Finding The Right Details In Your Story: An Interview With Steer Films

Field Notes Interview #58: Steer Films

Every exploration always begins with curiosity and each evocative piece from Steer Films is a constant reminder of this. Each film they create gives a sense of enthusiasm, curiosity and passion -- three key ingredients in telling a compelling story.

The amazing folks at Steer Films tackle everything as a group and did not want to be named individually in this post -- and it shows. Each of their short films follow through with strong visuals and sense of collaboration. Whether documenting the life and dedication of a furniture maker, to going into the depths of the ocean to film sharks, there is a beauty in everything they make that comes down to the finite details. In every scene, It's all about the details.

We got a chance to chat with Steer Films about some of their recent work and how they find meaning in the collaborative process and how it helps them tell a cohesive story.

M: Why film? What compelled you to be a filmmaker?

SF: At Steer Films, we're all compelled to explore the world, see it for ourselves and highlight what stands out to us.

Internally, the filmmaking process feels like active discovery and certainly a re-discovery of familiar places. You owe it to the explorer in you to put some magic back in this place.  

Externally, we are long overdue on formulating new stories and interpretations about what we are all doing here on this planet and how to move forward.  It's exciting that individuals and small teams can jump into this arena convincingly and share their point of view and we really aim to focus on work that is pushing the right message forward.  The long-standing, dominating, narratives of progress at any expense are inadequate and dangerous.   But our position on this is nuanced and does not fall across typical lines.  There is good and bad to be found in all strata, everywhere and certainly within yourself.

Our immediate, simple goal is to both illuminate our commonalities and celebrate our rich distinctions as people, across the globe.  And i'm sure it will develop organically from there.

M: What's the toughest decision you've had to make as a filmmaker?

SF: Stop purchasing gear and realize that at one point and till this day, words spoken with conviction around a fire were and are enough to move others in a profound way. 

M: How do you feel music has a role in film?

SF: It's a very powerful lever and it really depends on what the other elements are doing. Having said that, a still image with a beautifully crafted score can drive a rich internal dialogue - so that gives you an idea of its' potency.

M: How do you feel music is misused in film?

SF: Ask us this in 10 years.  

M: How do you feel your films are different than others?

SF: We're not sure they are, yet. We are all in the same media ecosystem and we are pushing through best practices, in both concept and execution, to get to the outer-edge of this swell. Approaching the edge is where we can gain that perspective.  

M: What's the most recent album you've listened to?

SF: Saudade - Thievery Corporation

M: How do you know when you're finished with a project?

SF: When opening the project file starts to take an emotional toll, you know you're working it to the bone and you'll soon see diminishing returns.  

M: What makes a good story?

SF: A working definition of a good story for us, is one that provides a new perspective on issues / subjects that we encounter every day.  A good story will shift and inform your perspective.  

M: What's coming up on the horizon in your life as an artist?

SF: Keep exploring and pay attention to what naturally strikes us as important and follow that, explore it and decide whether it will be incorporated into our future work.  In retrospect, this quilt of work you compose, will make much more sense at a fundamental level.