MEET THE FILMMAKER: Peter Wigand.
A recent graduate of the Colorado Film School, Peter Wigand is fast becoming a much respected and sought after Director of Cinematography. Good Bye Jack is Peter’s first film to screen at the Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP), although we’ve previously shown movies that he shot, including Clifton Archuleta’s Broken Cycle.
Peter was born and raised in Graz, Austria. He grew up in a family of music where it was considered normal to play at least two instruments. His grandmother was a composer (to whom he also dedicated his first short film “Das Leben der Musik” (“The Life of Music”) ) and his great grandfather founded the largest private music academy in the city over a hundred years ago.
Peter worked in the art department on a few independent films in Austria but eventually moved to the U.S. to study cinematography. A little while later he graduated from Colorado Film School with eight awards for his work, including two cinematography awards out of five nominations for best cinematography. Today he works as a cinematographer in Colorado and across the country and recently finished his first feature as director of photography on Dust of War.
EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Peter.
P.S.: Why did you become a filmmaker?
P.W.: I don’t feel like I qualify for the title “filmmaker” yet, but the reason I am striving to be one is pretty simple. Film offers a perfect combination of art forms I love. I’ve always loved to express myself through music and pictures. Furthermore I love stories, but have never been good with words, so being able to use images rather than words to tell a story is a relief for my language challenged mind.
P.S.: Do you have a cinematic philosophy?
P.W.: The phrase by Arthur Brisbane, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” is well known. As a cinematographer, it’s a phrase I hold close to my heart: It speaks to the efficacy of the captured image, the ability to speak without words, the privilege to capture an entire story within the boundaries of a frame. With every frame that passes through my camera I see remarkable opportunity and endless possibilities to tell a story in its own unique and compelling way. Because after all cinematography is the language of film.
P.S.: What was the inspiration behind Good Bye Jack?
P.W.: Growing up in Austria you have to go through mandatory time of military or civil service. I chose the latter, and as a part of my preparation I had to go through a basic training of fire fighting, which also included how to answer and react to callers on the emergency line. One thing they prepared us for were calls of suicidal people (which we have plenty off in cloudy Austria).
Learning about the psychological aspect of it, it stuck to me how trapped those people can become in their own minds, and that their last hope of freedom and salvation equals death. Good Bye Jack is not supposed to be another film about suicide or being depressed. It’s about that moment of becoming a prisoner in your own mind, with no way out except by breaking the prison itself. An experimental approach to this topic seemed to be the most fitting.
P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
P.W.: I am not sure what that has to do with anything, but I couldn’t care less honestly. I don’t need a designated day to know or communicate how much I love my “Valentine”. Screams commercial gimmick, so to make myself feel like I didn’t give in I buy her chocolate and flowers the day after.
P.S.: What else are you working on?
P.W.: For now I work as a DP and enjoy learning about directing by seeing many different styles and approaches. When the time is right I’ll decide which one of my projects or ideas I want to do next. But I always work on them in my spare time.
P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.
P.W.: I base my work on instinct, but always try to find a reason to back it up. As a storyteller you need to have something to say. In my opinion, if you don’t have anything to say or aren’t sure what you want to say, don’t make movies, don’t even make art in general.
P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
P.W.: My website: www.peterwigand.com