SxSW 2018 Interview: THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET director Jeremy Workman

“THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET is a documentary that I’ve been making for over 3 years about Matt Green, who has been walking every single street of New York City, which amounts to over 8000 miles.  The film tells the story of this peculiar personal quest, but it’s also about the journey of discovery, humanity, and wonder that ensues. It’s the first film that actor Jesse Eisenberg has ever been involved with as a producer.” Director Jeremy Workman on THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET.

Congratulations on your film playing in Austin at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes first time! Myself and the subject Matt Green will be at all of our screenings.

So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

I first was a professional editor and started editing movie trailers when I was pretty young around 25 years old. I got really good at making trailers and decided to continue doing trailers,  but only for indie films. While I made that transition, my own documentary filmmaking continued to grow. I continued making trailers for indie films while also continuing to make my own documentaries. The World Before Your Feet is not my first feature. I previously made Magical Universe, which was released by IFC FIlms in 2014, and Who Is Henry Jaglom? which premiered on PBS.

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

I’ve been close friends with Matt Green for nearly a decade and first started hearing about his amazing walking adventures in the mid-2000’s. I often was struck by the tone of Matt’s walking tales. His walks didn’t seem to be about completing any set goal. It was more about discovering our world and the people who live here in a wholly unique and personal way.  When he told me he was going to walk every street of New York City, I knew I had to somehow convince him to let me film it. I immediately offered a solution that I think made it easier for him to say yes: I’d do everything myself. No crew. Just me and a camera. He wouldn’t have to worry about a big camera crew or an annoying production chasing after him. I also promised not to intrude on what he was doing or ask him to change his focus for the camera.  I’d be just a fly on the wall. It was tough, but this approach forced me to be a one-man band on the film.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

I love to edit. So, having hundreds of hours of dailies to construct a story with is something that gets me excited!  I would mostly edit in the middle of the night, when things are quiet and I can really focus. Just a lot of coffee and late nights.  Not a whole lot of sleep for me over the past couple of years!

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

The biggest challenge was harnessing the footage and turning that into a coherent journey for a viewer.  My footage hovered over 500 hours. And it didn’t really have a traditional narrative thrust. It is more a “reflection” movie. So taking so much material and finding a cohesive narrative arc became the biggest challenge. Yes, that’s more an editing challenge. But, for this project, the editing and the storytelling became intertwined.

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with and so forth.

I shot with a Canon C300 Mk2 and a C100 Mk2.  I shot 98% of the film handheld. I also probably walked over 1000 miles while shooting. So, it was a challenging shoot — even though it’s just a movie about a guy who walks the city.  When I was shooting, I was always trying to just drop a viewer in the middle of Matt’s walk, so that they could experience his walk as if they too were doing it. I didn’t want a viewer to just objectively watch Matt walking around. I really wanted the viewer to feel like they were on the walk with him.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

The film is world premiering. I had been making it for over 3 years. So, i’m just excited to share it with audiences for the first time. I think the Austin audiences are ideal for this film. The film has a real ethos that I think will really connect with that of SXSW.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

More festivals. But right now, our focus is SXSW!

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

Nothing too specific here. This is a film about how there are amazing things right in front of your eyes no matter where you are. So, the vision of the film is that it can really screen anywhere and hopefully have that effect for any viewer.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Make a movie! A lot of nay-sayers will say that it’s too hard or that you need experience or that it costs too much money. But technology today is so inexpensive and resources are so readily available that anyone can make a film fairly easily. Just by making something, you’ll suddenly be in the industry.

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

My favorite experience was seeing the documentary TARNATION at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003. At the time, I was young and impressionable! But also really eager to see films that broke away with the normal Hollywood formula of filmmaking. And to see this odd personal documentary (which is almost like a “home movie movie”) at a film festival was a really impactful experience. It gave me a lot of courage to pursue my own weird projects! Other than that, I’d probably list my own film “Magical Universe.” Obviously, it’s not the greatest movie people have ever seen. But just seeing it at a festival with an audience was such a rewarding experience.


THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET is showing at SxSW 2018. For more informaiton on showtimes visit!

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