Starting without the Answer

Catherine Deputch is one of those women with doll-like features and a contagious laugh. However, she’s also a force to be reckoned with. In 5 minutes, one can see that her mind works like no other. She’s constantly taking art, music, languages, emotions, and mixing them together to form powerful pieces of cinema. 

I met Catherine pre-Covid at a management office. We were both interns and let me tell you, she definitely helped make those slow days reading scripts fly by.

Catherine Deputch is filmmaker – she writes, directs, and produces short films and features. 

She got her start when she was 12 years old…

C: “I was always a writer. I wrote short stories and little scripts simultaneously. My parents were a big influence on me. They’re mathematicians but we watched a lot of films together. Eventually, I put two and two together and went, ‘Hey, I can write these stories too.’ When I was 12 or so I got serious and googled film camps. I found one in NY – the NYU film camp. For two weeks my dad and I would take the train in and out of the city, thinking of my first film to pitch to them.”

Catherine is Polish and puts so much of her cultural identity into her work – it shines through in beautiful ways.

C: “When you have a cultural identity it shapes who you are – everyone has their own unique stories even when you are completely American 4th generation. When I started, I was trying to figure out what stories I could tell in my own way so, I asked my grandparents about their story.  The stories [they told me] I don’t see on screen as much. They’re so specific to that culture and time period but they’re so cool and interesting I think they’re relatable to everyone.”

She tells these stories in a way that’s fresh and new. Take her short Candles, it’s currently going around the film festival circuit and doing quite well. 

C: “This piece is about loss and grief. When I had started working on it I had thankfully not lost many people in my life. While we were doing the editing process I lost three friends. After they passed away I experienced grief and loss in a new way. Because when you lose someone you miss the little things – the smell of their clothes, the way they hum as they load up the washing machine…I also had a lot of influence from my composer who, for his senior recital, used an all vocal Gregorian chant singing in Latin. I said I wanted to take this idea –  that light is what guides you and guides your path.” 

Catherine also has her own studio called Vulcat Studio.

C: “Vulcat is Catherine and vulture put together. I love turkey vultures and seeing them circling around. They start wide and focus in. Vulcat is a place for me to showcase my work but really I don’t want to put myself in a bucket. Whatever themes and questions I have I want to be able to explore them.”

What questions is she trying to answer? Well as she likes to put it…

C: “I like writing films by starting off without knowing the answer and ending with at least three new questions. Or starting a film with a question that I don’t want to answer and being ok with that. If you have a film you already have the answer to, you get bored. It doesn’t challenge you and your audience will get bored too. I like the films where you finish watching the film and you’re still talking about it three days later.”

And the advice she would give to any new filmmakers…

C: “The cardinal rule is that there’s no better day than today to start. If you want to get on set and set isn’t knocking, make your own. If you want to write, make your own writer’s room. Do as many roles as you want to, just do it. Also, 48hr film festivals are the best because you don’t have to dwell on it. Try to be patient – I’m not a patient person but if you want to be in the big leagues you need to learn the steps. It’s not an elevator, it’s a staircase. It’s like when you’re pushing up those last few couple hundred feet, your legs hurt and you’re sweating but then, you see the view and it’s so good. If you see it from the elevator it’s not as good. If you walk it, you remember the whole journey.”

You can find a link to Vulcat Studios here where you can find more information about Catherine and her work.

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