Inside “The Film Lounge” with Ian Carstens

    Ian Carstens
    Caption Zoom

    Hello and thank you for joining us in the lounge. Settle in and make yourself at home.

    "The Film Lounge" is a new TV series that features a sampling of short films by Iowa filmmakers. It's produced by Iowa Public Television in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the state's media-production office, and its first episode airs at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12.

    Three preview parties are set for Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City in the week leading up to the premiere.

    If this is your first visit to the lounge, be sure to see our previous interviews with Sam Kessie, the globetrotting artist in Iowa City who mixes dance and film into a single artform, and Paul Berge, whose career spans independent cable, radio, feature films and hosting for “Side Roads” on Iowa Public Television.

    Today, we’re focusing on filmmaker Ian Carstens, whose documentary art film, “Empty Basket,” explores the act of observation and its relation to time by watching those who are watching.

    Still from Empty Basket, Ian Carstens.
    Caption Zoom

    Ian has probably spent more time watching the world drift by as anybody. As a young child in Dubuque, he spent endless hours on the shores of the Mississippi River, mesmerized by its endless flow of grace and beauty.

    Today, Ian draws from those childhood memories of Old Man River as an experimental videographer whose work explores collaboration, intersection and observation. With an interest in process and time as components of beauty, Ian is an interdisciplinary artist who recognizes that presence and action are critical considerations for filmmaking.

    What type of films do you primarily make?
    I have made interdisciplinary collaboration films, documentaries and experimental art films.

    What themes does your work deal with?
    The themes I often pursue concern the relationship of viewer and viewed, time, multiplicity of truth, sensation and emptiness.

    Ian Carstens
    Caption Zoom

    What are you currently working on?
    I currently work with a local community theater, the Roxy, in Missoula, Montana, as part of the Roxy Film Academy. We teach middle and elementary school students by integrating filmmaking practices with their class material.

    What do you enjoy about being a filmmaker in Iowa?
    I owe my filmmaking genesis to the ecosystems of Iowa. While I was in Decorah, some of my first films involved deepening a relationship with water. As a child from Dubuque, the Mississippi River was my first experience with the sublime. Mystified and mesmerized, my filmmaking practice involves getting into a similar state of mind. So while out filming, I feel like I’m both gathering new footage and opening up old memories.

    What is one thing you would like to see change about the film scene in Iowa?
    Filmmaking can easily become an elitist art form. Technology and access to screening possibilities can be costly and are not always made public. Iowa needs to be constantly aware of unseen bias in relation to systems of power, oppression and exclusion.


    Coming up next: An interview with filmmaker Josh Thorud of Iowa City, whose film "Eyes/Desires" explores the control a filmmaker has over the viewers’ expectations and experiences.