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Making it in the Reel World: An Interview with Filmmaker Colin Bannon, from Lake George

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Colin BannonColin Bannon, former Lake George High School student, grew up making films on an old, clunky VHS camcorder. With support from his friends and family, he turned his childhood hobby into a very promising career. After graduating high school, Bannon went on to attend Syracuse film school, where he honed his filmmaking talents by creating numerous short films. Bannon later returned to the Lake George/Glens Falls area to shoot his first feature-film Love Conquers Paul. The film, released in 2009, garnered several official selections in the film festival circuit and a “Best Feature” award at the 2009 Kent Film Festival. Bannon’s resume has continued to expand since then, with a variety of production assistant credits on many Hollywood films and documentaries, including Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Everybody’s Fine, Step Up 3D, This is My Cheesesteak and True Stories from Rug City. Bannon is also currently working on his own documentary.

The Free George: Starting out making films at such a young age, what was it like to grow up and have one of your own films, Love Conquers Paul, screened at several film festivals?
Colin Bannon: I used to submit to teen film festivals when I was younger, like Reel Teens USA in Woodstock, NY. I won some awards there. It prepared me for what I’m doing now. I credit Reel Teens for teaching me how to talk to large crowds–the Q&As after the screening.  I started doing it at a very young age and I finally feel comfortable doing it now.

TFG: What was the inspiration behind Love Conquers Paul?
CB: It started out as a short film I tried and failed to make when I was in high school and grew into a feature film.

Love Conquers PaulTFG: Love Conquers Paul is set in Glens Falls and the surrounding area. What was it like filming in and near your hometown?
CB: There is no better place to make your first feature. Everyone was extremely supportive. The city did whatever they could to help. I don’t think the movie would have gotten made anywhere else. It couldn’t have been made for the amount it was anywhere else. People were very generous.

TFG: The cast of Love Conquers Paul is relatively unknown except for award-winning actor & writer-director Peter Riegert. What was it like working with him?
CB: Peter is an amazing actor and a mentor. When we go out to dinner I don’t talk much, I just listen. He’s the real thing.

TFG: You’ve made numerous short films, worked on an award-winning documentary True Stories from Rug City, created the aforementioned Love Conquers Paul, and worked as location production assistant on a few Hollywood films. Can you talk a little bit about how these all differ and which you like doing the most?
CB: It’s the difference of being a wheel in the cog or having some real creative input. I do the Hollywood films to pay the rent, but it’s not creatively rewarding. It’s a job. That being said, I got to watch Speilberg direct and DeNiro act and it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a great cog to be a wheel in!

TFG: What do you find the most challenging thing for you when writing and directing your films?
CB: The most challenging is the writing. It all starts with the script. Bad movies have been made from great scripts, but great movies have never been made from bad scripts. Everything hinges on the story.

TFG: You’ve previously stated that your favorite director was Preston Sturges, the first real “hyphenate” (combination writer-director) director. So far you’re following in his footsteps as a “hyphenate” director. How would you feel about one day having one of your scripts interpreted and directed by someone else?
CB: I’d be happy to have someone else direct my scripts. Someone with a similar vision. Someone better, older, wiser than me. Of course. Film is a collaboration, you have to be able to work with other people…and sometimes you have to put your kids on the school bus.

TFG: What advice do you have for a young filmmaker trying to get started in the business?
CB: Don’t have anything to fall back on. If you have something to fall back on, you will. It’s such a demanding business. It’s all or nothing.

TFG: Lastly, what are your top five favorite films as of right now?
CB: This changes every week. This week it’s The Searchers, Rio Bravo, Hail The Conquering Hero, Mon Oncle, and The Apartment.

For more information on Colin and his films, visit

To read a review of Love Conquers Paul, click here.

—Joe Portes is an Assistant Editor of The Free George.

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