Who is Edward Davee?
Edward Davee is a professional film-maker and photographer living in Portland, Oregon and traveling far and wide!
He goes by Edward professionally, but I know him as Ted. He has been in my life- well, my entire life. Him and my mom were married when I was a kid, and are now divorced, yet remain great friends, so I still consider him my stepdad. He is the reason I became interested in film-making from a young age. I used to borrow big, bulky cameras from him to film my own stop-motion animation and skits with. He is a highly skilled, ground-breaking artist who has created countless projects since he was a young kid until today, including feature films, music videos, and documentaries. I even played a small part in one of his feature films, How the Fire Fell, about a true event in turn-of-the-century Corvallis! You can’t possibly imagine the amount of hard work… and coffee… that goes into making a feature film!
He recently returned from out of the country filming a documentary (details to come!) and I asked him a few questions, hoping to gain insight and refreshed inspiration and to impart his wisdom on my readers.
Krizia: What advice would you give to beginner photographers and film-makers?
Ted: “I’d say I’d advise beginners to always trust their intuition and believe in themselves. If they feel motivated to create films then they likely have a vision of their own. Hold onto it and don’t let people tell you you can’t do things your own way. It’s good to learn the usual basics but it also can cloud your vision and lead to self doubt a bit. It’s really hard to make films and you have to really believe and keep trying your best and not let people bring you down or discourage you. Unfortunately, it happens all the time whether you’re a beginner or not. You have to take criticism well, consider it as you see fit and either take it to heart, or throw it out the window. Sometimes doing the opposite of what people have told me I should do has served me well. But it can be a difficult balance to keep. Because you can’t ignore advice and criticism completely. You just have to keep working and keep making things until you start to feel at peace with your own decisions”
Krizia: How long would you say it takes to find your personal style when starting out?
Ted: “That’s a hard one because I think it’s probably different for everyone. I started by using still images to develop my own style. But personal style always comes from the things that inspire you, to some degree. So the tricky thing is to let that inspiration guide you, but not to try to copy it. Mix your influences together to create your own recipe. Be inspired by other films and other filmmakers, but also let music and nature and architecture and whatever else be a part of your vision and style. I also think it helps to consider where you’re from. For me, I think it always comes back to my childhood in Corvallis Oregon. I may have romanticized it, but that’s not necessarily bad for the development of personal filmmaking style. Also, just experimenting and messing around with cameras and even sound can help you find things that click with you and that you keep going back to. A simple “mistake” that you make with a camera one day might be something you like and use later and maybe even keep using”
Krizia: What is the most challenging part of doing a day-long shoot?
Ted: “Day long shoots are challenging for many reasons, but I guess I’d say that the most important thing, and therefore the most challenging, is to maintain good morale on set. People are working long, hard hours, often for very little or no money. Everyone is in it together so the challenge is to keep that feeling alive. Let everyone feel like they are part of the process and that they are appreciated. Everyone is important and necessary on a set. If morael is low, it spreads like cancer very quickly. Every link in the chain needs to remain intact. So this is especially difficult on low budget productions because people are doing too much for too little and there’s not a lot of time for keeping the personal connection side of things alive. And communication break-downs can happen very easily”
Krizia: Where do you find inspiration from?
Ted: “Inspiration comes and goes. Sometimes I don’t know when it will strike. I often get inspired by watching behind-the-scenes documentaries on films and directors that I like and reading interviews and such. I get inspired by getting out to nature and experiencing quiet moments in solitude. I take walks a lot to think things through. To me, the things that inspired me to make films in the first place continue to be sources of inspiration. It’s kind of like rediscovering yourself. Sometimes I forget about my early influences and experiences a bit so I go back through my own history to remind myself. Sometimes just going out with a camera and messing around can bring inspiration. Sometimes you just find yourself in a perfect cinematic moment by chance and suddenly you feel really motivated to make movies again. It might be getting up at 5 in the morning and walking to get coffee or something and suddenly everything just seems perfect for a moment. It’s important to listen to those moments.”
I felt really encouraged and inspired by Ted’s words. It’s hard work, but if you stay motivated and as he said, listen to your intuition and pay attention to those important moments, you will go far and succeed in your creative journey. I really liked what he said about getting out and messing around and mixing inspiration to create your own recipe. I like that it isn’t JUST film that inspires him. He mentioned architecture, nature, etc, and I think that is so cool and so important to pay attention to, research, and collect things outside of just film to gain a well-rounded record of inspiration. That really spoke to me in my early stages of the Multimedia program. It was also a valuable reminder that you need to keep positivity and team spirit up while you are working with others, no matter what. I can get grumpy sometimes and I will have to put effort into this aspect of creative collaboration!
This was such a great experience to interview him! Thank you for reading!