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'Uncertain Terms' Director Nathan Silver Talks Movie-Making Style

Sarah Collins |
June 19, 2014 | 12:19 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Up-and-coming independent director Nathan Silver has just released his newest film, Uncertain Terms. With a gritty, realistic plot and avant-garde stylization, the 71-minute flick explores the struggles and mini-triumphs of teenage pregnancy, broken relationships, and moving forward from them.

Relatively speaking, the director is new to the film industry, but has done much in the short span of his career to make the “Silver” screen his own. 

What makes him unique? For one, the director works with his actors for up to a year in advance, recording monologues and having them attend events in character. He does this because he wants to make the characters in his movies as extensive and realistic as possible. During filming, the actors are given outlines to work with instead of scripts, and hours of footage are filmed and strategically edited down at the end, revealing a diamond in the rough. 

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What are some of his muses? “I draw from a lot of the actors that are involved, I draw from my own life, I draw from books I’ve read, so I collect,” Silver said. “I start off first by saying I want that person and that person to be in a movie, and I would then start thinking of characters for them…I’m not thinking about a story or any sort of moral. That only comes into play during the edit, when you have to hone in on what the film actually is.”

These sources of inspiration are certainly no secret; Silver’s mother plays the head of the makeshift household for the teenage girls, one of the director’s interviews is incorporated as a radio talk show, and even Silver himself makes a cameo appearance in "Uncertain Terms." 

The use of handheld cameras, natural sound, and non-classically structured plots are generally what film study experts consider specifications of the postmodernist period, but Silver disagrees. “I don’t even know what postmodernism is, or what it actually means anymore, because aren’t we past it? I think we’re just in the age of meh,” he said with a chuckle. 

His objective is not to be any one type of movie, Hollywood, independent, or otherwise. “There’s no point in making a movie unless you’re going to show life in some way,” said Silver. “I don’t think there’s enough chaos in movies…there’s not enough [symptoms] of anxiety, and even an experience which is chaotic is so watered down all the time; it drives me crazy.” 

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"Uncertain Terms" certainly follows this thirst for bare, emotional self-expressionism. Viewers of the film feel almost as though they’ve walked-in on a private conversation, awkwardly forced to sit and listen to personal strife. After getting to know the characters a little better, however, they seem like close friends or relatives, peeling back the layers of jadedness to reveal a humanistic core. Though the resolutions to conflict might not turn out how the characters originally hope, they realize that there will always be someone to help them through the absurdities of life, even while their counterparts struggle through issues of their own. 

So what advice does Nathan Silver have for budding filmmakers like himself?  “Make as many movies as you can possibly make,” he said. “Making one movie doesn’t do anything for you; it just shows you where your weaknesses are and perhaps your strengths…And don’t be precious about it, because a first film doesn’t have to be a success and it probably won’t be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make films.” 

And, in a way, Silver’s method of filmmaking reflects the plots of his movies, and, essentially, life in general: Try a little of this and that, and, at the end, we’ll see what it comes to show. 

Contact Staff Reporter Sarah Collins here. Follow her on Twitter here



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