A Riehl Blacksmith07/31/2014
Sam Riehl, the youngest professionally operating blacksmith in Louisiana, breathes new life into an old profession, infusing form and function through metal arts.
A Riehl Blacksmith was an official selection of NFFTY 2014 and screened as a part of the Cinematic Journey category.
Film of the Week is presented by Volvo Cars of North America.
About the director:
Brennan Robideaux is a director, cinematographer, and co-founder of Screen 4 Entertainment in New Orleans, Louisiana. Driven by passion and inspired by creativity, Brennan strives to deliver a fresh perspective on cinema, acknowledging the greats of the past, and pushing the limits for tomorrow.
NFFTY spoke with Brennan about his work on the film.
Q: How did you come into contact with Sam Riehl and what lead to you telling his story?
I was in the grade above Sam throughout high school and was always very fond of him. One day, during PE class, I asked him about his blacksmithing. Everyone knew that Sam was a blacksmith, but not to what extent. I figured it was just a really neat hobby or something. I was wrong. Sam was as passionate about blacksmithing as I was about filmmaking. He is a master at it, and I felt as if I had to tell this story. There are very few people like him.
Q: What was the biggest challenge of putting together this film? Did you learn anything new?
I went into this film not really knowing what I wanted. I should’ve prepared more, but Sam had shown me pictures of his work which got me excited enough to start immediately. It was a little too quick… We drove to the shop together to start shooting, and I was learning about his story for the first time on the ride. I also only had one softbox that produced very little light. The entire shop was dark and it was very bright outside, so I had to really get creative with the camera angles and lighting setups. The shoot taught me how to think on my feet and work with what I had. This has helped tremendously on the films I’ve made since then. You can never control all variables on a film set and it’s nice to have that skill in your back pocket. However, I definitely make sure to do a lot more pre-production, now. That always helps. I also gained more respect for passion. I am extremely passionate about what I do, but seeing Sam work with 60-70 year old master blacksmiths as they admire and appreciate his devotion to the craft at such a young age really inspired me.
Q: Are you currently working on any projects?
It seems as though I’ve always always got my hands tied in a new project. Recently, my roommate, Thomas Zrabkowski, and I started a production company together called Screen 4 Entertainment. We have just completed our newest short film titled “The Cutoff” and are eagerly awaiting results from festivals. We also have a few more projects currently in post as well as some other really ambitious plans… Hopefully, we will get to share some quality material with you guys soon!
Q: What do you see as your short and long term goals as a filmmaker? Moreover, where do you hope to be in a few years?
I want to make feature films. I am a fan of both documentary and narrative, and I don’t want to ever have to choose one or the other. The thing that I always strive to be is a go-getter. I rarely take no as an answer and try to not get discouraged; although, it can be very tough at times. I like to set really ambitious goals for myself. One is to direct my first feature before the age of 23. I have this crazy dream of being the youngest director to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. It might be a stupid dream and it might never happen, but it keeps me going. That’s why I set these seemingly unreachable goals for myself – to keep me chasing after something that I am passionate about; a career that I love more than anything and would be lost without. Sure, I may never reach that point in this industry. In fact, I may be like a dog chasing its tail for the rest of my life, but, as any dog would tell you, whether you ever catch that tail or not, the process is still fun as hell.