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Matt Leonard PDF Print E-mail
 Matt Leonard
Director Matt Leonard took time out to talk with DOC. Under his guidance, "Burn on the Bayou" tells the tale of how Americans are slowly coming to terms with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
DOC: Tell us about your background as a filmmaker, did you go to film school, and do you have certain films and filmmakers inspire you?
I did go to film school, Colorado Film School, for a while although I didn't get a degree in film. I've written and directed shorts, a commercial and unscripted web shows. I've always been a huge fan of cinema, both fiction and documentary, and am particularly inspired by Ridley Scott, Wes Anderson and the Maysles brothers.
DOC: Why is "Burn on the Bayou" a film you wanted to make and how did it finally come together and get done?
Well, it's not the typical low budget doc story – I was actually hired to direct and co-write it. I worked very closely with my main co-writer and editor, Zachary Cole, for months with the support of the producers, the Burning Man organization. They mostly let us just work on telling the story – this boils down to me being the luckiest guy in Hollywood and getting to tell a story the way I wanted to.
DOC: What were a few of the challenges you encountered while making "Burn on the Bayou?"
Mainly, too much material! Over 25,000 still photos alone, and huge amounts of footage. That makes it hard to choose what to use and what to leave out.  Also, there were so many interesting facets to the stories of everyone after Katrina, it was hard to decide on what to focus on – by choosing to go with the experiences of the volunteers, I was able to narrow things down considerably and, hopefully, tell a story that was different from the other Katrina movies.
DOC: What do you think are the main elements that go into a successful documentary film project?
If by “successful” you mean “a film that satisfies the viewer” then I'd say story is the most important element – without a compelling story with a beginning, middle and end, it's very difficult to make a movie that people want to watch. From the filmmaker's point of view, having the resources (time, money, skilled people) is a very big part of making the movie.
DOC: In your opinion, are documentary films more relevant to contemporary American cinema than in years past?
I think they should be, especially in America, but whether they are or not, I can't say. I love documentary films and wish they got more exposure.
DOC: Any new documentary or film projects in the works you'd like to talk about?
Nothing I can talk about right now, sorry.
DOC: Please list for some of your all-time favorite documentaries.
In no particular order:The Seven Up! series
Borat *
God Sleeps in Rwanda
Grey Gardens
Super Size Me
Rock School
Anvil! The Story of Anvil!
* - kidding!

You can see "Burn on the Bayou" trailer and the option to buy the film on DVD here !
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