Interview with Filmmaker John D. LeMay (Covid Landscape: Boise, Idaho June 2020)

Covid Landscape: Boise, Idaho June 2020 was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the February 2021 Documentary Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I have a working relationship with the artist, David Carmack Lewis. I met David a few years ago while he was painting another mural here in Boise. Last spring David called to let me know he was working in Boise again on a much bigger project and asked if would get some shots for his website. The scope of the project blew me away, and the fact David was painting on the side of an 18-story building in the middle of a global pandemic intrigued me.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I shot on two separate days in June about a week apart, and then took a couple of weeks to edit the footage.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

COVID Landscape … says it all, I think.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Wanting to respect David’s space during the shoot while still getting the variety of shots I needed to tell the story required some planning. Since it wasn’t going to be possible for me to join David up on the scaffolding while he worked, I rigged up a remote camera for that intimate look at David while he was painting. I also rented a long lens and shot the mural from various vantage points in order to show how it fit into the overall cityscape.

The need for social distancing during COVID-19 led me to interviewing David via cell phone … I spoke with David and shot him from the parking garage across the street. I found a phone recording app that worked well, but syncing that recording with my shots of David on the phone proved to be a bit of a challenge.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Although David’s canvas and the time in which it was created are monumental, the story I wanted to tell was very intimate and personal. I was pleased that folks seemed to appreciate that about the piece.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make movies?

I’ve always loved the creative process, and over the years have expressed my life experiences in many different mediums. We are fortunate to live in a time when the tools for telling stories on film are accessible … I love that. Working with film combines so many other areas of artistic interest for me that it was just a natural progression.

7. What film have you seen the most times in your life?

North by Northwest – Eva Marie Saint, Cary Grant, James Mason, Martin Landau, Alfred Hitchcock, and an awesome score by Bernard Herrmann … What’s not to love?!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

The interface is very intuitive making the submission process quite easy.

9. What is your favorite food?

Is banana cream pie food?

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently editing a film project for the Idaho Commission on the Arts, putting together some shorts of interviews documenting Mexican musical traditions across southern Idaho’s Snake River Plain. I love the process of finding people’s stories, revealing their history and humanity.

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