Natalie Metzger is that producer of indie darlings who always seems to have multiple feature films in any given festival. You may know Metzger as VP of Development and Production at Vanishing Angle, and a repeat collaborator with Jim Cummings; her films have played and won awards at SXSW, Sundance, Cannes, and now Tribeca. Metzger is also an award-winning writer/director in her own right (see our previous interview from Sundance 2019 for her full backstory).
If you’re an emerging filmmaker working to establish your voice, chances are you dream of working with a producer/production outfitter such as Natalie Metzger and Vanishing Angle. You’d be in the company of Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe, writer/director/stars of The Beta Test, whom I interviewed about their Tribeca premiere. Or Josh Ruben, second-time feature director of Werewolves Within, which also premieres at this year’s TFF. How do these two projects fit under the same mantle as Patrick Wang’s acclaimed micro-budget dramedy A Bread Factory Parts One and Two? Keep reading, and check out our interview with Metzger below for my theory.
In our latest interview, we catch up on Metzger’s dizzying slate of projects and how her career has evolved since Greener Grass in 2019. New promotions and projects abound, but Metzger’s core ethos hasn’t changed: she sees herself as part of a filmmaking family. In addition to Metzger, the Vanishing angle team includes President Matt Miller, VP of Creative Initiatives Jim Cummings, and VP of Sales & Distribution Benjamin Wiessner, all of whom hosted a comprehensive panel on indie production at SXSW 2021. The major takeaway? The joy of familial collaboration on low-budget indie movies—with strong commitment to the filmmaker’s voice—can be achieved consistently, even on a larger scale. The secret is working with friends and lifting each other up, like a brain trust based on mutual favors.
That’s where my theory comes in. Metzger and Vanishing Angle play production close to the chest, overseeing production in-house from start-to-finish. They’re constantly screening projects and exchanging feedback, from voice memo and podcast-style first drafts all the way through rough- and fine-cuts—while constantly calling each other out if anyone starts to act like a diva. Equally important, they make each other laugh. As if an antidote to big-budget bullying in Hollywood (a theme explored hilariously in The Beta Test), Metzger’s work reminds us how important it is to enjoy the process and listen, in order for collaboration to lead to great art.