In Session: Pierre Zellner

ALBANY – Known in France for his involvement in films dealing with social commentary, filmmaker Pierre Zellner (Basta Capital) is now continuing his work stateside.  Though the work may be slightly different (his most recent project was on the syndicated TV show The Broadway Show), Zellner is progressing fast in incorporating his craft into his new setting.

With another socially focused documentary already in its nascent stages for Zellner, this author took the time to reach out for a conversation. What follows is our discussion.

Pierre Zellner. Photo provided.

Lucas Garrett: Thank you, Pierre, for taking time tonight. How’re you doing?

Pierre Zellner: Very fine. Very fine. I just started a new job, and I’m pretty busy with that. I’m working for a PR agency now, so this is a new life. The employed life; I was freelance before. Now, I’m working with a lot of different clients with the same schedule. I like it.

LG: What got you started as a filmmaker?

PZ: I was a jazz guitarist before, but I didn’t have any talent, and I discovered that I could be a script writer. With the script writing thing, it led me to a film school, and then I studied every aspect of filmmaking. Thirteen years ago, I graduated from the film school, and started with a lot of editing projects, and collaborating, sound mixing… I truly became a video worker after three or four years.

LG: What is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? What do you like to do the most?

PZ: Filmmaking is the most creative field in the world. You can basically tell whatever story you want. I really liked telling stories at first, and then I became interested in the aesthetic aspect of filmmaking. My first step was to just make movies. True political movies.

LG: Elaborate on that, please.

PZ: I was kind of an activist in France. A socialist activist. I thought that if I can combine my interests for politics and film, I could do some original and maybe useful, and meaningful film.

LG: I heard you were working at the Tony Awards?

PZ: Yeah. Not really at the Tony Awards, but I worked this past year for a TV show called The Broadway Show as an editor and video worker.

LG: How was that experience?

PZ: It was a really good experience. I learned about the TV show industry in the US, even if it was a small syndicate TV show. It was a necessary experience, to me, to work daily with a team. Maybe different than the way I’m used to working in France and Europe. It was tiring because I had to do a lot of back-and-forth between Albany and New York City. Recently, I found this new job for this PR agency. So, I’m now looking more for having some personal projects on the side, like documentary projects.

LG: You worked over in France, and now you’re stateside. Is it a lot different working here, as opposed to working over in Europe?

PZ: When I say working differently, at first, I needed to learn not the vocabulary but the slang. We use slang on every shooting to make everything efficient. More or less, it’s the same. My main goal was to be at ease with the communication. My English still needs to improve and was pretty bad two years ago. That was my goal, but overall, I feel for major and small shootings, it’s pretty much the same.

LG: Are you working on anything right now?

PZ: [I’m trying to start] a project about the consequences of AI. I know I’m not alone in doing that, but I would like to put in perspective the possibility of universal income as a transition, or solution, to control balance with the jobs that will be lost because of AI. Basically, I’m looking to interview a lot of people involved with AI, and people who lost their jobs because of it.

It’s pretty difficult because I don’t have any background; I don’t have any connections with it. We will see where it is going.

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