Defining “Filmmaker” With Breezy Granzow
Breezy Granzow is a 24 year old filmmaker from Austin, Texas currently living in Brooklyn. She’s a video editor for Refinery29 and cofounder of production and arts company TEMPER. With her identity as queer female and millennial, she aims to focus her work in feminist, political/current events issues and advocating for representation.
The text below is an edited excerpt of a conversation between Lauren and The Light Leaks Founder, Kim Hoyos.
KIM: How do you feel about the power of labeling yourself as a filmmaker?
BREEZY: The word “filmmaker” is really interesting because it’s so broad of a term because there’s so many roles that go into actually making film/video. So a “filmmaker” is the overarching term for being a creator that focuses in moving image. Because I’m a video editor primarily, and identify more with that now because it takes most of my time, but I also at the root of it- when I’m thinking of my creative self… a filmmaker definitely fits that.
KIM: How did your interest in film begin?
BREEZY: It goes back to when I was a kid and my brother and I would make little films when I was 12-14 years old. Then when I was 14 I thought: “How do people cut together videos?” I got a copy of Final Cut Pro and started teaching myself editing and I have been editing ever since. I knew exactly what I wanted to study in college and I pursued it.
KIM: I think it’s really interesting that you started off primarily in editing because I did too and a lot of people find that weird. At the heart of it, I’ve at least seen that it can be a very sexist and very classist region of filmmaking. I feel like I’ve definitely met more female writers or directors than I have editors. It turns into a thing if you can afford equipment or getting past the idea of women and technology equals bad. So were those thoughts in your head when you started?
BREEZY: It’s interesting because I grew up with two older brothers and a sister. And I would make videos with my brother a lot and I started learning more about editing stuff than he did. It became an apparent thing- one, he’s the older brother and the boy, and I was catching onto editing more. But my dad has worked for computer companies for most of my youth. Computers had always been around me. I think I had an early exposure to technology that a lot of people didn’t have- but that’s circumstantial.
But in high school, I attended a bunch of film camps. In Austin, they have the Austin film society, which is really cool and they do kids camps to teach kids film. But that’s also something you have to pay for because you have to live there- and that’s a privileged thing. But when I started working with other kids, everyone was surprised that me, one of the girls, was really good at editing. And the boys- they would be resistant to me taking control of the computer but then after they backed off a little. But when I got to college, there were very little women who actually did editing. A lot of them were like “wow it’s so tedious” or “it’s too hard” or they don’t have the patience or they’d say “there’s too many buttons”. I don’t know. I often feel like women are way better editors because they have the ability to think of things as a whole but also focus on the pieces, and nurture the pieces that build up to the whole.
KIM: Can you speak to your experiences outside of the classroom?
BREEZY: I think film school is very beneficial in regards to the resources and the networks that film schools have. I went to the University of Texas, which is a school of 50,000 students so they have a crazy amount of resources. And it’s a public school but because it’s so big, and really renowned- that’s what I utilized. But actually in college, I started my own production company called “Temper” with a good friend of mine and because I wasn’t getting the fulfillment of being able to show my creativity at school- that was pretty limiting for me. It was a good foundation, and I value that and the resources. So I started, Temper, my own production company, which was essentially a film and arts production company in Austin. We would shoot bands and musicians and poets around towns. We also had a podcast. On top of that, I was a video editor at the engineering school so I’d also create energy education videos. But that was a benefit of going to film school, it connected me to another department. So I truly made my own experience in film otherwise I don’t know if I’d really have done as much if I just did the classes.Whenever I see a white male director work on a film that’s of or by WOC I’m like…“What the fuck?”.
KIM: How do you feel about representation in film both in front of and behind of the camera?
BREEZY: I think it’s very not diverse at all. I work at a women’s media company (Refinery29) and I do work with mostly women, most of the time. But there’s also a balance that companies find where the need people who have the skill set and they need them now, so sometimes we don’t come across women and instead men are hired. The same happens to poc because things happen so fast. We also don’t always get applicants who are woc specifically, but we’ve been trying to hire and live up to what R29 stands for with representing “the other”. As for the whole, it’s pretty bad. I feel like people say “It’s been getting better for 30 years”. Whenever I see a white male director work on a piece by woc I’m like “what the fuck”. It’s difficult and I think there’s still a lot of resistance to marginalized stories because there’s no exposure. It just depends, so many people are so scared a number (revenue) is going to go down that they don’t even try it. That happens in Hollywood a lot and I think it’s better in digital media for sure. But in TV and movies, it’s wild. It’s like the whole “La La Land” versus “Moonlight” conflict.
KIM: I feel like just speaking to that alone, diversity turns into a “good versus evil” narrative. And I feel like it turns into a very polarizing thing and it shouldn’t be polarizing. It should just be the knowledge that we need more! It shouldn’t be that “La La Land” can’t exist in the same world as “Moonlight” they’re two different films, they exist for different reasons. That’s what art is. So what can you say to that? I feel like diversity can sound so scary to some.
BREEZY: It’s definitely a power thing- it’s so complex of course. The importance to have other things out there is because it influences visual pop culture and the way we treat people on a daily basis. Because if we see more people who are not like us, then they become less alarming to us and I believe that’s important in moving our society forward. It pushes us forward, allowing us to be intersectional and acknowledge differences and that there’s people with different struggles but they all matter. We just can’t be selfish and focus on ourselves because we’re comfortable. I think that’s why representation is important.
KIM: How has video content changed since you’ve been there?
BREEZY: A little bit- I’ve been there since last January (2016). And even then, looking at the content we created last year- there’s been a lot more creativity that’s gone into it to adapt to let’s say square video. I feel like square video has become much bigger on facebook and instagram so that’s kind of changed how things are consumed. Aspect ratio does a lot even though it doesn’t seem like it does.
KIM: Do you feel that younger generations have access to more creative avenues?
BREEZY: I definitely think so because even, I’m 24 years old- I’m very much in the millennial generation but I was talking to a couple of younger cousins I have that are 16 or so. Just seeing them interact with technology is already so different, even though they aren’t much younger than me. I think because there’s so much to consume. It’s crazy how easily adaptable their minds are to multimedia and video platforms. I do a lot of Snapchat videos for R29, so I know a lot about Snapchat. And it’s definitely one of the big things that has changed how people interact. It’s super interactive with the swiping and it’s almost counter intuitive but it’s actually really intuitive. So that’s another thing about learning storytelling through new technology. But that’s what’s becoming so successful so the younger generation knows all about that.
KIM: What do you see media companies doing to keep up?
BREEZY: They’re all scrambling. They’re kind of copying each other because it’s kind of unprecedented where companies go with things. A lot of things are looking to other media companies and seeing and learning. It’s really exciting but it gets old sometimes because you can burnt out by trying to figure out how things change.
KIM: Is it strange to be working in the boundaries of social media video?
BREEZY: Oh yeah- I also think that too. There’s a loss of- I don’t want to say there’s a loss of art but there is something- there’s a loss of quality that happens because of social media and because things are so fast. Some days I’m a film purist and I’m like “Ugh you have to use a proper camera” or use film. And some days I’m like “Just use your phone!” It’s a hard thing to balance but I think social media does drown a lot of quality content which is disappointing but I think it’s just how information is consumed.
KIM: How important do you think it is to know solid, tangible skills like shooting verus lighting and editing? I was getting some questions online from some younger filmmakers wanting to get into filmmaking and what they should “take up”. I think it goes back to what we were saying before with the term “filmmaker” meaning so many different things. Do you think specializing in specific skills or working more broadly makes more sense practically?
BREEZY: I honestly think knowing how every role works and having some experience in pre production, production, and post production is crucial to making a good product. I have often worked with producers who haven’t edited before and they’re trying to give me notes on their edits but often have no idea what they’re talking about. So it’s really important for communication and because there are so many roles communication is the most important thing in filmmaking. To be a team player, you very much have to know what each “teammate’s” job is. It helps me too because it helps me, for example, pick a better shot. Because when I’m editing I can better see how the focus works and how focus can tell a story and I can kind of pick out different lighting and how that tells a story. Having the knowledge of the actual setup is valuable but you also have to understand how it all works.
KIM: How can filmmakers translate their skills to the job they want?
BREEZY: I think it’s hard because at the end of the day everyone has to make money. This is hard because even me personally, I think I have some skills that are actually outside post production or production. But because I’m pretty good at editing, and I stick to that primarily and don’t exercise my other skills but because I need a job and such. It’s hard. But I think it is possible to focus on skills and because digital media is such a crazy thing- you kind of have to use a lot of different skills to make content. So knowing how to keep up with news is a skill in and of itself- being a researcher is a skill.
KIM: What’s your dream job?
BREEZY: I love music, so I’d say editing music videos. But also I’m very much interested in things like building furniture- which feels very unrelated to film. Realistically I’d say also producing documentaries but I have to build up experience.
If you’d like to keep up with Breezy you can check out her website. All images and video on this page, including header image are provided by her.