Louis Fine has come a long way since getting a camera after his bar mitzvah. In less than a decade, he’s gone from photojournalist to filmmaker as he gets ready to debut his first two films at the Sabes JCC this coming weekend. Learn about what got him into film, starting his own company, and what’s it like to do everything in the filmmaking process in this week’s Who The Folk?!
What got you into film?
My father played a very large role. He saw an ability in me for telling stories. When I was 13 or 14 years old, just following my bar mitzvah, my uncle, who hadn’t gotten me a bar mitzvah gift, told me he put some money into a DSLR for me if I promised to practice photography. I’ve been a photographer for 9 or 10 years and it stuck with me for a long time. That naturally led to journalism and storytelling. As I got into the psychology of the still image, I eventually got into the moving image, and sound and recreating things and telling stories in that way. It naturally led into video. It all just fascinates me. I do narrative work now, but I’ve done documentary work in the past. I love the ability that one gets from being able to wield and operate a camera. You get to create your own universe.
Where you doing more portraiture work, or were you into journalism?
I do mostly journalist work. I do some commercial portraiture, but I don’t really like it that much. It’s kind of fake. I don’t like posing people. I don’t even like when people smile for pictures. I’ve been doing mostly street photography for the last 6-plus years. It’s like journalistic photography with no publisher or plan. You’re going out into the world taking pictures first, asking questions later. Or never. Just capturing natural stuff trying to find stories in the world. It’s very interesting. There are three kind of people you meet: people who are confused and want to know what you’re doing; people who are flattered and want to know what you are doing; or people who are angry who want to know what you’re doing.
But they all want to know what you’re doing.
It’s like a cycle. The confused people tend to be the flattered people, and the angry people tend to be the confused people.
At least they don’t become angry.
It depends on how charming you are.
When did you graduate from the U?
When I was 20 – so about 2 ½ years ago. Since I was 20 ½ I’ve been out in the professional world and trying to build my company. When I first left the U, I went to work in an office for a company and I had such a need to push myself more into photography and filmmaking. I found an office job distanced me from that. I started Louis Fine Studios and I started making movies. I do commercial work as well, advertising and photography services.
Are you self-taught?
I’ve had mentors here and there, but most of what I’ve learned as self-taught. Filmmaking and photography, and an art form and as a trade, it’s not something you can learn in school. It’s heavily based on instinct and personal knowledge. You have to practice and do it. I’ve had some mentors in journalism who have been very instrumental in certain elements in my style and ethics in photojournalism. For the most part I learned on my own and mostly via the internet. There are many tutorials and lessons out there about art and composition. And with street photography, it forces you to learn things quickly. It’s not posed. You have one chance for whatever image you want to get. You have to know the angle and exposure and be ready.
What are the two films you’re premiering?
I made my first film, A Decisive Moment, and it’s a very serious film. When I made it, it took a while to finish and I tried to go back to my plan of keeping producing short films. But I realized I liked A Decisive Moment so much because it was a serious and well thought out work, I’d rather have several good films than [several] mediocre ones. People will be more impressed with good movies and I’ll be more proud of making good films. Right now I film on location. I do pretty much everything. I’m not just the director; I write, I shoot, I cast, I produce, I edit.
You’re a one-man studio.
It’s crazy. I’m president and CEO, writer, producer, director, editor. I’ve dabbled in makeup but I usually hire that. I do pretty much everything. Though I’m a bit of a one-man band, I hire people to work on movies. I think A Decisive Moment had 26 working on it, and Fred and the Space Girl had maybe close to 40. It’s busy times.
Do these films have Jewish themes that you’ve explored?
T’shuva and tikkun olam are large themes in the films. I don’t want to give away what happens in the story, but one has a sense of interconnectivity. Both articulate how our actions affect others. I don’t want to say too much more.
The premiers are coming up March 24 and 25. What’s next after that?
I may hold more showings; we’ll see. There’s definitely different groups around the city who’d like to see them that can’t come to the premier. I’ll enter them into festivals for more exposure. The premier is a very big step. For the last couple years, I’ve been telling people I’m a filmmaker, and they say “oh, what have you been working on? Can I see it?” and I say no. Now I’m finally releasing these films out into the world, and part is gain notoriety and part to attract sponsors for future films. What lies next is there’s always going to be more movies. I’m full of ideas and always writing and trying to create things. This gives me more exposure and will be one of the first ways to establish myself as a filmmaker in the Twin Cities. And beyond.
Favorite Jewish food?
One of the cornerstones of my Judaism is Shabbos, and I’ve been having Shabbos with my grandma almost every week for my entire life, so it would have to be her chicken soup. She only makes it on Friday night.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
For sure Shabbos. I’m so used to it that I almost don’t consider it a holiday. It’s an amazing holiday. It’s the most important holiday in all of Judaism. It celebrates the creation of everything. The way you celebrate the creation of everything is to take a break from everything. I don’t know of any other culture that has a holiday where the holiday prerogative is shut it down, spend time with family, eat good food, don’t worry about working so much. I’m very often pulled in every single direction, and to have a night to relax, that is really meaningful to me.
Showtimes are 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, and 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. Tickets are available for preorder online for $10 each, or $12 at the door.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!