‘I Used to be Famous’ with writer-director Eddie Sternberg

In this podcast episode, hosts Giles Alderson and Dom Lenoir chat with writer-director Eddie Sternberg, the creator of Netflix’s I Used to Be Famous.

Eddie talked about the inspiration behind the film, which centres around Vince, a former boy band member who peaked at a young age and is now trying to reinvent himself.

The idea for the film came to Sternberg while he was watching the movie Frances Ha in 2013. He became interested and inspired by the recurring themes of former pop stars who were interviewed in the media, talking about peaking at a young age and dealing with the aftermath.

‘And it was interesting – this very short period of time in their life where they just had everything they could possibly want and they’re being chewed up and spat out, and then having to deal with that – trying to reinvent themselves.

And so I sat there in the cinema trying to watch this film, but this idea came and I was one of those really annoying people on their phone, on low light mode, writing notes throughout. I left halfway through because I felt bad.’

From Short to Feature

‘I found the biggest challenge with the short was being told by everyone that it needs to be short as otherwise, you won’t get into festivals and stuff.

This isn’t the case because you need to make the film that it’s supposed to be. But the other thing is getting people to care about your characters and have them go through enough in that short period of time to make it worthwhile.’

Being a Director

He had wanted to be a director since he was five years old – after his father took him to see the movie, Spartacus.

Eddie talks about the research he did for the film, specifically in the area of music therapy for neurodivergent people.

He was inspired by his cousin Saul, a talented drummer who formed a rock band called The AutistiX, which consisted mostly of autistic members. He was struck by ‘the idea of music as this force for good and enjoyment, but also the power it can give to people, and especially someone like Saul. The purity of that story represented a whole different side of music for me.’

The Challenges of Being a Filmmaker

For Eddie, it’s important to not undervalue the challenges of being a filmmaker, including the need to balance his creative work with the commercial demands of the industry and raising a family. He also talks about how he values having imposter syndrome as a filmmaker and how it keeps him on edge and excited about his work.

‘I hope I never lose it and I’m sure I won’t because I still feel like an imposter as a functioning adult with two kids.

I think that nervous energy and excitement feeds into everyone else. As long as it is in control and it means everyone’s excited and you’re on edge enough to do a good job.’

For more from Eddie Sternberg about networking, connecting with other filmmakers and more – listen to our episode with him here.

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