Movie Maker Profile: Eric Krasner

Filmmaker and collector Eric Krasner, in his own words (ever so slightly edited by Siobhan).

I was born in Sibley Hospital and my childhood home was in Silver Spring and in 1971 we moved to Rockville/Bethesda. I graduated from C.W. Woodward High School in 1979 and spent 2 years at Montgomery College before going to the St. Louis Conservatory of Music. Unfortunately, I am no longer in my home state. My wife and I were both raised in Maryland. This past November her employer offered her a transfer and promotion. They paid for the entire move to Atlanta. I wasn’t about to stay in Maryland without her…I mean, I love Maryland, but I love my wife even more. I miss the crab cakes and Berger’s Cookies!

I started filmmaking with my father’s 8mm camera in the 60s, rented my first 16mm camera at age 14. I’ve been collecting vintage 16mm films since I was 13 years old, but it’s much easier (and cheaper) these days to transfer the films to digital formats and work with them that way. Unfortunately, as a “starving artist”, I’ve had to sell off the bulk of my 16mm film collection, but have held onto a few gems that I’ll end up donating to some archive at some point. My earliest films were montages and mash-ups. I used my musical background to synchronize the images to music. I called them “manipulated movies”. As a kid I did this with 8mm films as well. Inter-cutting my original footage with stuff I shot off of the TV screen or 3 Stooges films made for the home market.

Does ANYONE make a living a filmmaking? I used to own a pretty outspoken retail shop, CineGraphic Studios: Silly Things for Silly People [in Frederick, Maryland]. After 5 years, the economy killed me. People no longer could afford useless plastic crap. At this point I don’t have a real day job, I’m happiest when making films. I work on such a small scale, I really have no idea what Maryland can or cannot do for me as a filmmaker. Maybe regional film offices would be helpful. Frederick has one now and they are staying quite busy. It helps when you have someone who really knows the area. I’d also like to see them more open to working with small, independent filmmakers. Today’s equipment prices have made it possible for almost anyone to become a filmmaker.

Mash-ups are still a favorite of mine. “Bobby Visits the Library” utilizes a vintage educational film about a visit to the children’s room of the local public library with scenes from “Perversion for Profit” a classic exploitation film from the Prelinger Archives. Up until recently, I only made shorts. Most were under 4 minutes, the longest was a mere 10 minutes long. Yiddish Hillbillies, a short I made in 2007 has screened at numerous Jewish Film Festivals and a copy of the film is now in the collection of the Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris. One of my shorts, “Forbidden Images” was actually pirated by an internationally known music group and used in live concerts. The film featured censored scenes from early silent pictures, a real life Cinema Paradisio reel. A settlement check from the band for the unauthorized use of my footage helped to get me started on my current project, my first documentary, “The Mickey Katz Project”.

THE NIGHTMARES OF EDGAR ALLAN POTATO HEAD (2009)

This was my submission for the 72 Film Fest held in Frederick, MD every year. You have 72 hours to write and complete a film. In honor of Poe’s 100 birthday, the festival teamed up with Maryland’s “Big Read” and we were told ahead of time that we could use Poe as an influence if we wanted in order to be eligible for the “Poe Challenge” Once I learned about the Poe challenge, the whole potato head idea came to me right away, but we still had to wait for additional criteria before knowing what other elements the film would need which would be revealed at the kick-off of the 72 Fest.At the kick-off meeting, we were asked to choose random cards with numbers on them. The numbers were associated to photographs that the festival staff handed out. Whatever was on the photograph had to somehow be used as inspiration in the finished film.

My photograph was of a roasted chicken coming out of the oven. It didn’t take me long to decide that Edgar would have nightmares of being cooked alive thanks to his love for Absinthe. The ever creative Keighty Paul immediately went to work on creating the potato head doll. There was no real script, just random notes and ideas on a legal pad. After our first day of shooting, I looked at what we had and tried to edit something together. It was awkward, over-complicated and just didn’t work. I trashed the whole day’s shoot. That night, I stayed up until 5am editing. Everything you see in the completed film was shot on our second day of filming except for the scene with Bryan Voltaggio. His footage was shot just 4 hours before the completed film needed to be turned in. The whole film cost less than $50 to make.

The Klezmer tracks both came from Archive.org, the music for the credit scroll came from my personal collection of oddball public domain tunes. The entire film was shot on Digital8 tape and edited on a PC using Pinnacle Studio. The raw footage is still on the original Digital8 tapes and they are sitting in a shoebox in my closet. The rough cuts were trashed.

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