SOCIAL IMPACT FILMMAKING

AUTHORITY MAGAZINE INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL LAFRENTZ

Daniel Lafrentz

One of our favorite friends and filmmakers, Daniel Lafrentz, was interviewed by Authority Magazine about his journey as an independent filmmaker, how he got his start, and why social impact filmmaking is important to him. Below are a couple of excerpts, but you can read the interview in its entirety here.

“How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?”

I’ve always had an awareness of the power of stories generally, and movies in particular, to shape people’s understanding of issues and events. As a straight, white, male filmmaker I try to use to my abilities and platform to elevate and positively represent underrepresented groups without crossing the line into appropriation of their stories. I’m not always successful, but the more I practice, the better I get (I hope).

The Long Shadow took the archetype of the hard-boiled detective (almost always exclusive a straight, white, man), and made them a Black, lesbian woman instead. It was a challenge of my own ability to empathize and put myself in her shoes so I could try to portray an experience so different from my own. One of the most gratifying experiences I had in that process was, after a festival screening, being told by some Black, gay women that they felt seen and that the film had represented their experiences honestly and authentically.

“If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?”

Telling stories is a privilege. Movies are a medium intended for mass consumption which makes them a powerful platform from which to speak to audiences. My feeling is that the bigger the platform, the greater the responsibility to use it well. This is not to say that there’s no place for stories meant purely for entertainment. We all want to be transported out of our own lives occasionally. At their best, movies have the power to change our understanding of people, events, and our own feelings. If given the choice between spending your blood, sweat, and tears creating two-hours of pure escapism or a story that will give an audience a lifetime of empathy for someone they previously misunderstood, which would you rather commit the bulk of your life to?

“We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)”

I met Effie Brown at a Film Independent event a few years ago when I was still contemplating making The Long Shadow or doing another expensive short film. She told me that if you do a feature and take it all the way to the end it says a lot about you as a filmmaker and a person. It’s sort of like your professional, trial-by-fire, Bachelor’s degree because it says to the industry that you can see something all the way through from concept to completion. Ever since then I thought she would be an incredible collaborator and mentor.

 

We’re always glad to hear Daniel’s perspective on filmmakers and the role we play in society. Sometimes the day-to-day obscures the fact that we work in one of  the world’s most powerful mediums. And just like Uncle Ben says in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Fable House is a video production company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that specializes in production for film, video, commercials, and TV. Our team are experts in physical production, post-production, and VFX. We produce content for major brands, TV networks like Syfy and Lifetime, and provide production services to Louisiana’s never-say-die indie filmmakers.

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