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In 2013, filmmaker Jeff Malmberg was the first ever winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Jeff has been busy at work editing his latest project over the past several months, but he took the time to catch up with IWC to look back on the past year.
Tell us a little about the project you’re currently working on?
For the last few years I’ve been working on a documentary film set in rural Italy called “Teatro”. It tells the story of a small Italian village that turns their lives into a play in order to confront their issues, unite their town, and preserve their culture. My wife and filmmaking partner Chris Shellen and I spent six months living with the people of the town and shooting every day. We learned Italian for the project and currently we’re in the middle of editing.
How has the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award helped your film career?
The award has helped me to continue working on my second film, “Teatro”. Just recently I traveled to Italy to show rough cut scenes to the subjects in the film and have a conversation with them about the finished project. I consider this an essential part of the editing process in documentary and it wouldn’t have been possible without the award from IWC.
Where do you find inspiration for your filmmaking?
One of the great things about filmmaking is you can be inspired by all the art around you – not just specifically other films. It’s probably no accident that in the one film I’ve made and the other one I’m currently making that one is about a photographer and the other is about a play. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to replicate the experience of reading a novel. How you get put inside a character’s head and then you’re led through a subjective experience.
What is your ultimate filmmaking dream?
What I’d like to do is create a body of work that allows me to keep telling stories the way I feel they should be told. I want to keep working with my wife on projects that excite us and ultimately I want to teach our child how to make films.
What advice would you give to current Tribeca Film Institute students who are looking to kick off their career?
To me it all comes down to the subject you choose. Particularly in documentary filmmaking, it’s important to pick a subject that will take you to a place that you don’t know the depths of – something that you want to explore and spend years trying to understand. To me the best films are really archives of the filmmaker’s quest to understand something. And then of course shaping it into something where the audience gets to go on that journey too.
What are some of the biggest challenges new filmmakers are facing today?
One of the issues with filmmaking is the incredible amount of time it takes. Not only the time to shoot the material but the time to actually sit down and find both the story and the right way to tell that story. So I’m really grateful for the IWC award that gives filmmakers the time they need to tell their story.