Friday, November 13, 2009

Madrid Dares You Film Competition - Featuring Brooke Swaney

"When I say I'm from Montana, I'm FROM Montana. My people, the Salish and the Blackfeet tribes, are from there. And if you’re reading this you’re familiar with the jokes.

Some Blackfeet dude in reference to the people on the other side of the mountain: fisheaters. When I was a kid on the Flathead Reservation, all my cousins would tease me that I walked at a slant.

I guess I’ve always been a bit slanted. Moving from the reservation to the “city” required adaptation, so I reacted by being a spazz with a solid nerd the foundation: graduating top of my class at Capital High in Helena and then going on to Stanford, all the while acting in community theater in the former and writing and acting in the biggest and spazziest of Stanford “theater,” Gaieties, in the latter.

Being Native has always given me an outsider insight to American society. It has kept me curious in every situation, like I’ve taken on and reclaimed the role of anthropologist or something. The latest fieldwork: Madrid.

Just last week, I had the immense fortune of participating in a short film competition called Madrid Dares You sponsored by the Madrid Board of Tourism.

Check out the link (and vote for my short El Color de Madrid, politik politik):

The challenge was to make a short film, three days to shoot and three days to edit, showcasing the city based on a theme. Mine was Fashion and Luxury.

Now, just because I’m from Montana doesn’t mean that I don’t know about Hermes or Balenciaga or Dolce and Gabbana (thank you Television, Vanity Fair and the good ol’ Internet). But it was immensely strange to be plunged into filming some of the top designers in Madrid, spending time in a suite in the Palace Hotel where Michael Jackson used to stay, and trying to converse about this all in Spanish; versus the 72 hours before, to pleasantly stroll through the mountains near Basin, MT where I was doing an artist residency at the time.

But I guess that’s the life of a filmmaker, and that’s why I love it. I get to explore and research to my nerdy heart’s content a new subject with every project.

A few months ago, my mom asked me why I wanted to be a filmmaker. It hasn’t been an answer that has seemed obvious, that they would publish years down the line: “She always would make little films as a child during family gatherings” or “You could never pry a camera out of her sticky little hands.” No, that never would be believable because I never had a video camera growing up and I was fastidious about the cleanliness of my hands. I think the first time I touched a camera (with clean hands, sorry the joke keeps getting less funny as I stick it in but I can’t help it) was when I moved to Helena and was surrounded by suburban kids.

For me the inspiration to be a filmmaker has come from a need to express myself and tell a story. That’s why I made “The Indigenoid” in 2004.

You can see it on my website if you like:
Brooke Swaney

We submitted it around to a few film festivals. The high hopes of Sundance didn’t pan out, but getting into film school did.

NYU has provided a foundation for my building career. It has taught me so much technically and artistically. The peers I have met, the professionals I have heard lectured, the professors who have fundamentally influenced my work, and the connections I have made are sure to remain with me always. Brooke Swaney

At NYU, I have been able to sing the voice of my films, sometimes off key.

Ideally, I want to make features based in Montana. But, I aspire to film everywhere, anywhere that speaks a truth to me. Already, I have been able to spend time in France, Cuba, New York, Madrid and the Bay Area. But I am always grounded in my big sky upbringing. "
by Brooke Swaney

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