SxSW 2016 Interview: BOONE director Christopher LaMarca
By Jason Whyte
Posted 03/07/16 18:48:13
"BOONE is a sensory and unsentimental peek behind the veil of the Utopian dream of farming. Three young goat farmers move through the seasons dealing with the harsh reality of taking responsibility for one's sustenance. There are no interviews with farmers or agricultural experts, the goal is the experience." Director Christopher LaMarca on BOONE which screens at the 2016 edition of the South By Southwest Film Festival.
Great to hear that BOONE is showing at SxSW and this is your first time here! Are you planning to attend your screenings?
I will be at SXSW and attending my screenings.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your previous work.
I am a first time filmmaker and will be premiering two films in 2016. My other film THE PEARL which I am co-directing with Jessica Dimmock will have its premiere at True False film festival. I come from a photojournalist background where my focus has been on environmental resource extraction. My monograph Forest Defenders: The Confrontational American Landscape was published by PowerHouse books in 2008. I have also covered issues such as the health impacts Natural Gas drilling, off-shore oil drilling in Alaska, and the lives of Migrant farmworkers. I transitioned into filmmaking in 2010 and began making two features at the same time over the course of the past six years.
So how did BOONE come together for you?
I visited BOONE'S farm where the film takes place at a time in my life where I was questioning my work as a photojournalist and the impact it was having. I was witnessing things that were shaking my foundation as a person and my outlook on humanity. I came to this farm with visions of spending the weekend tending to cute animals and getting my hands in the dirt. I quickly realized my perception of this way of life was based on the romanticized feeling of being at farmers markets not the gritty reality of actually farming. At first I planned to film one or two weeks out of every month. I quickly realized by doing so I wouldn't be pushing my own comfort boundaries and the true emotional and physical experience of this lifestyle would not translate into the film. How could I say I'm making a film about the unrelenting experience of living close to the land if I wasn't willing to have that experience myself? Fast forward, I was so inspired by the way these farmers moved through their days with such competence and heart I knew I had found something special. I decided to uproot my life and moved to the farm where I lived, worked, and filmed for two years.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much sugar?
What keeps me going while making films is the evolving relationships with my subjects.The fine line between intimacy and chaos and the trust it takes on both sides of the camera to create emotional accuracy. Our favorite energy drinks that keep the train rolling would be tequila and bourbon, both go well with coffee if needed at any time of the day or night.
What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?
The biggest challenge while making this movie was being a one man show. Because of the geographical isolation of the farm I was the director, sound person, post work-flow manager, intern and coffee boy. At 4am in the midst of helping a goat give birth, one of the farmers whispered something to me that stuck to my gut, "I don't know how much longer I can take this, but there is no other place I want to be". It was moments like these I knew I had found something special. I knew the film I wanted to make was not a small farms advocacy film but a film about the heart, soul and grit of a farmer's journey. The sensory and visceral experience of a lost way life many of us have become very disconnected from.
I want to to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie.
The visual design for this movie was based around the sensual and chaotic experience of living with the elements. When you live like this, the human being becomes a part of the larger natural system. The land, weather, animals, and people are deeply intertwined and dependent on one another for survival. The visceral elements of this cycle are what drives the story; this is a character driven film but the humans are not the only principal characters. The visual design is based on the fact that the humans are no more important story wise than the animals, wind or the earth. Another huge part of the visual design of this film is the soundscape and how it interacts with the negative space of the images. I recorded many of the sounds in the film separately in order to bring out the full sensory experience of what it feels like to be on the farm. I shot the film on a canon 5D Mark 2; at the time this was the best camera in low light that I could afford and provided with the depth of field I couldn't find on a DV camera.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?
I am most excited to show my film at SXSW because I think there is a lot of interest and intrigue of what this lifestyle really means on a deeper level. I feel we are living in a time of deep environmental and spiritual crisis and people are questioning themselves, their jobs and purpose in life. My hope for BOONE is that when people walk out of theater they aren't just leaving with the immersive feeling of farming but the experience of following ones' heart no matter the consequences and doing it with the ones you love.
After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?
After BOONE premieres at SXSW the film will be showing at the Ashland film festival April 7-11th.
If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
If I could show BOONE at any other theater in the world it would be at the Stag on Skywalker Ranch. I had the privilege of participating in the Sundance Institute Sound Design and Composer lab this past summer for my other film THE PEARL. The sound system in that theater was unlike anything I have ever heard, anybody who loves film should experience the sound of the Stag.
What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?
Take your phone and stick it up your ass.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
My advice to anyone making a film would be to make sure they are making it for the right reasons. Make sure you have people around you that you love and trust, because if you're really doing your job your going to feel like giving up many times in the process. You are going to need those people to help scrape you off the floor when you think you can't give anymore, and be brutally honest with you when the brilliant vision in your head is actually shit.
And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?
My favorite film of all time is THE THIN RED LINE.
Be sure to follow the progress of BOONE by visiting www.boonethefilm.com!
We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our interview series for our site. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!
This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte