Daniel Aronskind is a photographer and filmmaker. He is based in the East Village in New York City and grew up in New Jersey.
While not formally educated in the arts, he continues to pursue his enjoyment in filmmaking, writing, and photography.
His film, In Ruins, is part of BIFF 2022.
What was your first experience on a film set?
It would actually be on In Ruins, as this was my first film where there was a real consideration for every element: the camera, sound, lighting, direction to actors, etc. The first night of filming we worked late into the night in a below-freezing shed typing loudly on a typewriter. We had to get the sound of the typewriter just right and it was cold enough to see my breath (which was perfect for visuals). We had a great idea for an opening transition which would utilize an exterior establishing shot but the light bulb outside the shed wasn’t connected to any electricity. In a stroke of 2AM genius/delirium we had the idea to use an iPhone flashlight and stick it in the light fixtures inner wall, beaming through the bulb, and the result came out pretty fantastic (go back and watch if you’d like!). That was really the first time I have seen firsthand how important pre-production planning is but still won’t save you from needing to adapt and stay flexible. I can’t say I loved every moment of production but I certainly have some fond memories.
What was the first film you directed/wrote?
In middle school I adapted a scene from John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. It was the scene where Kino kills three trackers in a frenzy, and we shot it in the reservation near my house. The film was about two minutes and featured gratuitous violence which I excitedly screened for my fellow teenagers in class. The first “professional” film I wrote was a buddy comedy named Smiley, set in the early eighties where two friends stagnant in their lives suddenly come into possession of a batch of pills that make everyone who takes them feel pure happiness. They begin to sell these pills to make some extra cash and be somebody, but soon the original owners and a few other interested parties start to come after the precious pills. Since Smiley, In Ruins is the first film I’ve written, shot, and completed on a professional basis, though I look forward to many more in the future.
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
There are so many options, but I have to go with the obvious – Scorsese. His films and the films he has inspired make up such a substantial part of my personality and love of cinema. I’ve watched them throughout my life, oftentimes coming back for different reasons or studying different aspects that resonate with that stage of life. His love of cinema is infectious and his commitment to restoration and preservation of the medium is inspiring. There are so many honorable mentions to include (Paul Thomas Anderson, the Safdie brothers, John Cassavetes, and so many more I’d love to name) but ultimately it always comes back to Scorsese if I had to pick one.
What are you working on that no one knows about?
Well for a while it was In Ruins (and thanks to BIFF I have the chance to really surprise everyone with a bang!), but now it would be my next project. I’m not sure if this will go anywhere yet, but I have always been intrigued by the idea of polyamory, specifically in the context of community parenting and sharing of lives. There’s something so appealing about the concept and I could see it as a way of life that would work for many people but there’s still taboo around it. there is warmth and honesty in unconventional family structures and I have a feeling there’s a great story in these concepts. I’m excited to see what happens with it.