Field Notes Interview #36: Brent Foster, Filmmaker
Stories are all around, it's just a matter of finding the one ready to be told. For filmmakers, Brent and Tammy Foster of Foster Visuals, their new While I'm Here | The Legacy Project beautifully captures modern day figures telling their stories for future generations.
Brent started off his career as a photojournalist and fell in love with film as his career progressed, ultimately switching gears to work with moving picture. Having storytelling at the forefront of his craft, he's travelled to more than 20 countries, shooting images for The New York Times, LA Times and TIME.com. Now as a father of two with his wife Tammy, the other half of Foster Visuals, Brent has focused his attention to this story-driven passion project.
We chatted with Brent about how he finds stories out of thin air and how music helps elevate his films.
M: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
BF: I knew I wanted to tell stories at a very early age, but started as a still photographer. I grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada with a weekly newspaper that was dropped off to our home. I saw the paper sitting on my parent’s kitchen table one day and noticed how unique the black and white image was on the front page of the paper. It was a truly photojournalistic moment. Nothing was posed or contrived. I was hooked and have never looked back.
M: What's your favorite moment in the filmmaking process?
BF: I absolutely love spending time with people that I likely wouldn’t have the chance to meet if I didn’t have a camera in my hands. The filmmaking process is amazing, but the personal experiences that come along with the work are what I value the most.
M: What do you think defines a filmmakers voice?
BF: I prefer to let the subjects in our films define the pace, feel, and emotion of the story.
M: Tell us more about the Legacy Project.
BF: While I'm Here | The Legacy Project is a series of videos that profile living legacies while they're still doing what they do best ... turning life into legacy.
I decided to start this project after missing out on the chance to tell the story of a man from my hometown who dedicated his life to helping others. That man's name was Frank Dymock. For years, Frank opened his garage to the public and sharpened skates free of charge. He wouldn't accept a dime. He was an icon in the place where I grew up, and I always wanted to tell his story while he was still here.
Regretfully, I let time pass, and Frank passed away before I had the chance to tell his story. This project is dedicated to him and to countless others who live selflessly and truly leave a legacy, forever impacting the lives of the people lucky enough to cross their paths.
M: Are there any happy accidents when filming?
BF: For sure. I think the happy accidents come with hard work and putting yourself in the right place so you’re ready for magic to happen on camera.
M: What's one of your favorite scenes in film and why?
M: What role do you feel music has in film?
BF: Music pushes a film forward, evokes emotion, and is a fundamental part of every film we make.
M: When do you know you have something ready to show the world?
BF: Sometimes I wonder if I ever have something ready to show the world. I tweak, and re-tweak films over and over before putting them out there. They never feel perfect, but sometimes you just have to give them wings and let them fly!
M: How do you feel music is misused in film?
BF: The wrong choice of music can completely ruin a film. If it’s unnecessarily emotional, or trying too hard, it can really distract from a piece instead of helping it.
M: What's coming up?
BF: We're on a huge mission with the While I’m Here | The Legacy Project to try and tell the stories of 6-8 amazing living legacies over the course of the next year or so. So far, we are funding this ourselves, and producing the project alongside our work that pays the bills, so expect a busy year with a lot of updates!