Here is a short film I recently did for Levi’s® Vintage Clothing. It was produced in conjunction with a really cool new collection that digs deep into the Levi’s® Archives to reproduce iconic garments from bygone eras. For Spring 2012, Levi’s pays tribute to the golden era of the American Hot Rod, and the sharply dressed car owners and spectators who sported Levi’s. For this film, we decided to focus on the origins of Hot Rod culture in Southern California back in the early 1950′s. We pulled from hundreds of hours of painstakingly researched archival footage ranging from old “juvenile delinquent” movies and Life Magazine drag-race films to home movies unearthed from personal collections. We also interviewed some of the surviving founders of the scene, including legends like world champion drag-racer “TV Tommy” Ivo and master painter, cartoonist and car enthusiast Robert Williams, whose name is almost synonymous with the culture. Rather than interviewing our subjects on camera, we decided to use audio only. Structuring the film more like a radio play than a standard documentary, the result is a striking and fast-paced film that captures the style and attitude of the uniquely American post-war subculture which continues to influence the worlds of fashion, music and mechanics to this day. Produced by Jon Barlow and Sue Yeon Ahn, Archival Research by Alexis Owens, Music Supervisor Cali Thornhill-Dewitt, Sound Mix by Eddie Kim, Editorial and Motion Graphics by Thomas McMahon. Enjoy!!!
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has commissioned me to make a series of lyric videos for them. The series will couple musicians and animators with statements by great contemporary artists The first film in this series explores the work of SAMO, a graffiti tag developed as collaboration between artists Jean Michel-Basquiat and Al Diaz. The tags were seen on the streets of downtown Manhattan from 1977 to early 1980. The tag, written with a copyright symbol as “SAMO©”, and pronounced “Same-Oh”, was first developed in a stoned conversation between Basquiat and Diaz, calling the marijuana they smoked “the same old shit,” then shortening the phrase to “Same Old”, then “SAMO”. Rather than making a direct homage to Basquiat’s work, we decided instead to try to re-create the world, which spawned SAMO. Los Angeles musician, Sam Spiegel (aka Squeak E. Clean), came together with Brazilian-American producer Kool Kojak to record the track under the group name N.A.S.A. (Spiegel’s solo project). Legendary New York impresario Fab Five Freddy was recruited to do a spoken word track for the bridge, and the music was complete. A search for archival footage of New York from the era was undergone, then coupled with organic elements to add a sense of hand-made to the film. Animator Maya Erdelyi painstakingly painted and scratched hundreds of feet of vintage 16mm stock, which has been used as a visual bed for the film. Erdelyi and artist Alexis Ross did the SAMO/Fab Five Freddy texts and lettering by hand. Myself and filmmaker/animator Thomas McMahan then assembled of the final piece together in the edit.
The film above is a short teaser for a long-form film I’m making with amazing New York fashion designers, Tucker. The film stars Jade and Hazel Altheide, two female teenage BMX riders who live just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was a crazy shoot where we really had no idea what to expect. We just showed up with cameras and gear and hit the trails. As we were making this, Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) had just dropped her wonderful new record SUN. The song featured in this video is called “Nothin But Time” and I think it just fits perfectly. The upcoming long-form film will include the entire eleven minute song. So excited to get this out. Making this film with such an awesome crew and such amazing talent was a great experience. Stay tuned!
The Gallerina is a new short film for 81 Hours. It was written by Arty Nelson and stars Annabelle Dexter-Jones. The story centers on a beautiful female gallery assistant. Gallery workers have the unique position of being a liaison between the creative class and the collector class. The Gallerina explores art-speak, one of languages most beautifully obscure incantations. To the uninitiated, it is sometimes quite odd and entertaining and borders on poetry. Shot on location at The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, this film is a love letter to both creativity and words. Works by Urs Fischer, Sterling Ruby, Wade Guyton, Rudolf Stingel, Josh Smith and Christopher Wool come to life though the Gallerina’s wistful dialogue. Cinematographer: Autumn Durald, Stylist: Imogene Barron, Produced by Sue Yeon Anh and Benjamin Glibovitz for Burbank Gamma Ray, Edited by Wilson Bessinger. Coordinated by Dirk Staudinger for Circleculture CC. Special Thanks to Cayce Cole, Jeffrey Deitch, Ethel Seno, all the artists and MoCA.
Here’s a little short film we made last year with my old pal Frankie Rayder. The film tells the story of a lost girl who is hitchhiking and gets picked up by a mysterious individual. Once in the car she is transported into a world of bohemian fantasy where she loses her former feelings of melancholy and becomes a free woman. However after spending time in this world, she realizes that the “cool” world is just as superficial as the world she was leaving and decides to go it alone again. Albeit with a fancy painted suitcase to remember her experience by. Awesome crew on this. Guest starring Chris Johanson and Alex Olson, Produced by Apple Via, Cinematography by Autumn Durald, Asst. Camera by Mike Valentine, Styling by Kitty Jensen, Amazing music by Mikki and the Mauses, Editing by John Shlesinger, Hair and Makeup by Heather Cvar, Assistant Stylist was Morgan Parfey, Special thanks to Dirk Staudinger at CircleCulture, The Directors Bureau and Choke Motorcycle Shop.
To celebrate a unique collaboration between Generic Man and Comme de Garçons SHIRT, I enlisted artist and musician Chris Johanson to vocalize his ideas on life, love, politics and happiness. In his usual cerebral manner, Johanson waxes about the complexities (and simplicities) of life. “Live in the sea of life,” he says while painting his bold, primary color abstractions in the background. “It’s your trip.” I selected Chris because I wanted to show a type of man that is rarely seen in fashion. He’s creative, hilarious, and somewhat of a mystic. He also has great style. “It’s okay to be experimental,” says Johanson. “You want to try things, but you don’t want to live things.” We shot the film over the course of an afternoon on a soundstage in Los Angeles. Special thanks to our great crew. Cinematography by Autumn Durald, Edited by Lenny Mesina, Sound Mix by Eddie Kim, Asst. Camera by Mike Valentine, Sound by John LaRosa, Music by Chris Johanson and Sean Kennerly. Special thanks to Astri Barbala, Brandon Day and The Directors Bureau.
This is a film I made for the release of my book Collage Culture. The concept belongs to Brian Roettinger who designed the book. Basically, one of the major points of the book is that because we have access to an endless onslaught of visual references through the internet, we have become lazy in creating things. The visual information available to us has made it much to easy to reference and copy instead of creating our own works. The sheer number of “curated” blogs is a perfect point. I like looking at those things, but too many people are mistaking them for something original. But they are only references!! So the idea behind the film is that we took excerpts from the book, about two thousand words of it, and ascribed a random Google image to each and every word. We even left in the “and’s” and “the’s”. Then I edited it so that each image runs for 1/10th of a second. We set the montage to excerpts from a collaboration we did for the book with the Los Angeles band No Age. They created an original score and we had people come in and read different parts of the book. We’ve released the recording on 12″ vinyl on PPM records.
El Mundo Es Tuyo (The World Is Yours) is a little movie I shot last spring for Opening Ceremony. Filming took place in the Las Peñas neighborhood of Guayaquil, Ecuador – working with a completely local cast and crew. The story takes a narrative cue from the popular fairytale Beauty and the Beast where a gorgeous young lady does not notice the charms of a trouble-making young man who is trying to get her attention. That is… until a magical event changes her perspective and the couple fall for each other. We had a real bast making this with an amazing crew. Here are the credits: Written by ARTY NELSON, Starring ANDRES LAVAYEN YAVAR & CAROLINE AGUIRRE, Co-Starring MELISSA KLEIN, JAIME NUNEZ DEL ARCO, PAOLA and PAMELA DUENAS, Editor FERNANDO VILLENA, Stylist BENJAMIN STURGILL, Hair & Makeup GISELLA GOMEZ, Styling Assistance DARIA RADLINSKI, Production Designer CRISTINA COSTA, Sound Design EDDIE KIM, Visual Effects MARCUS HERRING, Graphics KEITH SCHARWATH, Ecuador Production DIANA BUENDIA, BELEN YUNEZ & MARIA YUNEZ, SALVATORE FONSECA, ENRICO MARTIN & XAVIER ZURITA, Music by MONEY MARK, Coordinating Producer for OCTV: RORY SATRAN, Special Thanks to HUMBERTO LEON, CAROL LIM, SUSAN BARBER & CAYCE COLE. Enjoy!!!
Last year my old friend (and fantastic music supervisor) Randall Poster contacted me about getting involved in some sort of project based on the love of growing things. We weren’t sure if this would manifest as an exhibition, a film or something else but we knew we wanted to work on something together. Fast forward to early 2011 when an opportunity came up to work on something with Levi’s at the Film Workshop they installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles. This seemed like a perfect fit as they were doing a whole month of programming around the subject of food and film. We called the project Wild Goodness and launched it with a “Mobile Bike Farm” (designed by Futurefarmers and dedicated to Margaret Kilgallen) at MoCA, a month long series of public filmmaking workshops and the resulting movie you see here. This film is quite different than anything I’ve worked on before as the creation of it became a huge group effort between various artists, animators, cinematographers, actors, editors, farmers, musicians, chefs, chickens and hundreds of members of the general public who happened to stumble upon our shoots at the workshop. I had to relinquish some directorial control, but it was actually a good lesson for me. The resulting film is a quirky “garden variety” show, based on a vaudevillian structure like the early episodes of Sesame Street that I used to watch as a kid. There are too many credits on this to list here, but here are the main players: Executive Producers Randall Poster and Gelya Robb for Search Party, Produced by Jon Barlow, Cinematography by Autumn Durald and Tobin Yelland, Edited by Otto Arsenault (with additional editing by Aaron Morris), Music by Money Mark, Dean & Britta and OVAL, with animations by Clare Crespo and Maya Erdelyi. Whew! Special thanks to all the members of the public who attended our workshops and helped us to make this film.
Here’s the last few minutes of a short film called “Pendarvia” that I made last year for The Decemberists. The full 30 minute film documents the recording process of the album “The King Is Dead” (Capitol, 2011). The album was recorded last fall in a barn in rural Oregon. Pendarvia is heavily driven by the natural surroundings of the area, inter-cutting music with beautiful shots of the surrounding scenery. The film follows the somewhat linear narrative of the recording process, incorporating found moments of dialogue from members of the band, producer Tucker Martine, collaborators and friends. We had a great time shooting this in such a magical place. The film is a wonderful audio/visual collage that explores not only the making of a great album, but the trials and tribulations of the creative process. Right now the full film is only available if you buy the awesome boxed set of the record (worth checking out!), but rumor has it that it’ll be on i-tunes soon enough. The film was produced by Jon Barlow, with cinematography by Jason Roarke and was edited by Otto Arsenault. The beautiful polaroids were taken by Autumn De Wilde.