File Thirteen has called Kissing on the Mouth "probably the most important film about a young generation since Slacker." As for LOL, Nathan Lee has written in the
New York Times, "The impact of technology on social relations has received subtler analysis elsewhere (see the films of David Cronenberg), but this small-scale, microbudget indie speaks the theme with a fresh voice." And an appreciation of Young American Bodies went up at GreenCine Daily earlier this summer. Here, Andrew Grant talks with Joe Swanberg about what drives all this creativity.
In just two years, you've released two features (Kissing on the Mouth, LOL), a 12-part Internet series on Nerve (Young American Bodies), and completed a third feature. Why the prolific rate, and do you plan to keep it up?
I have a pretty short attention span, and it's always easier for me to get excited about the next project than promoting the current one. The films I make are hopefully strong, but somewhat limited in scope. I hope that as I create a larger body of work, each film begins to make more sense, and that it becomes something of a little world.
Your method of working can truly be called independent. One camera, self-financed, virtually no crew, etc. Was it your plan all along to work in this fashion?
I treated Kissing on the Mouth like a second film school. It wasn't meant to be my calling card, and I had no idea what was going to happen with it. Had it turned out bad, or had I not been proud of it, it would have just sat on my shelf, no harm done.
Do you harbor fantasies of directing a large film production?
I think it would be fun to try. There's something appealing about working with a crew of professionals. That's one of the best and worst things about making movies the way I do. We're all nonprofessionals - I even consider myself nonprofessional - and though it's fun this way, it would be great to work with skilled technicians. But it's less a fantasy than an experiment to see what would happen.
But as you become more successful, do you imagine you'll be able to continue making films this way?
It hasn't been an issue yet. I'm not at the stage where I want to work with somebody else's material. However, there's something to be said about doing a job for money, and then being able to go back and make the films I want to make. I never thought that would be interesting to me, but now that I'm so poor, it doesn't sound that bad.