digital film

SPARKED: Patrick Stettner

Mason Gross School artists discuss the elements that fuel their work

Mythologist Joseph Campbell
Best known for his writing about comparative mythology (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Hero’s Journey), Campbell researched the evolution of myths, their archetypal structure and their metaphysical/pedagogical function. His work is a good reminder that since the birth of civilization humans have told stories to make sense of their lives. I’m interested in how the narrative process results in conscious and unconscious engagement in audiences, be it through character, structure, identification or empathy. Like most filmmakers I’m trying to find stories that are specific and now, but also manage to be universal and timeless.

Watching films
It never stops being a daily affirmation, never stops being an inspiration.

New York City late at night
Long walks with friends, on the same streets that I grew up on, arguing about films as the city slowly empties out. These walks allow me to rethink, improvise, and expand my thoughts. My favorite moments are always toward the end of the night, when we are talked out, and we have nothing left to say, and we walk in silence.

Truth and vulnerability
Bearing witness to small moments in everyday life when strangers, or students, reveal themselves without artifice or filter. My interests used to be investigating stories of how characters lie to themselves and others; now I’m more interested in the bravery of personal truth.

My father’s photographs
My father was a street photographer who died recently, and so I’ve been reckoning with our past through his photographs. Besides trying to figure out what those images mean as a testimony of him as an artist and father, I am curious how these same images are part of my earliest memories in his darkroom. That process of the reinvestigation of time and memory is a theme I am constantly returning to, how characters view their lives as fixed points, and how that perception changes.

Automatic writing
Writing without intent is hard. But I try to force myself to just write without a map, to get lost with new characters, concepts, and images; to romp and play without a determined direction, to ferment the unconscious, let it rise, and clear the fog.

Swimming
I like to swim long distances in the ocean. I close my eyes and go straight out. Being far from the shore, with the deep sea stretching below, is scary and exhilarating. I go into a state of mechanical unconsciousness; pushing through the fear, the mind wanders with a vigorous vitality.

Posted March 2017
Photo by Louis Stettner

To learn more about Patrick Stettner, click here.