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Local Filmmaker Plays in Trees

Sep. 29, 2010
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Local filmmaker Sean Kafer is having a good year. After traveling down the Mississippi River on a raft he made with friends last year to film his thesis, he’s been hard at work ever since—well, in the film world that is. His film Kids in Trees will be screening at the Milwaukee Show during the Milwaukee Film Festival. He describes it as being more of an observational piece and not a story. Catch his film, followed by a short talkback, at the Oriental Theatre on October 2 starting at 5:00 p.m.

Your film Kids in Trees screens this year at the Milwaukee Film Festival as part of the Milwaukee Show. What is it about?

It’s more of an observational piece and less of a story or narrative. I moved back from Hawaii and stayed with my parents. They were babysitting my niece and nephew. I would climb the apple trees with them for fun. I had my camera with me, so then I would shoot footage. Then I started to composite the footage; it was interesting to listen to them talk. They sounded like young adults. I decided to keep the audio. I later merged the tree footage with footage of jungles in Hawaii that I already had.

Why do you use film as your chosen medium instead of art or painting to express yourself? And why is it experimental film?

At a young age, I was intrigued by how the camera captured the images I was watching and not so much on the themes. I didn't pick up a video camera probably until high school. There was a video camera in a drama class I was taking I wanted to see what it could do. I turned it towards the TV monitor that it was connected to and looked into it forever (the image continues to overlay itself). From then on I wanted to be the cameraman for anything I could and experiment with whatever I could find. But, why experimental film? Well, it's not that I don't care about other types of film. It's for several reasons. With experimental film I'm allowed to create what I want completely by myself without having to create art with business, stress, and visionary differences to worry about. I've written and directed a narrative video with actors that were paid. It was rewardless stress.

What messages are you trying to convey with your films?

I wouldn't say there's an overall message. I'm not trying to teach anyone anything specific. People are invited to watch the films I create and take with them what they want. Maybe I'd like them to try to relate to what they're looking at and listening to and say, ‘Oh yeah, I hadn't looked at things like that before.’ If they can say that with their eyes and with their hearts, then I’ve imparted what I’ve set out to. Maybe there's more of a style than message that I'm conveying. And, that's always been dreamlike, shoegazy.

Photo by Kellie Bronikowski


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