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This episode we have on filmmaker, programmer, and professor Brandon Colvin.
Colvin began his career with the feature film “Frames,” an Antonioni-inspired piece about a young Wisconsin filmmaker obsessed with the disappearance of one of his lead actresses. The result is a formalist, attuned mystery, as if Bresson decided to lean hard on thriller elements. “Frames” played numerous film festivals but found its real home at the then-newly formed website NoBudge, a blog run by filmmaker/actor Kentucker Audley (“Sylvio,” “Queen of Earth“), where it went on to get over 2 million views. Surely the number alone would impress any other micro-budget filmmaker (or anyone, really), but that isn’t the end of the story. In a very random turn of events, Colvin was contacted by a director in India who hoped to remake his debut film under the title “Perceptions.” The movie was made and you can check it out right here (also, if you’re a programmer reading this, you know what would be a cool double-bill?) (check it out here). Even the very coolest Sundancers can’t say their film inspired someone else to make their own, let alone remake the thing itself!
Coming off of a successful first feature, Colvin stretched his wings and cast veteran indie actor Robert Longstreet for “Sabbatical.” Also starring the aforementioned Audley, “Sabbatical” follows Ben (Longstreet) as he returns home to assist his ailing mother and attempts to work on a book. He finds himself more than distracted by this close proximity to family, old friends, and his ex-wife, though, and becomes increasingly detached from everything. The film follows a similar approach to aesthetics as “Frames” does but in the interim Colvin had sharpened his skills as a director considerably. Heartbreaking and at times dryly funny, “Sabbatical” is one of the few fully realized and highly impressive American micro-budget films out there. Watch it here for free.
And now it’s onto the next. “A Dim Valley” finds the filmmaker returning to his home in Kentucky for a genre-bending journey of three ecologists collecting specimens in the forests. They happen upon another group — a contrasting troika of free-spirited, perplexing backpackers — and their whole endeavor (and purpose) is put to the test. Colvin is set to reunite with Robert Longstreet for this one and he’s also enlisted fellow filmmaker (and Indie Beat guest!) Zachary Weintraub, Whitmer Thomas (“The Walking Dead“), Rachel McKeon (“Homemakers“), and Rosalie Lowe (“For The Plasma“). We expect the same aesthetical rigor that Colvin usually employs along with a few other surprises (one of which is pulling from the work of Hayao Miyazaki). Do head over to the Kickstarter page and help out if you can!
Brandon also found the time to produce other movies (“Great Light” by Tony Oswald and “Mommy Moments” by Nora Stone, the latter you can watch here) as well as run his own screening series in Wisconsin, the Micro-Wave Cinema Series, which featured a number of great micro-budget indies throughout the years. He joined us on the podcast to talk about his filmography while also chatting about filmmaking while in academia, building a film-going culture in your community, and much more! Listen below and tell all your friends to do the same!