Soft Eyes: An Interview with Director Sam Fathallah
23rd March 2019 by Will Stewart
A serene snapshot into the daily life of nature photographer Amee Ellis, in today’s short. The beautiful imagery and atmospheric sound design do a really good job of communicating the working ethic of the artist. Amee is a very hands-on photographer, and the experience of being nature is something she tries to capture in her work. I think it’s very fitting that she hand processes the black and white film herself, as it seems the calm and methodical process is a part of the art, just as much as the finished image. Seeing Amee’s photos inspire me to get out into the wild, but in the mean time I’m glad for the 6 minutes i was transported there watching this film.
Film maker Sam Fathallah got in touch with us to let us know about his film, so we asked him a few questions. If you’d like to see your film on MadeGood.tv, then please feel free to make a submission.
MadeGood – What’s your history as a film maker? How did you get started and what kind of work do you usually do- is this a typical example?
Sam – I remember making short videos with my sisters when I was 12. We used a Sony 8mm camcorder to make comedy sketches in our living room. I ventured into stop motion, music videos, and nature films as I got older and eventually found my way to documentary and art film. The majority of my work today is telling stories about everyday people.
MadeGood – This is a very personal and intimate portrayal of a photographer. What’s your relationship with Amee- did you know her prior to making the film?
Sam – I was walking through an arts festival in my city and I stumbled upon Amee’s booth. I noticed her photos were beautiful and were all outdoors. I figured there ought to be an interesting process here, one that involves many hours out in nature. Eventually we became friends through the filmmaking process.
MadeGood – Do you have any experience in nature photography yourself? It’s a very beautiful film, and the two of you are out there working together, did you learn anything from the way she works?
Sam – I do a good deal of nature videography, which is part of the reason Amee’s work enticed me. All the insights she shared in the film were insights that I took with me. More than anything, I learned to be patient and soft so as to not overlook the subtle beauties.
MadeGood – Were there another film that inspired you to make this one? Or are there other film makers/films that you admire, that inform your filmmaking process in general?
Sam – I didn’t draw on any specific works for this piece, but in general I’m fond of Terrence Malick’s style of exploratory cinematography. I like treating scenes like treasure hunts where the goal is to find the shot that is well-lit and communicates something central to the thesis of the film.
MadeGood – Give us an idea of what you’re working on next.
Sam – I’m currently working on a series of pieces for Iowa Public Radio and the work they do to provide reliable journalism to the state.
MadeGood – Nice one Sam. Can’t wait to see the next one!