Online mag’s lengthy chat with mumblecore filmmaker ‘quixotic’

The Seventh Art sticks with long-form interviews, video essays though audiences 'want print and short', website co-founder says

Christopher Heron interviews Mutual Appreciation director Andrew Bujalski and star Justin Rice at U of T's Innis Town Hall Feb. 4. The event was the fourth instalment of the Live Director Series, a feature of The Seventh Art, an online video magazine with an emphasis on long-form interviews and video essays. 

He prefers “Mack Daddy of Mumblecore” and, it turns out, he had a lot to say The Seventh Art’s Christopher Heron during his first appearance in Toronto.

Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, heralded as the godfather of the mumblecore film movement and a Sundance award winner, was in Toronto last week for screenings of Funny Haha and Mutual Appreciation, and an extensive discussion and Q+A with Heron.

The Feb. 4 event, held at The University of Toronto’s Innis Town Hall, was the fourth instalment of The Seventh Art’s Live Director Series, which counts Paul Schrader and Toronto’s Don McKellar as previous guests.

Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski speaks on the origin of mumblecore, a subgenre of film, during an interview and Q+A with Christopher Heron of The Seventh Art on Feb. 4.

The Seventh Art is a monthly online video magazine dedicated to long-form interviews and video essays with an eclectic array of filmmakers.

“It’s quixotic because we kind of know that long-form is never going to be a money-making model,” said Heron, who is also a producer for the site. “Every metric is showing [audiences] want print and short.”

It has grown over its two years and now boasts a formidable archive of video content with some of the most interesting directors in world cinema.

“It became apparent that the Internet offered a different way of approaching an interview but also [for] critical analysis,” Heron said. “We saw the opportunity to do the opposite of a junket interview, which is to say go a lot longer. We would not ask the same questions and we would not do it in a hotel room.”

The Seventh Art co-founder Christopher Heron discusses the gems of Toronto cinema culture.

It’s a passion project that Heron and his co-founders Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson — along with their growing staff of volunteer contributors — assemble monthly. The high-definition videos are shot using a small crew with the idea of encouraging fluid conversations between people knowledgeable about cinema.

“I should say that the preparation of just watching all their films — or re-watching them in most cases — goes a long way,” said Heron, who handles many of the interviews himself. “Typically once you’re able to speak to other things [besides their current project], they get a little more comfortable because you have seen the work and put the preparation in.”

Most issues of The Seventh Art also feature video essays that critique theme, style and form in individual films. It’s that depth of analysis that has helped the site gain its reputation, Heron said.

Two years in, The Seventh Art is now tackling how to continue to grow, which inlcudes adopting a subscription model. The plan offers two options: $1.99 for an individual interview or a $15 annual subscription for all the content and archives on the site.

“What we’re constructing are special features for the Internet,” Heron said. “As things move more and more online, what we’re doing is going to serve as a kind of archive that you can cross reference with what you just watched on Netflix.”

About this article

By: Peder Myhr and Paul Hantiuk
Copy editor: Peder Myhr, Paul Hantiuk
Posted: Feb 10 2014 10:24 am
Filed under: Arts & Life