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Interview wih Katherine Propper, director of Birds

Wednesday 11 May 2022, by Brasserie du Court team, Elise Loiseau

Moments in the lives of Austin teenagers in the heat of Texas summer.

How was Birds born?

I wanted to make this film, in part, to explore my creative process. My last short film involved a local community of young people whom I spent time with and worked with to make a film about their world. Birds expands on that approach more deeply. This film is more improvised, more off-the-cuff and observational, blurring the lines of doc and narrative in a way that was new for me. It was also my way of grappling with certain ideas like human fragility in the pursuit of many of life’s greatest endeavours— love, friendship, adventure, etc.

How did you work with the actors, who are almost all of them teenagers? Is there a specific way to direct young actors?

I cast people who I found compelling and interesting. Working with the actors was mostly getting to know them as people and hoping that their authentic personalities would be displayed in the film. For my approach, there isn’t one specific way to direct young actors, I’m still learning. I think it’s very much a blessing if one finds people who are excited to collaborate and give a part of themselves to the project.

Did you have a specific audience in mind that you wished to target when writing the script?

I hope that anyone could watch the film and relate to it or find something moving.

Can you tell us a bit about the character of the man encountered by the two teenagers in the forest, near the truck? What does he represent?

This man was based on a real man who was squatting in an abandoned property when the actors and I met him while exploring. For me, he represents going down seemingly ordinary and uncertain paths that can lead to great beauty.

Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?

I love the short films The Chair and Boneshaker.

What’s your definition of a good film?

A good film can be beautiful, moving, truth revealing, or entertaining but mostly, exudes some heart and soul.

More info here.

Any message or comments?


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