Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I’m based in Zürich, Switzerland. But I grew up in Lucerne, which is an hour train ride away.
It’s also where my latest documentary Rewind Forward mainly plays at.
How did you come up with the REWIND FORWARD project?
There were many circumstances that made me do this film. But I think the initial idea came to me after I found a box full of old VHS tapes that contained 20 years of footage filmed by my father. In the beginning, it felt like I had to finish something that he had started. But within the process we soon realised, that it would develop into an encounter between my mother and me—now and then.
Pitching was not easy. Because my film is a very personal story it felt like I’m selling my own life as a drama. But the decision of making a film based on my own story allowed me to look at it as a professional stepping stone and helped me to push through with it until the end. And I’m glad I did.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
We shot on a Blackmagic URSA Mini. I knew our main shooting location would be the nursing home where my mother lives. This meant clean, cold and not very aesthetic interiors. Also we had to work with a lot of existing light. This camera provided us with the most cinematic image possible within our budget.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
Of course I’ve had a structure in my mind. But with my mother’s condition, I wasn’t sure how far we could go and how she would react. So it was a bit of a gamble. But fortunately I soon realized, that she was totally focused and sometimes even more in control than I was.
Also I already had around 30 hours of my fathers footage which I had studied beforehand. This also gave me a timeline and was the basis of the film structure. But in the end it was eight weeks of soul crushing editing in order to tie everything together.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
That I don’t know. I can only say what others do differently and learn from them. So I prefer to leave analysing my work to others.
What has been the hardest part of doing what you do?
I think the decision of bringing myself in as a main character was the most challenging. But with such a personal film and the many people involved it became clear that I had to tell the story from my point of view. Also it was very hard to keep track of the very thin line between personal and private.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
Doing something I care about.
What are some of your favorite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
The film « Beyond This Place» of Kaleo La Belle who later joined me as a co-writer and producer in Rewind Forward was surely a film who inspired me to do mine.
Where can people follow your work?
I have a website www.justinstoneham.com. I’m working on a new one. But this will do until then.