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Nashville Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Jace Freeman and Sean Clark, Nashville 2012

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A research boat navigated by Vic Scoggin, who is trying to save the Cumberland River, enters Nashville after a 30-day voyage from New York

Nashville 2012 by Jace Freeman and Sean Clark

Showing at 9:45 p.m., Friday, April 19 at the Nashville Film Festival

How would you describe your film?
Jace: Nashville 2012 takes place in a year of documenting Nashville’s communities, spanning from underground wrestlers and street musicians to environmental activists and empowered immigrants. It’s an accumulation of gritty narratives that combine for a beautifully intimate portrait of a city. Our film continues in the tradition of the observational documentary style, foregoing interviews and narration in favor of showing city-life as it occurs. Confining to a day in the life of a “Nashvillian”, the personal stories of characters illustrate larger themes and struggles as they chronologically proceed to the New Year.

What challenges did you/your crew encounter while making the movie?
Jace:
To figure out the unexplored genre of blending news videos with documentary, we self-imposed many rules and limitations. For example, to keep the videos fresh and relevant to the news cycle, we often edited and published them within days. After producing around 30 of these short documentaries within a year, we decided to put them together into a feature length project. The easy part was that our scenes were already edited.

What attracts you to the medium of film, as opposed to other forms of art?
Sean:
I’m attracted to many art forms, but film-making requires a collaborative effort, which keeps it dynamic and exciting from the point of view of a filmmaker.

A wrester named Jocephus prepares for a match at the Stadium Inn

A wrester named Jocephus prepares for a match at the Stadium Inn

What inspires/influences you?
Sean:
I’m inspired by the people who make do with the resources they have to live out their passions.

Are there any particular genres you favor over others?
Sean:
My genre of interest changes with the season, but right now I’m really interested in the early direct cinema movies of Robert Drew. He is a pioneer of the storytelling form that inspires the techniques used in Nashville 2012.

In the process of film-making, how much of the creativity is found in production? How much improvisation do you find on set?
Jace:
In making “cinema verite” documentary films in the direct cinema style, most of our creativity is found in the production, and it is mostly in the form of improvisation. We don’t ever set up shots or assume that anything will happen in a particular way. Our small crew has to be on its toes, and quickly capture life as it unfolds. The creativity also comes into play later in post-production, when you have to use all your storytelling skills to piece together the puzzle that you shot to make it true to the overall picture. Creativity is needed when you realize you’re missing a couple pieces, and you need to find a way to imply that they are in fact there.

How did you learn your craft?
Jace:
We are learning the art of making documentary films through trial and error. Everyday has a new lesson, and in every project there are failures and successes that make us better.

On what projects are you currently working?
Jace:
We are continuing to update the web series that “Nashville 2012” is based upon at docujournal.com. Our most recent docujournal was of a day in the life of a mother in deportation proceedings. We also are working on a feature length documentary called “The Ballad of Shovels and Rope” about a band based in Charleston, SC.

What would you say of the place motion pictures have in our culture?
Jace:
I think film is important to our culture because stories are an essential part of the human experience. Film is one of the best ways to tell a story.

Supporters of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro gather

Supporters of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro gather

How long have you been working in motion pictures?
Jace:
Our production company, The Moving Picture Boys, has only been around for two years. We are the new kids on the block, but we’re excited to be here.

What themes do you like to explore in film?
Sean:
Although we explore many themes through our work such as immigration and homelessness, the main theme incorporated in our docujournals and Nashville 2012 is community.

What advice do you have to aspiring filmmakers?
Jace:
Create as much as possible. Most of what you make will be bad at first, but keep it up and you’ll see it improving. Start today, and never worry about your lack of “professional” gear or experienced crew. Find talented people that are as passionate as you, and work with and learn from them.

What do you see as the future of film?
Jace:
The future of film as we see it for the Nashville Docujournal is one of bringing communities together. One of our favorite quotes that falls within our mission is from the community advocate Wendell Berry who writes, “How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they do not know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help each other, and moreover they fear one another. And this is our predicament now.”

To keep up with the Moving Picture Boys, like them on Facebook

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About the Author

I'm a contributing writer for the Murfreesboro Pulse. I'm also a filmmaker and a founding member of the MTSU Film Guild. My interests include screenwriting, producing, coffee, beer and philosophy. I'm a huge fan of films, particularly horror, action, science fiction and crime.

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