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TriBeCa Talks: Director Series with British Filmmaker Andrea Arnold
by Karen Pecota

One of the highlights  of the TriBeCa film festival is to listen to filmmakers share their directorial  journey in hopes for others in the industry to glean from their experience,  expertise and advice. Listening to tales of the trade enlightens the soul and trains  the mind to appreciate their journey. No path is the same.

Sponsored by Amazon  Studies, the TriBeCa Talks in the Director Series with award winning British  filmmaker Andrea Arnold was led by Ira Sachs. He opened the session with asking  Arnold to talk about her creativity, what brought her to the cinematic art of  filmmaking and how she entered the industry.

British director  Andrea Arnold shared how she got her start in film and the various projects  that got her to where she is today. Arnold apologized if she seemed a bit out  of sorts but wanted the audience to know that she was currently in the middle  of filming abroad and the time change was hard on her. When invited to be a  featured guest, she accepted knowing it might be difficult, but she didn't want  to miss out on the opportunity. Though her time was limited during the  festival, she felt honored to be a significant participant.

As a child Arnold was  creative and theatrical. She loved to write stories. At the age of nineteen,  she worked on a successful British kids show known as "Number 73". It  was through this experience where she began to understand what it was like to  be in front of the camera as a television host and actress. Arnold took what  she had learned both on and off set to the next level for career advancement  and went to film school--The American Film Institute of Los Angeles.

Arnold being a no  non-sense person feels strongly that her inspiration comes from life. Everyday  experiences. In asked how she finds her style of filmmaking she admits that it  has to do with finding herself. Trusting in her instincts and desires. Arnold  agrees that she has to find her own way and be bold about it.  Sachs inquired as to how she finds her own  way. Arnold explained that she tends to begin with an image in her mind that doesn't  go away. Using that image as the beginning of a mind map she will begin to  organize thoughts from ideas and questions, piece by piece.

She admits it is trial  and error. For example: Arnold mentions that her film Whethering Heights was  difficult to make.She wasn't happy with this film, nor does she want to  revisit her experience. It was a dark place in her career that is associated  with personal stuff, and the film represents that for her in part.

Arnold's advice giving  continued as Sachs inquired about how she preferred to engage in the casting  process. In her world, she notes that it happens differently depending on the  situation and what she needs for the project. In her film FishTank the  script was complete before she began to cast the roles, and she stayed pretty  close to finding actors for the characters. However, she does like surprises in  her filming and prefers not to always have the aspects of filming controlled.

Before filming in the  U.S. Arnold took a road trip across the states in order to create an emotional  connection to the country and its people. She was shocked at the poverty and  horrified at the degree of open drug use on the streets. Arnold does have a  sixth-sense for understanding life experiences giving her credence in award  winning projects such as: An Academy Award for her short film WASP; Jury  Prize winners at the Cannes Film Festivals with her projects Red Road, Fish  Tank and American Honey. Arnold continues to produce other works as in  directing three episodes of the Emmy-winning series Transparent, etc.

Sachs asked her what  she feared the most about making films. Arnold said, "That someone might  die on set." She adds, "Or, being too much of a risk-taker that I'd  push people too hard or that the funding would stop from asking too much."

Sachs  asked Arnold who were her heroes and she immediately responded, "People  who make films." She notes that filmmaking is difficult. She is in awe of  those who effectively create a lengthy moving visual narrative to produce  emotion, thought, themes, and a message. Sachs probed one more time and asked  Arnold to share words that describe her style. She boldly shares,  "Permission and Surrender!"