Poppy de Villeneuve: The most important thing is that my crew appreciate subtlety and can distinguish nuances in certain situations. I work with a producer at Patizan who really understands my work, my strength and weakness. He asks the right questions beforehand and brings a healthy dose of humor to the set.
Ultimately I want to be enjoying myself and I want everyone involved to feel it’s a rewarding experience. If someone has the wrong attitude, it can be challenging.
A couple of years ago I made a short film for the New York Times with Macaulay Culkin. Every two minutes people would recognise him and walk right onto the set, but he was very gracious. While these people were interested and fascinated by fame, his attitude was very inclusive but also respectful of his work. If we were doing a scene, he would say, "I’m sorry, we are working, but thank you." Usually people have the right intentions.
Poppy de Villeneuve: If I have a DP I use a more elaborate set-up; when shooting myself I use a very modest kit. Whenever possible I take advantage of natural light. I hate the set-up time which can ruin the atmosphere for me, but it can take just as long, curving the natural light with flags and sheets.
I recently shot a commercial on an iPhone 4 and wanted to write to Apple and tell them how cool they are! I think concentrating on work is the important thing, not the tools. We are so fortunate that digital technology is getting so elaborate; it has really helped me as a young filmmaker find the equipment accessible.
I always work with an editor, rather than editing myself, as I prefer to have someone step in at that point to fine tune ideas and stories. I can take a step back and have some perspective.
Poppy de Villeneuve: I'm sure I am not alone in finding this is often a struggle. It depends on the project, but usually I’m working with very minimal budgets. This can keep things creative but can also present certain obstacles. I’ve been very fortunate to work with people who believe in me and are willing to be part of interesting projects and less concerned with financial gain.
By the same token, I’ve done many projects for the sake of working with great people or on an exciting topic. I see it all as an investment in my long-term goal to make independent films and commercials and other mixed media projects. If you can pay your rent and make work you are enjoying and which moves you forward, what could be better?