Independent Lens presents "Home" – a touching portrayal of the essence of home composed completely of animated home movies and family photos. This film is a bittersweet, evocative journey through the filmmaker's childhood house, which was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and then mistakenly torn down a year later.

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Home Q&A Picture.jpg | "Home" filmmaker Matt Faust talks about the influence of iconic 1980's directors on his career, what it was like to experience Hurricane Katrina and connecting with people as he shot the film.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an independent filmmaker?

The independence and purity of the creative process.  With a digital short like "Home", I can focus on delivering my idea in its truest form with no external pressure or expectations.  In that way, it feels to me more like painting a picture.  I can just follow my inspiration to its most authentic result, whatever that may be, and see if and how other people may connect with it.

Which filmmakers inspired you to get behind the lens?

As a child of the ’80s, the work of people like Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg is surely more ingrained in my psyche than I can even realize.  I know that's an easy answer, but those guys made films that have captivated me for as long as I can remember.  I'm also really drawn to the various work (especially the shorts) of Michel Gondry.  I love how he values coming from a true emotional core that he really feels in a personal way, and then creates a unique visual landscape to communicate that experience without compromising its authenticity.  And while he's thought of mostly as a comic, I also really admire Louis CK because of his commitment to delivering intimacy regardless of how personally vulnerable it requires him to be.  I think people truly value and recognize intimacy at a fundamental level and appreciate the vulnerability it takes to share yourself honestly.

What do you hope the audience comes away with after seeing your film?

The short answer is appreciation and thankfulness for the truly important things in life.  It's way too easy to focus on things that don't matter and take for granted the things that do.  I think that the universal appeal of home (the concept, not the short) is that it existed for nearly everyone, at least in some way, as a time and place where we gave and received love in the purest way we know.  It's the time and place where we most fully and consistently enjoyed the moment without the distractions that tend to creep in as life goes on.  I wanted to show that those are the things that give significance to a physical home, and that we can and should still experience those things regardless of the inevitable change and loss that comes with time.  

So ideally, I hope this film helps husbands see their wives the way they did on their wedding day, I hope it reminds parents to soak in every moment with their children as if it were their last, and I hope it helps everyone to not only be thankful that what they've lost is worth missing, but also to appreciate what they still have.

Did filming “Home” provide emotional comfort as you faced the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Sure.  I'm sure in many ways it was born out of a desire for emotional comfort.  For one, it was an opportunity to respond to what seemed like rampant misunderstanding of what it was like to experience Katrina.  In the immediate aftermath, it seemed like so many people had a finger to point, an ax to grind, or an "opportunity" to exploit.  I definitely had a desire to interject some empathy into the noise.  Not to say that true empathy didn't exist because it certainly did, but it was hard not to feel a little resentment and hurt toward some of the less considerate reactions.  

On a more personal level, it was very cathartic just to see all those old pictures and movies again and bring them back to life in a sense.  Recreating those spaces and virtually moving through them made it feel like the house wasn't completely gone.  It was strangely preserved in a more lasting way, and I could still experience it on some level.  But the greater comfort turned out to be the realization that the true significance of those memories and that place—the love shared there—could not be destroyed. Better yet, this love is still available to us to some extent if we recognize it.

How important are photos, video and audio in the act of preserving memories of a home?

Well, I'm sure people are capable of carrying their most cherished times and people though their lifetimes regardless of whether or not they have photos and videos.  I think a home is more than just a collection of memories stored at a conscious level.  It's what made us who we are and it's ingrained in us.  With that said, a physical record certainly can help revive some dusty old memories.  

For me, the pictures and videos fleshed out the foggier details like the long-gone little things on a certain shelf or the true sound and nuances of a voice that I haven't heard in decades.  This allowed for a richer experience of my memories and helped me fully feel all the emotions associated with them.  It helped me gain a level of closure and acceptance that allowed me to realize exactly what made those memories so special.

What did you find most rewarding about making “Home?”

The biggest reward has been connecting people and connecting with people.  That, to me, is the truest measure of success in art.  I think the job of an artist is to take some aspect of human experience, authentically process it through one’s own unique filter, and shed light on it in such a way that other people can relate to it and thus have a more enriched experience of life.  I think an artist should say, "This is what life in this world is making me feel.  Do you feel that too?"  So the greatest reward for an artist is for an audience to say, "Wow, I do feel that. Thank you."  And at that moment, we all feel that much less alone for having shared this experience.  

I think this is why we value art.  It can bypass the physical, emotional, and temporal barriers that keep us apart.  It has a unique ability to connect us to the humanity of some ancient cave-painter, an 18th-century composer, a modern filmmaker, or some future audience of the works we leave behind.  It gives us at least some little taste of the intimate connections humanity yearns for.  So the most rewarding part of making “Home” for me has been to participate to some small extent in this great unifying quality of art.  I've been blessed with many opportunities to connect people and connect with people all over the world through “Home”.  I've seen it resonate with them just as fully as it does with me, which tells me that it has fulfilled the core ambition that led me to make it in the first place.

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Final NEA Logo.jpg| PBS Indiesis partially funded by The National Endowment for the Arts.