‘my goal is to help others tell their stories’

/Interview by Natalia Dukhovnikova/

Dana Jordan Rothschild is a young director and writer from Australia. He has created «Beyond Darkwave» in order to show the world how it is to be a filmmaker who creates a documentary in the mids of a global crisis. We talked to Dana and found out what the cinema means to him and how to make so aesthetically beautiful films.

Dana Jordan Rothschild

This film «Beyond Darkwave», as you said, is a meta explanation of your filmmaking journey. But when will we see the whole «Darkwave» project?

Lots of people ask about that but I don’t know yet because I feel like it still needs some kind of work. I think it’s important to take some time after filming so that you can look at those parts that are already filmed and change your mind about them. But I’m working on it. It’s fun. I will realize it one day even if the documentary itself would be a little weird. 

How did the idea to create this project come to your mind?

There is a funny phrase that I use to describe my work which is «artistic douchebaggery». Originally it was supposed to be something about cooking with my grandfather. I feel like my grandparents are the biggest family that I have. All our barriers, like language one, we always bonded over food. So it was supposed to be a documentary about that but then everything happened and that became harder. My grandparents were in New South Wales which is actually another state and I was stuck in Brisbane.

And about «Beyond Darkwave» itself, I was wandering what if I just made a documentary about the fact I couldn’t make a documentary? And that’s a documentary. 

Caption from «Beyond Darkwave»

How much time did it take to make this short documentary?

I was studying film a bit here in my home town. Everyone in that class had to make a documentary while we were stuck not being able to go anywhere. It was a real nightmare. I panicked and did the whole thing in three days and somehow it turned out fine.

What does the name of the film “Darkwave” mean?

Before starting to make this project, I felt like I needed to prove myself as a filmmaker so I had created a micro budget feature completely by myself called “Light waves”. And this one – “Darkwave” – ultimately kind of feeds into it. The title isn’t something specifically related to what the documentary is about. 

What is your favorite part in the whole filmmaking process?

In general, word building excites me very much. I really love the writing part. When it comes to a storytelling, I create a playlist of songs and then start building stuff from there. Besides, I like assembling the film parts.

Caption from «Beyond Darkwave»

How have you learnt to make such an amazing color correction?

For me modern color corrections are different shades of one thing: when it comes to color styles, it’s really about trying to mimic the organic nature. I think it’s about trying to create not cinema that you would go and see in the theater but cinema that makes everyone think about a movie. That’s my version of cinema. So I try to create something warm, colorful and organic, something that feels very familiar and alive. And it’s all about accentuating natural light and other things.

And then what type of cinematography attracts you?

It’s a hard question. I like things that Roger Deakins makes, they are just amazing. I grew up watching pop-adventure movies and I really love that stuff. So I feel like if I ever created something, it would be full of landscapes, adventure and fun. 

Have you had an experience of studying film production somewhere?

I find film schools a little bit a weird concept. I think, they are very good for the technical aspects. But, personally, I’m one of those crazy people who go out there and merely start trying to make something on their own. And I did so. Of course it didn’t really work out but it’s one of those things where you learn all the fundamental building block. I was lucky enough to work in California for a while and get some knowledge about film marketing. And it’s one of those things where you just fundamentally understand how important marketing is to films. Someone once told me that 80% of the way that an audience interacts in the movie is towards marketing.

However, I did start going to one film school here in Brisbane. I felt like I needed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s before moving on to the next stage. Now I have reached the stage where filmmakers should start creating many projects and building the production company. But for me, the richest thing about that school experience, honestly, is friends that I have made along the way and also being able to help people create their art. It’s my richest take away from all that. 

Caption from «Beyond Darkwave»

Do you like films based on true stories or fantastic ones? 

For me, movies have always been about escapism. And I guess, they should be larger than life stories like adventure and pulp action and those kind of things. 

How did you realize that making films is what you want to do in life?

Honestly, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. I grew up making stop-motion Lego movies at my grandparents’ house. I made films in primary and high school. It’s one of those things that I’ve never really thought about. I just felt it like a part of me.

And how much time does it usually take to create one film?

It depends on what it is. But I feel like it’s very easy to get trapped in that cycle where you just see that whole thing like an assembly line process. I feel that it is important to give every project the time that it organically needs. Going back to the art thing, you don’t need to rush.

Caption from «Beyond Darkwave»

Tell us about your production company «Catalina Odyssey».

When you start something like that, it should never be only about one person. We do have a whole bunch of projects and some fun partner products. Now our team is small but we are definitely expanding before the end of the year. Among our projects is that feature “Light waves” that we will release a bit later. And we are doing more features, shot films, for example, there is also a really fun one called “Sacred sands”. And what I like else about all this is the fact of being able to fundamentally help people with their art.

So what are your plans for the near future?

Ultimately my goal is to help others tell their stories. Recognition and opportunities like that are great but helping someone else tell their stories means to me more than any of that stuff. I understand how difficult filmmaking process is and want to make it easier for others.

Why have you decided to take part in various film festivals?

Films are made for an audience. Honestly, I was just curious how it would play. Seems to be playing okey-ish. I’m really surprised by the good response that it’s still getting. It’s very reassuring I guess. And if my film is entertaining someone somewhere or impressing someone with the blinding technicolor, then I think it’s achieving its purpose.

Caption from «Beyond Darkwave»

Do you think if nowadays there are enough opportunities for young filmmakers to realize their ambitions?

Opportunities are there if you are able to seize the moment and make your art. 

Then, is it important to have a talent for becoming a filmmaker?

I feel like everyone has a different voice and everyone would tell a story differently. It is art whether you have talents or not.

In your opinion, filmmaking is a team sport?

Filmmaking is definitely a team sport. I think it’s very easy to fall into that trap where you are just in a creative bubble and you are not liking anyone and communicating. In filmmaking process you lean on others and they lean on you. 

I feel like it’s constantly a balance between finding people that you work well with and people who are right for the project. So far I’ve been pretty lucky with finding people who fit both categories. 

Dana Jordan Rothschild

Are you proud of your work?

Honestly, all my projects always seem unfinished to me. And all the Instagram stuff too. Once, one of my favorite portrait photographers – Paolo Verzone, an amazing Italian guy who works for Vogue, happened to just like stumble onto my Instagram account and said that he loved my work. Then we started talking about using natural light. And it was like “omg, I’ve loved this guy since high school”. It was an amazing moment. And cases like this one makes me feel that everything I do makes sence.

As you think, is it necessary to go to Hollywood to become a master of cinematography?

Film is fundamentally everywhere and you can be here and make something completely different to what you would make there. It’s not something isolated to a central place. Actually I have a film theory that there exists this thing called cinema standard. Everyone has been so exposed to American movies, everyone has this idea in their head what film is supposed to be and look like. And whenever you stray from that, it seems very different and sometimes people just find it a little jarring. 

favourite directors

Akira Kurosawa, Alfonso Cuaron, john carpenter

favourite type of music

80-s Synthwave music

dream movie you would like to film

strange and fun pulp adventure movie