Well that was just about the most exciting week of my life. I just finished producing and directing my first short film, called “Flip Fantasia.” It’s about four guys and a dead girl, about love and death and what happens when your heart breaks and grows three sizes that day. It’s a love letter to NYC and an homage to all my favorite films (or as many as I could fit in there) and a peek into what I understand about suffering.
So what in the hell qualifies me to direct a film? Basically nothing, really, except that I spent my entire young life going to every weird arty, what-I-thought worthy, edge cutting piece of gorgeousness that I could find in NY. I sought out art in every form: whether it was going to hear Ravi Shankar at Lincoln Center, the poetry of RUMI and going to see the Whirling Dervishes at Town Hall, or going to see Pina Bauch and Robert Wilson at BAM, E.L. Kirchner and German Expressionism at the Neue Gallery, Barbara Kruger at MOMA, Anne Bogart and the SITI company, Spaulding Gray at PS122, Shawn Colvin at Carnegie Hall, The work of The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman and the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Selected Shorts at Symphony Space, the plays of John Patrick Shanley and his philosophy of “writing is acting is directing is living your life”, the life saving world of Film Forum, meeting Marlene Dumas at The New Museum, or the hundreds of other shows I saw and people I met. New York City was my education, in a way.
In film, I was blown away by the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray when I was 25. Watching that I was hit hard by how film could create an connective and yet transcending human experience. I also became a huge Francois Truffaut fan, gobbling up the adventures of Antoine Doinel like an animal. In a case of “From the sublime to the ridiculous,” I also loved the timing of Blake Edwards’ SOB and Victor Victoria, the incredible comic performances in Tootsie and the hilarious surrealism of Living in Oblivion.
My favorite artist is Laurie Anderson. Most people have never heard of her but she’s awesome. Her kind of off beat storytelling is right up my alley. I am pretty sure I have seen every performance she brought to the states post 1997, when I discovered her for myself. She is hard to pin down, too. Performance artist doesn’t really cover everything she is. She’s a musician, a poet, a writer, a storyteller, a performer, and an artist. Why not?
So what is “Flip Fantasia”? Well it’s kind of a combination of these influences. It’s funny, and heart breaking, surreal, and spiritual. It’s full of color and pain. It’s everything I love.
It’s not like I just pulled it out of my ass. I studied directing with the late Curt Dempster, the artistic director of Ensemble Studio Theater. After that I wrote and directed Mona7, a performance art piece that I did in NYC which was totally my vision. Here is a picture from when Mona becomes one with the universe. Sadly, my co-director took my vision and got herself a grant from Dance Theater Workshop without giving me any credit. Not cool, but water under the bridge. It was a long time ago. I know it was my vision and I loved making it with her. Too bad she didn’t know how to be a friend, that’s all.
I also studied painting in the late 90’s early 2000’s with Nancy Chunn at the School of Visual Arts, then International Literature at NYU, then creative art therapy and fairy tales at The New School. As you might know I just wrote a whole book called Murdering My Youth which will come out eventually. Who knows, I may just turn it into a movie. So doing something like a short film isn’t really a total shock. I guess you could say my whole life has led up to this. I’m an artist. I make things.
That said, I believe all the art I have done (except my postcards) is totally collaborative. I’ve worked with the videographer Tal Yarden when he was just starting out, for my play Mona7, and the amazing producer and musician George Walker Petit for my album… frankly, every movie, play, or TV show I have ever done is a collaboration with the director, writer and other actors, whether it’s with the writer David Ives “The Red Address,” the director Richard Benjamin on “My Favorite Year,” or Michael E. Knight on “All My Children.” Making a piece of art that requires more than one person requires collaboration. I have a great love and respect for it. All that matters is that everyone brings their passion to the table.
For “Flip” I had the great luck to find Alex di Suvero to be my Director of Photography. He’s got an amazing ability to find the beauty in the awful, which was the task I set before him. I am thrilled with what we have created together.
Here is a photo of the character “Smeg” played by Eden Marryshow, who, as you might guess, is a seeker.
That’s my arm on the left.
One thing I learned about film making is that it requires an understanding and a feel for ALL the arts. You HAVE to know about art, music, literature, AND film. If you don’t, you are really missing out on what film can be. Well, let’s not put the cart before the horse. I still have to edit the damn thing. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget I LIVE with a filmmaker, and was a film slave on his third short, stepping up to associate produce his first feature, so I’ve had a little crash course in the grunt work, you might say.
But I wanted you to know all this about me, so that you can see this film as something that is a part of who I am, because it is. It is perhaps the most intimate piece of work I have ever made. I hope you will like it.