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Blacklight: An Interview With Nick Snow

Despite trying to leave behind his life of crime, Danny reluctantly teams with naïve rich kid Liam and his wildcard friend Kit Viper for a botched robbery, which leaves them in possession of a mysterious supernatural artifact with immense potential.

It was our pleasure to speak to the director of the film, Nick Snow.

What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?

I love storytelling in general, but I think cinema speaks to me more because movies were so important to me growing up, both as escapism and a way to learn more about people or the world. So that visual, cinematic language is kind of baked into the way I think about stories. To me the big attraction of filmmaking is giving people the kind of experience I want when I sit down to watch a movie. When it's truly engrossing and exciting, it's such a fantastic feeling. I love the challenge of trying to create that feeling for others.

Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?

You absolutely learn more from making a film, but film schools can be great places to meet like-minded people and form a network. It's really important for indie filmmakers, especially early on, to cultivate those film families, where everyone helps on each other's projects. It's also a great place to get constructive criticism as you're exploring the medium, which is so important to your growth as an artist.

What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?

Cinema is an orchestra of many other great artforms: literature, theatre, photography, music, and so many others get woven together, so in that sense I think cinema is the most complex artform. But what makes it unique as a storytelling medium is just that ability to control exactly what the audience sees and hears, and by extension, their thought process. It's the closest thing to shared dreaming that we have. So you can really take people on a rollercoaster ride in a way that I don't think other mediums can do.

Did you choose a certain directing style for making "Blacklight" based on the script? 

I do think the material should ultimately dictate the types of techniques that are used on a project. Blacklight mashes a couple genres together, so it was really about finding balance between those. On one hand, the film is basically a neo-noir, where it's this really heightened melodrama, and you get to watch these amoral characters driven to their destruction by their own worst impulses. So I drew a lot from that film noir tradition of high-contrast, expressionistic imagery. It lets the audience know right away that this story will be larger than life. And because the story has a very wry sense of humor, you can have a lot of fun with the style in a way that gives the audience permission to laugh. On the other hand, there's a dark, supernatural side to the film , so I used a lot of horror techniques like slow, creeping dollies and unmotivated camera movements, as though the camera is aware of something the audience isn't. It helps create that sense of dread and foreboding. 

How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?

A big part of why I wanted to make this film to begin with is because I have so many insanely talented friends and it seemed like a great way for us to mutually showcase our abilities. Most of the main actors are friends who I've worked with many times, so I had a sense of their strengths and tailored the roles to them. They all had such great instincts and ideas that really elevated the material even further.

A character driven movie like this is so dependent on the performances, so it was a huge comfort to know I had so much talent in front of the camera. And behind the camera was no different. I spoke before about the importance of forming a network of passionate friends, and this is where it really comes into play. When everyone really knows their craft and can be there for each other's projects, so many incredible things are possible. Getting to be on set with my friends, whether I'm the director or a PA, are times that I really cherish. And then rounding it out, we got our composer Ryan McTear later on in the production after he reached out to us online. I was thrilled because he had the exact sensibility I wanted for the music, which was a playful baroque kind of feel. He was so skillful in recreating that sound, you would never know that some of the pieces he wrote for the film weren't original baroque compositions. It really rounded out the film and tied it all together.

How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?

This was a true independent film in that all of our funding came from private investors as well as our own pockets. We also had a fantastic partnership with Candle Light & Grip in Astoria, Queens. They provided us with some amazing, cutting edge LED units that made it much easier to work with small crews and in tight locations. Having them on board really brought the production value up a lot. As far as challenges go, I'd say the biggest was with scheduling actors and maintaining continuity. This film was shot very untraditionally, in sections over a long period of time. Everyone has their own lives going on outside of this, so it was tricky to find times where all the actors needed for a given scene could be in the same room together. Thankfully everyone was great about making it work.

Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?

I'm definitely an indie filmmaker, and I think the most difficult thing about it is building credibility for yourself on both an artistic and business level. You always want a bigger budget to do better work, but investors are smart people and they don't just hand out checks to anyone, especially when film is already such an inherently risky business venture. It's very difficult to convince them that you not only have good ideas, but can follow through, and turn out a solid result.

What is the distribution plan for your film?

Right now we're going through the festival process, so we hope to attract some distributors through that. But what's great about where the industry is now is that there's so many new avenues for self-distribution opening up. As filmmaking technology becomes more and more accessible, the volume of indie films is sky-rocketing, so more platforms are popping up to help filmmakers get their content seen and actually get paid. It's much like what the music industry has recently gone through, which again, was driven by music production technology becoming so accessible. It's the beginning of what I hope will be a new golden age for smaller, auteur-driven cinema like what was seen in the 70's.

What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?

I think for most indie filmmakers, the dream is to be able to make the kinds of films you want while having them seen by as large of an audience as possible. Even if you're making a deeply personal film, you're still ultimately making it for other people, to communicate something to them. So the more visibility you can have the better. I'd love to get to a place where I have enough of a reputation for creating good work, that when I make a new film there's an audience waiting to see it.

What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience? 

Well as crazy and silly as the movie is, I would still love for it to, at least in some way, cause people to reflect on the origins of human evil. To see how these people are all driven by a deep emptiness in them that they're trying to find a shortcut to filling. I think it's important for people to see the inevitable outcome of that type of shortcut-chasing. The audience for Blacklight are people with a darker sense of humor, who want to have a bit of fun, go on a wild ride and meet some crazy characters along the way.

For more information about the film, please visit the following sites:

Trailer of Blacklight:


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