2h With Steve McQueen: Transitioning From Gallery Work to Feature Films
Up until I watched this two hours conversation, Steve McQueen was a mystery to me. In 5 years, McQueen has released three feature films that not stand above the over crowded filmmaking playground, each one the equivalent of a punch in the stomach, each one standing strong on its feet, determined to shake the audience with its story and its visual.
We all try to understand what are other filmmakers secrets: how did they start, how did they find money, how did they secured distribution, how did they learn to make movies etc. even though we know that, ultimately, a story never repeats twice.
This is particularly true with Steve McQueen, who didn’t follow the “traditional route” (proof is that this 2h conversation happens in an Art Museum with a curator, vs. a theater with a ‘moderator’).
I am so used to hear stories of filmmakers either coming from the music videos/commercials or the Festival route, that I never thought there was a third way to go: the Art World. And that’s where McQueen comes from, which makes him all the more fascinating.
Because he had no money to shoot feature films, McQueen started shooting short films that (for reasons that are not explained) made it through the Art World and Galleries. Steve McQueen shot 11 short films before Hunger, between 1993 and 2007. It seems that from the get go his first short film, The Bear (1993) gained attention and his fame in the Art World increased until he won the Turner Prize in 1999.
Watch right below ‘Illuminer‘, a video shot in 2002 where McQueen lays on a bed in a hotel room in the dark, while his body reflects the light produced by the TV news about the war in Afghanistan.
Like many (I’m assuming), I know close to nothing about the contemporary Art World, a world I associate with experimentations by and for the elites (I’m probably wrong). Steve McQueen is the first filmmaker I can recall transitioning gracefully from one world (the art world) to the other (the ‘entertainment world), taking his themes of predilections and integrating them into stories on bigger scales, for a bigger audience, without losing any of his integrity.
That is huge.
Listening to the 2h conversation below I really felt another world opening up for me. Because this doesn’t take place in a festival or traditional journalistic context, there was no conversation about budgets, camera equipments, casting etc. Steve McQueen and Stuart Comer talk about meaning and intentions, and there is no real way to sum that up into bullet points.
To conclude, I hope you’ll watch it. The two men go through McQueen’s career up until 12 Years of Slave, showing extracts of each feature films and the last half-hour is a Q&A with the audience.
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