A bowl is a silent observer, beholder and all-seeing eye to the experiences around it. It’s subject to beauty and anger while witnessing first love and heartbreak–a bowl will hold first hands, a new idea or a mistake, but it’ll never hold anything against you. It’s the witness to the emotional evolution of humanity that we’ve always carried with us.

Niccolò Montanari: Bowl of Life presents a unique perspective, viewing everyday objects as silent witnesses to human experiences. What inspired you to explore this concept, and how did you approach bringing it to life?

Parker Schmidt: The bowls brought a blank slate. We could dress however intimate or whimsical we wished to exhibit the scene they were partaking in. We intentionally didn’t lean too heavily on any singular element of filmmaking (acting, cinematography, score), but instead brought an incrementally building personality across all of these tools to elevate the personality. Only enforcing a more energetic camera movement when needed, flexing chords of the score, or unexpected talent performance brought an array to this personality that we wanted to color the vessels in.

NM: How did your background as a ceramicist influence the storytelling and visual style of Bowl of Life?

PS: There hasn’t been a more diverse micro-community of individuals I’ve witnessed than ceramics. I’d be at the studio on a Tuesday at 2:00 PM when any other primarily freelancer or retiree needs to preoccupy their left-leaning brain. Michelin star pastry chefs, night watch security guards, and every creative position under the moon would populate the studio, with little in common besides a shared appreciation for ceramics. This felt like an excellent opportunity to utilise the star bowls in our film to be characterised as these countless personalities that entertain themselves with pottery.

NM: Can you discuss how you worked with cinematographer Jenna Huskisson to curate this intimate visual style?

PS: I believe one of the most vital resources a director can bring to a cinematographer is to create scenes that set a DP up for success with a situation that’s flattering for the lens. However, I don’t believe I did this for Jenna as crafting this film called for candid and everyday situations that aren’t always as picturesque, as life isn’t always a golden hour moment. Through meticulous attention to detail and mindful execution of her craft, Jenna brought to life and painted an incredible amount of beauty across each location that reflected the building block personality we were constructing across the film. I cranked up the difficulty for Jenna, which I hope not to have to do for every one of our future projects, but I am assured that she can handle crafting beauty out of any setting she finds herself in.

NM: How did you navigate the challenge of animating inanimate objects to convey human emotions?

PS: Through my own journey exploring the craft of ceramics, I’ve come to believe that bowls are mirrors of their surroundings and that through having the correct emotional beats captured in the frame and elevated through sonics, the vessels will absorb and take on the same characteristics. They could’ve been forks, chairs, or pants – it was just the stars aligning between the want to make a personality-driven film and excitement about pottery that it gave us the opportunity to make such a project.

NM: Bowl of Life was shot with a cast and crew of friends and creatives. How did you foster a collaborative environment on set, and what advantages did this choice offer to the film’s production?

PS: Whether it’s a small passion project or a large commercial production, I always budget time for experimenting and feeling out scenes in person on the day or allowing time to get talent comfortable with the scene and space they’re performing in. We preferred to rally friends of the team or crew to help establish and encourage a sense of both comfort and camaraderie on set from the beginning. Even the most seasoned talent experience the anxieties and intimidation of being on set and in front of the camera, so with this in mind I do my best to be empathetic and make sure that the talent has met everyone on set – it’d be as if you go to a dinner party and chat with everyone but one person; it just takes the slightest effort to make everyone feel welcomed.

NM: The film invites viewers to notice details often overlooked in everyday life. What do you hope audiences take away from Bowl of Life, and its attention to the seemingly mundane things?

PS: After diving into pottery, I’ve come to appreciate the everyday use of design–tableware and chairs in particular- as this extends from my admiration for cars and work in the automotive world. There’s an underappreciated and thankless craft to things feeling “right” rather than particularly extraordinary. There’s a balance between design being either overly eccentric and uncomfortable or, on the other side of the coin, too boring and purely functional. This is entirely subjective to what you appreciate, and this film could be simply a cute video about people having a good time together or how inanimate objects, when thoughtfully designed and well-timed, can be so impressionable to someone’s attitude around a shared experience.