Q&A with Tynan DeLong

A conversation with Tynan DeLong, the NYC-based filmmaker behind ‘Vonnie’.

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When you decided to make this short film, where did you start?

It started with a Hi-8 camera. It was the first camera I had as a teenager and so I got one off eBay in 2017 to try and make shorts that captured that same "anything goes" spirit of the videos I made as a teen. While I was making these shorts, I had an idea: I wanted to create a character sketch of my mother using that same Hi-8 camera. I would juxtapose archival footage I had shot as a teen with footage shot present day.

The reason for this was threefold:

1) This lo-fi aesthetic was integral to the story, as I wanted to create something homemade and intimate. I felt the best way to accomplish telling a story so personal was through a Hi-8 camera and what could be more personal than the camera that was such a big part of my life growing up? Also, a lot of the film deals with memory and I felt like the look of this camera - fractured, messy, blurry, imperfect - was able to succinctly comment on the disjointed and flawed nature of our memories.

2) It's a raw look and I felt like the portrait I was trying to make was raw and unvarnished, just putting it all out there and not holding back, trying to burrow into some of the more painful and challenging aspects of both the past and the present. This wouldn't have made sense if it were shot on an ARRI - the Hi-8 look lent itself to the vulnerability of the story I was telling.

3) I wanted to create an anachronistic aesthetic as a way to showcase the effects of the past on the present. I felt like our family has been haunted by the ghosts of the past and this disorienting nature of shooting my mother in present day using an artifact from my childhood accomplished that. Lastly, above all, it just felt right on an intuitive level. I had the idea and I knew I had to make it. My mom is a big part of my life and it was a subject I wanted to explore. I visited my mother in 2017 and 2018 and whittled down the footage from there into the final short.

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What kind of hurdles do you face as a filmmaker working in short film?

I know this is gonna be a shocker but...money and resources. I have found ways around this by using cheaper alternatives and dreaming up stories that can necessitate smaller scale shoots with consumer grade cameras BUT...sometimes you wanna make something that looks more professional and that's hard when you're lacking the funds. You can only ask so many favors, y'know? Ideas and collaborators are never in shortage. Putting all the pieces together on a shoestring and paying other people is always a challenge.

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What projects are you working on next, and how can people who are interested best support or share that work?

I'm about to release a couple new shorts and then we're heading into production for a new series this month. Then a couple more new shorts to be shot at the end of summer/beginning of fall and ideally a micro-feature early next year. You can support me by following me on Vimeo or checking out my website! And follow me on Instagram for all the latest updates @tynandelong. And hey, if anyone wants give me a blank check to make my dream movie, I'm all for it!

Mike Ambs

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.