Originally Posted on: THE WHIRLING BLOG
Hi David! Thank you so much for setting aside some time to do this for The Whirling Blog. I’ve been a fan of your photography work for a while now. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
In my personal life, I’m a simple guy. I need little stimulation and find comfort in the ordinary. I can’t say the same for my artwork. It lives in a world unto itself. My imagination began to develop as a child, when my dad would read bedtime stories to my sister and me. For some reason, we always ended up reading dark scary stories, and this was the tone I would bring into my dreams. I attribute this to my creative growth and a tendency to lean towards dramatic, moody subject matter. It’s just how my brain developed!!
All of your photography work is truly captivating but whenever I visit your website, I find myself spending most of my time viewing your ‘Conceptual’ photos. I’m wondering if you could, without giving away any secrets, explain how you go about creating these pieces? What comes first? What inspires you?
Many times, my inspiration comes from music. I enjoy listening to dramatic film scores and channelling that emotional energy into my sketchbooks. This is where my creative process begins. Most everything you see on my website previously existed as a drawing. After enough people suggested I do so, I started posting some of those drawings on my website. The ability to draw has helped me tremendously. So many of my productions aspire towards the surreal, so it helps to be able to illustrate what I want, when words aren’t enough.
One of the things I admire about you David and actually derive much inspiration from, is the fact that you don’t seem to allow anything or possibly anyone, get in the way of your creative endeavors. Correct me if I’m wrong but you set your sights on a project, whether it’s a photo shoot or now, a movie, and you persevere until said project is complete. Not many artists can say they do that. Many of us can get scared easily from attempting large projects that we might not think we’re either ready for or have the money to fund it. I’m interested in knowing what your mental process is when you come up with an idea, no matter how big or expensive, in order to carry it through to completion.
I’d like to say I’ve got the heart of a lion and balls of steel, but more often than not, my determination is a product of mild insanity. Maybe not, but I feel one has to be somewhat delusional to have such a capacity for believing in themselves. I’ll come out and admit that I have an obsessive personality. This is a great strength, in that nothing distracts me from what I want, but it’s also a weakness. If obsession was a superpower, I’d say I’m still in the early stages of wielding it.
There have definitely been times when I nearly gave up though. Take for instance, my film Caterpillar. Financing and producing that film was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It cost nearly the price of a house, required a year of my life, and all the while, there was the likelihood that it would end up a failure. In times like this, one asks themselves the same questions that you raised… “Am I not ready for this? Is this beyond my scope of ability?” Then, I remind myself that I’ve seen less talented people achieve similar goals, and I’m at least comforted in knowing that it is hypothetically possible.
A little less than a year ago, I was visiting you and we spoke about this idea you had for a short film. Now, “Caterpillar” is almost completed. I’d love to know more about the story and how & when it originally came to you.
Caterpillar was a long time in the making, and for much of that time, I didn’t even know it. Various random ideas in my sketchbooks started to fit together like puzzle pieces, and one day, it dawned on me that I had a story. There was too much of a narrative for it to fit within the constraints of my photography, so the only option was to write a film. I collected about a dozen books on film making and wrote my treatment while reading them. Several versions later, I decided it was time to commit and begin thinking practically. How would I do this?? Luckily, I’m used to producing far-fetched hair-brained schemes such as this, but on a smaller scale (many of my photography productions handle like miniature film shoots). I collaborated with a producer, and after much research, we arrived at a game plan and a dollar amount. I realized that I wasn’t even halfway near our financial goal. It took almost a year of straight hustling until I miraculously raised the cash. I mean I did every job under the sun… I even sold my fancy new camera system awarded to me by Hasselblad. In addition to this, I borrowed another $15,000 from friends and family. The beauty of all of this was that it allowed me to distance myself from the story. So when I finally returned to my notes, I was able to spot the weakpoints with a non-biased eye. Once we moved into production, the story really became interesting…. but that’s a tale unto itself. I swear, you could easily make a movie about the process of making a movie.
I have to tell you that the trailer alone looks magnificent and I was immediately struck by the entire look of the piece . . . it’s quite exquisite. How would you describe your approach to the “look” of the film? What were you going for?
First of all, I have to give due credit to my cinematographer, Eric Giovon. He and I share the same wavelength when it comes to photography. From day one, I knew I could trust him to take my storyboards to the next level. In deciding on the “look” of the film, I always knew that I wanted it to feel like a historical painting. It’s through this context that I would sell the audience on all of the surreal elements. It’s like a marriage of science fiction meets art history. Eric and I were channelling all of the greats, Caravaggio, Vermeer, etc. Production-wise, the first major decision was to find the right location. We picked a famous residency of George Washington. This house, currently owned by the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (formerly curator for the Met), was basically kept as a museum. Everything felt frozen in time, which was perfect for the world of Caterpillar.
I’m excited to get to see the entire film. What’s next for “Caterpillar” and in addition, what’s on the horizon for you?
Our goal for Caterpillar is to find a home in a film festival that will get behind it. Everyone involved views this as their best work, and we’re eager to share it with the world. Personally, I would like to use Caterpillar as a catalyst to producing some bigger projects. One of which is already in development, but there’s no way I’m funding it myself!
Thanks again David. Continued success and thank you for inspiring us to set our sights high and never give up on our artistic visions.
(Interview by Gene Manuel, The Whirling Blog)