Three filmmakers embark on a decade-long journey to answer the perennial question: What is Independent Film and when does it stop being independent? Filmed over 10 years, what follows is an in-depth look at the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JULIAN STARKS
How and why did you become a documentary filmmaker?
After graduating from “THE LOS ANGELES FILM SCHOOL” in 2003, where I studied directing, screenwriting, producing and editing. I came out with a feature film script budgeted at $5,000,000 and until I was able to raise that kind of money, I needed something to keep me fresh as a newly graduated Filmmaker. I decided to form Hollywood Filmmakers LLC. and set off to the Sundance Film Festival to film the Filmmakers who were already there to showcase their films.
However, a friend suggested we go up and film our Journey to Sundance and make that my first film! So, I pitched 12 fellow classmates from film school and we set off to film ‘A JOURNEY TO SUNDANCE’, a film about Robert Redford and the spirit, dreams and struggles of independent filmmakers from all over the world, starting with my own struggle to finish this film. The entire journey took a total of 13 years to finish! I was the Producer, Director, Composer, Editor and On-Camera Host/Interviewer in the film.
What makes a good documentary?
A good documentary film must have the since of discovery, un-biased reporting, interesting characters and subject matter, but most importantly, it has to have a common through line to what the filmmaker is trying to convey. What is this film about in one sentence? That was my overall problem starting my documentary film. It wasn’t clear what our objective was going into the production. We found out through the thirteen-year Journey. And after meeting Robert Redford himself, he summed up what he loved about this film: he said, “I love your movie, because it was about you and your Journey making the film, not him or the other celebrities in the film, but my struggle was the most interesting thing in the film. What praise form a Legend and the subject of my film!
Why did you make A Journey to Sundance and what were the key challenges you faced making the film?
I made “A Journey to Sundance”, because I knew it would be hard for a new filmmaker to come out of film School with a $5,000,000 Heist film and get the money and be able to direct it myself. So, I felt doing a documentary film could be a lot cheaper and less complicated to film myself. Wrong!!! It was so complicated and time consuming that I was totally overwhelmed for the first couple of years, because I was paying for the entire production that took years to piece meal the budget and film together. Every year it kept getting more time and money consuming, as well as losing the overall Objective of the film many times.
What's next for you?
I have written two feature scripts that are being sent around for possible interest. I am now a Producer, Director and Published Book Author, so I have credentials to use as leverage based on all of my hard work over the past decade.
What projects are you currently working on?
While filming ‘A Journey to Sundance’, I fell in love with still photography and decided to enroll full-time at the BROOKS INSTITUTE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY in Ventura, CA in 2012. Afterwards, I spent months traveling and photographing many cities in Italy, Sicily, Paris and Monaco, as well as contributing as a Getty Photographer for two years. Please go to my PORTFOLIO to see all of my Children, Woman, Men, Families and Pet photos, as well as many other genres at www.julianstarksphotography.com
Furthermore, I’ve spent the last 3 years traveling America photographing, “LIFE BEHIND BARS” VOL. 1, my first Fine Art Photography book, which is titled after the photographic series that I started to both honor the beauty and necessary evil of Wild Animals in captivity.
I began photographing these amazing animals at Tippi Hendren’s Shambala Preserve. Tippi is the beautiful blonde actress in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie. I fell in love with the animals and the work that Tippi is doing there. It has truly been an inspiration that Henson, Shambala’s regal male lion, graces the front cover. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the wildlife sanctuaries featured in the book! In 2021, I became a Published Author with the Book’s Worldwide Release.
In 2018, I founded VISIONS OF THE WORLD INC., a registered Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Public Charity Company to help support sanctuaries and institutions that care for the animals like the ones featured in “Life Behind Bars” Vol. I. All info on book and all other materials got to www.visionsoftheworld.org
Visions of the World Inc. cheerfully announces our project “LIFE Behind Bars...Except if you’re Free” VOL. 2 which will focus on the conservation efforts of the Gorillas and Big African Cats in their natural habitat – Africa! We are dedicating this second book in this series of books to DIAN FOSSEY, whose work regarding the conservation of the Mountain Gorilla’s has been an inspiration for our project.
Filming and finishing ‘A Journey to Sundance’ for the past thirteen years, with crews up to thirteen people, traveling throughout Italy, France, Sicily and Monaco as a photographer, as well as finishing “LIFE BEHIND BARS” VOL 1., has given me a great perspective in the world of photography and filmmaking, as well as an excellent grasp of story concept, production and post.