We had the good fortune of connecting with E.C. Timmer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi E.C., we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
In hindsight, I realized I happily leap off cliffs… before I realize they’re cliffs. I mean “cliffs” like: taking creative risks. Maybe it’s part of my hardwiring. Or my mom’s incredibly supportive, emotionally buoyant belief in me. Or my dad’s “Why not try?” attitude. But the way I think about creative risk is that I often don’t think about it, I just give it a go. My grandfather used to say: “You’ve already got a ‘no’ if you don’t try, so why be so scared to try? If you try, hey, what the heck: you might get a yes!” (I’ve reworded this. He must’ve said it in a much more polished way.)
But really: I jumped into directing and filming international documentaries with a small team… before I knew anything about docs. I jumped into writing a novel, before I could do it brilliantly – or even “well.” I jumped into wedding photography before I had a track record as a photographer. I leapt into an MFA Directing Program before I knew anything about narrative film sets… and I mean: I knew nada.
So I’ve got some not-so-good creative content from my first stumbling efforts, some bruises to my ego, some moments of wanting to hide, but then I’ve also got this learned experience that diving in and committing means I’ll get better and better at it.
Keep at it, and I can even get fairly good at it.
This is universally true – and my intrepid friends who also leap off creative cliffs – just give it a go – have inspired me endlessly. It’s the “growth mindset” vs. “fixed mindset” (if you don’t know about Carol Dweck’s research with this, look it up; it will change you).
And that’s about it. I’ve got my fair share of insecurities and bouts with imposter syndrome, but I’m still jumping off cliffs. I hope to do it for life. Very exhilarating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have this obsession with filmmaking – cinema – as a way back to our honest selves, to presence, to each other. It might sound very zen or whatever, but what I mean is that I’ve got this habit of dissociating from stillness and presence, and I make my films as a craving – as a path – back to it.
I’ve used movies to escape, yes. I’ve watched films to forget some pain, to numb some wound, to sidestep boredom, to kill time. That’s all valid. There are myriad reasons to make and watch movies.
One of those myriad ways – though – keeps gripping me: cinema as a way to be present, to meet ourselves and each other in vulnerability.
I won’t pretend zen-ness – or that I’ve figured this out – but it magnetizes me. I aim to create films that steady us up to the pace of our breath, that bring us back to the rhythm of presence. These films ask for a kind of attention and care that I sorely miss when life is so “double tap,” “next thing,” “hustle,” “climb,” “optimize.” I don’t just mean that I want to make “slow” films. It’s not really about pacing. It’s about the way a screen can offer an honest window into the human experience, pain, heart, tenderness. That’s the meat of it.
I’ve watched movies that nudge me back toward home – to the people near me, to the address of my own heart. Those movies plant themselves in me, and they grow. I aim to write and direct those kinds of movies.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hire me and give me this job. My delight: taking best friends (or friends, or acquaintances) out for experiences. I love this. Here’s my list:
– Yuko Kitchen DTLA – for ambience, and any lunch / dinner / their strawberry mochi cookies
– Kazu Nori – FOR FRESHEST HAND ROLLS
– Point Dume for sunset / some anticipatory-nostalgia film-photo-taking
– Ave 26 Taco Stand for late night tacos eaten on the hood of the car. BEST.
– Allll the way over to Savoy Kitchen for the Hainan Chicken with extra ginger.
– The rooftop of the parking garage at The Row, because I love that rooftop. At sunset.
– Coffee MCO for their Cohen Latte. Try it. It is a surprise.
– Ube Baby – because I love Ube, and I still need to try this spot.
– Sun Nong Dan in K-Town for their Galbi Jjim, complete with flame-throwing cheesiness.
There’s so much more. Ask me for more. That’s good for now.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Two pivotal shout-outs:
1. “The Artist’s Way” – by Julia Cameron. This book was permission to fly, to be again the prolific creative I was at 8 years old, to heal, and to waste less bandwidth on crippling creative doubt.
2. Thomas Harris – my MFA Professor for “Narrative Strategies” and my film consultant. This man’s enthusiasm, unbridled commitment, and care for my creative voice still knocks me off my feet. I’m the filmmaker I am today in large part thanks to him.
Instagram: @emily_timmer and @smokescreensfilm