Brendan Rijke – Filmmaker

Posted on November 6, 2014 by


Brendan Rijke is the fourth year University of Virginia student filmmaker and director behind the film Fifth Street. Cville Niche caught up with Brendan to chat candidly about his passion for film, love for UVA, and his excitement for this year’s Virginia Film Festival.

Be sure to catch his short film Fifth Streetpremiering before the Festival’s centerpiece screening of 5 to 7 on Saturday at The Paramount.

Read more interviews from The Makers of the Virginia Film Festival series »

Brendan Rijke

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Share your story. How did you get into filmmaking?

I’m a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia majoring in Media Studies. I’ve always had a passion for art, but it wasn’t until I came to college that I started to consider filmmaking. I had never been around so many talented and driven young artists, so the possibility of collaborating with student writers, actors, musicians, and designers was really exhilarating. This led me to begin developing the concept for Fifth Street last November with fourth-year students, Shane Dutta and Niki Afsar (the film’s producers).

What drove you to pursue a career in filmmaking? Talk about your passions and any advice you have for the next generation of filmmakers.

Honestly, it was a 2012 film called Beasts of the Southern Wild. Watching what began as a small independent film shot on 16mm go from Sundance to Cannes to the Oscars deeply affected me. The independent, grassroots, and deeply collaborative spirit behind the film led me take a pipe dream and translate it to a serious pursuit.

The best advice I can give to young filmmakers is to create. It may sound terribly obvious, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds. We live in a culture that looks down upon pursing a life as an artist because it isn’t a particularly “lucrative” or “realistic” path. These pressures combined with self-doubt lead many to go years or even a lifetime without pursing their passion.

Describe your relationship with the Virginia Film Festival, in years past and/or in the current 2014 festival.

I was a production intern at the Virginia Film Festival from 2012-2013, and this year I’ve been lucky enough to have a short film I wrote and directed, Fifth Street, premier at the Festival before their centerpiece film, 5 to 7.

How many Virginia Film Festivals have you attended? What is your favorite VFF memory?

I am currently a fourth-year at the University, so this would make it my fourth year attending the Festival. My favorite memory would have to be my first memory of the Festival at the screening of Albert Nobbs in 2011. The film’s director Rodrigo García and star Mia Wasikowska participated in a post-screening discussion of the making of the film and I thought it was the coolest thing – to see a film and then engage in a conversation with the filmmakers themselves.

What sets the Virginia Film Festival apart from other film festivals?

The Virginia Film Festival’s partnership with the University of Virginia truly sets it apart from other regional film festivals. The VFF’s access to the intellectual resources of the University helps facilitate thoughtful and provocative discussions in the form of post-screening panels. These conversations with filmmakers, professors, and community leaders adds so much to the experience of moviegoing. The VFF is about so much more than simply bringing films to Charlottesville, it’s about bringing the community together to engage with the material. It’s a very intellectual and thoughtful film festival.

Finish this sentence (be creative!). Filmmaking to me is …

the best life gets!

What films are you excited about seeing this year at the Virginia Film Festival?

I am most excited about seeing Mommy, a Canadian drama directed by Xavier Dolan. I’ve been following the film since it won the Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year and I’m ecstatic that we have it screening here in Charlottesville. I am also really looking forward to seeing the Shorts Narrative program on Sunday, especially the short film Farewell Old Stringy. I have a number of friends involved in the making of the short film – it just makes me so happy to see UVA filmmakers thrive!

Where do you go for a quick bite in Cville between screenings?

I really love the Rev Soup on the Downtown Mall.

Where do you go for a post-film screening drink?

I’d go to Miller’s.

Dinner and a movie VFF 2014 weekend – What local eatery would you recommend for dinner?

I would absolutely recommend Hamilton’s at First & Main!