We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Mackie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
Dropping out of USC. Ever since high school I had my dreams set on moving to LA, attending the graduate film scoring program at USC, and entering the world of film music as an aspiring composer. I spent four years of college getting my portfolio in shape (and getting a Bachelor of Music in the process). Senior year I applied, and to my great fortune, got accepted into the program. I was so excited to move to LA. I could feel my dreams coming true. But after one semester at USC, my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I wanted to direct films, not write music for them. It was crushing that I had come so far only to give it all up. But actually, there was a sense of relief giving it up. My heart was—and still is—in crafting cinema. I cried like a baby when I told the program director that I wanted to drop out. Thankfully, he was supportive of my decision. That day was 1/11/11. I’m not superstitious, but it couldn’t have been a more fortuitous date for a fresh start.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a director, producer, editor, screenwriter and DP. I love movies and moviemaking. I started out as a composer, writing music for plays, short films, and various ensembles. In college I had a change of heart after watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Psycho” and decided I wanted to try my hand at directing. Some people have described my style as a mix of “old school” and very contemporary. I like to think of my films as a love letter to the movies and directors I admire, while also retaining my own personality and artistic tastes. I deliberately chose not to go to film school. Instead, I learned from my best friend (shoutout to Alex Vo in Sherman Oaks) and generally absorbing how films are made from being on set, working with professionals, and paying attention to movies themselves. It took me four or five years to gain confidence in my skills as a cinematic storyteller, but now I feel the wind is at my back and I’m excited to take artistic risks. The last thing I want to do is conform to how everybody else does it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The New Beverly Cinema, aka Tarantino’s movie theater, on Beverly Blvd, is one of my happy places. Tickets are cheap, the concessions are cute, and the films are exclusively projected in 35mm, so it feels like you’re stepping back into the 90’s. It’s a revival house, so if there’s some old or obscure film that you’ve always wanted to see on the big screen, there’s a good chance the New Beverly will program it. Also, once in a blue moon, a famous movie star or director will pop in to talk about the film they’re screening. It’s an oasis for cinephiles. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife, Ina Rose Farestad, a gifted actress and all-around talent. And my friend and collaborator from Wisconsin, Nick Vitale, who has a podcast called “Polishing Turds” on Spotify and Apple Podcasts – the premise: behind every bad song there’s a good story. It’s funny, weird, inciteful, and full of twists and turns.