Built from segments in the award-winning web-series The Corona Dialogues: Lindsay Grundman, must juggle the needs of her parents, her brother and her brother's agent by teleconference while navigating the future of her own career as a television executive during the first months of the pandemic shutdown. It was our pleasue to speak with Dylan Brody.
What draws you to the language of cinema?
As a story-teller and a writer, I engage any language that allows me to express complex ideas through simple story. I don’t always know when I begin a project whether it will wind up on the page or the stage or the screen. As the story develops I discover its proper medium. Projects define themselves as cinematic when they cover more time or space than can be managed in a stage play, and the action of the story plays out in expressive scenes rather than internal monologue or intellectual exploration.
How and when did you start studying films? In the 70s my father was of the first people to teach film as a form of literature at the college level. On Tuesdays a big hexagonal box full of 35millimeter film reels would show up and that night we’d watch the film projected on our livingroom wall. Dad would make notes for the next days class, when he’d screen the film with the students and then discuss it. He and my mother would dissect the story, figure out the underlying impulse of the auteur, what was said by the piece, all the critical analysis of a New Yorker film review with none of the wit. I would listen and absorb. I didn’t know that I was learning to think about film in a way that few people do. I thought this was how everyone learned to interpret the entertainments they absorbed. When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created? When I was a child, I wanted to be an actor and a stand-up comic. I wrote all the time. My father, my sister and I made a super 8 silent together. I couldn’t have been older than eight or nine. I made tiny-budget films with friends in high school and college. I cannot remember a time that I was not actively writing and creating material to entertain anybody who would look, listen, or tolerate.
Please name a few directors who have been influential in your work and why? William Forsyth serves as my inspiration and my proof-of-concept. His weird little Scottish films, his occasional forays into Hollywood filmmaking, his commitment to telling human stories, everything about his work delights me. Kevin Smith’s work and Wallace Shawn’s, John Sayles and Spike Lee, these people who had ideas, put them on film and then found a way to move them forward without the support of major studios or vast corporate backing impress the hell out of me. How difficult is it to find the right audience for an indie film and what is your distribution strategy? Finding an audience in the vast, fragmented entertainmentscape of the modern world requires a particular kind of self-awareness regarding one’s work. Where studios and networks have the advantage of vast advertising budgets, allowing them to make trailers, billboards and marketing campaigns ubiquitous in the weeks leading up to a release to ensure their audience will become aware of the piece, self-select and show up for the big opening weekend box office, indie producers must take a far more targeted approach, spending resources wisely and putting the work in the circles where its audience are most likely to congregate. That means knowing who the audience is for the project and where they gather.
Corona Dialogues: LockDown 2o2o has not yet found a distributor with whom to work on this project, so our thoughts on distribution strategy will likely change once someone with real knowledge of that field steps in, but our assumptions to day run along the lines of Art Houses and streaming networks that celebrate independent artists. IFC occurs to me offhand. I think we’ve thrown around the idea of going to PBS with it. For this project in particular, we need to find a way to reach intellectuals who can grasp the idea of smart-dialogue in a minimalist format as a viable alternative to action and super-powers. What was the inspiration behind the making of The Corona Dialogues - LockDown 2o2o? In 2020 my literary anthology Relatively Painless was scheduled to come out with me heading out on book tour. The Covid hit and the book tour was cancelled. I created a web-series (The Corona Dialogues – a dylan brody project) as a way of promoting the book by bringing the characters from the book to the small screen. That series won a bunch of awards (and sold a lot of copies of the book). When I realized that the winningest episodes of the series contained a comprehensible story arc, I rushed to the computer to start editing them together to create this minor motion picture. How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society? Cinema, like all the story-telling arts, has the capacity to shape our understanding of who we are as a species, a society, a culture and as individuals. It is through our stories that we shape our self-images, our core assumptions, our systems of belief. When we find ways to reveal the truth of the human experience, or elements of the experience, in ways that relieve shame and guilt, that inspire and engage we help to move people closer to their true selves. Indeed, it is only through art that humanity progresses in its self-awareness just as only science allows progress in our factual comprehension. In both cases the goal is a search for the discovery and expression of truths.
Please tell us about your next project. It looks as though my next project will be one from a while ago on which I’ve just resumed work. YOU ARE HERE – a dylan brody project wrapped principal photography in ’17 or ’18 and I couldn’t make it work, so I shelved it. I solved the major issue a couple of weeks ago and have now returned to the footage with renewed hope and enthusiasm. I’ve also got a new novel called Merlyn’s Mistake that I’ve adapted into a pilot for a limited series called Merlyn’s Modern Magics, so I’ll be taking that out and pitching it to mainstream outlets as I do the edit on my next minor motion picture release.