Written by Andrea Pierson; posted by Dustin Jenkins
After a recent, special screening of his documentary, Actress, director/editor Robert Greene gave a presentation to current Ohio University Film students about his evolution from student filmmaker to award-winning documentary filmmaker. Greene received his M.F.A. from City College (New York), worked as an editor and post-production supervisor at 4th Row Films and has credits for four documentary features and a number of shorts. He will soon be teaching at University of Missouri, directing the school's new documentary program.
Upon receiving his degree he started editing content for Coke and American Express. Greene emphasizes the importance of pursuing one aspect of filmmaking (in his case, editing) in order to sustain oneself while pursuing one's creative goals. For Greene, it is making movies such as Actress that are not so much about craft but rather ideas. Greene says the best movies are the ones that make you think and feel.
With Actress, Greene experiments with ideas and themes commonly threaded throughout his body of work. Greene describes Actress as “an observational portrait” that makes the audience question the line between reality and fiction. “It raises the audience’s awareness of watching what you’re watching, while you’re watching” and thematically asks whether the audience trusts the documentary’s character, Greene explains.
The act of questioning what you’re watching (documentary versus fiction) keeps the narrative alive. Greene says the key to editing documentaries is finding the emotion in every sequence and transition—to “grab [the audience] by the collar and switch gears.” Greene believes that every film student should make documentaries because understanding direct cinema encourages the skills necessary to tell fictional narratives. Both require that the images on screen keep moving—keep the image alive, keep the audience engaged mentally and emotionally. Greene is still fond of the intrigue of cinema. From direct cinema, to grandiose melodrama, staging and art comes: “what are we watching?”
Greene ended by stressing that traveling to film festivals, staying focused on your ideas and taking opportunities as they come are crucial to your creative endeavors as filmmakers. But most importantly, filmmakers must have support from people they trust, and they must be able to learn from their failures.
Robert Greene’s Actress will show again at the Athena Cinema at 7:00p on Thu., Apr. 2.