An Interview with Filmmaker Guy Benoit about ‘Guitar #1711’
Written by NewEnglandFilm.com | Posted by: Anonymous
Music and film have long been paired (even during the silent film era). But Rhode Island filmmaker Guy Benoit finds a new way of examining music through film with his short documentary em>Guitar #1711, which follows Rhode Island based, custom guitar maker Otto D’Ambrosio through a year long process of building one guitar. As it turns out, there’s a good deal of non-musical sounds (sanding, scraping, sawing) that go into making a guitar.
NewEnglandFilm.com spoke with Benoit about the inspiration of his film, which you can watch online as part of the 2014 Online New England Film Festival.
When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
As a kid, I imagined making movies while watching ‘Creature Double Feature On Channel 56!’ I mucked about a bit on Super 8 and video, but didn’t get ‘serious’ until I got out of college. I’ve never been to film school, which I kind of regret.
What inspired you to make your film?
I’ve known Otto for a long time. One day, we met up for a meal, and he presented the idea of making a ‘sound movie’: a short film that would depict the construction of an acoustic guitar, but in a manner that accentuated the sounds of the tools required to do so. Lots of drills, saws, awls, vices, etc. Lots of scraping. All that ‘coarse’ sound ultimately creating a beautiful musicality.
How did you find your cast and crew for this film?
Otto found me and I found Bill Smyth!
Where has the film been shown (festivals, other screenings, etc.)? Talk about a memorable experience with an audience?
Mostly around Rhode Island and on PBS. At one showing, one kid really fixated on the tension generated during the guitar’s gluing process, which is exactly what we wanted! Kind of like a courtroom drama. Ha! Another friend of mine mentioned how he felt bad for all the wood shavings that didn’t get to become a guitar. That blew my mind.
What film(s) are you working on now?
Some shorts for The National Parks Service, and I’m working on a script.
Any advice on making films you want to share – about fundraising, working with actors, distributing, sending to festivals, etc?
Movies are drastically less expensive to produce now then they were 20, even ten years ago. Don’t make a piece of fan-fiction; create something only you can create.