Originally embarking on a film career with his older brother Van, Casey Neistat is one half of the Neistat Brothers, a pair of film makers who have created over two hundred films together, including iPod’s Dirty Secret, which helped force the company to revise their battery replacement policy in 2003. Since then, Casey has stepped out on his own to produce and direct films, receiving an Independent Spirit Award for Daddy Long Legs which he produced and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Recently, Casey chatted to POST NEW about how he got into film making, the power of moving image to change the world and his plans for the future. Check out an extract from the interview below, and read the interview in its entirety here.
Megan Christiansen: Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood?
Casey Neistat: I always thought I had a terrible childhood, until I grew up then quickly realized I had a great childhood. There was very little adult supervision, all the mac and cheese I could talk my big sister into cooking for me and a set of active train tracks in my back yard. I was born in 1981, I think that makes me the last generation without internet. Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo did enough to fuck up my curiosity and desire to be outside. If I’d had internet I’m pretty sure I’d be a much more sheltered person.
MC: Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
CN: No. I didn’t discover filmmaking till I was 18 or 19.
MC: What made you want to break away from your brother and make films yourself?
CN: Van and I worked together so closely starting with nothing and ending with a show on HBO ,that was about our working together. We’d taken the relationship as far as we could. I think when you have a partnership in business there’s always someone to attribute the success to and blame the failures on. After 10 years we wanted to know what we were capable of individually. Van is a great artist and taught me so much, I credit him with getting me into filmmaking.
MC: What kind of filmmaker do you want to establish yourself as now, has there been a change in your style or intention?
CN: Not a change style but a change of intention. I always imagined the goal, the end of the road being a feature film director. That has changed. Features are part of what I want to do but I no longer see them as the goal, just part of the journey. I started by making little movies and putting them on the internet, went all the way to a TV show on HBO and winning an Independent Spirit Award for a feature narrative I produced. Now, after all that, I’m again focusing on making movies for the internet. It’s what I love doing and something that, in time, will be a medium that’s appreciated along side traditional distribution.
MC: You are entirely self taught, have you always seen this as a positive?
CN: Yes. Teaching creativity is a dangerous thing. Education is important; teach about the cameras, the gear, the process, the business. But to teach, as if there’s a predetermined method of storytelling doesn’t work, it is something you learn through life and experience. Something I learned because I had to figure it out, not having been taught a method meant having to find my own. Werner Herzog said this better than me with; “film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates”.