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Interview with Director and Cinematographer Nick Canfield on Debut Film THE REVEREND

Interview with Director and Cinematographer Nick Canfield on Debut Film THE REVEREND Interview with Director and Cinematographer Nick Canfield on Debut Film THE REVEREND

New York native director and cinematographer Nick Canfield’s début feature documentary THE REVEREND (2022) has been rocking international film festivals since its premiere at DOC, NYC where it won the 2021 Audience Award. It recently screened at the 16th Annual Berkshires International Film Festival (BIFF) where he attended with Reverend Vince Anderson to a standing ovation.

THE REVEREND follows the spiritual and musical journey of Reverend Vince Anderson. After coming to New York in the 90's to enter seminary, Vince dropped out to follow his second calling - music. With his band The Love Choir, he has played a now-legendary weekly show for over twenty years.

Nick Canfield developed an intimate observational style, which he learned over several years as filming partner to legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles. His camerawork can be seen in documentaries such as IRIS (2014), THE FIFTY YEAR ARGUMENT (2014), BORN TO FLY (2014), and IN TRANSIT (2015). His films have premiered at international film festivals including Sundance, the New York Film Festival, and Tribeca. He has worked on camera teams for a range of projects such as MAKING A MURDERER (2018).

Interview with Director and Cinematographer Nick Canfield on Debut Film THE REVERENDDirector, Cinematographer Nick Canfield

In a recent interview with Nick about his film THE REVEREND, here is what he had to say:

How did you become a doc filmmaker? 

NICK : I had gotten a job as PA for an independent doc filmmaker who made mostly educational docs for PBS. On our first day of filming the director fired the sound person and gave me the job. I learned sound on the spot, and did that for a few years before transitioning to camera work. I was then hired for a dream job- to be legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles' camera assistant. He and I grew very close and I was fortunate to be his filming partner for over six years. Albert was a fantastic mentor in documentary cinematography and, during my time at Maysles Films, I worked on a several features including IRIS (2014), THE FIFTY YEAR ARGUMENT (2014), directed by Martin Scorsese, BORN TO FLY (2014), and IN TRANSIT (2015), and saw my camera work premiere at Sundance, Tribeca, and the New York Film Festival. Since Albert passed away, I have been able to learn from a diverse group of subjects and filmmakers working on the camera teams for projects such as MAKING A MURDERER. More recently I've turned to directing my own docs, THE REVEREND (2022) is my first film. 

 

Do you believe that documentaries communicate in a way that live action films cannot? What do you personally love about documentaries?

NICK : Documentaries can show us the truth of the human condition in a way that fiction films cannot. Connecting with real people through intimate storytelling and camerawork can be the best way for audiences to connect with larger issues. Personally, I love the immediacy of observational documentaries; these are moments in time that will never happen again, but have been captured for us to experience in a new way and share with others. There are a lot of people in the world with wonderful stories that don't get to be seen and heard. I make films to tell these stories, visually and authentically. 

 

What have been some of the docs and films that have inspired you most?

NICK :The Maysles Brothers seminal films Salesman, Grey Gardens, and Gimme Shelter have certainly influenced me and my style. But I have also been inspired by the documentaries of Steve James, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple, Vikotr Kossakovsky, and Frederick Wiseman. 

 

Can you tell us how you met the Reverend and what led to the inspiration for your film?

NICK : I had been going to see Reverend Vince’s weekly concert for a few years and was always amazed at the power of his performances. It wasn’t just the music that blew me away, it was the feeling of community in the room. Here in the most unlikely of places, a bar in Brooklyn, people from all walks of life were meeting to have a spiritual experience. Reverend Vince’s music, ‘Dirty Gospel’ as he calls it, is a unique high-energy type of gospel music - he rains sweat on the keyboard as he pounds the keys, he wades into the crowd to embrace them, climbs around on the bar, and has been known for getting naked on stage. His band, The Love Choir, is made up of incredibly talented musicians from well-known bands. So few residencies are left in the music world, and this one has become an institution, every week for over 20 years. People come to the iconic Union Pool from all over the world to see Reverend Vince play and are enthralled by his kaftan-clad stage presence and his Americana music. I knew I had to bring these incredible performances to a larger audience.

 

What about the Reverend's story inspired you the most and that you want people to take away from the film?

NICK : What makes Reverend Vince’s story special goes well beyond the music, it is the community he fosters at his shows, the change he affects with his activism, and his compassion for humankind. His modern and inclusive spirituality is a different, progressive kind of Christianity, one that resonates with believers and atheists alike, and can be a force for good. This film gives audiences something we have all been missing, the feeling of being together in shared joy.

 

How can people see your film?

NICK : The Reverend is making its theatrical premiere in NYC at IFC Center on July 22nd, and will run for a week, followed by theaters in select cities in August and September. It will be available to stream in the winter. People can get updates on screenings at thereverendfilm.com or @thereverendfilm on Instagram. 

 

You attended BIFF recently. Can you tell us about that experience? 

NICK : I really enjoyed BIFF, there were a lot of opportunities to interact with other filmmakers and audiences, and a lot of great films. It was so nice to be in the Berkshires and see films at some excellent venues. 

 

How did audiences react to your film?

NICK : The audience response to the film was terrific, people asked some great questions at the Q&A about music Reverend Vince's activism. Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard, who was being honored by BIFF, even asked a great question about spirituality. Reverend Vince performed a solo show in the theater after the film and got everybody up clapping and singing.

 

What will you be working on next?

NICK : I'm working on three doc shorts at the moment. The furthest along is Five Seconds To Fly, a film about a historic 100-year-old ski jump competition - the small town volunteers who make it possible, and the athletes who take on this incredibly daring sport. 

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon

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