Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Sparkman Clark
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into filmmaking?
I was born in Stamford CT, and I now reside in Brooklyn. I was partially raised in Germany, graduated from Miss Porter’s School, and received a BA from the University of Richmond. I originally started in the entertainment industry as an actress, but I found that every time I was on set I sat around wishing I was on the crew actually making the film. So I started hustling to break in as a PA, and somehow I landed a job as the director’s assistant on New Line Cinema’s ISN’T IT ROMANTIC. That’s what solidified that I wanted to direct a film of my own someday. From there I landed a staff job on NBC’s THE BLACKLIST Season 5, which is where I met our DP Edgar Velez and our Producer, Amy Wadford.
Why did you make your film?
For a lot of reasons. I wanted to prove that I could. I found a team of people that wanted to make something with me. I wrote a script that encompassed everything in my soul, and my team loved it. I wanted to humanize mental illness in the form of comedy. And I wanted to create a story about two women in love without any struggle, violence or oppression involved whatsoever. They never get harassed for being in a relationship. They never face disapproval from family or friends. They are two humans that fall in love and they just so happen to be a woman. And furthermore, that’s not even the central theme of the movie. The central theme is depression and everything that comes with experiencing it.
What was your favorite part about making the film?
Throwing iced coffee at a Mustang. The scenes that involved the Mustang were the most fun I have ever had on a film set, period. That and working with Edgar, who was always a great collaborative partner. He trusted my vision even though it was my first time directing and he had a lot more experience than I did. We were a great team.
Post Production. I edited all 42 scenes myself and learned how to do VFX to fix filming errors because we couldn’t afford a VFX artist. I spent hundreds of hours with my mentor Julian West as he gave me pointers, taught me everything I know about film editing, and all around made the movie look as professional as it did. Post took roughly a year. I could not have done it without Julian.
What did you learn while making it?
More than I could ever put into words. I learned how to direct in practice, not just in theory. I learned how to work with actors to get the performances I needed. I learned that it really does take an army of people to do something well. You cannot make a quality film by yourself. I would be nothing without the team of people I had behind me.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the film?
What they need. I’ve found that audiences at festivals like the Big Apple Film Festival and San Jose International Film Festival found a different meaning than audiences at LGTBQ festivals like IRIS Prize. I had audience members approach me with tears in their eyes because the film gave them hope when it came to depression. I had audience members commend the film for how it portrayed sexual identity. I had viewers love the film for how it portrayed Brooklyn and the experience of living in New York City as a young adult. I hope that the film reaches a wide range of audience members for different reasons because there are a lot of layers to the story. If I am proud of anything about this film, it is that it is far from a 2-dimensional story.
What are you working on next?
I am in post-production for my next short film, Something Unseen. The completely different vibe from Greta. Quarantine with COVID has delayed the process because I can’t meet up with my colorist, sound mixer, composer, or mentor to fine-tune everything and finish it up. But we’re close.
Where can we follow your work?
@sparkmanclark on IG. Once Something Unseen is finished we’ll start posting about where you can catch it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
To every single person who donated time and/or money to help me create Greta and Something Unseen, thank you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping me grow as a filmmaker. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for being part of the village.