Some stills of Edwin Stevens at work:
Read our FILMMAKER Q&A with EDWIN STEVENS:
Why do you make movies?
Growing up, I had an intense passion for music. My mother’s family was all musically gifted and my father was an engineer who helped build some of the first digital audio recording stations. I studied classical piano, guitar, bass, drums, and voice, but I found a new fire when I began dabbling with a camera and my first editing software in high school. I still love music, but I love telling stories that stimulate both the visual and audio senses.
What story do you want to tell?
The stories I would most like to tell are those that are most relatable to my life. In order for me to make a film, it has to get under my skin, make me obsessed with the subject matter, and drive me to spend years of my life working on it. Those stories that I can’t stop thinking about are the ones I want other people to become aware of.
What’s your story?
Wow. What IS my story? That’s a complex question, and I’d like to think that I’m a complex individual.
I grew up in Maine. Because my mother was an avid musician and my father was a pretty brilliant engineer, I’d like to think that I inherited my mother’s artistic qualities coupled with my father’s technical savvy. I think both sides are imperative to cinematography.
I am also someone who has experienced many feelings. When I was 18, my brother committed suicide. When I was 27, my sister was murdered. And at 28, my father died from his third cancer. On the flip side, I am married to the girl of my dreams, I get to work in an industry that I absolutely love, and I have 3 beautiful children. I think that my experience with extreme opposite sides of human emotions helps me connect deeply with characters and art.
What do you want to achieve in your craft?
I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t dreamt of becoming the next Roger Deakins. That would be fantastic! However, right now, I’m pretty damn happy telling the stories that mean the most to me with some of the people who mean the most to me by my side.
What message were you trying to relay with Hunting Lands?
Hunting Lands was a great experiment. The director, the main producer, and I wanted to take control of our own destinies and make our own film. We chose a story that could have taken place in our own hometowns. Being in love with the setting made us take special care in showcasing its beauty. But the story is also quite simple. I think that is one of its victories. I guess we were trying to say you don’t need millions of dollars to make a compelling film. And that human beings need interaction. Even when we try to shut ourselves off from the world, that world will find us. We need others to truly exist.
What was your vision for Hunting Lands when you were making it?
To be honest, when Zack Wilcox, Josh Amato, and I set out to make Hunting Lands, we just hoped that we would come away with a film with which we were proud. If even one other set of eyeballs saw it and appreciated it, we would have succeeded. We were lucky enough to be showcased at many festivals and even win a few awards. I still can’t believe that Hunting Lands has played around the country as much as it has.
What would you tell a young woman with aspirations to be a filmmaker?
The best advice that I ever got was “if you can see yourself doing anything else... then do that.” The film industry is tough. The hours are long and the rejection is constant. But if you have that amount of undying passion for film that it takes... please keep digging in. We need more people who are that committed and passionate.
What has been your biggest struggle as a filmmaker?
The biggest struggle I’ve faced is choosing between stories that I believe in and balancing them with stories that will feed my family. The good stories often know that they’re good and they don’t pay the bills. I live almost exclusively on passion, but that doesn’t pay the bills. The dream is a project that is both profitable and intellectually stimulating.
What do you see as the biggest struggle going forward?
The biggest struggle I face is balancing work and family. In order to really put your best foot forward in the film business, you have to devote full days, weeks, months, and even years to your craft. I love film so much, but I also love my wife and three kids equally. How do you devote all of your time to all of these loves?