For the debut of this brand new series of original posts I'm very happy to feature a young artist that I've had the good fortune of getting to know through his work and his interaction on this blog. As a student I knew I wanted to kick off this series with his interview - I've long made it clear that my own early student work proved to be a catalyst for much of my more ambitious projects and goals. Without further delay, I'm proud to feature the brand new interview of this up and coming artist, ladies and gents, Cinematic Acrobatic Presents: Alex Lamburini.
1. Who is Alex Lamburini?
Alex Lamburini is a sixteen year old director, photographer and screenwriter. His film career began when he was only fourteen years old and was selected out of hundreds of aspiring filmmakers nationwide to join the Samsung Mobile Fresh Films production crew, where he produced a film featuring actor Scott Cohen from Gilmore Girls. While working with Fresh Films, Alex and nine other teen filmmakers cast, directed, produced and edited a short film on a professional Hollywood set in only seven days. At fourteen Alex was already working with casting directors from the film “Freaky Friday” and professional actors. This proved to be only a stepping stone in Alex’s career. At age fifteen, he directed a short film entitled “Meeting Mr. Williams” on location in New York with a small DV camera and a budget of $0. Alex went on to win the El Capitan Film Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival for his short film “Meeting Mr. Williams. Hundreds of films were submitted and Alex’s film “Meeting Mr. Williams” was one of eight that was selected for the prestigious award. Alex Lamburini will be working as an intern for a major film studio in New York City and at only sixteen years old he is directing the new music video “It’s So Clear” for the band The Given Motion. Alex is planning on attending NYU film school after high school.
Personal Blog: Alex Lamburini
Twitter: Alex Lamburini
2. What is it about filmmaking that initially hooked you?
I think what initially hooked me about filmmaking was simply, storytelling; that and being exposed to film production at a very young age. When I was only thirteen years old I began writing stories and being the lover of literature that I am I analyzed them. I began to notice that in each of them I found a little bit of myself and my god, this fascinated me! I found that I was translating certain aspects of my personal feelings and experiences into my stories. While this was my initial “hook” all this really did was engage me in the writing aspect of filmmaking. I think what really got me filming and eventually directing was my desire to release these feelings and bring them to a new medium for people to understand what I was experiencing. That medium, for translating these stories just happened to be directing a short movie and that’s where it all began. I couldn’t tell people what I was feeling so directing a film allowed me to show it to them. At this time I was hungry for more and I wanted to actually make a film. That year I was only fourteen years old and I was accepted out of hundreds of aspiring filmmakers nationwide into the Samsung Mobile Fresh Films program. I worked with nine other teen filmmakers to produce a film from start to finish. We did everything from casting actors to shooting the film on a professional Hollywood set and finally editing together a final cut, in only seven days. Throughout the week we worked with a casting director from the film “Freaky Friday” and actor Scott Cohen. I learned so much and it opened up so many doors for me, I think that’s what really pushed me to pursue a career in the movie industry. It gave me so many of the tools I needed to succeed. The experience of producing a film at such a young age was indescribable and it was something I couldn’t imagine living without. I was hooked from that point on.
3. What are your influences, both in terms of other artists and what you take from your everyday life?
I think in terms of other artists my two main influences are Steven Spielberg and Brett Ratner, for two entirely different and unique reasons. Spielberg’s films deal with aliens and the paranormal and this of course stems from his feelings of alienation as a child. When I wrote my first film “Meeting Mr. Williams” I found that alienation was a key theme in the story. I think Spielberg’s ability to masterfully handle this concept in his films is amazing, and it has inspired me and touched me in a way that no other filmmaker has been able to. It’s not so much his storytelling that has inspired me but it’s more his niche as a director that has inspired me beyond belief and I find myself incorporating similar feelings into my films today. For example, in my film “Facing the Sun” the protagonist Caty feels both emotionally and physically alienated. I think my protagonist Caty kind of acts as the alien figure that is so predominate in Spielberg’s films. I feel that special connection with him and his films and it really has influenced my work as a director. As far as Brett Ratner is concerned, he has served as a major inspiration for me as a director. I know professionally, Ratner wouldn’t give up when he was coming up in the movie industry. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and from what I’ve heard he was extremely driven. He was NYU’s youngest film major, at only sixteen years old. If that’s not a perfect example of his drive, I’m not sure what is. I think because of the attitude he had when he was starting out Brett Ratner really has been a major inspiration in my career, especially considering that I’m just starting out myself.
I think as far as my influences from everyday life are concerned I would have to say that my life is my work and my work is a mirror image of my life. I think Andrei Tarkovski put it best when he said “The advice I can give to beginners is not to separate their work, their movie, their film from the life they live.” Your best work comes from what you know and if you separate your life from your work, you’re not going to come away with quality work. I think as far as my influences are concerned I find that whatever I’m going through in my life at the time that I’m writing a script or directing ends up working its way into my film. It’s not so much that even I try to do this; it’s just something that happens. In terms of everyday life my come from my emotions and my experiences. Even terrible experiences have fueled some of my best stories, so I never shut out of my feelings and emotions. In terms of what I take from my life; well I take everything and I think this quote explains that best – “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”
4. If you had to choose a single project you've made or participated in to showcase your style, which would it be and why?
I think if I had to choose a single project to represent my style it would be one of my first films “Meeting Mr. Williams.” The premise behind that film was about coming of age and feelings of acceptance. In the film every character feels out of place in one way or another and when these characters meet they kind of justify their placement. It’s an interesting concept. I think that movie may be less of a conventional film, but it’s something that defines my style so well. My scripts and films are marked by characters that feel alienated, out of place or trapped in some way. Often times in the end these characters come to find acceptance or placement at the same gaining knowledge concerning something. Essentially this is everything that my film “Meeting Mr. Williams” is. The characters in that film find acceptance in each other while maturing in their own way and grow past their burdening feelings of alienation. Also, I’ve been told that my films have a haunting quality to them. They leave the audience with something when they walk away and I think “Meeting Mr. Williams” does this so well. The ending deals with themes of acceptance and considering that these feelings are so universal, they really touch home with a lot of people, and leave them with something when they walk away. This project sort of paved the way for my style to develop in future films so I see it as a starting place. I think because of its simplicity and symbolic nature, it really shows the most about my style as opposed to something that’s completely fueled by plot. I’ve directed films like that and it just doesn’t get across a perfect image of my style like this film does.
5. Passion, Creativity, Drive - Choose one.
Drive. Hands down, no questions asked. Don’t get me wrong, passion and creativity are extremely important but you can have all the passion in the world and all the creativity in the world but without drive that just makes you talented and most importantly unknown. I’ve met a lot of talented directors and writers that love film but they don’t care if people see their work. They don’t care about getting their work out to a wider audience or taking advantage of a great opportunity in their career. For some reason the interest is just not there, and where does that get them? Absolutely nowhere. Success doesn’t just happen because you’re talented. If that was the case, there would be thousands of people that were famous and successful. You have to make things happen for yourself, nothing is going to come to you. You need to come to it. You have no idea how many talented directors I’ve known that have flopped in their career and at the same time I’ve known people with one hundred times less talent succeed, and it doesn’t pain me to see that because I know those people that were one hundred times less talented, wanted it one hundred times more.
6. Best piece of advice you've received so far?
I think artistically speaking the best advice I’ve received was from music video and TV commercial director Tom Oesch. I wrote to him asking him for advice. He’s probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever spoken with; he got back to me the next day. The first thing he told me was that I needed to find my niche. I needed to find a very specific style and focus on that one thing. Tom told me that everyone that’s successful in Hollywood is known for something, whether it’s Ace Norton, who’s known for shooting quirky pieces, that utilize crazy CGI or Joseph Kahn who’s known to blend live action with CGI. He told me that Hollywood is incredibly categorized and departmentalized. After all this, he finished by telling me not to spread myself too wide, find my niche, develop it and once I become very, very established, I’ll have more leeway to try other things. I take this advice to heart every time I consider directing a film, or begin writing a script. I think as I grow older and my career progresses this advice becomes even more important. I know that when I write a script, it’s a unique story and the reason I’m able to direct it is because I know the material so well and it’s something that is really my niche. In the future I won’t be writing the scripts, other writers will, and I need to have a specific style, something that I can bring to a producer and say, this is why I would be perfect for this script, let me direct it. If you can’t be specific about your style you won’t be able to identify a script or a story concept that you can really contribute something to as an artist. Keeping that in mind, I take Tom’s advice to heart every time I direct a film or write a script.
7. In a utopian world, what would you like to achieve with your work or what would you like it to say about you individually?
I want to direct. That’s set in stone, but eventually I want to direct professionally, in television or for movie studios. I’d like to start my career directing music videos and commercials coming out of film school. There’s so much to be learned here that can carry over to a successful career directing feature films, because they all deal with storytelling the same way movies do. Just in a shorter amount of time. It’s like getting paid to practice directing short films. I think eventually I want to get to a point in my career where producers can read a script and think of my name as a director, because I’d be perfect for that film. That’s really all I want; to direct movies. I direct because I want to get a message across through my film or contribute something to a story and then be able to entertain people with that story. That’s why I love this. It’s that simple, there’s really nothing else to it. I think as far as what I’d like to say about myself is concerned. I’ll let my films do the talking, because in every one of my films there is a little piece of me, and there’s more to be learned there then I could ever tell you about myself as an artist.