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New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2022 Filmmaker Interview with The Outwaters Director Robbie Banfitch


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 02/09/2022

New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2022 Filmmaker Interview with The Outwaters Director Robbie Banfitch

The Outwaters
is a naturalistic, slow-burn feature film about a group of travelers who encounter menacing phenomena while camping in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert. The Outwaters will be getting its World Premiere Online for 24 hours on Saturday, February 12, 2022 at the New Jersey Film Festival. For more information and to buy tickets go to this link

Here is my interview with The Outwaters Director Robbie Banfitch:

Nigrin: Your film focuses on a group of young people who are shooting a music video in the Mojave Desert when suddenly all hell breaks loose. Tell us about the origins of this film and why you wanted to make it?

Banfitch: A few different things led to this being the film I made.

I. I love the word "outlands" and thought "outwaters" had a mysterious, eerie ring to it, so I started with just the title and worked from there.

II. I wanted to do a found footage movie for practical, budgetary reasons and because I thought it would free me up as a director. My last film was a black and white silent drama with extremely careful, planned-out cinematography. I wanted to mix it up.



 
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III. I love horror and finally came up with an idea I felt could be scary and unique.

Nigrin: You wrote, directed, shot, acted, produced and edited this film. Was it  difficult to do all these things?

Banfitch: The only thing that felt difficult was "acting".  In this case, if I wanted to be the cinematographer I had to also be a character in the movie. It's not something I'm comfortable with, yet. I relied on my friends to point out moments that felt inauthentic and I just cut 'em out or re-filmed.

Nigrin: Found footage horror films are all the rage these days. Did you want your film to be part of that scene? Were you influenced by films like The Blair Witch Project?

Banfitch: The Blair Witch Project has always been one of my favorites. I don't feel it's been topped, as far as found footage goes. I just focused on making a scary horror movie that could, hopefully, stand on its own. Terrence Malick was also an influence, in general. I looked to The Blair Witch Project for inspiration in authenticity and Malick for freedom of exploration with the editing and camerawork. Ultimately, I wanted to do something unique with the format. 

Nigrin: Your cast which includes Angela Basolis, Scott Schamell, Emma Lopez, Leslie Ann Banfitch, and Matt Kijak are all pretty great. How did you decide that these individuals were going to be in your film?

Banfitch: That's easy. Friends and family. Each of them has a wonderful quality I wanted to showcase. They also had to be down with roughing it in the desert.



 
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Nigrin: Salem Belladonna’s music score is really amazing. Tell us more about her work on your film. 

Banfitch: She's a special human being and incredibly versatile. I needed an original dance-pop song and a haunting choir piece and she was able to do both, beautifully. I'd definitely dance to "Danse Macabre" at the club. She also did the score, original folk songs, and voice-work for my upcoming movie "Tinsman Road". I'm lucky to have her and I think she'll be a very busy composer after people have a chance to hear her stuff. We're good friends and I hope to work with her on all of my future films.

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to us?

Banfitch: One of the things I'm most excited about is the soundtrack. Due to its nature as a purely "found footage" movie, every song had to be something the characters listened to in the real world. One of my favorite musicians, Tim Eriksen, graciously let me use two of his songs in the film. He worked on "Cold Mountain" and is just an incredibly pure and beautiful artist. All of the other songs are by my friends and there's something for everyone. I hope people listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, where I have a playlist for the film. Meghan Tonjes, Lauren Jacquish, Salem Belladonna, Matthew Kijak, Braelyn Watt and Joseph Eid all contributed and I'm lucky to have such talented people in my life. As far as memorable stories go, being swarmed by bees probably tops them. Some of that incident remains in the film.

The New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2022 will be taking place on select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays  through  February 20, 2022. As a result of COVID our Festival will be a virtual one again this Spring. All the films will be available virtually via Video on Demand for 24 hours on their show date. More info is available here: https://newjerseyfilmfestivalspring2022.eventive.org/welcome



Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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