My Interview with “Side By Side” Director Chris Kenneally

“Side By Side” director Chris Kenneally

“It’s what everyone asks us when we’re home for the holidays, ‘What do you do?’” director Chris Kenneally explained to me regarding his former job as a post production supervisor of feature films.  Kenneally’s extensive knowledge of the post production process has brought him to his new position as documentary filmmaker with a documentary largely about (what else?) post production.   “Side By Side” is a film that unveils at least some of the mystery behind the post production process (what happens after a movie has been shot), as well as the production process (the actual shooting of a movie) of feature filmmaking.   Most important, Kenneally makes the production and post production processes, and the changes that they are now under going, interesting and accessible for those not involved in post production (most likely the majority who will see “Side By Side.”)

“We hoped that we could make something that’s not just educational but that’s entertaining.  We want people to be engaged and enjoy themselves while they’re watching it,” Kenneally told me during a recent telephone conversation.

Of his background and what led him to “Side By Side,” Kenneally explained, “I was making some short docs, some internet stuff.  I made this documentary about Crazy Legs Conti, the competitive eater (“Crazy legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating”).  I was working with Keanu Reeves on a movie called ‘Henry’s Crime.’  A lot of the topics and conversations that are in ‘Side By Side’ are the things he and I were talking about.  Keanu said ‘Listen, you’re a documentary filmmaker.  Why don’t we make a documentary about this moment in time?’”

By “this moment in time” Reeves was referring to the transitional period that the film industry is now in, in which films are going from being shot and exhibited on film, to being shot and exhibited digitally.  Films are now also edited digitally, as opposed to being edited on film, but that revolution has already happened (although it is covered in “Side By Side”).

As to what it was like to work with Reeves Kenneally said, “This movie wouldn’t have been made without Keanu at all.  As an interviewer he really put the subjects at ease and I think that’s what really makes the movie entertaining.  People are relaxed and they say some funny things and he gets really honest answers out of them.”

Certainly having a movie star like Reeves on board helped facilitate access to the big names featured in “Side By Side.”  Kenneally explained that, “I think some of the big names came from the clout of Keanu, but also a lot of big people really wanted to talk about this subject.  So it wasn’t hard to get them talking, or to say ‘yes.’  After you get a few names and you’re telling people ‘this is who has already been involved,’ it starts to become more real.  Definitely having Keanu as the producer and the interviewer, he was able to get people that I don’t think I would be able to get by myself.”

Kenneally recalled that Reeves came on board because he was impressed with Kenneally’s previous work, especially “Crazy legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating” (DVD available on Netflix).  Of his earlier projects Kenneally reflected, “All those small projects going nowhere, but I guess it was worth it because you get better at it and you have something to show people instead of just wishing what you want to do.”


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on September 2, 2012, in Documentary, Feature Articles, New and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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