Title: American Watercolors
Date: Saturday, April 19
Place: Tapps Art Center
1. What is your connection to the South?
I grew up in “The Capital of the South,” Richmond VA. Sweaty, dirty, grimy, punk ass
Richmond. On our main ‘drag’ there still stand monuments dedicated to long since
deceased slave owners, rebel rousers. In the summer, we drink PBR and dip our toes
into the murky waters of the James River. We have five main districts and you can bike
across town in just about 30 minutes from any point! I love Richmond for all of this. It’s
an incredibly complex city that is still processing its own blighted history while steering
towards a better one. I have traveled extensively throughout the southeast and I
consider it my home and the people to be some of the finest of our beautiful nation.
2. Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
I was living in New Mexico last year and I bought a 1977 Datsun B210 off a good friend
of mine. It was nothing more than a shell and a few parts but it ran well and bred a
certain ‘devil may care’ attitude in me. For this reason, I love this car. It’s sunny almost
365 days of the year in Santa Fe but this particular spring day was quite overcast. I was
out for a drive and as I came over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains I could see a
massive storm to the south. A giant hole opened and the sun came pouring down in
extended rays onto the desert floor. The fullest rainbow I’ve ever seen appeared and I
drove underneath of it. Inexplicably, I began to weep with joy and then idea for the film
hit me; I will drive this car to the ocean! It started very simple and grew from there.
3. How did you start making films?
It took me a long time to get to this style of work. I originally went to school for Political
Theory and I ran into some wild cats (professors) who perform under the name
“NoiseFold” and do incredible work with electromagnetic fields that shape image and
sound using the application Max/MSP. I took some courses with both of these men
David Stout & Cory Metcalf and that got me interested in making noise/ambient music
and installation. With the work I made in my undegrad, I got into VCUArts MFA program
in Richmond. While I was there, I ran into an even wilder cat named Rob Tregenza. Rob
is a famous cinematographer who has worked with Bela Tarr, Alex Cox and released
his own films that are severely under appreciated in the cannon of American Cinema.
He is the head of the VCU Cinema department where they shoot their student films in
almost exclusively 35mm film. Another professor, Mary Beth Reed was showing a lot of
16mm work from Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton & Nathaniel Dorsky (the best, but
impossible to find his films!). It all sort of rolled together and I became increasingly
interested in exploring the medium of film, especially given that most new filmmakers
believe that acetate is simply dead or will be soon enough. A challenge! As long as I’m
living I’ll be shooting film as a result of these wonderful people. My close friend Brooks
Finnie and shot a short 100 feet of film at my grandfather’s 90th birthday in 2011. I
couldn’t get over the texture, mood & tone. I realized immediately I had found something
I liked very much that also felt my own to an extent.
4. Did anything interesting or funny happen on set?
Yeah, I picked up 2 hitchhikers from Toronto. These crazy people were hitch hiking from Toronto to LA & then up to Vancouver where one of them was about to start studying film at Simon Fraser! How serendipitous. This was the fourth day of the week long trip and I was on my way to the Grand Canyon when I saw Max & Jenny on the side of the road. I’m not one to pick up random people on the side of the road but they seemed like my type. After spending the day at the Canyon I found out we were staying in the same Hostel in Flagstaff AZ and figured, ‘what the hell?’ and offered them a ride to LA the next morning. We almost broke down in Aguila AZ (the hottest place I’ve ever been). We had been driving exclusively backroad to this point and I got very nervous. Only a few hours from our destination I almost abandoned the plan to drive the whole mission on backroads. The hitchhikers convinced me to go for it. We ended up in Joshua Tree at a mexican restaurant. I freaking loved those two people. Just incredible…
5. What do you look forward to most during Indie Grits?
Seeing the Nickelodeon Theater and the city/town of Columbia. I love traveling and I’ve
never spent time in Columbia. I’ve heard amazing things about the community so I’ll be
shooting a short film about the experience and looking for cool spots to check out.
Probably see the ocean. ATOM’s new record ‘HD’ will def be in my stereo and maybe I’ll
listen to some Beyonce. You know, just live it!
6. Why should someone see your film?
First, it’s short! At 8 minutes, this experience will be much shorter than the last time you
drank too much and had to sit semi-awake in bed for an hour because you had the
spins… It’s luminous and ephemeral too. And i’ll be there so you can ask me questions
or just throw vegetables in my general direction.