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Spotlight: Crystal Moselle, Director, ‘The Wolfpack’

Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch.

When filmmaker Crystal Moselle learned about the Angulo brothers’ bizarre circumstances, she was drawn to make a film about them. The Wolfpack, which premieres at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is a documentary about a group of siblings who possess an encyclopedic knowledge of film but who, when she met them, had never ventured beyond the confines of their apartment in the projects of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where they spent their days watching and reading about movies and staging favorite scenes with handmade props and costumes.

How did you come in contact with the brothers?

Crystal Moselle: It started with me giving them lessons about filmmaking. When I started learning more about their story and saw their apartment and how they lived, I knew there was a deeper story there. I had to make a film about them. Then some things happened that changed their world and brought them places they’d never been. They see the East River for the first time, and the beach—many things we take for granted that they had never experienced—and I was there to capture it.

What kind of equipment did you use?

Crystal Moselle

I started shooting with my Canon EOS 7D. It’s small and easy and it has a very low profile when you take it out in public. I used the Canon 70-200, 24-70 and 16-35 lenses. And I kept it really simple. Nothing else that would make the camera bigger.

After I had been shooting for a while, I cut some scenes together so people could see how fascinating the brothers’ story is. We eventually received some money from the Tribeca Film Institute and the Jerome Foundation. Canon also helped the production by loaning me an EOS C100. That camera was a lot better for the kind of documentary work I was doing. It just had a better grip. It felt better. I shot in Log C and the images looked better. And I was able to record sound in-camera, which was very important to me. With the 7D I had to record sound separately because the audio from the camera wasn’t really usable except as a guide track. With the C100 I could use wireless lav mics and an onboard Sennheiser and record it all in-camera.

When you started, you couldn’t have had any idea where the story was going to end up.

I didn’t. I knew it would be something—if not a feature, then maybe just a short piece. That’s the beauty of documentaries. If you’ve got a camera and a way to record sound, you can make a film.  

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