Though he named his moviemaker support group Filmmakers
Alliance a decade ago, Jacques Thelemaque would never discredit
the role that the digital medium has played in the success of his
moviemaking endeavors. Now celebrating his organization’s 10-year
anniversary, the future for both Thelemaque and his LA-based group
seems paved with gold… and tape stock.
From the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where he just
screened his short, Infidelity in Equal Parts, Thelemaque
spoke with MM about how DV has helped him achieve his career
goals—and where he hopes it will take him in the future.
Jennifer Wood (MM): For most of the
past decade, Filmmakers Alliance has been one of the best-known
indie moviemaking groups in Los
Angeles. Founded on the basis of simply having a support
network, FA has grown steadily over the years. Though I know
your members have produced works of varying lengths and formats,
how has the proliferation of digital technology aided you in
growing your organization—and allowed you to accomplish as much
as you have?
Jacques Thelemaque (JT): It has been beyond helpful; the
development of digital technology has been a stroke of divine providence.
When we started, the goal was to empower filmmakers and aspiring
filmmakers in a way other artists (sculptors, painters) can empower
themselves. The emergence of digital was unbelievable timing. Although
filmmaking will always be more expensive and complicated than most
other creative endeavors, digital technology has brought an incredible
democratization to filmmaking.
MM: And how about what the technology
has done for you, personally? You’re about to screen your short, Infidelity
in Equal Parts, which was shot in one day, edited in a week
and cost you a whopping $30 to produce. I’m assuming that none
of this would have been possible without the digital technology?
JT: Without digital technology, I probably
would not be here at Sundance. My first short was on film and
expensive. My next three films (two shorts and a feature) were
all digital and allowed me the ability to make these films and,
as importantly, to evolve as a filmmaker. The last required a Canon
XL-1 and a Final Cut Pro system—that’s all! The $30 was just for
Although I still love working with film and, indeed, intend to
do my next feature on film (because some films must be shot
on film), digital technology will always be an important part of
my life as a filmmaker. And I intend to continue working extensively
in the digital realm.
MM: Do you think it’s possible for anyone with knowledge
and desire to do the same thing: to have an idea and—within a
week—have a finished product to exhibit?
JT: Absolutely. However, I am shocked to find that a lot
of filmmakers can’t grasp this simple fact: that passion, knowledge,
experience and creative ambition will move you much farther along
in your life as a filmmaker than money.
MM: What immediately comes to mind
as some of the best examples you’ve seen of an innovative and
cost-effective use of DV moviemaking?
JT: I’ve seen many beautiful examples of cost-effective
DV production, such as the Filmmakers Alliance short Sweet by
Elyse Couvillion (Sundance 2001), and, in terms of innovation,
the film-DV hybrid Paradox Lake by Shemie Preut (Sundance
MM: You’ve recently announced your partnership with
Circle of Confusion, the management-distribution company that
handles the Wachowski brothers, in which you’ll produce a series
of $1 million digital movies. What will FA’s role in this partnership
JT: Circle of Confusion is actually one of two such deals
and our role in both will be predominantly as the production company
of record (line producers, basically). However, we will also be
involved in the acquisition and development of projects as well
as providing the pipeline to distribution through partnerships
with Cinema Libre Studios and Jim Steele’s Digital Cinema Solutions
MM: What kind of films are you setting
out to make with Circle of Confusion? Will there be any set
guidelines, as it relates to theme, equipment, etc.?
JT: The C of C deal will be strictly digital production
and will focus on smart genre and niche films. This is the direction
they have chosen and we support it wholeheartedly. If this first
group of films succeeds financially, it gives us the room to spread
our wings creatively with the next batch of films. Even with this
first group, however, we will encourage them to get as daring as
they possibly can and integrate as many creatively ambitious projects
as possible into the mix. Or at least push the envelope with the
genre films and let the directors boost them with really distinctive
MM: And all the films will be exhibited digitally, as
JT: Yes, again in partnership with DCS.
MM: In your opinion, what are some
of the best films to come out of the so-called "digital revolution" thus
JT: Although there have been many solid
live-action feature digital films, to be frank, I think we have
a long way to go in
terms of mining the creative potential of the “digital revolution.” But
we are getting there, slowly. For me, the most exciting films produced
digitally thus far are animated films and documentaries, of which
there are way too many to mention.
MM: How do you hope Filmmakers Alliance
will add to—or
build upon—this legacy of movies?
JT: Our goal at FA is to encourage and
support filmmakers in exploring the full potential of digital
production—and not just
mimic the way movies on film have been conceived and made for more
than a century. If we’re successful, that will be a very satisfying
For more information on Filmmakers Alliance, visit http://www.filmmakersalliance.com