This week’s Filmmaker Spotlight focuses on Director James Connelly, whose film is showcased at Sunset Gower Studios as part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. Learn about his film, The Escape as he discusses goals and reminisces about making the film, lessons he’s learned and where you can catch him next.
Name/Position: James Connelly/Director
Film: The Escape
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
The Escape was created as an American Film Institute graduate thesis film. It took about 6 months to develop and shoot, and the post-production took another year to complete. I began working on this film May 2009, it was shot November 2009, and premiered December 2011.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping out with this film?
Violeta Mallmann (Makeup Artist) and Lee Frank Perez (Costume Designer). Beyond the surface of their crafts, they aided in the storytelling process by collaborating as storytellers. I’d also like to acknowledge James Gray who contributed a tremendous amount of his time and energy.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
It’s fantastic to be part of this group of talented people who are privileged to screen their works publicly.
What inspires you?
Still photography, films, philosophy, music. What I’m looking for are the things that captivate my imagination. That’s when ideas start flowing.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I have been greatly influenced by Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron. I admire Kubrick more than anyone because he was eventually able to achieve complete control over all aspects of the filmmaking process.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Anything can happen to anybody at any moment. And, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
What is the toughest experience you’ve ever had to overcome?
Enduring training as a zen monk while staying in a Buddhist temple in Japan. This was as much of a mental challenge as it was a physical one.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Never give up.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Never give up. And I might add- figure out what makes you different than everyone else.
Where can we expect to see you next?
At a major film festival premiering my debut feature film, Selling Water by the River.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
My personal website is irishtreefort.com – there is information about my films as well as some of my photography.