Needleman, Neil Ira

Neil Ira Needleman
US videomaker

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biography
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Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957 to a very typical middle-class Jewish family. We were fairly liberal in our political views and very secular in our approach to religion. What my family lacked, however, was an appreciation for art. That’s something I discovered on my own—and it’s a passion that I cultivated in college, where I studied film and art history.

2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started shooting 8mm movies when I was very young. Early on in my life I realized that I had an ability to visualize scenes and memorize the shots in the movies I watched. I borrowed my uncle’s movie camera when I was about 12 years old. And I haven’t stopped shooting yet.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?
I’m stylistically eclectic. My videos range from intensely rhythmic structural avant-garde videos to short, sentimental narratives. I shoot what I feel. This is my time to be totally dedicated to my won inner vision, and I try not to limit myself stylistically or by subject matter.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
Some of my videos follow certain pre-determined editing strategies. Others are very free and open to momentary inspiration. I try to let each video stand on its own and follow its own set of rules, rhythms, and inclination. Every work has its own heartbeat.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I have very old equipment (because I can’t afford to update). My PC-based editing system is from 2001 (Adobe Premiere 6.0!!!) and my Sony MiniDV cameras are strictly SD. But I know how to make my equipment sing. And I’m convinced that it’s the artists vision, not his equipment, that determines the final shape (and quality) of the video.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general
and you personally?

Technology moves on quickly and it’s important for artist to embrace, discover, and exploit all the possibilities that are open to us. As for me, however, I’m still working with old technology—and it doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m very happy with what I have and what I know. I’m 53 years old and I’d rather spend my time creating than learning new technology.

7. How do you finance your films?
My videos don’t cost much to make, so I never worry about financing.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
I generally work as an individual. However, I’ve been working on a series of Jewish-themed narrative videos that utilize my friend’s drawings and paintings as the visual material. Generally, I prefer to create alone. On my job (in advertising/marketing) I’m a good collaborator and a team player. However, when it comes to my videos, they are personal projects that allow me to be myself and to focus on my own personal, inner vision.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
Here’s a short list of the artists who have influenced/inspired me: Orson Welles, Stan Brakhage, Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Clyfford Still, Cleve Gray, Helen Frankenthaler, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner…

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
My plans are to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on VideoChannel? Where?
List some links & resources:
I have a few select videos on my YouTube Channel:
youtube.com/2see2dream.
My blog is really just an up-to-date listing of my screenings: nneedleman.blogspot.com.
You can view my “professional” advertising/marketing portfolio at
neilneedleman.com.