Telling the Inspiring Stories of Artists through Video: An Interview With Filmmaker Eliu Cornielle

Eliu Cornielle is a freelance filmmaker and graphic designer based in the Philadelphia area. Through his work Eliu likes to inspire people to live better lives, and he recently had the pleasure of holding a photo and video shoot with U2’s Bono. Recently, Eliu began releasing a three-part portrait series profiling artists who find strength through pursuing their passions, including a wood carver and a girl who found her way out of depression through fitness and exercise. In his second chapter, above, Eliu features the talented metal artist Nicholas DiChiara, who creates custom furniture and sculptures from his small shop in Fishtown, Philadelphia. DiChiara finds as much pleasure in sourcing his materials as he does in his finished products, and often refurbishes scrap materials rather than buy unused components.

I took an instant liking to Eliu’s work, and asked him about his inspiration and filming process over email:

What inspired you to profile artisans in your area? Why would you say it’s important to bring the hands-on work of artisans to digital viewers online?

I think that every storyteller feels the responsibility at some point to be the voice of those unheard. I believe that there are many stories out there that deserve to be told and as an artist myself, I understand how underappreciated many crafters and artisans feel.

Take me through the production of one of these portraits. How do you approach a potential subject? How long does the filming process take? Do you work with your subjects in multiple sessions, or film all in on day?

Still from Eliu Cornielle's Portrait of a Metal WorkerI begin by searching for the right story, always keeping my eyes open for new opportunities. After I identify a potential story, I like to go to their environment or shop to visit – no cameras, no gear, no rush – just to learn about their work and to start a conversation. I spend the next couple days digesting this info and thinking of all the keywords and aspects of the story that I want to highlight.

After that I come for a b-roll session. At this point I’m just hanging around, getting cool shots. During my next visit is when I actually do the interviews. At this point we have already developed a relationship. They finally feel comfortable sharing more intimate details and I know what questions to ask because we are no longer strangers to each other. At the end I usually have 45 minutes to an hour of interview that I need to condense into a three- to five-minutes video.

I see that some of your other pieces center around the landscapes of Philadelphia. What would you say is unique about filming the people and places in the City of Brotherly Love?

There are benefits to living in the Philadelphia area. You get to know many interesting people from different walks of life. The city is rich in history and diversity. The more time I spend there the more I come to find these unique and interesting stories. I came across Mike (the wood carver) at a trip to a local zoo with my daughter. I look for opportunities wherever I am and it just so happens there are many in my own backyard.

For more of Eliu’s work, visit his website and stay tuned for his upcoming portrait of a fitness expert coming soon to Vimeo.

Crop & Save