Mar 31st, 2011
Filmmakers Notebook has a special Q&A to present to you – an interview with Noah Hutton, Director of the compelling documentary More to Live For, which tells the compelling story of 3 amazing men who are in need of a bone marrow donor: Michael Brecker a 15-time Grammy winning jazz saxophonist, Nigerian American Olympic hopeful Seun Adebiyi and James Chippendale, who is the co-founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation. The film is an official selection in the Cleveland International Film Festival, which is being held this weekend, and in the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival with screenings scheduled for April 3rd and 8th. It is also going to be shown at the end of the Aspen Songwriters Festival on April 3rd. Hutton, son of actors Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger, won accolades for the success of his earlier project Crude Independence and has a love for documentaries, which comes across loud and clear in this interview.
This weekend MORE TO LIVE FOR is an official selection in the Cleveland International Film Festival, which is a city you have some history with between your CRUDE INDEPENDENCE being shown there and the fact that it’s your mother’s hometown. Do you have any anecdotes from before or thoughts about screening MORE TO LIVE FOR there you’d like to share?
The CIFF is run by fantastic people who care about making sure the filmmakers feel at home and have a supportive platform to show their work. I am disappointed I can’t make it this year with MTLF. I have very fond memories from the festival in 2009 when I showed CI there.
You’ve been on the film festival circuit before with CRUDE INDEPENDENCE and now you’re back again with MORE TO LIVE FOR. As a filmmaker how do you feel about your work being screened in film festivals and the feedback you receive from audiences viewing your work at them?
For small independent documentaries, film festivals are a wonderful place to share new work with audiences for the first time. I feel proud to be a part of these festivals’ 2011 programs with More to Live For.
You made SHOOTING FOR PEACE and CRUDE INDEPENDENCE before MORE TO LIVE FOR. What is it about making documentaries that inspires you?
I am inspired to make documentaries because they have the potential to tell stories at a different depth and speed than we are accustomed to in mainstream media. A documentary affords the opportunity to spend some serious time with a subject or in a place, and then to present that time through a creatively edited perspective.
I am also inspired by the chance to make a tangible difference with a film. That is something that making More to Live For was all about—here we have a chance to inspire people through watching a film, to sign a list where they could potentially save a life painlessly and at no cost to them.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this genre?
The most challenging aspect of documentary filmmaking is the patience that the story you’re trying to tell deserves.
Documentaries are filled with social commentary. Is it difficult to find your voice doing projects like this and still do justice representing other people’s viewpoints?
If there is a clear distinction between my voice and other people’s viewpoints then I have not done what I intended to do with the film. My voice should be in the honest presentation of other people’s viewpoints.
There’s been talk of you going out on the road and doing a “college tour” with the film in the fall. What goals would you set for yourself and the movie if you were to commit to this type of venture?
The one goal would be to try to find more matches for those in need by increasing the size of the bone marrow donor registry list.
You have two more documentaries mentioned on IMDb, KING FOR TWO DAYS and GIVE AND TAKE. What can you tell us about them?
King for Two Days is a concert documentary about drummer Dave King of jazz trios The Bad Plus and Happy Apple. It is currently in post-production. Give and Take is a documentary directed by Carl Kriss, a first-time filmmaker, which I supported as an executive producer. He’s just about to enter the festival circuit with the film, which tells the stories of several subway musicians in New York City.
You are both a producer and director. What do you like and what do you find most challenging about the two?
I am primarily a director. The greatest challenge is to never lose sight of tone.
Basically, you are at the beginning of your career, so have you given any thought to how you would like to develop as a filmmaker and the types of projects you want to produce or direct?
I am interested in directing documentary and narrative feature films. I will be working on a narrative project next, but I would love to continue to move back and forth between these two worlds that aren’t so far apart in my mind.
I also read in an interview you did after CRUDE INDEPENDENCE that you’d like to expand Couple 3 Films into an umbrella media company and that you are extremely interested in the field of neuroscience. Any plans you care to elaborate on in these areas?
I have been working to build Couple 3 as a production company here in New York City. We were commissioned this year to produce 30 original short films about classical concepts in psychology and neuroscience by Scientific American this year. I’ve also been directing music videos for a band called The Indecent, who just signed with Warner Brothers, and there will be more videos ahead in the next year.
What advice would you give to filmmakers starting out who want to produce and/or direct documentaries?
Don’t wait for permission to make your film.