We packed the house at New Fest!

We packed the house in New York at HBO’s NewFest for the Steven Arnold: Heavenly Bodies Screening. Thank you to those who attended! The film is now headed to France and will accompany a solo show of Steven Arnold’s photography hosted by Fahey/Klein Gallery at Paris Photo. The exhibit will be on-going from November 7-10 at the Grand Palais, Booth A33. Screenings take place at the MK2 Grand Palais on November 8 at 3pm and November 10th at 5pm.

In a new article from Another Man, Miss Rosen pens a fitting tribute to Steven’s life and career.

“Artist, photographer, filmmaker, and ‘queer mystic’ Steven F. Arnold (1943–1994) is a quintessential icon of our times, a revolutionary figure whose ideas about gender fluidity, radical acceptance, and non-binary consciousness, first realised in the late 1960s, are just now becoming part of the cultural conversation.”

Here is the full article.

Stillness

Here is some personal work and musings. It’s always fun putting these together. I hope you get inspired. Enjoy!

Personal Project

This featured image is from the Common Ground project: Locals in Guanajuato, Mexico discuss News and Politics⁠ over coffee. Thank you @biomimi_healingspaces for the beautiful comment on this image via instagram; “the action of stillness.” I love the irony.

Film I’m Studying

Non-Fiction Directed by Olivier Assayas. I usually don’t like non-visual films. In cinema we write with light, not words. Dialog is merely supplemental. So why am I so interested in a film that Rolling Stone Magazine describes as “Talk. Talk. Talk.” and Assayas himself says “this movie’s explicitly nonvisual. I never saw it as very flattering in terms of mise en scène.”

It’s the evocative duality that attracts me, both thematically and aesthetically. While their action is primarily to be in stillness, there is great turmoil inside each character as they seek refuge in salons, cafes, bedrooms, living rooms and office lounges indulging in french food, wine, cigarettes, love making and intellectual stimuli. Their conversations run the gamut but most often rest on anxieties over new technological trends in the writing and publishing industry. An allegory on the state of affairs in Assaya’s own industry.

With DP Yorick Le Saux, his use of super 16mm and flexible diffused light is a nostalgic homage to the arthouse spirit of French New Wave in the 50’s and 60’s. However here, at times it feels out of place, as if self aware that it’s time to embrace something new. Assayas and Le Saux were listening and they shot the closing scenes in 35mm amidst the warm embrace of a late day sun.

Looking at this film amongst Assayas filmography, it appears to be a very personal film for the director. It’s almost as if he is accounting for his own transition into purely constructive cinema starting with Something in the Air, and fulfilled by Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper.

Production companies: CG Cinema
U.S. Distributor: Sundance Selects
Writer-director: Olivier Assayas
Cast: Guillaume CanetJuliette BinocheVincent MacaigneChrista TheretNora HamzawiPascal Greggory
Producers: Charles GillibertOlivier Pere
Executive producers: Sylvie Barthet
Director of photography: Yorick Le Saux
Editor: Simon Jacquet
Production designer: Francois-Renaud Labarthe
Casting: Antoinette Boulat

Photographer that inspires me

Edward Weston: After WWII a purist approach to Photography was advocated by photojournalists and dominated by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. They preached what Adam’s called “previsualization”: the full realization of the image at the moment of exposure. In their point of view any post tampering with the negative was anathema. Weston’s widely exhibited prints were unmanipulated or “straight” completely free of embellishing handiwork.

He was focused primarily on form rather than the recording of events, an approach more akin to painting rather than documenting. His goal was to reveal the significance of his subject without providing any context or reference of time. He called it revelation of the subject. Inspired by nature his subjects were almost exclusively organic. Nudes, vegetables and rock formations frequent his work and share intertwining visual themes as they are posed, placed or found in stillness.

Blog series I am enjoying

Wait But Why: The Story of Us. This is a trump era inspired thesis on human behavior. A concept for how the primitive mind, the higher mind and belief systems intertwine and compete with each-other is particularly thought provoking.

Quote I am pondering

Photography suits the temper of this age – of active bodies and minds. It is a perfect medium for one whose mind is teeming with ideas, imagery, for a prolific worker who would be slowed down by painting or sculpting, for one who sees quickly and acts decisively, accurately. – Edward Weston

September Musings

In response to your feedback here is some personal work and musings. It’s been fun putting this one together and I hope you enjoy it.

The Common Ground Instagram Feed –

Common Ground is a personal study of Latino people and culture. It’s an ongoing photography project I’ve been working on for over 20 years. The selection above was the most liked last week. It was captured at Plaza De Los Angeles in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Film I’m Studying-

Something in the AirI have been watching a lot of Olivier Assayas films lately. This one seems to initiate a stylistic pivot in the Directors career. His earlier works are shot in a constructive cine verité language for the sake of economy, immediacy and authenticity. This film moves away from cine verité and more into a constructive and fragmented cinema language that invokes a more dreamlike atmosphere including sequences that are purely poetic. It’s nearly plotless structure reminds me of David Gordon Green’s George Washington. This was David’s first feature film and his budget was something like $35,000. He wrote the film so that none of the scenes depended on the other. This allowed him to accommodate the budget by cutting scenes as necessary during production without compromising the story.

Select Collaborators
Cinematographer Eric Gautier
Editor Luc Barnier
Production Designer François-Renaud Labarthe
Producers Charles GillibertNathanaël Karmitz
Sound Editor Aude Baudasse
Sound Mixer Olivier Goinard
Colorist Isabelle Julien

Photography that impacts me –

Sebastiao Salgado. No other photographer has so fully realized how tragic, diverse and wonderful it is to be a human being on this planet. Wim Wenders exquisitely portrays Salgado’s life and career in one of my favorite documentaries, Salt of the Earth.

Book I’m Reading-

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewsky is a challenging read. There are a lot of things going on; subplots, references and commentary are explored in lengthy and overwhelming footnotes. Opening this book is almost like learning to read again. I’ve had to stop reading the footnotes in order to make progress with the main plot. As characters plunge into darkness, the pages become cinematic voids, sparsely printed text on nearly blank pages and other unconventional formatting make this more than just a masterful page turner, it puts your mind to work and forces the reader to accept the mystery that is this book.

September Project Update

It was great to hear back and catch up with some of you after my last newsletter! The documentary feature Steven Arnold: Heavenly Bodies will be in Palm Springs for the Cinema Diverse Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival on September 21st at 3pm. I edited the film for up and coming director Vishnu Dass. We started with over 70 hours of original and archival footage. The film took us on a journey through the spiritual and surreal realms of Arnold’s groundbreaking career as an artist. It is narrated by Anjelica Huston, features Interviews with his friend Ellen Burstyn and explores his close relationship with Salvador Dali.

In the spirit of Arnold’s passion for avant-garde filmmaking and his tableau’s of detritus, director Vishnu Dass has re-imagined some of Arnold’s most stunning photographs in collaboration with motion graphics designer Matt McNeil. You can experience one of these hypnotic indulgences in the films trailer here.

I also shot some Interviews as an additional cinematographer for the film. Here are some screen grabs: