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SxSW 2017 Interview: RAT FILM director Theo Anthony

RAT FILM - At SxSW 2017
by Jason Whyte

"RAT FILM is a film about rats but not but also sort of. It uses the rat as a way to cut across different ideas, histories, and people to tell the story of Baltimore and beyond." Director Theo Anthony on RAT FILM which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

Congratulations on your film playing in Austin at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

First time at SXSW and first time in Austin. And yes, planning on being at the first two screenings!

So how did you get into this business?

I did little videos in high school, and when I got to college I started doing unofficial music videos for artists I was into and emailing them the link hoping it would get picked up. After a while a few did and I started doing more music videos, which is really where I learned how to shoot and edit. After college, I did some fashion stuff, which I didn't like and got involved in documentaries and journalism, which I did. Since then I have been doing a little bit of everything.

How did the doc RAT FILM come together for you?

It was really me just getting obsessed with a bunch of different things at once. There was a moment where I realized that all these different tangents were different sides of the same shape, and so the movie became this documentation of the links and connections between all these ideas.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

I'm happy when I'm busy, so I stay busy to stay happy.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

I think knowing when to stop. There's a moment when you're making a documentary where you realize that you could be making a documentary about anything. That the story or whatever it is you're telling is the story of so many things beyond the specifics of your project. And then you realize that no matter what you do, no matter how much more you shoot or go deeper or whatever, that whatever you do make is going to be painfully and embarrassingly incomplete. And you are going to have to show your shaky, wobbly, half-finished picture of the world to the world who is going to say hey this doesn't look like me. You really hope for a moment of connection like that to come, but it's terrifying when it does, and you just got to try to be at peace with whatever it is that you did make.

I am curious about the visual look of the film and how you brought the film together visually.

I shot with a bunch of different cameras, from iPhones to Canon 5Ds to Sony mirrorless systems. But there's also video games, Google Maps screencaps, Oculus VR stereoscopic videos, and anything that I could use to do what I wanted to do I did. I think continuity can be a really limiting thing; what's more exciting to me is to use all these different forms and formats in conversational sabotage with each other.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Honestly, I'm most excited about seeing my friends who are also showing movies here.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

We have been playing at festivals internationally since August, and we are just now in the very early stages of playing in America. So, a lot more festivals coming up and then hopefully starting some theatrical stuff in the summer with online stuff in the fall.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I would love to bring it home to the Parkway Theatre in Baltimore, MD.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive to your screening?

I would bring them up on stage with me to the Q&A and have them answer all the "what inspired you to make this film" questions.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Don't listen to gear bros or tech bros. Try using whatever is easiest and closest at hand.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

I don't know about ever, but I just saw CASTING JONBENET a few days ago at True/False, and my face was stuck in a contortion of shock and worship the entire time.

Follow RAT FILM online at!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. 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 2017 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/08/17 16:04:52
last updated: 03/08/17 16:09:41
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