Interview with Filmmaker Sam Kauffmann (WE TREES)

WE TREES, 3min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Sam Kauffmann
Ever wonder what trees think of us, now that we’ve created a climate crisis? Watch this 3-minute film to find out.

Get to know the filmmaker:

What motivated you to make this film?

I think climate change is the most important issue we face as humans. It is negatively affecting the world daily, from more powerful and frequent storms to droughts, fires, flooding, crop failures, human migration, diseases—everything. I also know that we are looking to trees to absorb heat trapping gases and thus help us limit global warming. But how are we treating trees in return for this help? Terribly. So, I wondered, what would trees say to us if they could talk?

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

Although the film is only three minutes long, it took over six months or more to make it. The footage of the trees came first, then I wrote the narration; then I filmed a few more shots of trees to better fit with the narration.

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

Save us!

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

Finding someone to speak the narration. What would that voice sound like when trees finally broke their silence and spoke to us?

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

That was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but fun. It was clear they “got” the film as some of them talked about the ending shot, which blends stacks of chopped wood with stacks of human bones. They thought it was a powerful way to close the film.

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

Probably in high school, when I was president of the film club.

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

The Last Picture Show by Peter Bogdanovich. (Hard to answer.)

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Not sure.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Great. Before that I used Without-a-Box, which worked well back then.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Can’t say. I eat to live, rather than live to eat.

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

I have another very short film (under two minutes) that’s doing well on the festival circuit, called The Hungry Heron, which is aimed at children (and their parents). It too is a climate related film. Also I’m working on a new film in collaboration with a Massachusetts state senator. We hope it will persuade the state to update its bottle bill in order to curtail all the plastic bottle trash despoiling our rivers and streets.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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