By Saskia Wilson-Brown, September 10th, 2010

As part of the upcoming ‘One Hundred Mornings’ run at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles, Cinema Speakeasy, CineFist, Downtown Independent Theatre, and  Slamdance Film Festival have come together with the WorkBook Project to jointly curate a short film program to highlight new independent directors. What follows is the third of six director profiles.

BURKE ROBERTS


Burke Roberts’ first film debuted in the midnight movies section of Cannes Film Festival and then went on to achieve an underground cult-like status (‘Jesus Rides Shotgun’, 1997). Not bad for a suburban punk kid from Colorado.

Roberts is singularly – some might even say aggressively – devoted to the underground. His projects, best described as diverse and communal in nature, run to the very edges of the arts spectrum: From running his art film collective (Bizzurke Army), to creating jaw-dropping contraptions such as the Engine Theater, a 1000 pound light and steel kinetic projection system, complete with 17 foot screen.

Helming some truly experimental stuff (“techno-primitive”, actually), Roberts is a self-described addict, but his devotion is primarily angled towards the process– which he likens to the hip-hop battle attitude of the Parisian film scene. As he puts it. “My brand of guerilla filmmaking is basically making really complex, high production value somethings out of nothings.” (Suicidegirls.com, ‘A Plague Called Complacency: Guerilla Filmmaker Burke Roberts Talks Film and Fanaticism’, 2007).

We caught up with Roberts in anticipation of the upcoming screening of ‘Some of An Equation’, a short film in one take exploring JUST how wrong things can go in the space of a few minutes.

What are the biggest issues you’ve faced, as a filmmaker?

I’ve run the gambit of the guerrilla filmmaker’s challenges: shut downs, injuries, arrests, etc.  But the biggest issue is the constant life state of suspense.  It begins when an idea wants to be born then escalates throughout a production and remains ever present around the film for as long as it shall be screened.

How do you typically distribute your short films? What has worked, for you?

I do not make my work readily available to the public at this point.  I tour with my films like a band to theaters, galleries, festivals and music venues – domestically & overseas.  To see them, one must come to a screening or purchase directly from me.

How do you define success as a filmmaker?

A true filmmaker is attentive to every detail of the craft, from theme to shot design, from performances to lighting, story structure, location, sound design, pacing, color timing, subtext… and so on…

The best a filmmaker can hope for are fleeting moments of satisfaction throughout the process: in which the entire puzzle snaps together to match, or even exceed, the vision in their mind.

Audience approval, wealth and celebrity are only relevant when a filmmaker with strength of character is able to funnel it into extended freedom of exploration on the screen.

Slamdance, Cinema Speakeasy & WorkBook Project present: ‘Some of An Equation’
Directed by Burke Roberts
Cinematography Jeremiah Tobias Gurzi

Tuesday 21 September
7:30 and 9:30

Followed by the WorkBook Project Discovery and Distribution Award winner ‘One Hundred Mornings’.

Click here for screening tickets

Bizzurke Army:  http://www.bizzurkearmy.com
The Engine:  http://www.theenginetheater.com
Burke Roberts’ Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/bizarrmy/videos

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