Filmmaking As An Art Form: Nathan Paterson

By Emily Fuller

Filmmaking is an art form that is quite often overlooked and neglected as a creative field of work. Vastly different to the artistic expressions of painting or writing, filmmaking demands a collaborative moulding of various creative aspects in order to create a fluid and dynamic piece of art – a film. The artist or filmmaker must rely heavily on their basic intuition, their knowledge of film as a medium, and their feeling of the subject, to perfectly blend a subject matter into a visual platform. Nathan Paterson is an artist that has grown to understand and adapt to this quite well, as he has just conquered the initial stage of his creative journey in filmmaking having recently graduated from the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television. Here is what he had to say about his work, experiences in the industry and up coming projects.



What initially compelled you to make the move to Sydney to attend film school?

Looking back, I believe a large influence regarding this decision owes purely to sheer impulse. Making films has been all I have ever wanted to do since I was a kid. I kept these ideologies throughout my childhood and so on until my final years of high school. This became the first time I began to really doubt myself, I found myself being pushed into believing that I was obligated to spend my life working a career for purely financial benefits and no more. I can remember how upset this made me, I felt as though growing up I was lead to believe that we choose what we want to do based off passion and interest rather then financial security. After being told by multiple teachers that I was not smart enough to even bother getting an ATAR, and my only choice was a trade – I found myself in a math class one afternoon applying to film school. It wasn’t until I had been accepted and enrolled that I even told my parents.


Could you tell us about your final project Cane?

Cane has definitely proved to be my most challenging project yet. The story follows two young men in love, who face the looming threat of separation due to the Australian deportation laws. As this film is set in our very recent pre-marriage equality plebiscite stage in parliament, the couple are not able to simply marry to gain citizenship. Although Cane explores many avenues of current Australian politics, the most important thing for me was to focus simply on the love story. The politics essentially represented the circumstances the characters had to overcome – thus making the Australian government the film’s antagonist.



What are some of the greatest challenges for you as an artist on set?

Being one of many who have suffered from anxiety and mental illness, I found taking a leadership role and having to trust in my own creative choices extremely challenging. Despite my passion for filmmaking, I would be lying if there weren’t times on set where I haven’t doubted my directorial decisions.


What is your favourite stage in the process of creating a piece of film?

I’ve found there are so many rewarding and exciting moments throughout the process as a whole – ranging from the earliest stages of pre-production, to the final stages of post-production. Personally, a stage that has been particularly gratifying is rehearsal. I particularly love working with actors and developing three-dimensional characters together. I specifically love seeing actors perform a scene that, until that point had existed completely in your own imagination – to witness it manifest physically as a reality is truly captivating.


Are there any stylistic/aesthetic choices you utilise as consistent themes throughout various works?

At first glance, I feel my work appears drastically different in stylistic terms. However, I have come to notice similarities that seem to have revealed themselves consistently throughout. Regardless of the film’s basic premise, I always maintain an interest in exploring human connection and relationships. I am also very drawn to Australiana themes and motifs for my work – as I take a lot of inspiration from the Australian landscape. I’m confident that both of these constant themes will remain central to my work as my style as a filmmaker changes and evolves.


Are you drawn to other platforms of creativity other than filmmaking?

Definitely. There are so many other art forms I find myself drawn too, especially other aspects of writing and storytelling. When in the process of writing a screenplay, I often find myself taking influence from poetry, music and other forms of literature rather than films necessarily.


What are your plans for the future year, now that you have graduated?

I think my main priority is to maintain my learning. I’ve really only scratched the surface in understanding cinema as an art form, and I have so much more to learn. The best thing about film school was meeting other creative minds who have both challenged and supported my creative journey. I’m confident that the coming year will bring more collaboration and continue to propel my thinking and creativity into unexplored fields.


Here is a link to Nathan’s trailer for Cane:


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