How did the Warren Report get started? Because of my history in film and at nonprofits, both here and in New York, I just decided if I'm not going to make much money, I'd much rather work for myself, and do the things I really want to do. The Warren Report is a manifestation of all the things I love about film. The guiding principle is "smarter audiences make better movies." And so, through screenings, screenplay readings, seminars, classes, and discussions with visiting filmmakers, hopefully we can get audiences to a point where they'll start to recognize better movies and thus demand better movies.
Where does your audience come from? It's mostly word of mouth, though I'm very proactive about it. The list is now around 5,000 people. I think a lot of people knew me from when I worked at [the Seattle International Film Festival], and some of them followed me to the Warren Report. And just from doing events and people approving of what I do--they tell two friends, and they tell two friends.
And so on, and so on, and so on. That's right. And it's grown at a frightfully exponential rate.
What films and/or directors are you especially excited about in this year's Bumbershoot lineup? There are some filmmakers returning to 1 Reel for their third or fourth consecutive year. Naturally, I am always hyped to see new pieces from A. Jonathan Benny, Jay Rosenblatt, Sir Evan Mather, Jeff Seymann, and Sir Aristomenis Tsirbas. From a purely "backyard" perspective, it thrills me to see local lensers David Russo, Calvin Reeder, Brady Hall, Sir Drew Christie, and Dayna and Gaelen Hanson of 33 Fainting Spells contribute new pieces.
What qualifies you as a teacher? I'm certainly a film fanatic, and I went to film school, though I loathed it. I'm torn, because I can use it as a qualification, but I hate to because I really feel what made me qualified was not film school.
So what's different about your teaching? I don't use any cameras. It has nothing to do with shooting. What I really like to get back to is the art of filmmaking, both in terms of story and wacky concepts like mise en scène. You can learn all the basics in a book, but if you can't look at a great film and realize how they've actually controlled the elements, and how the lighting impacts the picture, et cetera. It's a finesse class. The screenwriting classes are thoroughly character-based. I don't teach any "give me eight weeks, I'll give you a completed screenplay." It's all about, "Do you want to make a great film?"
Your trajectory is the opposite of the classic "move to New York or L.A. and make it big" scenario. Do you feel like a success? There is the part that's like, "If you haven't made it in New York, you haven't made it." But I got past caring about that. I don't want to have to worry about what five billion other people think. In New York, for me at least, there was always the sense that it wouldn't matter what I was doing, I was always failing on some level in somebody's eyes. And here, I don't think anybody cares that much. Which makes it more possible to accomplish things.
The 1 Reel Film Festival will be in the Bagley Wright Theatre Friday through Monday.