Screening online this weekend only!

Film festivals around the world have come to a grinding halt. So, The Steven Arnold Museum and Archives has decided to host a free limited online release of Steven Arnold: Heavenly Bodies. However, it will only be available this weekend.

Arnold was an American multimedia artist, photographer and filmmaker who’s vast artistic output has been preserved in an extensive archive. This resulted in ample material for the film. So, as the editor my daily workload was an extensive ongoing discovery process in close collaboration with Vishnu Dass, the films director. Our days, weeks and months together were ripe with inspiration and spiritual insight, culminating into a feature length documentary.

Interviews dance with narration by Anjelica Houston to showcase the diversity of Arnold’s work and explore his intimate relationships with icons such as Salvador Dali, Simon Doonan and Ellen Burstyn.

We recommend this for mature audiences and you can access the film by clicking on the image below.

A five course mind meal: a list of independent films and more

The Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo in Querétaro, Mexico
I hope you are all enjoying 2020. I love this time of year and it’s proven to be a welcoming season of reflection and development so far. Therefore, I’ve been able to make a huge dent in my “films to watch” list. And subsequently I’ve included a list of independent films that have impacted me most. It’s always fun putting these together. I hope you get inspired. Enjoy!

Personal Project

More from Common Ground. The above image features The Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo in Querétaro, Mexico. It opened as a convent in 1752. After the Liberal party won a civil war known as La Reforma in 1860 it was used as a hospital for 100 years. It is now under historical preservation while the convent portion is a college and the Temple holds regular mass.

Common Ground is a 20+ year photographic study of Latino culture. Check it out on Instagram!

Films I’m Studying

I’ve been catching up on my watch list over the last few months. And have been focusing on films that were made for under 3 million. As a result, my brain is churning up the many conversations I’ve had with friends and other filmmakers whom gripe about Hollywood and how they are only interested in putting out comic book movies and other big budget blockbusters. Well, here is a list of small independent films that in one way or another were made and/or released through Hollywood. But these are just the ones I’ve liked or re-watched. Additionally, they’ve all been released within the last six years, the genres and ratings are mixed and the links go to the films IMDB page.

Narrative

Bone Tomahawk 

Camp X-Ray

Columbus

Dear White People

Eighth Grade

Embrace of the Serpent

Flower

Hardcore Henry

Hearts Beat Loud

Hello, My Name is Doris

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

I Origins

Ida

Irreplaceable

It Follows

Moonlight

Mustang

Obvious Child

Palo Alto

Swiss Army Man

The Blue Room

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Florida Project

The Lunchbox

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Skeleton Twins

Unsane

Upgrade

Documentaries

Antarctica: A year on Ice

Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary

Photographer That Inspires Me

Arnold Newman is another photographer who’s work was imprinted upon me when I started studying photography in the 90’s. His portraits are so content rich and intriguing, it makes me wonder why our culture today is so obsessed with the “Headshot.” I suppose they have there place in certain industries. But the environmental portrait, popularized by Newman, is a glorious authentic outlook on the human condition. And in comparison the “headshot” just seems like wasted opportunity.

On March 25th, 1996 I was lucky enough to attend a lecture of his sponsored by Canon. I saved the program and here it is.

Video I’m Enjoying

The Look of Parasite made by the Hurlbut Academy is an inspiring breakdown of the visual devices used to evoke specific emotional responses in the storytelling and how these visual ideas started early in the script writing process.

Written by Chris Haigh
Narrated by Ross Papitto
Edited by Dylan K Leong

Quote I’ve Lived By

A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart. – Arnold Newman

Poetry of a long tracking shot, surreal photography and more

The Common Ground Project - A black and white portrait of a Latino girl behind the barred gate of her families home and business in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This month we look at the poetry of a long tracking shot, the surreal photography of Jerry Uelsmann and the meaning of art. It’s always fun putting these together and I hope you get inspired. Enjoy!

Personal Project

This featured image is from the Common Ground project: A twenty plus year study on Latino culture. More images are available to see on Instagram.

Film I’m Studying

Stalker: The camera starts very close on Stalkers wet leather jacket, it follows a path of jacket buttons until Stalkers dormant face fills the screen. We rest here for a moment as omniscient whispers tell a tale of Kings hiding from God on the day of his return to earth. The camera and the whispers continue, leaving stalkers face to closely examine the shallow depths of a long forgotten aqueduct where corroded remnants of a corrupted civilization rest amongst floating filth. We don’t stop moving until we see Stalkers hand, resting on the water like a disfigured pearl, a welcome reprieve from the filth. The camera slowly moves out and cuts, leaving us to ponder on the poetry of a long tracking shot.

Of any shot that I’ve seen in Cinema, this one reaches out to me the most. When I think of visual story telling, of visual poetry and of things I hadn’t seen before. this shot it always there. have a look.

I’ve been fascinated by Tarkovsky’s films since Janos Kovacsi showed us some clips from his first feature Ivan’s Childhood, in a class about working with actors at the North Carolina School of the Arts, School Of Filmmaking. He rolled in one of those old square tv’s on a metal framed cart with squeaky wheels and played us a clip. It was perfect, every element was in absolute harmony with the other.

Due to conflicts with Soviet authorities regarding his work, Stalker was Tarkovsky’s last Russian film. Therefore, his last two; Nostalghia and The Sacrifice were made in Italy and Sweden.

Here are some frame grabs from some of my favorite shots in the film.

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Produced by Aleksandra Demidova
Written by Arkady StrugatskyBoris Strugatsky
Based on Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
Starring Alexander KaidanovskyAnatoly SolonitsynNikolai GrinkoAlisa Freindlich
Music by Eduard Artemyev
Cinematography Alexander Knyazhinsky
Edited by Lyudmila Feiginova
Production Company: Mosfilm
Release date: May 1979
Running time: 161 minutes
Country: Soviet Union
Language: Russian
Budget: 1,000,000 Rubles

Photographer that inspires me

Jerry Uelsmann: I was exposed to Uelsmann in the 90’s when first learning about photography and have been obsessed with his work ever since. But aside from his images, the one thing I remember the most about him is that he had a ritualistic way of working. Every Wednesday, no matter what, he would work in the darkroom.

Here is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about him in 2001 for a college assignment.

In search of a way to display his vision, Jerry Uelsmann studied and experimented with different photographic techniques in the early 1960’s. He found that photomontage was the best way for him to express himself and this started a storm of controversy. He was breaking the photographic  tradition in creating surrealistic images by using many different negatives to create one print. Purist photographers said that he was not a photographer.

The essay is titled It’s About The Vision and you can check out the full article along with my research and professors notes in this old PDF.

Article I am enjoying

Walt Whitman on the “Meaning” of Art and How to Best Access the Poetic: This was a quick read that inspired me to read more poetry.

Quote I am pondering

Art is by nature aristocratic, and naturally selective in its effect on the audience. For even in its ‘collective’ manifestations, like theatre or cinema, its effect is bound up with the intimate emotions of each person who comes into contact with the work. The more the individual is traumatised and gripped by those emotions, the more significant a place will the work have in his experience.- Andrei Tarkovsky