An Independent Friendship: Swanberg and Ross
Mutual appreciation: ALL THE LIGHT IN THE SKY creator Joe Swanberg shifts the focus to fellow filmmaker Frank V. Ross.
Today Fandor is pleased to announce the streaming premiere of All the Light in the Sky, the award-winning feature by American independent film icon Joe Swanberg. To mark the occasion, we convened a video conversation between Joe and his longtime friend, frequent collaborator and prolific filmmaker in his own right, Frank V. Ross, who also recently released several of his films on Fandor.
As it turns out, Joe graciously shifted the spotlight of the conversation to Frank, turning the video into a unique, highly informative overview of Frank’s career and evolving filmography, one that is ripe for reappraisal. Frank’s body of work reflects one of the most intimately personal visions among contemporary American cinema. It is also one in which Joe played no small part, whether as actor, cameraman, crew and all-around cheerleader. Frank has returned the favor in several of Joe’s films over the years, most recently in last year’s breakout comedy, Drinking Buddies.
Time and again, they have proven to be each other’s biggest fans. Submitting his top ten movie list last year for Esquire, Joe named Frank’s Tiger Tail in Blue as his favorite film: “It’s always amazing to me when somebody you know does work that emotionally engages you to the fifth degree.” When Frank selected his favorite films streaming on Fandor, he singled out Joe’s Art History for the top spot, for “dealing with such specific emotions that it’s downright helpful to see them play out. Made me feel like I grew up a little.”
Observing the rapport between these two director-friends, one senses a genuinely interpersonal creative synergy, the kind of rapport that might be the saving grace of low-budget independent filmmaking as it faces its latest set of crises (namely, a glut of productions crashing headlong against a confusing distribution landscape in the midst of digital upheaval). They prove to be very sober about their practice. “We shouldn’t expect to make any money from our movies,” Joe reflects. They seem sincerely grateful that their films exist, thanks in a large part to collaborative goodwill and mutual support. Maybe all we have is each other. And maybe that’s enough.
Kevin B. Lee is a filmmaker, critic, video essayist and founding editor of Keyframe. He tweets at @alsolikelife.