Filmmaker Daniel Junge On Being A ‘Turncoat’ Coloradan in LA

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Photo: Daniel Junge
Daniel Junge

Oscar-winning documentary director Daniel Junge has filmed the horrors of acid attacks on women in Pakistan. He's also explored the death of a 73-year-old nun killed in the Brazilian jungle. Recently, though, he's turned to popular culture subjects like the rise of the Danish toy company LEGO and the life of 1970s daredevil Evel Knievel.

Junge, a Colorado College graduate, has been a strong advocate for Colorado’s film industry. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel about his newest projects and recent move to Los Angeles which, in his own words, has turned him into a “turncoat."

Click on the audio link above to hear the conversation. Edited highlights are below:

On his reasons for leaving Colorado for LA:

“I absolutely love Colorado. I consider it my home. No one has waved the Colorado film making banner more than me. And I do believe you can make great films from Colorado and I hope to more from there. But there are some opportunities that have presented themselves to me. I have a company out here and we’re going to give it a try and see if the grass is greener out here. But I do already miss my state of Colorado and the idea of this is temporary.”

On what Colorado can do to keep and attract budding filmmakers:

“I’m a big fan of the film incentives and I hope the Legislature increases those. I think we’ve seen some great success on bringing film into this state. But I also think the industry really has to evolve from the bottom up, and that means independent film production -independent film makers. We’re seeing more and more of that in Colorado, certainly in the documentary realm and even in the narrative realm, essentially filmmakers picking up a camera and deciding to make a film. That’s where it all starts.”

On why he chose to film “A LEGO Brickumentary:”

“Coming from such a serious filmmaking background, this was going to be a less serious film. There are serious issues that we cover [in this film.] LEGO is more than a toy, and that kind of infused the whole film, the idea that this is more than a toy. People are using this for city planning and for architecture and even for therapy. The idea that it’s really more of tool and more of a system that people are doing, not just kids, but adults are doing these great things [with LEGO] made me really challenge the notion of what a toy is.”

On the importance of telling the story of 70s daredevil Evel Knievel:

"I think what was most surprising to us as filmmakers is that the people that loved Evel the most were the people who were the most brutally honest about him. And the people who should probably be the most spiteful who Evel wronged in the most ways, first and foremost Shelly Saltman, his manager [who Evel beat-up with a baseball bat], are extremely gracious toward Evel and toward what he gave us. And I think that lends itself to the theme of the film which is: 'What’s the measure of a man? What’s the measure of a person? What should we remember someone like Evel Knievel for?'”