What compelled you to make this piece? How does this work address issues that are important to you or close to your heart?
I first became aware of the Paper Print Collection in the Library of
Congress after seeing Ken Jacobs' film TOM, TOM THE PIPER'S SON at the New
York Public Library. I was intrigued by the quality of the image, and the fact
that this film, and thousands like it, had been re-photographed one frame at
I thought that it would be a cool idea to make a film about the guy, Kemp
Niver, who re-copied all the old films frame by frame. Without him, these
films wouldn't exist as projectible films. And this interested me as an idea
about memory and history. But as I researched the subject more, I found that
there was another guy, Howard Walls, who rediscovered the paper rolls in the
vaults of the Library just in time to save them from incineration. But whereas
Niver had received an Oscar for his efforts, Walls hadn't been recognized. So
I flew out to California and interviewed both men, and I began to feel like
Walls' story was somewhat analogous to the fate of the paper prints. Forgotten
films and forgotten careers.
How does living in the New York metropolitan area affect your work?
| From THE FILM OF HER.
First of all, New York is my home and it's where a lot of my friends are.
So I can't compare it to living in another town where my friends don't live.
But I think it's significant that most of the people I've become friends with
in New York also happen to be very talented artists.
There is a lot of emphasis on production and achievement all around you in
New York. And when you are between jobs, or between projects, it can be pretty
unforgiving. You have to get busy and stay busy in this town or you're
probably going to have a hard time. I think New York has given me the feeling
that time is running out and I've got a lot of work to do. Which I value. But
it's nice to have friends who are dealing with that same monster.
In including your work in REEL NEW YORK, do you think your piece in any way pushes the medium of television, or the viewing audiences' expectations of that medium?
I believe THE FILM OF HER marries the medium and subject matter in such
a way that I would be willing to bet the viewing audience has never seen a
film quite like it. I would like to think that the piece pushes their
expectations of the medium. But I think people are increasingly equipped to
deal with more and more audio-visual information. And films that take film as
their subject matter are no longer called "post-modern."
What about access to the tools of production and post-production?
The AVID has made everything a lot easier. If you insist on still cutting
on film or video, all that equipment got a lot cheaper. But you're making your
life a lot more difficult if you don't try to find a low resolution non-linear
editing room to off-line in.
Why did you become a film/video artist/maker?
| From THE FILM OF HER.
I was a painter who increasingly wanted to transport my viewers spatially,
as well as spiritually. I found I was most effective in achieving this when holding my audience captive in a dark room for a predetermined amount of time, staring at thousands of frames of my illuminated work while listening to my soundtrack. Call me manipulative, but it gets results.
Do you feel the New York independent film/video community has changed in recent years? Do you find support living and working in such a large community of artists?
I work in such a way that I am able to produce films almost completely by
myself. I've been lucky in that I've been supported over the years by
collaborators, musicians, and theater producers, who have underwritten the
cost of my production. So I haven't needed to find a lot of outside help.
Millennium and Film Video Arts have been essential resources to me over the
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
I had envisioned this film in a number of different mutations: a straight
documentary video, a feature film ( I even wrote a big, terrible screenplay),
or any combination of the two. But when I interviewed Howard Walls, he had a
head cold and refused to let me remove the lens cap from my video camera. It
occurred to me that same night that I would use found footage to tell his
story, thereby using archival film to tell a story about archival film. His disembodied voice permeated my brain for years afterwards, and when it came time to finish the piece I ended up doing the voiceover myself, imitating