What: Free ‘Blue Valentine’ screening with director
When: Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Where: Muenzinger Auditorium
More info: internationalfilmseries.com
Despite what you may have read on his Wikipedia page, former film student and current writer-director Derek Cianfrance never actually graduated from CU. He greatly admired and appreciated the erudition bestowed upon him by professors Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon, yet he says that his ambition to make his first feature was too great for him to remain in school.
Four years later, Cianfrance was enjoying the Sundance Film Festival and screening “Brother Tide.” He was 23 years old.
Today, Cianfrance is better known for his recent release, “Blue Valentine,” starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film that Cianfrance says took him 12 years to finally get made.
Q: What was it about wanting to make “Brother Tide” that caused you to leave film school?
A: I was a “Beauty School Drop-Out.” I had this ambition to make the film, and had to take time out to concentrate on getting financing and the production completed.
Q: What did you do while you were trying to get “Brother Tide” made?
A: I worked at Video Station the whole time. I considered it continuing my education. I even used to see some of my old professors there and would talk with them to get filmmaking advice.
Q: Where did you get the idea for “Blue Valentine”?
A: When I was a kid, I had two nightmares. One was of nuclear war. The other was of my parents getting divorced. So when that happened after I turned 20, I decided to deal with it in a film. It’s not a film about my parents, but more about myself and people I know. They’re experiences I’ve gone through, and some experiences I haven’t gone through.
Q: You have two sons now. Does this fact make being an independent filmmaker more challenging?
A: My work got so much better after having my two boys. Before they were born, I would just work on “Blue Valentine” 24-7, living off of unemployment checks or whatever I had to do. Now I have to do more. It’s about survival. After the boys were born, I started making commercials and documentaries to make money, and that also kept me sharp in my filmmaking.
Whereas before I would just get in my own way a lot.
I have to pick up my kids right now, and after they go to bed tonight, I’ll have only a few hours to work. But those few hours will be more productive than all the time I would have had otherwise.
Q: Can you talk about how you found your unique degree of current success?
A: I moved out of Boulder when I was 25. I moved to New York in 1999 with $600. I had already made “Brother Tide” and so I had a Rolodex full of names to call. I just started bugging people. You have to be a squeaky wheel to be a filmmaker. You have to be very stubborn, you have to commit to the making of your film whether you think it’s good or bad.
I’m thankful for my early struggles, because it makes me take my success more in stride. This business works in a way in which you’re hot sometimes and cold other times. But I want longevity, I want to be allowed to make a body of work.
I don’t want to be on the sidelines anymore. I’m excited to keep moving and see where it goes.