Grilling grasshoppers, communicating non-verbally and creating cinematic spaces: Colin Marshall talks to So Yong Kim, director of Treeless Mountain

So Yong Kim is the director of the feature films In Between Days and Treeless Mountain. The former, a portrait of the alienation of a teenage Korean girl newly relocated to Toronto, won a Special Jury Prize for Independent Vision at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The latter, the story of a pair of very young sisters sent away from their home in Seoul to live with their remote, alcoholic Aunt and then with their grandparents in the countryside, won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, the Muhr Award at the 2008 Dubai International Film Festival and the Netpac Award at the 2008 Pusan International Film Festival. Colin Marshall originally conducted this conversation on the public radio program and podcast The Marketplace of Ideas. [MP3] [iTunes link]

Kim1 Because the film has its, to an American, foreign setting — I talk to a lot of Americans about it, and they do get caught up in the fact that it is in Seoul and Heunghae, the foreignness of certain elements of it. — how much did you want to make a story rooted in its geographic location, rooted in place, and how much did you want to make one in themes that are more universal: childhood, sisterhood?

Ideally, what I always dreamed of, making this film — I wanted to set it in my hometown, which is Heunghae, Korea. When I first started writing the story in 2003 or so, certain events were based on my memory of the location when I grew up there in the seventies. It's quite a while back, so I wasn't really sure how much the country had changed or how much my hometown had changed. I just started from very basic elements in the story that I wanted to focus on, which were the journey these two sisters take, and the emotional journey they go through. In that sense, that's much more universal than the story being just a Korean story

I believe I read in a previous interview with you that the seed of the story that became Treeless Mountain was actually something you wrote in a creative writing class. How much did you start off with? What was the very beginning of just the idea of the story itself, before even combining it with details of your memory of Hunghae?

I've always felt that I'm not a very strong writer. I was taking this creative writing class and our teacher gave us an assignment. She said to write about something you remember in your childhood, something like that. The story I wrote was about these two sisters who were catching grasshoppers and grilling them. They weren't selling them in that short story, but they were grilling them and tasting it — how they ate the grashoppers and stuff, those details were in that story. That was Treeless Mountain; I drew this picture in a sketchbook and wrote “Treeless Mountain” back then. The title of the film stayed as that to the very end.

The treeless mountain was, then, an image you had, more than anything?

Yeah, it was a very quick drawing in my sketchbook of this hill and these two stick figures. They were holding a little branch, and I wrote, next to it, “Treeless Mountain”.

With the grilling of the grasshoppers — this is something I had to ask you — was that actually a pursuit you had as a kid?

Yeah, yeah! In the fall, the grasshopper season peaks. That's when the harvest happens; that's when they age and mature. That's when we used to run around, back in the old days in the country.

Is that a common thing there? The grasshopper-eating is something viewers get so hung up on. I do wonder: were they good?

They were good. You just have to make sure you grill it all the way through. It's a little nutty. To get our two young actors to eat them on set for the scenes, we had to have all the grown-ups around them eat one, to show them that, “Oh, it's really delicious.”

That is funny, because one of the things that kept coming up in my mind, watching this movie, is how often directors will say, “I'm never going to work with kids. I'll never work with kids. It's so hard.” I was reading about the task you had just working with these two, who sounded like they were more cooperative than most young actors. Then you actually have to get them to eat bugs. That's got to be harder than anything.

No, you know, you'd be surprised. I think it was harder to convince the grown-ups to eat the grasshoppers than the kids.

You convinced your whole crew to eat grasshoppers? That's the last thing I'll ask about the grasshoppers, I promise.

Everybody. All the producers. Everybody on set had to eat one.
You mention that you went by your memories of your childhood in Heunghae. What were those memories like? What were the impressions you really wanted to realize in the film?

There were specific emotions. For instance, when Jin and Bin are going to a different house to see if there are kids there who want to play with them. There wasn't anybody, because they were actually in school, and they weren't in school. So they were kind of wandering. That feeling like, oh, where do they belong, “Where am I supposed to go?”

I have a lot of connection to the farm, the countryside, because that's where our grandparents became our parents, in a sense. They showed us how they lived. It was a different way of learning and living a life than what we were used to. That left a huge impression on my mind and my impression of Korea.

How much does the arc of Bin and Jin's story. where they go from the city and are unexpectedly put into the setting with their grandparents — they ended up with them, and you with yours — what alignment is there with their story and yours? There's points of congruence, but how rooted it is in your experience?

When I first started writing the story, I remembered the big events in my childhood and tried to capture some emotions. We lived with our aunts for quite a long time: different aunts, different family members, then our grandparents for quite a while. It's not exactly the same, and we knew what was going on in bits and pieces. Overall, certain emotions I had, I tried to convey through Jin and Bin. Emotionally, I tried to stay true to having a point of view of these kids. That's what I tried to capture.

I have to say, the film didn't become reality for me until we cast the two leads. They add so much of their own personality and soul to these characters, I feel so fortunate that I was able to find them and work with them. The film could not be what it is without their contribution, their texture, their characters.

Kim2 I want to get an idea of this process of the film becoming a reality. You say it didn't fully become one to you until it was cast. You had these elements, you had your childhood memories, you had the story. What steps did you take to bring this to fruition? You had these disparate parts that seemed promising, but what did you have to do to bring them together?

For this story particularly, I had to remove a lot of my personal connection. I started from my own memory, but through the practice of writing and casting, I had to make sure my personal self is out of the story completely. If I became too attached to who these girls are and tried to emulate who they are to my memory of my experience, it becomes contradictory. I'm in the way of the film. I had to make sure that, by the time we shoot, I'm completely out of the way. They have a life of their own, and when we started shooting, it felt like they were Jin and Bin, and had their own life story to tell. I had to make sure I was aware and had the camera at the right place.

How much accommodation did the story have to make for the fact that these two little girls were, of course, their own people? How much did what you had written, whad you had planned, have to change to make the best use of who they were?

There are different ways of working with the script, but for me, the script is only a blueprint. I would use the script as a reference, feed them a line, but if they take it in different directions or when they show up on set in a completely different mood than what I need to do the schedule of the scene, I would arrange everything so that it captures what they're feeling. Everything has to be fluid and interchangeable, in a way. Also, I wasn't 100 percent married to the exact dialogue in my script at all. I was willing to take it out completely if they had better things to say.

What's the difference in improvisation that had to be done between Treeless Mountain and your previous feature, In Between Days?

It's hard to say with improvisation. On one hand, it's completely improvised, but on the other hand, it's 100 percent controlled. I had to sit right next to the chldren and say, “Say this line. Okay, look at your sister. Okay, pick on your dress.” I had to prompt them as much as I can to see if they're going in a certain direction. If they're going in a direction I need for a scene, I let them go as far as they can take it and then pull them back. We have a completely controlled environment for the young children.

For the older kids in In Between Days, because they are nineteen, twenty, if I prompted them, they knew which way I was pushing them. They could sense it already because they're very in tune to what's going on. They were a bit more aware and sensitive to what the story was. It was a different way of working. I don't know if I'm answering your question or if I'm just rambling…

No, it does make sense. It is an intersting contrast. I've also read that, during the production of the film, you were actually speaking to Bin and Jin the whole time things were being shot. When we're watching the film, is your voice “there” but erased in editing the whole time?

I'm talking to them the whole time. My voice was on a different track, but I had to go through and edit it out of the whole soundtrack, which took the longest. It was so grueling. I wouldn't recommend anyone do it.

But then, when you had everything shot with your voice on there, you have no choice. It's a nice thing about filmmaking: when you've got these decisions made, the grueling work has to be done. You can't exactly back down, right?

It's just something you commit to. I knew from the beginning that, working with these kids, I would have to do that. And they're non-actors, so of course they're not going to memorize their lines and the emotional beats of the scene. They didn't even read the script. They had a general idea that the story was about these two sisters and their relationship together for the summer.

It's clear from the product that you've gotten something from these two girls, performance-wise, that you probably couldn't have from trained child actors. I'll assert that, but do you think it's true? Do you find you wouldn't have gotten performances as effective with standard child actors, or whatever you would find in Korea?

Yes, I know that for certain. In the beginning, we tried to go to talent agencies that represent child actors, and it was very clear from the first meeting that we weren't going to find the right actors through that route. We went to elementary schools to observe kids in classrooms and interview them, and followed that process until we found the kinds.

And as I've read, you had to do video interviews with a huge amount of kids. How many was it?

I did video interviews with maybe 150, 200 kids. I picked three or four kids out of a classroom to do that. It wasn't too bad an an amount, I don't think, because kids are actually quite fun to to talk with. Also, my Korean level is about a six- or seven-year-olds', so it was like talking to my peer.

I've got to tell you, I'm learning Korean myself right now, and I wish I had a seven year-old's Korean.

Oh, really? Wow. I'm sure you'll get there. Can you read Korean?

Yeah, better than I can understand spoken Korean. It's kind of the inverse: a kid learns to speak first and then read. I did the wrong way, read then speak. That's my own project, I suppose.

When you're taking to these kids, did you know what you were looking for before you started interviewing? Or were these qualities you found in the final Bin and Jin qualities you could not have gotten clear in your mind before you found them?

I was just going with gut feeling. After living with these characters, writing them for so long, I had a sudden sense about them. The thing that was amazing about Hee-yeon, when I first met her, was that she was so focused and fearless. When I interviewed her, she asked me, point blank, “Why do you speak like a kid when you're a grown-up? What's wrong with you?” Whatever she wanted to find out she would just ask me directly. I thought, “That's just perfect.” Shooting a film is really intense, so I would want her to ask me, if she was afraid of anything, or if she was curious about anything. I knew she had the personality to be on the set and be strong. That's the type of person Jin needed to be.

It was clear from the beginning that Hee-yeon was going to be Jin, but I was a little bit hesitant committing to her because I thought she was too pretty. That's where Brad, my husband, stepped in and said, “Hey, you can't do that, you can't discriminate against her because she's too pretty.” I'm like, “Okay, you're right.”

You actively wanted a non-pretty actor to play that part?

Yeah, because I felt that with when children are too pretty or too cute, it's not believable. For me, as a viewer, when I watch films that have cute, good-looking kids in dire situations, I just don't believe that. It's not as convincing for me. I was really hesitant to cast her, thinking of the believability of her presence, but it worked out fine, thankfully.

Kim3 This fearlessness you describe Hee-Yeon has having, playing Jin, people always bring that up as well. They talk about her character being kind of an adult in a child's body, having this striking levelheadedness in the face of this situation which is essentially homelessness, which an adult would not necessarily be able to handle as well. Was this something you remember yourself having as well as a child?

No, sadly. It's not sad, but actually, what I remember is that I was not levelheaded like Jin or Bin. I remember crying a lot and being a little basket case. I wish my childhood was as dignified and strong in character as Jin and Bin's, but it wasn't. Writing the story and having it be a fictionalized version of my childhood makes me understand myself a little bit more through their experience. I see them and I wish I could have been like them, but I wasn't. It helped me grow up a little bit.

When you got Bin and Jin in Heunghae, when you finally saw your footage — how it's framed in such a way as to evoke childhood, and in that setting — did this evoke your own memories? Or had the sensibility of the place changed? How close was it to the images you held in your mind?

Heunghae is pretty much the same as back in the seventies. When we went there to shoot, I thought, “Wow this is very similiar to what I remember of the market, the center of the town.” It was a little eerie, but the thing about shooting is that I was only able to concentrate on that day. It was moment-by-moment, day-by-day. I hardly had any time to reflect. It really came back to me when I was editing the footage. I said, “Wow, this is insane. Why did I think that I wanted to shoot this film in my hometown?”

When we were there shooting, it was actually a peaceful and wonderful experience. All the crew and cast just loved being in this country village. Everybody walked to the set. We had great food. The shooting hours were not that long, because of the kids. Almost all the members of the crew gained weight. We had a very peaceful shooting time of three weeks in the countryside, although it was really intense when the kids were on set and we were shooting. It was really focused. By the time the end of the shoot came along, when they go to the grandparents' farm — we shot sequentially, according to the locations — when you see them onscreen and they look exhausted, they're actually extremely exhausted. We didn't have to worry about any makeup.

The fact that, for example, when the kids are exhasted on the screen, they're exhausted in life, that would make anybody think of documentary filmmaking. It's capturing what's actually there. “Documentary-style” is a word I've often seen brought up in association with your two feature films so far. How documentary-like do you think of your own films as being? I think I've read you say that you would like to make documentaries but don't consider yourself suited to them.

I tried to make a documentary film in Iceland when we used to live there. I just felt lke an intruder in peoples' lives. It was frustrating for me to document somebody who's a real person and capture their real life on the screen for my sake. I couldn't help but try to manipulate them in some way. I found it really, really difficult. I realized that's not something I'm good at.

I do like the sense of creating a space for rmy characters. I like writing fictional stories and creating this fictional space, or a space based on my memory, and planting people there. I have them say things I've written, and see if they could exist in the space, and have a camera to capture that. Maybe that's how I view acting, in a sense that when I see really amazing acting onscreen is when I really believe this person exists for that hour and a half in the space. That's how I view filmmaking.

The concept of creating a space, this is something I find extremely interesting. I don't always hear filmmakers talk in those terms. Often, it'll be more like they're creating a piece of furniture, something they make in a more linear fashion. They know how it's going to be. They're going through a sequence of steps that they've pre-defined. It's not necessarily about space creation. How do you think that effects the experience of the viewer, the look and feel, what they call the “music” of the film?

When I was at the Chicago Art Institute, I studied performance art and installation art. For me, space is very important in life and making anything related to performance. I feel like if somebody is on set and not feeling comfortable, there's something wrong, and it will carry through. I don't think you can pretend to feel comfortable when you're not. That's really important, and particularly in the film I like to do, which has a lot of close-ups. It would become apparent if the person acting in my film is not comfortable in the space that's been created. For me, that's a number-one priority.

The movement of the actor or character in space is very important; it communicates far more than what the person says. That also comes from the way I was brought up, when I came to the states when I was eleven or twelve. I didn't understand the language, so what I understood was expressions and body language. Part of communicating is through our gestures or body and expressions, or subtle things you wouldn't say directly. The space and the environment a person is placed in has a lot to do with how that person communicates. Does that make sense?

It does make sense, and your focus on non-verbal communication is interesting because — it's something one can't help but notice about your two films, that there's not a whole lot of dialogue in them. That's to their advantage, with the style of them. Does that relative lack of dialogue come out of what you've just described?

Yeah, because if things are communicated through non-verbal ways, then there's no need to say the words. Especially if you're watching a film; it's a visual medium, so you could see and you could sense a certain things a lot more than just listening.

Kim4 The background of performance art and of installation art — considering that as somewhat of an uncommon place for a feature filmmaker to come from, how hard is that transition? I don't see people make it a lot.

I guess not, but for me it seemed fluid. I was doing performance art and I was doing experimental films and videos so I could project them in my pieces. I mainly would do experimental films, because it was much more manageable after I went to New York. Then my husband was shooting his film in Iceland, and I worked on that film. It was just Brad and myself and a [director of photography]. After I saw him make the film, a light bulb went in my head. I'm like, “That looks easy! I could do that! You just need one more person!”

That's when I started to write In Between Days, in Iceland. At that time, I was completely clueless. I thought I could do it, and the most difficult aspect of it, for me, was writing the script. I do find that my weakest point is writing. After I made In Between Days, I wanted to do Treeless. Although Treeless was something I wanted to do for a very long time, I felt that I didn't have enough skills or experience or knowledge to make a film like this. I had to see how I'd do on In Between Days, and that was a great learning experience for me.

If I could add just one thing for young filmmakers out there: it's really important to edit your own film. I have to say, it took me eight or nine months to do it, but the whole experience of it was like going to film school. That's what I recommend.

I want to get a little bit more idea about this approach to filmmaking, because jumping straight into it is not something filmmakers are often willing to do. Even experienced filmmakers are hesitant to take on a new project. When you say that you went into In Between Days with writing as your weak point, I think about that film, and it doesn't seem like a film that was crafted so much in the screenplay stage. So much of the film seems to me to be in the actual shots, in the cuts, in the look and feel of it. Is it really a disadvantage for the kind of films you make to not feel like you write that well?

Oh yeah, I think that's critical. From what I remember of shooting In Between Days and Treeless is that whenever I was having a moment of doubt on set, I would go back to my script as a reference. I would have to go back, because it's inevitable: when you're shooting, when you're under the gun, there are times when you feel like, “Oh, what do I do now?” In those moments, I would check and see what I wrote.

It's really critical that your script is the best-written piece that you could possibly have. For both In Between Days and Treeless, I was writing and writing and writing and realized towards the end that this is the best script it can be. It's not a novel, but it has the best dialogue that I could possibly think of. It has the best scenes which convey the emotions that I want to convey. It has the overall framework of the story that I want to get to. Those were really important for me, and it took a while to get there.

I think I'm still learning, but I'm getting the hang of knowing when I've reached that point, where it feels like, “Okay, I'm ready, I'm prepared, I know enough about my story and my characters to shoot.” That's why writing a good script and being able to write a good script is really important.

How much of that is, as you've said, knowing the characters? Is it mostly a function of getting to know the characters really well so you can know what, essentially, to do, when you're out there directing them? Or is it kind of an all-around thing? You want to know the story, of course, you want to know the points you have to hit as far as where you need the characters to be, but how much is specifically getting a really good idea of who the characters are as people?

Right. One of the main things you get to learn from writing and rewriting and fine-tuning your script is getting to know your characters extremely well: their backstory, why the behave this certain way, why are they taking this action instead of this other action, what is their emotional journey. On the one hand, it's about knowing every detail about your characters, but on the other hand, it's about knowing where your story can go.

For instance, the ending of Treeless was not written in my script that way. The script actually finished when then two girls give the piggy bank to their grandmother. But when I was shooting, it felt like the story cannot end there, so I wanted to shoot more. When I was putting the film together, I found a new ending. I think that came from understanding where my story was. Because so many thngs were happening from my two actresses who put so much of their own characters into the film, it was not satisfying for me to have the ending be the piggyback-giving to grandmother. I felt I had to look for a new ending. Because I had a good blueprint of the story, I could take it in a different direction and feel confident.

When you were first getting into filmmaking and going in feet-first or head-first, however you want to say it, without too much experience, is crafting an ending on the fly something you knew you could in filmmaking, before you started making films?

No, but I felt like, “Why not? Why can't you?” That's one of the reasons filmmakers want to be independent, so that you can have the option to do that. If you're writing your own material and directing your own material, you have to be open to that. You never know, when you're shooting, what might happen that's more fantastic than what you've written. That's part of the excitement, for me, in making films.

What other lessons did you take from going in “clueless” at the beginning of In Between Days? Learning from that, what did you take to the filming of Treeless? What were the most important things that came from the trial and error?

I learned how to be patient on the set, learned a little bit more about working with people, how to listen a little bit more. I'm not very verbally communicative on the set; I had to be aware of that. That's something I need to improve even more on my next film, just to communicate how to work, how I would like to work with the crew a little bit more.

I think the most important skill for me to keep improving upon is how to listen. Particularly, trying to be open-minded on set, because you get into a mode of, “Oh, I have to get this scene done and move onto the next scene,” because there's such a rigorous schedule. You could get kind of wrapped up in that, but the most rewarding experience I've had so far has been the moments when I'm open and listening to other people, really trying to let myself be open to accident.

How important is it to you to keep the crew small?

Oh, it's very important to me. I think it's because I'm from a do-it-yourself fine arts background. When we were in school. making these performances, everyone just made their own costumes, their own sets, their own music, their own experimental films. I feel like, if the crew is small and every single person on the crew feels like they're involved and creatively challenged on the set, then the film is better for it. In my past two films, it was even more important to keep the crew small because there were children or young adults in difficult situations. A smaller crew made us work faster, and it was really easy to mobilize the group.

How do you go about, along a career, keeping a crew small? I talk to some filmmakers who say the same — they like to work with their small crew of people they know well, people that they know how to challenge — but they also say, “I don't know how I'm going to do it.” It always happens to directors: projects get bigger and bigger. Do you plan to keep the scale you work on the same scale we've seen on Treeless and, smaller still, In Between Days, or do you have an idea that you can make larger-scale movies but still use a small crew?

I'm not sure. That's a good question, and it comes to what kind of projects I would like to work on in the future. The size of the crew really depends on the type of the film I want to make. I do want to make a bigger type of film, just to have a contrast. Every filmmaker would like to be challenged with each film they make. If one of the challenges I want to take on is working with a large crew, then sure. But does that mean that the film is going to be any good? I don't know.

The size of the crew matters most with the type of the film, though, ideally, I would like to keep the crew very small, for my sanity. At the same time, I know friends who have worked with large crews, and because they have really excellent producers and line producers and support, they are able to manage that somehow and still come off the experience with positive memories. I'm open to it; I'm not saying I'm not going to work with big crews or larger productions. But ideally, even if it's a big-budget movie, if I could keep the crew smaller, it would be great.

Kim5 What you've said about openness to accident — I would imagine you'd never be able to stand working in a setting where you have to notify ten different unions if you have to move the camera two inches, right?

Oh, that would be a nightmare for me, One of the things I've learned is that I don't think I could be patient enough for that, even though I'm patient enough to work with five-year-olds. I can't imagine that right now.

With the actual influences that you looked to for this movie, I've heard you mention two of my favorite filmmakers, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Yasujiro Ozu. What did you look to in their work?

I love Nobody Knows by Kore-eda and Maborosi. I love all his films. I haven't seen a couple of them. Ozu's film Ohayo is a good reference for me; also the silent film I Was Born, But… is a wonderful film. When I was preparing to shoot Treeless, or when I wrote the script for it, I really felt like, “How can I make this film?” When I was thinking of making this film, trying to think of all the technicalities of how I'm going to shoot this, what… just what, you know?

At that time, I saw Nobody Knows in Toronto in 2006, and I was like, “Whoa. That's great.” It shows, in so many simple ways, certain emotional states of these children, and I thought it was just so wonderful. I saw 400 Blows and I've seen other films with kids, but it made me feel overwhelmed, like, “How can I make a film that's even a tenth in quality to that? How did they do this?” It brought up so many more questions and anxieties. But it was simple in a very understated, elegant way. I was very inspired by the way he made that film. Also, Ozu's films, I love all his films, but those two films about kids and how they are portrayed — it's so lovingly done. He's a great master. I love his work.

I was watching Maborosi just the other night and thinking, “This film is probably perfect,” and if I was going to get into filmmaking, I would be so disheartened to watch it. But you found his movies inspirational?

Maborosi is quite different than Nobody Knows. Nobody Knows is a film that I felt like, “Oh, I should aspire to do something simple.” But Maborosi is just fantastic — yes, it's a nearly perfect film. That is a beautiful, beautiful and stunning film. As far as a reference, Maborosi's magnificent, and Nobody Knows is fantastic also. I used Nobody Knows as more of a reference for my own film, because it deals with children and how to work with children.

This is something I certainly want to get into. Nobody Knows, of course, uses kids, and you mention Ozu and I Was Born, But…, which is one of my favorites of his silent movies. Ozu was always using kids; there's hardly a film of his without a little kid in it. Did you learn anything from Ozu's kids?

Yeah, a little bit, but it wasn't so graspable for me, you know? Ozu is such a master; it's not something I go, “Wow, I could really imitate that.” Not that you can with Kore-eda, because I do think Kore-eda is a master, but from watching Nobody Knows, it gave me a sense that it could be as simple and minimal as his story. Sometimes the story could get overwhelming, and it could take over. That was a big challenge for me.

The idea of minimalism was brought up in the article by A.O. Scott in the New York Times talking about the “neo-neorealist” directors, in which he included you, and Ramin Bahrani, who's been on this program, and the film Wendy and Lucy, John Raymond's been on the show. How do you feel about being put into the group of “neo-neorealists”? Is that a label you find useful?

Is it useful for me… I don't know. I think it has its usefulness and not-so-usefulness. I'm definitely grateful that I've been included in such a highly esteeemed group. I think Ramin's films are amazing, yes, and I think Kelly [Reichardt] is one of the best filmmakers. I'm totally in awe of their work; I love their work. I'm really happy to be included, but at the same time, I think there are other filmmakers who are also amazing.

I don't know. I just think that it's really an exciting time for filmmakers in the States. Not just the three of us, but all of us who are struggling out there to make films, just contributing to whatever movement there is. I feel like there's definitely certain movements by young filmmakers to get their voice heard and get their vision shown. It's a different environment now than in 2000. I'm not talking about the economy, just the quality of work. It's getting better by the year. I think that's really exciting.

Do you think the aesthetic and thematic commonalities, the look and the feel of films like yours, like Ramin Bahrani's, like Kelly Reichardt's — do you see those constituting an actual trend? If so, that's something I really enjoy, but do you see it on the ascendant generally?

Wow, I don't know. I'm sorry. That's a hard question for me to answer.

It's open to interpretation. Any way you want to answer is fine.

I don't know if we have similar looks or styles, per se, but what's common about a lot of the filmmakers now who are emerging is that we have a very singular voice that's particular. Either personal or a perspective of social commentary. It's not a didactic voice; it's more open to interpretation.

Personally, I'm making films to learn more. It's kind of like going to school for me. It's a way of finding a voice. I don't think I have a definitely defined voice yet, but it's always a discovery thing. Young filmmakers working now are much more — like you said, they have an attitude of do-it-yourself. That fuels a certain energy and creativity into work. That's probably the most exciting aspect of what's going on now.

All feedback welcome at colinjmarshall at gmail.