This week our Fast Forward Friday interview is with the multi-talented writer-director-producer and Brooklyn NY based filmmaker Amy Guggenheim. Amy is also a tenured instructor of film and film studies at Pratt Institute. Find out more about Amy and her work here.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a feature film called When Night Turns to Day and that was inspired by my work in Kendo-Japanese sword fighting. It’s about Japanese sword fighting and relationships. It’s a script that I wrote. It’s totally fictional. It’s about a gritty erotic love story between a Japanese man and an American woman. We’re at a really exciting time in the project: we’ve cast some of it and we have a lot of interest both from talent and from production companies and producers. I’ve had a lot of support from my co- producers, Koi Pictures in Tokyo, Japan.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
It’s been about the work I’ve been doing in theater and short films – how people deal with their conscious and their unconscious desires and in relation to each other and between men and women, between people and themselves, between cultures. I did a variety of pieces that were solo pieces and collaborative pieces that dealt with that and I started to realize that really a lot of things that we were doing were very “filmic.”
I wrote the script and it was inspired by that work and by my own twenty plus years practicing Japanese Sword fighting in NYC. At some point it occurred to me that it (Japanese Sword fighting) is a great metaphor for relationships. That two people come together in this very intimate kind of emotionally naked moment, where you’re facing sword to sword and no matter what level of skill you have, or who you are, or who the other person is, no one knows what’s going to happen and you’re both really in the present and it depends on the exchange between the two of you.
Q: Do you have any other projects you would like to tell us about?
I have another feature film idea after this called, “Class”. It’s about class.
It’s ultimately an American love story about two middle aged people at the end of their resources and the courage and the ingenuity and creativity that they deal with the circumstances of poverty; that takes class.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
The writer Marguerite Duras’s elegant, essential screenplays and journalistic stories, director Michael Haneke, the early films of intermedia artist Elaine Summers and the Judson Church, Bunel, Oshima, Matsumoto, Shinoda, Wong Kar Wai and Keislowski; Claire Denis and Kiarostami.
Q: What keeps you motivated as an artist?
Well, one is that I love it and it’s fun. Also I don’t give it up on things and I also love the expressivity – something that is important to me and is in response to a moment. I like the actual making of the work I like engaging with people in projects, my fellow artists. It kind of like, brings out the best of you and the worst of you. Everyone can be totally themselves – that a third place between us is created where each person can bring their vision to.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
When I was writing the male character and I was still practicing Kendo. I was in a Kendo tournament and it was like I was the character in the script, he was really good at Kendo and I was much better in the matches. In fact I won.
Q: What is one accomplishment are you most proud of?
Getting this far in making a feature film.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
Making more films. I’ve got a lot of ideas and I would like to do them.
Q. What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
Stay healthy, physically and mentally. Learn to listen to the right voice in myself and stay connected to my family.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be? Fear
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
It’s a tie between Matsumoto’s “Funeral Parade of Roses”, Kunitz “Passing Through”, and “Guernica’.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Another tie between Martin Luther King and Gertrude Stein.
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
Just do it.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
Q: What is your idea of success?
Engagement and completion.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Q: Final thoughts?
The best is yet to come.