PBS Premiere: July 9, 2002Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Interview

POV: Why did you choose documentary in this case?

McCollum: I felt it was the most accessible way for me to work and be able to grow as a filmmaker at the same time. I knew my grandfather's farm and rural surroundings intimately from my childhood. I really wanted to explore the natural beauty of the mid-western landscape and the feelings my grandfather had for the crops and the soil.

POV: What was the most surprising thing to you in making Hybrid?

McCollum: Probably seeing how the structure of the film developed over time. Over the period of six years the content and visual choices we made drastically changed. It wasn't an easy prospect to make a film about corn and an old farmer intriguing. Don't get me wrong we did have some great footage, but it was hard to pull it together. Ariana Gerstein did an incredible job in editing the film. Much of what we experimented with was trying to integrate all the different kinds of cinematic techniques to form a cohesive integrity. We both got used to not knowing where each tangent of the film we were pursuing was going to take us, sometimes it about drove us crazy. Quite a bit of the animation I shot didn't make it into the film but it did lead us to unusual perspectives on the structure of the film. Outside of the editing, a couple of incredible things that popped up out of nowhere were these old commercials that I found in my Grandfather's vitamin closet. Ironically I only found them because I was looking for a pencil to write a marriage proposal to Ariana.

POV: What is your motivation as a filmmaker?

McCollum: To learn more about myself and the world around me. I originally gravitated towards filmmaking because of my combined interests in both sound composition and visual art. It's really an ideal medium for me to explore the integration between both of these forms. My interest in film lies in creating works that challenge me artistically and hopefully the genre as well.

POV: What generally inspires your interest?

McCollum: Making films is a great way to learn about a variety of issues and people that one might not ordinarily have the excuse to. Other art forms like music and painting play an important roll in my filmmaking. I've found it very inspirational to look at and make work outside of film; it re-energizes me and sometimes helps me to see the medium in a new light.

POV: What inspired you to make Hybrid?

McCollum: Initially it was an Ethnography class that I was taking in my last year of Undergraduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago. We were asked to examine our family histories.

I was also largely influenced by the stories of John Berger. A few of the other artists that have had an impact on me are filmmakers like Pare Lorentz, Akira Kurosawa, Andre Tarkovski, and the Quay Brothers.

POV: What are you currently working on, or what would you like to be working on? McCollum: Ariana and I are starting a collaborative documentary that explores the social and political issues surrounding technology and food. The exact specifics I'd like to keep [under wraps until] we have a firm start on the project.