Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Cody Clarke

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGG: Could you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

CC: Hey! I’m Cody Clarke, and I’m a filmmaker and author from Brooklyn, NY. Since 2011, I’ve made eight ultra low budget, truly independent feature-length films. I pride myself in pushing the boundaries of what people expect from a film made for virtually no money—my films don’t look, sound, or feel ‘cheap’, they are all quite deliberate and artful.

I’m also an author—I’ve written novels, poetry books, short story collections, but my newest book is non-fiction: KILL THE LION: A MANIFESTO AND HOW-TO GUDE FOR THE TRULY INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING REVOLUTION. In it I discuss my philosophy about filmmaking, and share what I’ve learned along the way in order to help those starting out from avoiding pitfalls.

TGG: Can you tell us about your latest book, “Kill the Lion”? And, I have to ask, what has the MGM Lion ever done to you?

CC: KLL THE LION is really the book I wish I’d had when I was just starting out. It’s ten years of my hands-on filmmaking knowledge, there for the absorbing. This book will help people make better films, and much cheaper and faster than they ever thought possible.

As far as the MGM logo, I take issue with the fact that it includes the phrase ‘art gratia artis’ (art for art’s sake). I believe film to be a very young art form, and the 100 years of gatekeepers have shown us only a mere glimpse of what the art form can truly be. Only through true independence, and truly independently created movies, will we be able to get there.

TGG: A lot of indie filmmakers read this website, what’s the difference between that and the truly independent film/folk filmmaker revolution?

CC: On a fundamental level, it comes down to whether you are your own greenlight or not. Are people ‘letting’ you make a film, or are you just making a film? Also, how much is money ruling you? Some of the most freedom you will ever experience in life will come from the simplest of resources. A writer needs only a pen and paper, for instance. Can you get your filmmaking as close to that as possible? You’ll be surprised by how, the less you have, the more you are able to do.

TGG: Your book is very inspirational, are we going to see a TED talk in your future?

CC: I would love to lecture on the subject of truly independent filmmaking. YouTube is of course a great platform for that. There are plenty more topics related to filmmaking that I have thoughts on, but just didn’t fit the book. They’ll come out in subsequent books, I’m sure, but until then it’d be fun to just discuss them online in video form.

TGG: What are your favorite films by folk filmmakers?

CC: I feel awkward using the term ‘folk filmmaker’ because Dan Lotz is really who coined that one. That’s his ‘baby’, and I love it, it’s a great term. But I think we should all kind of have our own term for this movement, this era. ‘Truly independent’ is the one I like to use. Others will have other terms. The more terms the better, honestly—it’s just that much more ways by which to talk about what’s going on. Kind of like how we have the words ‘film’ and ‘cinema’ and ‘movie’.

As far as favorites, I love the work that Joel Haver does. My own films will always be my favorite, because since I made them, they are to my specific taste, but Joel Haver’s stuff is the closest to ‘up my alley’ of anything I’ve seen.

TGG: How can we best support you? (Where can we watch your films, buy your books, follow you on social media)

CC: Some of my films are on Amazon Prime Video—Ramekin, Mute Date, and my first film Shredder. Those, and the rest of my films, are available on DVD on Amazon. I also put up a few on YouTube for free, to let people watch while self-quarantining. Those are probably gonna be taken down soon, so if you want to watch Strummer and Bed, do so ASAP!

Buy “Kill the Lion”:


Watch “Mute Date”


Watch “Ramekin”


Watch “Shredder”


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