Photograph courtesy Peter Koutsogeorgas
Photograph courtesy Peter Koutsogeorgas
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Current City: Dallas, Texas
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
It came in phases. Detective, NASA flight director, architect, composer, and beyond.
My elementary school, Lamplighter, really encouraged imaginative thinking, so I got to investigate each of these on some level. It was there that my interest in the intersection of various disciplines was born.
How did you get started in your field of work?
I began exploring. I was interested in many things, but I realized that film combined my interests and would allow me to make exploration a lifelong pursuit. I don't have any traditional memories of sitting in a theater and realizing what I wanted to do with my life. It was a gradual progression from photography and storytelling. I remember playing with a video camera that my parents had bought for me and my brother, Basil. I can specifically recall one night making ridiculous stop-animation films in our den. It was the beginning of a collaboration and a pursuit that we did not yet realize.
What inspires you to dedicate your life to filmmaking?
To me, film is a special language. Its own form of music. What currently excites me most about film is twofold: Its inherent fusion of art and science (the technical and narrative pursuits in tandem), and its intrinsic mystery. At its finest, film evokes questions rather than answers.
What's a normal day like for you?
A normal day usually involves coffee and thinking in some capacity. And hopefully some form of humor. I remember hearing a quote from Monty Python to the effect of: "Humor always accompanies a broader perspective." If I'm working on a particular project, a lot of my time goes to that. I do freelance work on various sets, so my schedule shifts from day to day. But I try to find some consistencies. The simple things.
Do you have a hero and, if so, why is this person your hero?
My father—for his quiet integrity and optimism
What's been your favorite experience in the field? Most challenging?
My favorite experience has been engaging a natural phenomenon. The jungle demands a certain respect but also has a quiet, shy side. I think that's where the magic hides. My subject for this film is a special river and geothermal source in the Amazon. Trying to find the river's voice has been really interesting.
The most challenging has been shifting from my narrative background to the haphazard whims of documentary shooting. You go in with a plan, but you constantly have to reassess the story in a way that is entirely different than scripted content. I think the challenge of finding that balance between order and chaos is what it's all about.
What are your other passions?
Space exploration, astronomy, science, piano, reading, late-night movies—to name a few
What do you do in your free time?
I try to enjoy those interests above. They kind of fuel the whole creative cycle by being outlets or inlets at the appropriate times. Another favorite pastime is driving around with a friend and having a stream of consciousness conversation. The topics can shift from life to philosophy to other universes. It's a nice metaphor for the creative process.
If you could have people do one thing to help scientists better communicate with the world, what would it be?
I would stress the importance of the fusion of art and science. I do not see them as separate. Art and science are both pursuits of truth that emanate from observation, and each can enhance the other's contribution. I think this alliance is key to a full appreciation of the world around us.
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In Their Words
Art and science are both pursuits of truth that emanate from observation, and each can enhance the other's contribution. I think this alliance is key to a full appreciation of the world around us.
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