• "Taking a short story and cutting it down into a poem." Jeremiah Zagar answers five questions 02/08/12

    Jeremiah Zagar
    Jeremiah Zagar

    Jeremiah Zagar, director of "Heart Stop Beating" answers the Focus Forward questionnaire.  Here are his responses:

    1. What was it about the Focus Forward themes of innovation and/or invention that attracted you to the project?

    Innovation is about pushing the current boundaries of what is possible. But the innovators, the ones who push those boundaries fascinate me the most.  The ability of one or two people to change our world takes a kind singular vision and imagination that is perfect fodder for the kind of films I love to make. 

    2. Can you give me some examples of how technology, such as inexpensive and high-quality digital cameras, the advent of social media, the ability to edit a film on a laptop, and other recent innovations have affected your work as a doc maker?

    I like the mix of the new and old. For this film in particular we shot on super-16 as well as HD video. Then we put it all on a hard drive and I cut it on my laptop. There is no way we could have done this even ten years ago. It's amazing that I can do it now. 

    3. What are the biggest challenges of the compressed 3-minute format of the Focus Forward films?

    These are large stories, so the tough thing is figuring out how to tell just the right piece of them. It's sort of like taking a short story and cutting it down into a poem. It's hard as hell. 

    4. What are the 3 most important thing for a documentary filmmaker to know/do to attract a  general public that might be convinced that documentaries are "educational" or "dry."

    I can only speak for myself, but what I try to do is....

    First and foremost tell a great story. 

    Second make the film in the same way I would want to make a narrative, using the same tools, and energy.

    Third be true to the subject matter, 90 percent of the time real life is much more exciting than fiction. 

    5. Come on, you can tell me the truth...just between you and me... You really want to be making big studio films in Hollywood, don't you?

    The truth is I'd love to. I just want to tell great stories, but I do need a lot of creative control and I hear in Hollywood that's hard to come by.