For our first filmmaker season Deeper Movies is proud to introduce the hardest working man in indie cinema, Joe Swanberg, who has selected nine of his own films, including The Zone, Build the Wall and Silver Bullets, plus some contemporary films he loves, and wants you to see. The prolific director also joined us on the Deeper into Movies podcast to discuss his career, low-budget filmmaking, VHS, Netflix deals and making 6 movies in one year. Click here to listen
Ever since he hit the scene in the mid-2000s, indie film heavy-hitter Joe Swanberg has been synonymous with a brand of naturalistic, character-driven American cinema. Somewhat derisively dubbed “mumblecore” (a term Swanberg is characteristically chill with), this movement took advantage of new, more affordable digital technology and eschewed spectacle in favour of low-budget, intimate stories, with a keen sense of pathos and intelligence integral to the genre’s best entries.
Swanberg and co’s influence has been monumental, demonstrating that studio budgets need not be a barrier to entry, and pioneering a lo-fi aesthetic. They launched the careers of Greta Gerwig, the Duplass brothers, and Lena Dunham (among others). Even the Safdie brothers cut their teeth in this scene with early films, most notably Daddy Longlegs.
Swanberg’s intense productivity is indicative of an obsessive dedication to exploring the human condition onscreen, reaching its apex in 2011, when Swanberg directed six films, also serving as screenwriter, editor, producer, and cinematographer more often than not. These days, Swanberg runs a VHS rental store in Chicago called Analog Video and recently appeared in Mickey Keating’s Offseason. Whether or not we’ll see a return to the bountiful period of the previous decade remains to be seen, but Swanberg’s existing body of work has already cemented his legacy.