6 Questions: kogonada

This is the fourth installment in our 6 Questions series, where we email creators, curators, and other people we admire with 6 questions about their work and process, and then share their responses with you. You can read our last interview with Jessie Deeter, co-director of Spark: A Burning Man Story, here.  – Ali



Kogonada is the filmmaker equivalent of masked superhero. His good work has been praised on blogs across the internet, but his true identity remains a secret. He’s known for his supercut films which take apart other filmmakers’ work and put it back together, finding new meaning in the rearrangement. (You can watch more of his work here.) We tracked down the elusive video essayist to learn more about his process and what inspires him. Here’s what he had to say:


1. What inspired you to start making your video essays?


Probably a lot of reasons, but two in particular. First, I was making issue docs and felt desperate to re-engage cinema (on a formal level). Second, I started seeing works online that revealed new kinds of possibilities.


2. Tell us about your filmmaking process. How do you begin gathering information, once you decide on a theme for a new video?


I always find process hard to explain because it’s never quite linear. I have thoughts, both old and new, that start getting me close to some idea or angle, and I’m also gathering more information while these thoughts are formulating. And then I jot notes down and gather some more information, while also going through footage. And eventually the piece becomes clear. Of course, sometimes it’s a bit easier, and I have a sense of it from the beginning, and other times, it’s more difficult, and I’m struggling to find the essay until the end.


3. How do you organize your video-making team? Is it just you, or do you sometimes partner with other writers and editors?


It’s just me. I’m working on a larger feature project that might require an assistant or two (or possibly more). Usually filmmaking requires a team, which is great, but these essays have been nice because it allows me to work alone, which is also great. I can have an idea and execute it by myself. I love that. But I appreciate filmmaking as a team as well.


4. One of my favorite of your essays looks at the work of Yasujirô Ozu. How has studying his work informed your practice as a filmmaker?


Thanks. I’m glad you like that piece. Ozu’s work has informed me in so many ways–not only as a filmmaker, but as a human being. It’s hard to put into words.


5. In an interview the Creators Project, you mentioned that you’re excited by the expanded space that now exists for short films, thanks to the internet. Can you tell us about some other web-based filmmakers or projects that inspire you?


Most recently… INDIAN WELLS – Wimbledon 1980 by Valentina Dell’Aquila and Bonobo – ‘Cirrus’ by Cyriak.


6. In that same interview, we read that you’re working on a longer form project. Can you tell us a little bit about that?


It’s a feature length film (essay/experimental) on cinema, time, and modernity. It’s about a way of being modern without losing your soul. The primary content are the films of Yasujiro Ozu, remixed and reconsidered.