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Q&A: Palmer Morse

Palmer Morse directed 2020 WMFF features “Venture Out,” “Constant Thought” and “Detroit Hives.” Palmer stays busy in this industry and produces epic content year after year. We asked him a few questions, see our Q&A conversation below:

What is in your gear bag/kit?

Our main camera is a Panasonic EVA-1 with various cine lenses. For Venture Out we decided to test out the new Panasonic S1H and were incredibly impressed, I think it’ll be in our camera bag in the near future.

What item can you not live without?

Honestly a granola bar! It sounds funny but it’s seriously hard to focus and get the job done when your stomach is growling and your mind is going awry with hunger. Drinking enough water and eating enough food on set is so important.

How do you choose music for your films?

A few years ago we decided we really preferred to work with composers. Since then, we’ve been working with a select few composers for our films. Searching for stock music online took way too much time and often we didn’t like the result.

Most necessary character-quality for a director?

Flexibility and collaboration. As important it is to lead a team as a Director, I think it’s as important to realize when someone else might have a good idea or know when to realize you may be wrong. It’s very difficult to get a crew motivated if the Director is being hostile or difficult to work with. Every set I’ve been on where the Director is approachable creates a much more enjoyable experience for all.

Who has been most influential in your directing career?

When Vimeo launched back in 2004 it opened a whole new world of filmmaking I wasn’t really exposed to previously. Until then I had really only seen what films were playing in the cinema or later on, taught in film school. Looking through Vimeo when I have down time is a constant source of inspiration and a great way to see work for a variety of different filmmakers and creators.

Favorite on-set memory?

When producing our short doc, Venture Out, we attempted to summit Mount Ida in Rocky Mountain National Park with thirteen hikers. We started at 4:30am hiking with headlamps in complete darkness. Just as the sun was coming up we rounded a corner and came across four huge bull elk about 50 feet from the trail. It was just the end of rutting season and they didn’t look too happy to see us. We waited for about twenty minutes to see if they would move, but they wouldn’t. Eventually we just decided to all stick together and make as much noise as possible in hiking by. Next thing I new we were hiking by the elk singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in unison and laughing. We made it through in one piece, it was definitely pretty scary but also so funny.

Craziest on-set/en route to set adventure?

Driving down to the U.S.-Mexico border to drop Brandon, the main character in Constant Thought, off at the PCT Southern Terminus was a surreal experience. I had never been to the border and it felt like such a strange, alien place to me.

More About Brian Lewis

Palmer is an award-winning filmmaker rooted in activism who focuses on using the devices at hand in our visual and media culture that can drive our society to make change. His short films have been show around the world, winning both awards and high praise. A Swiss Army knife of knowledge and skills, you’ll often hear him planning his next shoot as often as you’ll find him on set holding a camera or sitting in the editing room. Interested in stories of humans, our planet, and the interactions of the two, Palmer often works with organizations, non-profits, and brands in honing in on their mission in a visual format. He currently lives in Oakland, California, and is the co-founder of Spruce Tone Films.

Check out more of his work here: palmermorse.com.