As a kid, Evan Buxbaum let his imagination run wild with stop-motion animation. “The minute I realized I could make my LEGOs come alive with film, I was like, this is it.” He continued to make short films throughout high school and college, and took a year off from all things technological to travel the world. Escaping the digital world of Smartphone and constant connectivity, Buxbaum brought with him only a 35mm camera. “I wanted to be in a different world, sort of a last respite from electronics.” His travels, which he documented along the way, added fuel to his future in film. “It informed my life and my filmmaking. It’s always great to get as much experience as you can outside of film.”
With strong festival runs for his short films, including Anything You Can Do (Audience Choice at DC Short Films Festival), and La Línea (watch in full), on which Buxbaum and Iyabo Boyd are basing their first feature film, Sun Belt Express. The comedy is a year and a half in the making and brings the timely but controversial issue of illegal immigration into a new light on a roadtrip with four Mexican hopefuls in an American family’s trunk. It takes passionate indie filmmakers to bring this kind of attention to topics that are at work now, in our time.
“The road is not short or easy.” Once you’re sure you want to get into filmmaking, he says, “then just do everything.” Buxbaum gets his hands on anything from commercials to music videos with the team of filmmakers at Thank You Keith Productions. Whether it be lending a hand with other people’s films, getting involved in the business side of things, or working part-time as a production assistant, Buxbaum says to get engaged.
“Who knows where inspiration comes from, but in my case it comes from people I see on a daily basis.” As an independent filmmaker, Buxbaum has built a strong network that he says has paid off. “Once you already have a relationship set up with somebody, you know what youre getting, which in film is so rare. Anytime you can predict what you’re gonna get, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Buxbaum prefers to be independent and welcomes the unpredictability of producing indie films. He admits that making movies for nickels can eventually push you to your limits, and wonders if he could bring his indie sensibility into the high pressure world of Hollywood. “What you get in the independent world is a strong emphasis on the quality of script and depth of chararacters. At the end of the day you don’t have special effects and flashy numbers to rely on.”
Today’s entertainment environment calls for immediacy and short flicks. “It’s a weight off your shoulders with short films and webseries. You can play and have fun. I think that’s why all of us are in this business anyways. In this industry you get to have fun and make less money. You better have a lot of fun, otherwise you’re in the wrong industry.”