Patrick Biesemans is a New York City filmmaker whose childhood set in motion, his life’s desire, to try and capture small moments in life.
His naïve youth was cut short by the divorce of his parents when he was young, and the loss of a close friend to a horrific crime at age 13. While he hates to look back and see a childhood that is fundamentally wrong or right, he did learn that life—even moments, are fleeting.
“Like when you have an awesome night out with a group of friends, there's good conversations, laughs, drinks...” he considers, “The night ends great, but then you try to bring those same people back to the same restaurant or bar, and you try and recreate the scenario, but it's not Groundhog Day. It's not on a loop. It's just never the same.”
So in the films he creates, he tries to have them happen in a moment in time.
Opting not to go to a traditional film school, Patrick learned to explore creativity at the visual effects and design school Ex'Pression College for Digital Arts. He worked his first film job at 16, on an indie film shot in San Francisco. “It wasn't a great film, but it was being shot on actual 35mm film, so it was a huge learning experience, and definitely set down the ground work for what I’ve done since.” Patrick works a day job as head of production for “a cool little company in Manhattan,” and as a freelance director of commercials, fashion films, and music videos.
As a filmmaker, Patrick likes the chance to explore and examine human emotions, scenarios, and relationships under a very close microscope, “Maybe it was the disconnect I saw in my parents, maybe it was the disconnect I saw in myself when I was a kid, but I think that's when I decided that I'd make a career out of exploring those emotions.” He sees filmmaking as the career best suited to facilitate that kind of curiosity. He gets to explore, document, and leave behind whatever he uncovers and deliver to others to examine themselves—for generations to come.
“I think of the people that have passed, and I think if they had one last thing to say—what would it be? What would have been important to them at that very last moment? I guarantee it wasn't their bank account or what was going to be for lunch tomorrow.”
Patrick knows he makes people cry. “I know it sounds bad, but knowing that something I did made someone feel something…anything. You can really let it get to you,” he says.
Releasing a film can also have an effect on Patrick. “I had a bit of postpartum depression when we finally released Charles Bukowski’s Nirvana... It was a high and low. It was high because it was finally out for the world to ingest, process, and judge. It was a low because I knew I could no longer live in that world, or work on that character. It's that thing I was talking about earlier, memories, you can revisit but you cannot recreate the experience. And creating Nirvana was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, good and bad.
So who moves Patrick, and creates his fleeting moments of joy and inspiration? He shared three with us:
Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails). I've always appreciated his use of all the tools and skills he has at his disposal, and his creative evolution is just incredible; Pretty Hate Machine is such a wildly different album than Year Zero, and everything in between is so stand-alone.
Photographer Gregory Crewdson, and more importantly, his book Dream House. I think he has capturing those fleeting moments and feelings down to a science. Every image he conceptualizes is just a beautiful story without the cumbersome process of explaining who, what, and why.
Rupert Sanders (director of Snow White & The Huntsman and a friend of Patrick’s). Rupert has given me, and still does from time to time, really great advice. His work, no matter how big and insane of an idea, comes off as very sincere. That's a quality I aim to achieve in my own work.
And, at the end of the day, Patrick says he loves spending time with people that are closest to him, simply drinking and having a lot of laughs—in life’s fleeting moments.
Image Courtesy: Nathan Lee Bush