The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

WHS grad creates life as film maker


Courtesy photo

Andrew Weiler, a 2010 graduate of Wahkiakum High School, is a documentary filmmaker living in Chicago. He has just released his first film, Liberty Farewell, which can be seen on his website, or on his Facebook page, Liberty Farewell.

Andrew Weiler, a 2010 Wahkiakum High School graduate, is creating a life in film.

He recently produced a documentary and is currently experimenting with new ways to market and distribute it online. Right now, he hopes to build an online community around the film, and watch it create a life of its own.

The film documents the experience of Barack Obama's farewell address to the nation in Chicago and is titled Liberty Farewell.

Weiler got the idea for the film when a cousin asked him if he would like to attend the speech. The two got up in the early hours and waited in line for tickets to be released. After they secured the tickets, Weiler approached Kartemquin Films, where he had recently completed an internship, and they loaned him the equipment, which included a camcorder with a zoom lens.

"Before I even got to security, a dozen people told me that I wouldn't be able to get the camera in," Weiler remembered. He knew there was a chance that security might take the camera or turn him away, but he wanted to risk it anyway.

"The tickets said only small cameras would be allowed," Weiler said, "but I thought, if I get footage, I will have a very unique film that no one else will have footage of."

Security didn't even make a fuss. A few of them looked the camera over carefully, which is seen in the film. The camera was recording at the time.

"The film gives you the experience of being on the ground level, of someone who waited in line and got to hear Obama," Weiler said. "It's just the emotion and the ideas that were surrounding you in that moment."

"I'm trying to preserve the idealism that Obama had," he added. "The ideas of inclusiveness, social progress, open mindedness, I guess liberalism. It's really there to stand as a reminder of a time, and place and a set of ideas and values."

The film can be viewed at or on the Liberty Farewell Facebook page. Weiler also has a Twitter account, @libertyfarewell.

After Weiler graduated from Wahkiakum High School in 2010, he attended Western Washington University for two years before transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

"UCLA or USC are the big film schools, but they produce filmmakers who want to get into the Hollywood or New York film scene," Weiler said. "Because Santa Cruz is more remote and liberal minded, its curriculum was based more in critical studies and the historical context of filmmaking and digital media. You don't touch a camera until you were a junior, which luckily I was when I got there. You were really immersed in critical thinking and the creation of your own personal philosophy of film. You learned why certain camera moves were being made or different types of cameras were being used or why a certain editing had an emotional effect on audiences. You thought about your film, about your audience. It's less hands on and more imbedded in critical thinking. Your ability to produce a film relied on your initiative. I certainly took every advantage to do something in the classroom but more so outside of the classroom. College is a great time to experiment. The school really pushed students to think beyond what has been done already in the industry of filmmaking."

It was also, in some ways, a kind of homecoming. Weiler was born in the bay area and lived there until he was 12 years old.

"My mom bought me my first camera when I was in fifth grade," Weiler said. "When we moved to Wahkiakum County, I continued using the camera."

He remembered that Larry and Pat Reese started a club for middle and high school students who were interested in film production at the Pioneer Church. The students would film events there, or elsewhere in the community. Karen Bertroch later hired him to be a video archivist for Appelo Archives in Naselle.

"It became this evolution of being interested, but not knowing why," Weiler said. "I loved the technical aspect and the creative aspect. As soon as I had a camera in my hand it seemed to satisfy both those interests."

Through the evolution, he also learned he had a passion for narrative, which informs his filmmaking.

"I love documentary filmmakers who go beyond the status quo of what documentaries should be and change the experience of documentary, so it's not so cut and dried," he said. "Some documentaries try to tell you everything, but there is more power in just the image itself and that's what I look for in films I draw influence from."

Some of the documentary filmmakers that have inspired and influenced Weiler include: Werner Herzog, Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, J.P. Sniadecki, Gordon Quinn, Margaret Byrne, Dziga Vertov, Jean-Luc Godard.

Last September, Weiler's application for an internship at Kartemquin Films in Chicago was accepted. Competition for the internship is fierce at the non-profit documentary film organization that produced Hoop Dreams, a film that was met with much acclaim when it came out in 1994.

According to Weiler, the organization was "created by alumnus of University of Chicago who wanted to document the labor movements that were going on in the city and got into social activism. They used film as a way to tell stories and enact social, political, economic change."

His internship has ended, but he has fallen in love with the Windy City.

"Since being here I've realized that the people are hard working but easy going," Weiler said. "The city really attracts people that are ambitious."

The weather can be a bit ambitious too.

"In the wintertime everyone is in a bar or in their home," Weiler said. "In the summer, everyone is out in the park and there are all these events and everything is free. The city cares a lot about its parks and public services. It's an accessible city. My impression of the midwest? Right now, it's the place to be."

He's enjoying the opportunities and challenges that the big city affords him. He has been freelancing as an editor and a cinematographer, taking advantage of the networking opportunities he's been given from the internship, and now he's just inspired to take on his own project.

As for what he'll do next? He has ideas, but he's also opened himself up to what is the fluidity of life.

It's the people around me that inspire me," Weiler said. "It's going to change because I'm going to meet a lot of people."

Weiler is the son of Kate Hanigan, also a graduate of Wahkiakum High School, and Chris Weiler.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019

Rendered 06/25/2019 03:33