“A good film can reach deep and illuminate in ways no other medium can” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Clarke Stallworth

2023 October 2

“A good film can reach deep and illuminate in ways no other medium can” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Clarke Stallworth

-Who is Clarke Stallworth?

I have always identified as a maker, using my hands since childhood to make and fashion all kinds of things. I am a photographer and cinematographer thanks to my father, and a writer and storyteller thanks to my mother. I understand cinema thanks to both. I am a beekeeper. I am a lifelong progressive focused on justice. I am an environmentalist who wants to see the Earth survive. I am a teacher and mentor. But, most importantly, I am a brother, uncle, and husband. I am a father to my amazing nine-year-old son.

-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I have been making short films since childhood and had always dreamed of being involved in big budget filmmaking. Even though life choices led me in other directions, film, cinematography, and modelmaking remained important to my artistic frame, and to my understanding of narrative. This identified how I thought of artistic expression generally. My parents educated my sister and I indirectly through immersion in Depression era black and white filmmaking, as well as the Hollywood Golden Age classics of the late thirties and forties. Growing up, we spent most of our time together in the theatre, watching the great American films of the 20th Century. This was my film school.

Though I consider myself a digital animator today, it is the language of film that defines how I see story, character, composition, color, and light. I am far more versed in the language and conventions of live-action filmmaking, and of the visual effects that populate those films (what I teach), than I am in the history and technique of historical animation. Consequently, my work is influenced more by the likes of Deakins and Trumbull, than Landreth, Miyazaki or Disney. I am inspired by the works of directors around the world, but most especially Kubrick, Kazan, Spielberg, and Mann, as well as Villeneuve, Denis, Bigelow, and Nolan.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Movies most certainly can and have helped to change societies for the better. Given human reliance on sight and hearing, a skillfully produced film has the potential to reach someone on a level beyond what the written word may be capable of. Films can transport the viewer to a place of empathy and understanding, connecting on an emotional level. A good film can reach deep and illuminate in ways no other medium can. Film history is replete with examples of this, including influential and powerful films like The Grapes of Wrath, An Inconvenient Truth, Philadelphia, Hotel Rwanda, Schindler’s List, Bowling for Columbine, Norma Rae, The White Tiger, and Do the Right Thing. These films made a difference, and many other less high-profile films from around the world did as well.

-What would you change in the world?

I would break the grip that corporations have on democracy. Mindless corporate greed can be traced to most of the ills of the Earth, and until their behaviour is truly regulated and controlled, a more just world will remain out of reach.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

My hope is that cinema will incorporate new technologies as they emerge, pushing the quality and capabilities of the film medium farther. This has happened with the transition away from physical film to digital cinematography, as well as with the development of photorealistic visual effects. My fear, of course, is that AI, and unrestrained use of automated techniques, will result in the abandonment of the craft and artistry of filmmaking.