Werner Herzog: On Meeting a Master

A sweet moment with Werner Herzog at the Aero Theater. I told him he makes the world more beautiful and he said he “tries”. To my filmmaker friends, I highly recommend his MasterClass (masterclass.com) as a source of inspiration. He shared his memoir and gorgeous film “Family Romance, LLC” with us. Werner’s unstoppable spirit is a powerful example to all us filmmakers. He faces every challenge with gusto!

I aspire to create a truly gorgeous film in which every element conspires to tell the same story so that audiences can enter into the world of the film and remain fully immersed until the final frame. It’s a challenging task. It’s hard to do. Really hard.

During the editing process, I jokingly called my film about groundbreaking singer-songwriter Janis Ian’s life and music the “most challenging puzzle in the world”. And when things got tough during the edit, our editor Ryan Larkin would laugh and repeat my words back to me, “the most challenging puzzle in the world.”

I was inspired by the art of collage as an approach to this film. So the idea is that we combine a multitude of disparate elements to create a layered and cohesive whole–a complex task when you are talking about spanning 70 years of a rich and varied life and body of music. One that I have embraced. For me the key is to listen to what the work wants to be and follow its lead.

I’ve been fortunate to be working with an incredible team of collaborators including our Executive Producer and my Co-Writer Pierre Hauser who is incredibly insightful and has a great eye for historical detail and relevance and a nose for when something feels confusing or when a beat is missing, Producer Alessandra Pasquino who can manifest even the wildest dream that a director can have, Brooke Wentz whose expertise on music rights has been critical. When I saw out DP Matthew Wilder’s reel I knew I had to work with him. His visual sense mirrors my visual aspirations. He cinematography is beautiful and he was willing to experiment with the unconventional approaches I proposed to him and executed them brilliantly. And our editor, Ryan Larkin. Wow. His commitment to the story, the music, the historical context, and the art and logic of it all allowed me to feel safe during those many hours when we did not know how it was all going to come together.

When it all does come together, it’s pure magic. And I can hardly wait to share that magic with the world!