Filmmaker Q+A: Marnie Ellen Hertzler
Marnie Ellen Hertzler received the Prix DeVarti for Funniest Film at the 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival for her film Growing Girl.
How did you come to know that film would be an important medium for
I have always made visual art and was getting a BFA in Sculpture and Extended Media. I had one professor encourage me to explore a time element in my work. I began animating my sculptures and through that process realized that moving image was the best medium for what I wanted to do with my work. I tried stop-motion animation and started production-designing my filmmaker friend's films. At one point, I took a short break from marking art to work in a few psychology labs and for a psychiatrist in his practice. Working one-on-one with psychiatric patients within a therapeutic setting and through experimental design really exposed me to the deep complexities of interpersonal relationships and how fragile things like sincerity, trust, and lucidity actually are. I left that line of work to return to filmmaking and began directing and writing my own films and animations.
Once you knew that, what did you do? Did you seek formal training,
practical experience, or some combination of the two?
I probably answered a majority of this question in my answer to the first question. But, no. I didn't seek any formal training outside of my BFA. When I knew I wanted to make films, I pieced together the experiences I needed and wanted to do what I needed and wanted. Going back to school for film was never an option for me monetarily. It seemed like a waste of resources that I didn't even have. Yes, I would have had a very concentrated amount of time and energy and space to gain formal skills needed to make movies, but I would have missed out on the "informal" skills and experiences along the way.
Why film (animation)?
For now, I see no better medium for telling stories and showing people what it means to be human and conscious and full of emotions and desires. Make things move, you know? Like stand up right now and walk across the room as slow as you possibly can. Pay attention to every tiny movement your body makes as it pushes itself through space. Imagine your every movement being captured by a single photographic frame. Cool, right? That’s what film does. It's so microscopic but also powerful. There is so much potential and honesty and magic in exploring stories and world through movement one frame at a time.
My family had a Netflix subscription before it was streamable. I would order DVDs to my house, and based on what I watched, and my ratings on what I watched, the algorithm suggested movies that I may also like. It got to the point where I was watching movies like Eraserhead and Palindromes and Gummo and Badlands and Alice in the Cities. Those were huge influences early on. Like, "Oh, maybe it's okay to like these stories and to tell them because I guess other people like them, too." I also liked the first Spider-Man. But it wasn't really until I started watching films by women (which the almighty "algorithm" seems to still deprive us of) that I realized maybe I could make movies, too. I'm being very honest when I say that, and it's getting exhausting. Beau Travail really did some serious work for me.
Current sources of inspiration?
Interpersonal relationships, the Internet, technology and how it shapes us, the inevitable end of all things.
What are you working on?
I am in post-production on my first feature film Crestone. It is part narrative, part documentary, about a group of SoundCloud rappers after the world has ended, living alone in the desert of Crestone, Colorado, making music and growing weed for nobody.
What’s on your mind (and in your heart) these days?
The deplorable realities created by misogyny and how such filth can permeate through generations. Listen up.