a little differently, I guess. My other films rant, which I like. I like to rant. I think in rants. There’s no way an audience would sit through a 75 minute assault of non-stop narration. Aside from trying to contain some kind of epiphanies and truths, I do want my films to entertain. Come to the Walker on February 26th. Let us entertain you.
6) Your studio is in rural Pennsylvania, far from the traditional film centers. What is it about this area that inspires you?
It’s beautiful and quiet. My closest neighbor owns over 200 guns. He keeps them in a shed with giant metal letters on the door—”NRA.” I have to make films that work for him, that work for Al. I have to keep him liking me. Feuds. Avoiding feuds is inspiring.
7) You once said that “the only stories that any of us relate to are the ones we see ourselves in.” Would you say, then, that the ultimate aim of an artist is to get inside your skin and reflect yourself back to you?
It’s tough to imagine a more complicated way of saying “be honest.” But, if you’re kind of clever and thoughtful enough, you can probably see yourself nearly anywhere. Empathy’s important in art and life.
8) Your film Paulina Hollers played at the Walker’s first Expanding the Frame series. What are you most looking forward to about your return to the Walker?
The weather. The weather and the traffic. Our van has heat—we’re gonna sit in the van, watch the weather, AND the traffic. I can’t wait.