Indie-Craft Interview #7: Paul Sturtz
Paul Sturtz is one-half the brain power (not counting hundreds of volunteers and a handful of employees) behind the establishment and planning for the Ragtag Cinema and the True/False Film Fest. He, al0ng with fellow founder David Wilson, have brought high-brow film to the unlikeliest of places, AKA the middle of Missouri. Additonally, Paul has dabbled in his own filmaking projects as well as a short stint as a city councilman here in Columbia. Like many of the featured individuals in this series, Paul has his hands in many projects that represent the indie-craft ethic well.
Note: Paul didn’t have a picture for me to use. He asked me to have my child draw his portrait. As is my daughter’s prerogative, she turned down the opportunity to draw Paul’s portrait. So I did the next best thing and drew Paul using Microsoft paint.
1. Describe your craft(s).
Helping to organize T/F involves the craft of saying no to a lot of things. Film festivals tend to be self-important, pretentious, empty affairs that are all about congratulating each other about how wonderful everyone is. Based in a small, Midwestern city, we’ve been able to develop our own culture without paying too much attention to what’s “normal.” The atmosphere of Columbia fuels this kind of can-do, grassroots ethos because people here aren’t as cynical about a glut of choices. And the documentary world tends to keep our feet on the ground. Also, our populist, iconoclastic, and sometimes misanthropic tendencies have made us steer clear of some essential trappings such as award ceremonies, red carpet, and stars.
2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
I don’t really know what “indie” means anymore. We said this years ago, but we’re pathetically dependent on all sorts of people and institutions. If we can get folks to buy into our vision of the festival, then we’re all for them coming on board as sponsors and partners. Of course, we’d have to think twice about burnishing the reputation of companies like Exxon/Mobil and WalMart and most multi-national corporations that have more allegiance to shareholders than the common good.
3. How does your craft contribute to society?
We provide a platform for nonfiction filmmakers that has integrity. And we demonstrate that a small town can do big things and have fun at the same time.
4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
I am really inspired by food trucks that have become a sensation in the last few years. I like that they open up a sense of possibility in the city. There have been loads of places that have inspired me such as the Middle East Restaurant in Cambridge, the X-Ray Cafe in Portland, Oregon (formerly the UFO), the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine and the old Red Vic in San Francisco. I really admire the work that the Rabid Hands collective is doing. I like the Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Buster Keaton, “Eagle Rock Rag” by Leadbelly, “Obeah Man” by Exuma, SunRay tempeh, Luna & Larry’s coconut cream, Polina Malikin’s raw sauerkraut. I like the idea of micro-distilleries and butteries. I am playing this song by Brigitte Fontaine constantly. “My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died” by Roger Miller is the greatest song ever. And my son Leo’s drawings the last two weeks have been amazing.
5. What is your dream of success?
To live more and more in an actively creative way. To make silly things just for myself while still working on behalf of the world.
Paul, like previous Indie-Craft subjects, is from Columbia, MO but has a national, even international reach. Check out the other interviews in the series and stay tuned for more.