Just do it yourself. I know, it is easier said than done — I get it. But that is where your drive must be built. If you lack time, focus on creating the opportunity of more time. If you lack funds, then you must try and make a dollar go a long way. For example, if you want a location that is too expensive, then attempt to make a personal connection, use existing connections, strike a deal, etc. You are a creative, so get creative. In summary, your world won’t move unless you push it.
As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Noah Marks.
Noah Marks is a 25-year-old NY based filmmaker, writer, and music composer with four feature films under his belt in multiple genres. Founder of Ark Creative (Formerly Endeavor Media & Entertainment). He attended University of Maryland and graduated in 2020. He is known for his most recent political satire ‘Dragon Eats Eagle.’ The film has been called “Unique, stylish,” “Superbly Written!” and is now available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi. Marks is a deeply creative spirit whose work focuses on a variety of subjects all with underlying philosophical themes. Within the musical world he goes by ‘Image’ on streaming platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in suburbia right outside of New York City. I attended public school in Harrison, NY and began my love for the creative spirit with music. I would write and learn the piano in my free time. The process of musical creation became an immediate passion. I was a relatively good student throughout my years but never fully applied myself academically because day-dreaming was far more enjoyable. I later attended the University of Maryland, College Park and majored in Finance. I’ll explain why a bit later on…
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My father owned movie theatres and I used to skip school (quite often) and go with him to his office at the Rialto Theatre in Morristown, NJ. There I would spend my days going film to film — from drama, to comedy, to action adventures. In retrospect, most of my social learning while developing as a person came through consuming films. With executional skills learned by creating music, my unfathomable love for storytelling and an understanding of the film language, I knew filmmaking was an outlet that I could feel free, challenged and overall: fulfilled. Back to why I majored in finance: call it ignorance or naivety, but I knew I would learn all there was about filmmaking because I was so passionate about it. So, while my family spent money for me to attend college, I wanted to become a Swiss-army knife for lack of better term. In my free time, I would practice creatively and in my academic time learn about things that could give me an edge of how to become successful in whatever industry I chose to pursue. However, it was always going to be filmmaking. My first feature film I completed senior year of college. It is a dramedy called “My Brothers & Friends!”
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
The most interesting story I have is when we were shooting one of my films called ‘My Frequency’ in a NYC music studio in 2021. Luckily, we were almost done shooting (thank the lord) but the studio manager interrupted us saying “Super sorry about this, but you guys have only 5 more minutes. Bruno Mars is in the lobby and wants the studio.” That was probably the coolest way I have been told to “Get the f*** out” during my guerilla-warfare-like indie filmmaking career.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It is cliché but always true… My loving mother and father. Blessed is an understatement. My father has even come onto set in early films and held the microphone when some crew members didn’t show up. When a caterer couldn’t make it to feed the crew, my mother drove 2 hours out of her way with trays of sandwiches. I am deeply grateful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” — Albert Einstein
To this day, it hard to place my finger on why this quote means so much to me. It is less of a life lesson and more of a mantra for me. I seek mystery. I always have and always will. Whether that mystery is within my body, heart, mind or externally. Fear of the unknown is everywhere. But to seek out the unknown is a worthy search. To transform that fear into a fire is a necessity for me. It is like fuel or food or water. Without it, I smolder.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
First off, it comes down to perspective. The entertainment industry is made up of human beings. Two people might have the same story… but once they begin to tell it from their idiosyncratic perspectives, the entire meaning changes and the stories diverge. To seek new stories of high value is synonymous with increased diversity.
Second, the entertainment industry is universal. Universality is where those who are not plagued by ignorance wish the direction of the world to go. Universality and acceptance are hand in hand. When done correctly, a great story built with a diverse foundation consciously leads to a greater sense of compassion in day to day living. In simple terms, normalizing equality in an industry as primal and as necessary as entertainment is can directly make society more compassionate. At least, that is what I believe.
Third, diverse representation in film and TV from a strictly business standpoint is absolutely necessary. Stories are infinite and each has its place within the market. To deny diverse representation is to deny industry growth.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I want to do now what I’ve always wanted to do: SCIENCE FICTION. Boy, do I love science fiction. I am working on a few scripts as of late and time will come when I choose one and hit the ground running.
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
As of right now I am most proud of the technical improvements of my work from a visual and audio sense. Starting a career with such miniscule budgets creates a necessity to make the most of what you got. Where showing is far more important than telling, it was daunting when I could not afford to show what I always wanted to in the script because of lack of resources. But it unlocked parts of my brain to be able to accomplish the aesthetic and feeling without letting doubt get in the way. The more I tried new things, the more I realized how many things work in terms of making a film look great. Also, when you have knowledgeable cinematographers like I did for ‘Dragon Eats Eagle,’ it allows you to focus on the features within the shot such as actors, props, etc. while you know you are in good hands from a visual standpoint. Having good people creates good stories.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Learn the technology. Truly. As a director you must be able to talk with every aspect of the filmmaking team. This includes the camera operators — what camera? What lens? What gimbal? Etc. For Editors — What software? What codec for delivery? What are the limitations to their hardware? Filmmaking is truly a team sport and if you don’t understand the language you could end up being the worst player. Ask questions to those who are more familiar with the equipment and processes beforehand. If I went into specifics it would come across a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo but take the time to understand the game before stepping up to bat!
- Have a backup plan. During the production process — anything can happen. Directing as well as most fields of filmmaking are boiled down to two words: problem-solving. Be prepared. Or you will regret it.
- Learn history. Whether real or fictional. The devil is in the details. If you are knowledgeable about the world your film takes place in, you will be far more confident with every take. And that confidence will show in the final cut. In the case of ‘Dragon Eats Eagle’ it takes place in quite a controversial political landscape so being factual was certainly a goal of mine. While much of it is satirical, I needed to make sure that the joke was based in a form of truth. The only way to ensure that was to read, read and read some more.
- Learn about other filmmakers’ processes. Everyone is different. While you may deeply admire one person’s work, the way they achieved their vision may not be the way you achieve yours. Be inspired but be wary to never copy one’s full process. Follow your gut and be intuitive while taking elements from those you admire.
- Just do it yourself. I know, it is easier said than done — I get it. But that is where your drive must be built. If you lack time, focus on creating the opportunity of more time. If you lack funds, then you must try and make a dollar go a long way. For example, if you want a location that is too expensive, then attempt to make a personal connection, use existing connections, strike a deal, etc. You are a creative, so get creative. In summary, your world won’t move unless you push it.
When you create a film, which stakeholders have the greatest impact on the artistic and cinematic choices you make? Is it the viewers, the critics, the financiers, or your own personal artistic vision? Can you share a story with us or give an example about what you mean?
This is a truly dependent question. Any person who is privileged enough to make a film will have to find a balance between all of these factors especially between producers and financiers. The viewer is always of high importance because you have to understand who your film is being made for. Not in a sense of “marketplace” but in a sense of who people are and what they personally enjoy and are interested in. If you are involved in the film, it is impossible for your own artistic intuition to not have a fingerprint. But when it comes to critics, who gives a damn?
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As Nietzsche said in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, humanity is on a tightrope over an abyss. We have a choice: to become complacent or take risks to become greater versions of ourselves. People should be comfortable, but when comfort is over-loved and becomes paralyzing, our dreams stagnate. This is detrimental to our growth. So, seek the unknown. Like I said, turn the fear to fire. To summarize the movement in the best way is this: Become comfortable in moderation and be conscious of when you are complacent. When you see yourself stagnating, force yourself into an unknown place and do something beneficial that you would not normally do. It is a bit metaphorical but it is something I believe in through and through.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would truly love to have a meal with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. To say that man is an inspiration would be a grave understatement. His films linger with me and he seems a good man. I’ll treat.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Please follow me on YouTube and Instagram @noahsarkcreative. Lotta great stuff coming up!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Woo!!! Thank you kindly for the opportunity 😊.
Noah Marks of Ark Creative One: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.