When MovieMaker asked a range of successful indie filmmakers to participate in our Film School Roundtable article for our upcoming Summer issue, we received a wide range of insightful, hilarious, and diverse answers. We’re featuring some of our favorites on moviemaker.com over the next few weeks, leading up to the newsstand release on July 7.
The three questions we asked each alum: What did you do right in film school, what did you do wrong, and what advice would you have for 2015’s incoming class of budding auteurs? Like the cool upperclassmen whose brains you always wanted to pick, but were too shy to vocalize, we’re happy to step in as your moderator and fraternal big brother.
This week, Andrew Bujalski (Harvard University, Class of 1999) shares his wisdom. The director’s latest feature, Results, premiered at Sundance and opens in theaters today.
1. What did you do right when you were in film school?
Andrew Bujalski (AB): The program I attended was extremely nuts-and-bolts, i.e. here’s how you the load the film in the camera (“film”: our primitive “capture medium,” back in the 20th century), here’s how you load the tape in the Nagra (that didn’t even make it to the end of the 20th), here’s a light meter, and here’s a Steenbeck (“oh, you wouldn’t understand”), now go make something with it. Anyone who’s worked with me or married me can tell you that I am not the most mechanically minded of folks, but I am so glad that I took the time to give my fumbling hands some training in these matters.
I cannot regret a single light stand I attempted to set up, although some of my classmates may have regretted asking me. These days I work on sets where nobody lets me touch anything, but having even my rudimentary firsthand memory/knowledge of the work on set makes it possible for me to communicate with a confidence that I could not possibly have gained otherwise.
2. What did you do wrong when you were in film school?
AB: The main thing I did “wrong” was a lot of bad filmmaking. But I certainly wouldn’t change that. It’s the best way to learn.
3. What’s the one best piece of advice you’d give to an incoming film student, so that they can make the most of their time at film school?
AB: It’s the year 2015 and you’ve decided to attend film school. Congratulations! You are a very impractical person. May as well commit, I say, and use this time as creatively as possible. You’ll have the rest of your life to get your ass kicked by economic realities. For now, take advantage of the bubble you just placed yourself in. And enjoy it. MM
Results made its premiere at Sundance in January and is available in theaters now.