This month is all about celebrating the Talent of up and coming film makers. Our first interview of the of the month comes from a Director who is currently studying in Utah. Walter Mirkšs, originally from Latvia, has previously trained as an actor and in recent years has decided to take his creative talent behind the camera. We caught up with Mr Mirkšs to find out more about his up and coming project, Chapters.
Hello Walter, tell us a little bit about yourself!
It’s always so hard to describe yourself. It means I have to find something special about me which is kinda tricky since I’ve always seen myself as “just a regular dude with an overactive imagination”. But if I have to try to put myself in a short definition -Walter is a visual storyteller, cinematographer, director, food lover, world traveler, viking at heart, who was born and raised in Latvia. From early days I’ve had a huge crush on storytelling and adventures, which is why I’ve probably ended up where I am right now – telling my own stories and trying to take my audiences on adventures with me.
How did you get into film making?
Just like with most people and their little passions and things they love to do – it started quite early on in my life. To be specific – it started with my grandad giving me one of those oldschool VHS tape cameras for my 13th birthday. I had expressed my interest in recording things beforehand and he felt like it was his duty to push me in the right direction. So after that I just started filming pretty much everything – my cat, my LEGOS, my brother, creatures outside my windows (bugs and spiders mainly). Me and my brother used to make up our own short stories and record them. Back then I had no idea what editing was, or how to even transport VHS footage into a computer, so all of my films were in camera edits and were screened by just playing back the tape. After a couple of years I was able to buy my first DSLR camera and learn more about post-production softwares and the world of film making. So now I could film my cat and actually edit the footage, which was a huge step for me.
Couple of years down the line, I was accepted for the Masters program at the University of Utah in Film & Media, and that’s where I still am today. Making movies.
Tell us all about your latest project chapters?
‘Chapters’ is my thesis project for the University of Utah. Which means it’s probably by far the most important short film I am making so far, as it is supposed to represent everything I’ve learned so far and the type of filmmaker I want to be in the future.
It tells the story of a young writer, William, who is sent on a subconscious journey through the cornerstone chapters of his life. Guided by an mysterious narrator, he tries his best to see his wife – Maya – one last time, before his journey comes to an end. I was inspired to write this story after reading about all the near death experiences people have had, and the visions they have seen.
I’ve always been fascinated with the world of subconscious and the mystery behind the question – what comes after death?
What film directors inspire you and why?
I’d say it’s a mix. But if I have to choose, let’s say, three specific directors, who’s work I admire the most and who have inspired me in my own projects, they would be – Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson and Terrence Malick
You come from a background of acting – what made you decide to go behind the camera?
Oh well… I would say my acting career was a strong backbone for the passion I developed for filmmaking. As an actor I loved to portray different characters in different stories and tell those stories to the audience. However, there was always the fact that those were somebody else’s stories – the playwrights or the writers. And from my first steps of storytelling back in my teenage years, I always knew I wanted to write and tell my own stories some day.
So transitioning to the other side of the camera always felt like the next natural step in my life. It was not a hard decision to make. It just happened. And I’m glad it did.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
– Hopefully alive and doing what I do now – filming a bunch of cool stuff (man I sound like a teenager again).
What’s your favourite thing about making films and why?
It’s probably the moment when you see your project finished for the first time and trace it (in your mind) all the way back to when you first started writing the script.
I think it’s magical how you can see what once was an idea in your head, then words on a piece of paper transform into actual moving pictures and characters in them telling the story you’ve wanted to tell for a while. Always puts a big ol’ smile on my face.
What’s the most challenging?
– Two things – getting the financial resources for the project and putting together a strong team that is ready to help you make your vision become a reality.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given about production?
– Don’t rely on post-production, get it right on set.
For anyone wanting to get into film production what advice would you give them?
– Don’t do it. Just kidding. I guess I’ll be very unoriginal and say – be ready to face a lot ofdisappointments. Just like in any other industry, you’ll have to go through a lot of “no’s” and people doubting your work, ideas and potential. If you’re ready to punch through them and keep working (and sometimes it might take a long time until you get there), you’ll be just fine.
We will have more from Walter later this week!