Published on July 4, 2016. Interview by 2016 Summer Intern, Nicki Sheffield: Forrest and Zaynah Pando are husband and wife a filmmaking duo who make creative films such as music videos, collaborations and promos for local businesses, and narratives through their company Pando Creative Co.
Forrest and Zaynah are our third featured 2016 Charlottesville artists in our second annual 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
Zaynah: If we had a free afternoon in Charlottesville, I hope it's a Saturday and that it's actually a morning! We don't often have Saturdays free since we film a lot of weddings, but I love going to the Saturday Morning Farmer's Market downtown, getting some food at Lampo, Milli Joe coffee, and a Bambino cone at Splendora's. We're really lucky to have seen the growth downtown over the past 15 years, and taking advantage of that really makes us appreciate that we're a part of that community. Beyond that, being at home in the Free Union/Earlysville area with our dogs reading a good book or watching a film or show is where you'll find us most.
Forrest: The perfect afternoon for me would be going and grabbing some Coffee from Milli Joe from inside The Pie Chest (maybe a slice of pie to-go) and then working our way over to Lampo for a relaxed dinner with friends.
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Leave room for interpretation, respect, honesty, change
Who or what inspires your current work?
We're very inspired by the work of Danish director Susanne Bier, South Korean director Joon Ho-Bong, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and American director David Lynch in our narrative work, but in our day to day we are inspired by other local creatives, such as Lowland Hum (Lauren & Daniel Goans), Sam Bush, Guion Pratt, Shaina Koren and Mike Esposito and many others.
Consider one film you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine— from start to finish, what goes into making it?
Zaynah: Since the two of us have to be on the same page at all times in order to collaborate effectively, we have tried to develop a process that allows us to be totally open with each other, so we have a lot of steps. Once we have an idea of the timeline for the project, we work on concepting and some rough ideas for shots and mood - we'll create a Pinterest mood board and watch films/music videos that are in the vein of what we're going for. We'll put together a short summary of the story, a shot list, a shoot schedule, storyboards, and sometimes we do a test video for timing out shots that we usually film together or with some friends. That's just preproduction... so a lot goes into making a film. While we shoot, Forrest usually focuses mostly on technical aspects/camera work while I manage production (shuttling actors/crew where we need them, managing the shot list to make sure we don't forget anything) and then we share the task of thinking about what is in the frame and how that's telling our story. After the shoot, if we did our job well in preproduction, postproduction is simple! We edit together - sometimes Forrest will take a first pass at the edit and then I'll jump in and totally do my own version or change a few things around, and then Forrest does color on the project. I'm presenting this like the collaboration is just between us, but we do all of this in conjunction with the artists we are collaborating with on music videos or fellow filmmakers we're working with, plus we send a lot to people or give people our pitch to see what they think, and that is incredibly valuable and important to the process.
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
Zaynah: Both of us have changed a lot as people through the experience of making art - when we started out, we had just gotten out of college, gotten married, and moved back to Charlottesville from Richmond. This was a huge change, and even though we have gone through a lot of changes together since we started dating when we were 14 years old, we still had to learn how to respect each other and collaborate/communicate well. I think that through this process we both learned that we are people who are capable of making those changes, and that we can create meaningful art through that struggle. It's hugely satisfying to be driving to a job we've both prepared for and are excited about, and then even more satisfying to watch the final product knowing that you both created this thing on even footing and can see yourself and each other in it. I personally believe that the only constant in people is that they are always changing, so it's tough for me to say a solid "I have learned this about myself through this work" because that may change!
Forrest: A friend once told me, "If we wanted to do a non-collaborative art, we'd be painters", this is something that totally rings true. When I was young, I was told that I could do anything I wanted. What they didn't tell me is that you need others to get there, and along the way you'll realize that it's the journey of getting there with people you care about and support that makes getting there, together, worthwhile. I've learned, and am learning, how to be a better collaborator and I believe that this is one part of what has motivated a huge jump in the quality of our work.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
Charlottesville is home to so many amazing artists who, while we love their being our own hidden treasures, really need to find a national/international audience. A lot of current Festivals and projects in town are either extremely insular or are focused on bringing successful people from outside Cville into town, but there's not a lot in between. We would love for there to be more of a platform for independent local filmmakers to collaborate with festivals in town, and for film to be a larger part of the arts conversations we hold here. The smaller, more insular initiatives in town are great, but often don't support the arts in a way that is sustainable. Very few people in town actually pay for art or acknowledge that it takes a budget to create a large-scale project.
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
- a "Rock Fact" rock (from the show Over the Garden Wall) Forrest made for me last Christmas
- a Secretary Bird figurine we picked up while we were in South Africa early this year
- a Sydney Hale Candle (we are both insane about these candles)
- a Twin Peaks desk calendar my sister-in-law gave me
- a Funkyo Pop figurine of Fiona from the show Adventure Time
- 2 hard drives (right now)
- Lots of hard drives, 6 to be exact.
- Coffee cup and coffee cup hot plate
- David Lynch Doodle Pad
Forrest and Zaynah Pando are the owners of Pando Creative Co., a creative video production company focusing on local businesses and organizations.
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