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Filmmaker Mac Premo

Stuff-maker Mac Premo made the very enjoyable, and ultimately quite humbling, short film 2014 Year in Review, which we featured on our last Weekend Watching selection. I asked if he’d be willing to answer a few questions about the film et voila here is the product of that Q&A session. Watch his short film below, if you haven’t already seen it. The interview is right below the video.

What was it about 2014 that made it seem like it deserved a Year in Review film?
Actually, I did one with my good friend Oliver Jeffers  a few years ago. We covered 2011. That piece was commissioned by The Daily, the short lived iPad news publication. Supply & Demand, the company that represents me as a director, really liked that piece and wanted me to make another. They helped produce it, but they left the entirety of the creative up to me and my team. My wife Adrianna Dufay is my creative partner, and she co-wrote it with me (as well as executed the voice over).

What was 2014 like for you personally?
2014 was a great year for me, which is humbling, because frankly, it seemed like a pretty shitty year for the world. There were certainly times as we prepped for this film when I was like ‘man, I can’t make anything other than a depressing ass film about this year.’ Looking over what the year was like really put my personal world into perspective: I have great folks, great kids, and my wife is my best friend. I’m the luckiest Arab in Belfast. (Disclaimer: I am neither Arab, nor do I reside in Belfast).

Mac Premo How long did it take for you to make this film from the time you had the idea to the time you locked final cut?
We worked out the idea off and on over December. Some folks at Supply & Demand helped compile everything that occurred over the year, as did my intrepid assistant Pete Treiber. Then we whittled it down and made a script. Then I got pulled away on a big directing job in Chicago, so we had to get real economical about production and the crew when I returned. Pete helped a lot with the prop creation, then on the shoot week, it was just me, an awesome animation assistant Divya Gadangi, and my wife. We shot for 5 days, edited for two days, created and compiled foley sounds and laid them in on the final day. So 8 working days total for production.

Were there events you left out of the film?
Oh man, soooo many. I feel neglectful about having left some things out, but there is simply no way to include everything. Time, timing, and how well something translates into a visual were deciding factors. The students killed in Mexico is kind of a huge thing to have left out, just to name one. Also, there were a lot of famous people who died this year— Maya Angelou, Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman— there were frankly so many that I omitted any mention of famous dead people.

Do you have a favourite section from the film?
I am fond of the ebola parts. That is Pete as Africa and me as the U.S., so it was a lot of fun to make. I did the drawings, but Divya compiled the animation, so it was a nice team effort.

So, what’s your back story?
I was born in DC, moved around a lot, ended back in Maryland just outside DC, that’s where I grew up. I went to school at the Rhode Island School of Design where I studied illustration and animation. Right after school I came to New York and have been making stuff since then, be them films or collage or plays or sculpture. I think of filmmaking is an extension of my practice more than a separate element of what I do. Something things work better as a collage, some things better as a sculpture, some things better as a short film. My buddy Bas Berkhout made a really great short on who I am and what / why I do what I do that does a really god job at answering this question.

[Editor’s Note: We featured it on Weekend Watching here.] 

What is your favourite kind of filmmaking, and why?
I think whatever does the best job of telling the story. Sometimes that’s frenetic and cutty and 40 seconds long. Sometimes it is slow and Lawrence of Arabia-esque. As far as my favorite way to make films, personally, I kind of don’t think about that so much. I just do things the way that makes sense to me, though I am trying to figure out how to think about what can be done, not just what I can do. That’s tougher than you’d think.

What do you think 2015 will be like for yourself, and for the world?
My plan is to have a fantastic year, so I’m going with ‘fantastic.’ As far as how the world fares, I fear we are off to a terrible start. But who knows. Maybe the Yanks will win the Pennant.

Related Links:
Mac’s Official Website