Yes Film School: The Secret Behind Sundance Breakout 'The Eyes of My Mother'

Kika Magalhaes in The Eyes of My Mother
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival
First time director Nicolas Pesce has provided Sundance 2016 with its most unique feature, turning out a complete and remarkably produced vision in less than a year.

Fresh from the mind of a first-time filmmaker and backed by a group of emerging auteurs, The Eyes of My Mother is the type of film Sundance programmers dream about. After a chance gig at editing Josh Mond's James White, first time director Nicolas Pesce embarked on an eighteen day shoot in upstate New York with a cast of only five or six friends. In less than a year, he came back with an incredibly unique feature that premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival NEXT section. 

One could argue, however, that the project has been in the works since Pesce's freshman year at NYU, where he met the friends that would later become essential members of his creative team. In addition, The Eyes of My Mother has the honor of being the first production from Josh Mond, Antonio Campos and Sean Durkin's new executive label Borderline Presents.

We sat down with Nicolas and producer Jake Wasserman at Sundance to find out exactly how they pulled this off.

"More than 50% of our crew on the feature went to film school with us and were on the crew of the last movie I made in film school." 

It seems pretty clear that the advantage of going to film school is finding people who motivate you and share your vision, or are at least able to influence it in some way. For those of you who haven't gone to film school, where do you find these collaborators? What sort of communities are you able to engage in that help to further your work? How have these collaborations ended up benefiting you?

Big thanks to Nicolas and Jake for sitting down with us, and be sure to check back later for Part II of the interview where we go more into detail on the technical aspects of the shoot.

For more, see our complete coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance 2016 Blackmagic Design

No Film School's video and editorial coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.     

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Your Comment


Woohoo film school! I went as well. All my crew went to Brooks with me and we work together all the time. The downside is the debt...the soul crushing debt....

February 11, 2016 at 9:09AM

Caleb Price

How do I talk to the humans to make my movie?

February 11, 2016 at 5:34PM


Hahaha... The age old question.

February 11, 2016 at 5:44PM

Micah Van Hove

Going to Filmschool does not guarantee that you will find the people you wanted/needed to meet. I've had better experience with people I met outside.

February 19, 2016 at 12:02PM