Our new contributing photographer Maxwell Schiano, a.k.a. @newyorkcityvibe, is a movie fanatic. We met Maxwell after noticing #ThatMovieVibe, the filmmaker's addictive Instagram series where he posts photographs and videos he shoots of places around the city that evoke the feelings of some of his favorite films. It's not hard to walk around New York City and feel like you're in a movie; Maxwell's photographs and videos capture that feeling perfectly.
We're working with Maxwell to capture more of those cinematic city moments in addition to lots of other exciting projects, so you'll be seeing his name on our social media platforms quite a bit. Maxwell told us a bit more about his process below.
That 2009 Zack Snyder 'The Watchmen' vibe.
A photo posted by Maxwell Schiano x NYC (@newyorkcityvibe) on
You often post photos you take around New York City with #thatmovievibe captions. How did that format come about?
I started my movie vibe captions because I wanted show people the emotional connection I have with my photographs. Linking them to movies translated them in a way that people could connect with easier, especially if they’ve already seen the movie. It was also a way for me to pay tribute to my inspirations. The Stones Throw producer Madlib has these tracks called 'Jazz Cats Pt. 1' and 'Rapcpats' where he raps about his favorites and tips his hat to those who inspire him with witty notions of their music. I thought that was really dope – creating your own work and giving props to those who inspire you. That’s how it all started.
What are some of your favorite films and why?
My favorite films are ones that use color and space as an emotional role in the movie just as much as the actors. Kubrick is a director that really blew my mind with 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Barry Lyndon. It’s just like nothing I’ve seen before with the pristine use of setting and color to convey emotion. His style was its own but the best part was it was tailored to each film based upon the story in it's own way. Ridley Scott is a favorite with the obvious choice of Blade Runner, I remember seeing it for the first time and loving how ethereal and deep it was with lots of contrast, haze and strong beautiful colors. The Game, directed by David Fincher, is the film that made me want to get into filmmaking. The story was so obscure and telling, it had a lot to say about us the viewer and how we perceive films; you can even say this was an M. Night Shyamalan twist ahead of it’s time. That movie still gets me.
On a lighter note, who can deny any of the John Hughes films but, my favorites are most definitely Home Alone and Home Alone 2 and of course the underrated Baby’s Day Out. I always appreciated his films because they were adult ways at understanding youth, respectful and honest. Also, they were so amazingly absurd and cartoonish, especially with the Home Alone movies. I’m a big Woody Allen fan, coming from New York they just remind me of the comedy that’s familiar to me and my family. Much like the John Hughes films, they were brutally honest and in that way completely hilarious and warm. A Bronx Tale, is one of my all time favorites because it reminds me of my father, a story about being true and finding yourself against a rough backdrop and also the importance it shows about giving second chances in life. Of course, there's the line, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent"; also, the "door test" is a legendary scene.
I can go on forever about my favorite movies but to wrap up, some of my other favorites are Videodrome, Gladiator, Paris, Texas, Moon, The Way, L.A. Confidential, Alien, The Insider, Wings of Desire, Tommy Boy, and The Matrix.
Do you ever think John Travolta and Nicolas Cage hang out and watch 'Face/Off' together and laugh? . #inthearchives
A photo posted by Maxwell Schiano x NYC (@newyorkcityvibe) on
Does your photography inform your work as a filmmaker and visa versa, or are the two distinct?
My work as a filmmaker definitely informs my work as a photographer. I feel as though each photo I take is capturing motion, sometimes through the emotion of the subject or the emotion of the viewer. I began to take photos on my phone as visual notes for locations, color pallets and general vibes to inspire my films. I ended up using these a lot and eventually with the arrival of Instagram I began sharing them. My mother had taught me photography when I was young and I was always taking pictures but it was nothing beyond showing my friends and family. People were pushing me to pursue my photography work because of Instagram and one thing led to another. I would always say I’m firstly a filmmaker then a photographer but personally I love how each inspires me to be more creative with the other, in my own work and the work I do professionally.
What are you visually drawn to most? Are there repeating themes in your work that you are most interested in exploring?
I’m drawn to cerebral themes and my goal is to capture the human experience in a way that is hopeful but also truthful and do that by using color, space, and time in addition to each subject. I appreciate wide shots that show place amongst the setting. I want to capture the everyday experience whether it be light hearted or heavy hearted.
That 1999 Rick Famuyiwa 'The Wood' vibe.
A video posted by Maxwell Schiano x NYC (@newyorkcityvibe) on
What kinds of films are you interested in making?
I’ve created a wide range of films from narratives to fashion pieces to music videos. In the future I’m interested in making films that are current and evocative, playing into the world’s new attention span. I want to start an internal conversation while giving comfort and understanding of the things we share in this lifetime as humans on this planet. A lot of the ideas I’m working on are leaning more towards science fiction but really, they are just anecdotes to everyday life. Also, my twin brother Michael’s work as an accessories designer truly inspires me to see that inanimate objects can carry so much emotion and that’s something I’ve been recently exploring– anthropomorphism.
Maxwell Schiano is a freelance filmmaker and photographer living in Manhattan. He works at FACT Magazine as a social media editor, photographer and filmmaker and has worked for companies such as HBO, Tiffany & Co, ESPN, Nat Geo, and Nylon Mexico. He likes science fiction and cheeseburgers.