Living the Independent Dream in Brooklyn

It’s hard to walk down a street in Brooklyn these days without stumbling across a film shoot every now and then. But while movie sets are sprouting all over the city, it’s the independent moviemaking scene that’s turning Brooklyn into an artistic hub for local talents. Enter the Brooklyn Arts Council’s “Scene: Brooklyn,” a film series that celebrates the borough’s thriving film community. With panel discussions, screenings and workshops with some of the borough’s most successful moviemakers, including Half Nelson‘s Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, Oscar-nominated director Tia Lessin, Cruz Angeles and Ramin Bahrani, “Scene: Brooklyn” brings together local indie moviemakers with film enthusiasts and industry professionals.

In the midst of their latest series, taking place April 29 – May 6, MM spoke with BAC’s managing director, Tricia Mire, about the Brooklyn arts scene.

Goldy Moldavsky (MM): On May 6th, you’re hosting a panel titled “Living the Independent Dream.” How do you define the independent dream? And how does Scene: Brooklyn help the film community in Brooklyn achieve it? ??

Tricia Mire (TM): On the fantasy level, it’s the mythic story of the filmmaker who has a great idea, plenty of moxie and makes it happen. On the practical level, it’s the filmmaker who makes a well-financed film—start to finish—without adding Holllywood soundtracks, sentimentalizing or moral imperatives. And, of course, the perfect dream has a riveted audience who wants to see the film, talk about and be changed from the experience.

Scene: Brooklyn seeks out local filmmakers who still believe in the dream, connects them with an audience hungry for their work and professionals who’ve made it who can give their best advice and help them make it, too. Just imagine Ramin Bahrani, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Cruz Angeles and Tia Lessin in one place giving you pointers. That is indeed a dream.

MM: Scene: Brooklyn has a strong focus on community and locally-based projects. How important do you think that is to making movies? ??

TM: Brooklyn’s an amazing place that’s easy to be inspired and challenged by. Many of the films have Brooklyn as a central theme and character, but some are shot abroad and others have place-based references that are secondary to technique and aesthetics. New York is New York because of its creative energy. Brooklyn is New York’s hot spot, creatively, because it’s a welcoming place for artists to live and work. Our goal is to tap into all this creative energy and create a real sense of a film community for the artists living and working here.

MM: What kind of role would you say Scene: Brooklyn has in fostering Brooklyn’s creative arts? How do you hope to see that change/improve in the company years?

TM: If artists don’t feel a sense of connection where they live and work, it’s all too easy to pick up shop and move to the next place. Scene: Brooklyn wants to bring our local filmmakers together to say, ‘Look at all this talent in this big small-town. Let’s slow down the rat race and see what we’re all working on.’ This year, we’ll be adding a salon-style screening series and bringing filmmakers together with audiences in even more intimate settings. We want to take our direction from Brooklyn filmmakers, so we’re staying open.

MM: What brought Scene: Brooklyn about? Was there a need for this type of film series or is it a response to the growing the indie scene? ??

TM: We’ve been presenting film in Brooklyn since 1966. We were the first group to show film in Prospect Park and that’s well before it was the urban oasis it is today. Each year we’ve seen the market get more saturated, and our local filmmakers—who range from just-out-of film-school to the Oscar-nominated—get lost in the information overload. Scene: Brooklyn is a chance to break through the clutter and fanfare to see just how talented a pool of filmmakers we have in our own backyard, slow down and form a community again.

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