by Dave Stewart
Mille (pronounced Mill-ah) Clarkes helps other filmmakers get their projects done. And if there’s a film festival or screening happening on PEI, it’s generally a safe bet to assume that Mille is involved. She’s a smart, thoughtful person who’s deeply interested in telling stories. Here’s part of her’s:
Dave: What lead you to filmmaking?
Mille: Happenstance and serendipity. A confluence of forces. One day I made a super-8 experimental film, and ten years later I call myself a filmmaker.
Dave: And what lead you to PEI?
Mille: Being only 11, I had no choice but to follow my father when he moved here. The streets of Toronto are mean to a pre-teen.
Dave: What attracts you to documentary filmmaking?
Mille: I was thinking about that the other day. It’s amazing how many forces work upon your life and only looking back can you see how they accumulated to shape your world. When I was a teenager I worried about my tendencies to be an “observer.” At the time this seemed like a shortcoming; being an “observer” meant I wasn’t an “act-er.” Now it’s that very same passion for observing that informs my practice. I was also a great lover of “other people’s worlds.” As a child I used to stay with friends and their families for days on end, absorbing their familial culture, smelling their smells, feeling their rhythms… I always loved entering in and out of worlds. I think these two factors (and a million more) have drawn me to documentary as a form of expression.
Dave: How would you describe your filmmaking style?
Mille: Organic. Filmmaking is a difficult medium, there are so many elements that go into each moment on screen that unless you have a million dollars and a highly professional crew willing to work for your vision, it can be a challenge to convey what is exactly in your head. Since I’m working independently and with modest budgets, I try to pare things down to the basics. There is a great communicative strength in attempting to convey something within the limitations you are given. I think meaning comes from the tension between elements. Many of the amazing new technological tools at our disposal today actually detract, rather than add to a filmic expression. Some of the best moments on film come from what is left out, what is suggested rather than revealed.
Dave: Which of your projects should people see to get a sense of you as a filmmaker?
Mille: Stalking Love was my first major work. It is a documentary about love and it will always be my quintessential film (See it at www.OneThousandFlowers.tv- Ed). Also short experimental works like If My Silence and Crows and Branches (playing at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival—Ed).
Dave: What’s next for you?
Mille: I’m deep into the production of a new feature documentary and web series entitled The Telling. It is a portrait of a place and its people. That place is Prince Edward Island. It should be out in Spring 2011. Being a filmmaker on PEI at this juncture is a good thing indeed. Our media arts community is strong and strikingly prolific. I feel like there is a critical mass… amassing; I’m happy to be a part of it.