Interviews with Independent Filmmakers

From 1991 through 2002, I was a contributing editor to Tower Records’ Pulse! Magazine, writing about American independent and foreign films. A seat in a movie theatre turned into a magic carpet ride around the world, sometimes to places I had thought I’d never want to go. Filmmakers entertained me and opened my eyes to our shared interests and desires, to our complex, contradictory humanity.

It was the best and most fun job ever. Part of the “best ever” came from working with editors Suzanne Mikesell, Babs Baker and Bill Forman -- excellent editors and great people too.

Of the 79
Pulse! articles on this website, 32 feature interviews with women filmmakers. Another 16 spotlight interviews with men who made films with women in the lead roles. I made a point of looking for compelling stories about women and women filmmakers to cover, but really, it wasn’t hard to find them. They were there. They are there now.

Pulse!, which stopped publishing after December 2002, was primarily a music magazine. Many of my interviews include discussions with filmmakers about music, either music they used in their films and/or their musical influences. A few of the directors made music films including Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) and Sam Jones (I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, on Wilco).

From Victor Nunez’s
Ruby in Paradise, the co-Grand Jury Prize winner at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, featuring Ashley Judd’s feature film debut; to Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, Ang Lee’s martial arts film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Darren Aronofsky’s first film, π, the unlimited range of independent filmmaking is on display here, as well as its interconnectedness. Robby Müller, the cinematographer of Lars von Trier’s Breaking The Waves, also shot the films of interviewees Sally Potter (The Tango Lesson), Wim Wenders (part of Buena Vista Social Club and many other Wenders films), Jim Jarmusch (Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai), and Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People).

The years 1991-2002 were a good time for independent filmmaking. Personal vision was paramount, and rewarded. At the beginning of this period, films were shot on film and the internet wasn’t even a part of our lives. By the end of it, digital video and DIY had become an attractive option for filmmakers. Almost all of the filmmakers I interviewed continue to work today, a tribute to their abilities as filmmakers and storytellers, and their perseverance and willingness to adapt to major changes in the business and the technology of filmmaking.

Please enjoy the ride!
--Nancy Kapitanoff