interview with filmmaker Scott Amos by Rick Raxlen

To view Scott’s films, go to oilyfilms.com

Rick: how’d you find film?
in other words were u painting or writing ? or …

Scott: I think the progression was music, painting, writing, video, film. I got into video quite accidentally – a skateboarding accident led to a broken leg, and then I had to stay in school over the summer because I couldn’t work. That’s where I found Brian Hendrick’s FA305 Video Production.

The film started when a friend-of-a-friend dropped a projector and a stack of Super 8 films on my doorstep one day because he was moving.

Rick: I know you really like the chemical end of it.
What takes your fancy about hand-processing and the bucket-at-home method?

Scott: It’s cheap, relative to sending film to the lab. And there are these beautiful imperfections, something organic about chemical processes that get missed when working with pixels. It’s strange to use the term “organic” when talking about chemical processes, but I think there’s something human and accessible about chemistry.

Rick: Just by chance, rather than by studious avoidance, I didn’t take film studies.
Do you think the university is selecting and teaching in a way that would make one want to create work?

Scott: I think it really depends on how you look at it. Quite often mistakes lead to interesting outcomes and exercises in problem solving. The academic system doesn’t really embrace mistakes, in fact, they try to avoid mistakes. But I guess it all depends on the student. In creative studies there’s a fine balance. If you’re striving to do something truly creative, you can’t worry about making mistakes. Creativity suffers when you’re too worried about your grades.

Rick: Brakhage said, according to someone very close to him, “Give the janitor the prize…give me the money”
Can u talk about prizes and money and how they influence your work, good and/or bad?

Scott: Thankfully, we have great federal support for our artists through the Arts councils and the NFB. Prizes are nice, money is too, but I don’t think money should be the reason to make your art. And if you’re in it for the money, making short films is the wrong business to be in.

And quite often, with funding money, comes somebody to answer to.

Rick: Short films often do not get written up in reviews…does that mean you might try a longer form sometime soon.
Are u working on any “bigger” ideas (bigger here means longer).

Scott: Yes, I’m working on a longer film right now. I’m aiming for a feature, but we’ll see how it goes.

Rick: Would it be ok with u if no-one saw your work but that u had enough money to live and have fun making films and videos?

Scott: Well, I can’t pretend that I make really meaningful films that are going to change the world, but I like being exposed to new ideas, and hope that some of my work might expose others to different ideas. What’s the point if no one sees it?

Rick: Do you work with other filmmakers? Writers? Musicians?

Scott: Yes, community is a big thing for me. It’s great to bounce ideas around, and filmmaking is often a team sport, and we’re all starving artists to some degree, and if we can’t afford to pay eachother, then we can at least help eachother out. I always need music for my films, so I’m big on helping out musicians.

Rick: What are you doing to support yourself these days, dollar wise?

Scott: Working a bit at MediaNet, Working a bit at UVic as a TA in the writing department, some little contracts here and there – mostly video documentation and things like that.

Rick: What do you feel about this country’s granting system to media artists?
Have u applied? Any luck?

Scott: It’s safe to say that there’s never enough money, but I think we have a great system for supporting artists. I’ve applied to a bunch of grants, and received a few. It’s never enough to live off, but it helps to support my film addiction.

Rick: I read about video-on-demand for super-low budget edgy personal films. Do you think it will happen in Canada? Is it available now in Canada?

Scott: I’m not really sure. I try to avoid the business stuff, i find it depressing.

Rick: What’s been happening with podcasting the last couple of years? Is it still a good way to get one’s work seen?

Scott: The internet has become a great platform for short films, at least for getting them out there. I think it’s a great way to have your work seen. I haven’t really done anything to monetize my work on the web, and I know there’s big divide in the arts community about artist fees and giving away your work for free. I think it’s a personal choice. There are some of my works that I haven’t put on the web yet, because they can still play at festivals, but a lot of the stuff I put up there are just experiments and little blurbs. I just checked my webstats thingy and it says that yesterday 1121 of my films were downloaded from my website. Where else would I get an audience like that?

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