When many people think of the term “art writer,” they likely scoff and dismiss such a profession as the height of pretension. They assume that art writers never cover anything but esoteric gallery news and “useless” art theory and scholarship. Art writers, however, generally claim a much more varied set of topics than the “who’s who” of hole-in-the-wall cafes and art houses. They often research pop culture, history, television, music, fashion, theatre, dance, publishing, and even video games. In fact, nearly all art writers will interview a filmmaker at some point in their careers.
If you are an aspiring art writer, know that it is never too early to think up questions and learn how to approach filmmakers without feeling intimidated. Despite their notoriously glamorous lifestyles, filmmakers are people, too. Remember to be as polite and professional as you would with any other interviewee by dressing presentably and arriving early for your appointment. Assuming that your interviewee is a decent human being and not completely brain-dead, the experience should yield promising writing material. (Most filmmakers view interviews as great opportunities to promote their movies, after all.)
In case you’re struggling to come up with appropriate questions, here are a few to get you started. Obviously not all of them will suit your needs and you will likely have to develop several of your own, depending upon the focus of your interview. Nonetheless, these questions should inspire you as you prepare for your first filmmaker interview:
*Tell me a little about yourself personally and creatively/personally.
*What first got you interested in film?
*What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
*How would you describe your film education?
*What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?
*How would you describe the film “scene” where you live?
*What advice do you have for anyone interested in trying to succeed in your city?
*Who or what do you cite as major inspirations (they do not have to directly relate to film) for your work?
*Who are some of your favorite screen actors? What do you admire about their acting? What about their techniques should aspiring screen actors study?
*How would you describe your filmmaking process?
*What experience do you have in other art forms?
*What distinguishes film from other art forms?
*How does film unite different types of art and media?
*What do you consider some of the main differences between cinema and theatre?
*What do you consider some of the main differences between cinema and television?
*What do you consider the elements of a good film? A great one?
*What sort of things do you study and consider when watching a film?
*What sort of internships and jobs have you had that relate to your field? What advice do you have for students interested in gaining the same types of opportunities?
*What are your post-graduation plans? Why did you choose them?
*Where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
*What advice do you have for anyone interested in pursuing a film career?
*Where can readers view your films and learn more about you?
*Any last words?