Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Get To Know Kevin R Thompson

In connection to the exciting release of Chris Dallman's "Ghosts" video, we would like to introduce you to Kevin Remón Thompson - the music director of the video.

If you are not already aware, Kevin has previously directed two Chris' music videos - namely "Over My Head" and "This is Calm".

Like a curious child, we got to know Kevin a little more by asking him about his work and how he got to know Chris Dallman.

CDC: When did you first realize that you were meant to be a film-maker?

I've always enjoyed creative work, whether it was writing or music, but I never thought I could do something like that as a living. But when I lived in New York, circumstances conspired to introduce me to film-making in a very concrete way. A friend wrote a script and my roommate was a filmmaker, so we put this thing together. It was a pretty flawed piece of work, but I immediately felt so attracted to the combination of creativity, organization and spontaneity that goes into making a film. So I decided I had to do it.

A few years later I was in LA in the graduate production program at USC. I don't know if there was something specific that made me realize that I was meant to be a filmmaker, but I do know that whatever doubts I have about my career get erased when I make something. I love the process so much, even the tedious parts, that I know it's a really good fit for me.

CDC: How many different countries have you lived in? Have your experiences living abroad influenced your film-making in any way?

I've lived in 3 different countries (not including the U.S.) and visited a bunch of others. I lived in Rome for a year when I was 12, and I spent a year in Madrid before going to film school. I also spent an amazing 4 weeks in Amman, Jordan, in 2006 teaching at a Digital Film-making workshop. Obviously, this last journey was the most specifically related to film-making, because I was in a film school-type environment. More than anything, the time in Amman re-energized my love of film-making because I got to be with these kids who had minimal film knowledge, but tons of passion and good will. It was inspiring.

The year I spent in Rome when I was 12, though, is probably the most singularly influential event in my life. My parents thought it would be beneficial to toss me into an Italian public school instead of one of these Americans abroad foreign schools. The first day in that place was the scariest day of my life. But boy, did it teach me how to confront fears, take a deep breath and jump in.

To be honest, I don't remember much about the first month. My concrete memories start later, when I was already speaking Italian fluently and hanging out with my friends. I'm sure it was an amazing thing for my parents to watch. I think throwing myself into that uncertainty primed me for making more of those kinds of choices in life, including the decision to pursue film-making as a career.

CDC: What kind of stories are you particularly interesting in telling?

This is such a hard question because it forces you to step outside yourself for some analysis. It would be facetious of me to say I'm interested in telling the stories that come to me, except for that fact that that's the best way I know how to describe what moves me. A lot of my inspiration comes for little moments in life that just catch my attention for some reason. I think I'm given to melodrama and tragedy, which sometimes bothers me because I enjoy comedy so much. I've been trying to take stories less seriously these days. It's always so valuable to find the comedy in any moment, even when it's a serious or tragic one.

CDC: Is there someone who continually inspires you to push that notch a little higher with regards to your work?

I've been pushed by so many different people that it's hard to single one out. The question, though, makes me think of the moments during the film-making process when I feel like I might be satisfied, and then I decide that it's not enough and that I need to push myself further. That's usually the way it works, but I'd say if I had to pick someone it would be my wife, Alice. She has a way of motivating me without me realizing it. It's a very nice kind of motivation because it makes me feel like I was the one who pushed myself.

CDC: "The Orchard" looked like a very pretty movie. Where was it actually filmed, and were there any interesting on-set stories that arose from the filming?

We looked all over Southern California, searching for a place that would authentically portray rural Andalusia. Having spent considerable time in Spain, I knew what I was looking for, and it was hard. We drove all around and ended up finding this wonderful old Spanish mission in Lompoc, CA. It was amazingly well preserved and I knew that we have found our spot.

The Orchard trailer from Kevin Thompson on Vimeo.

CDC: Was there a tricky or difficult scene to shoot for "The Orchard"?

Some of the scenes were difficult because they weren't working well on camera, and those ended up getting cut out of the film. But I'd say that the most difficult scene was the bedroom scene between Joshua Pohja and Joseph Lemieux. The scene was difficult in a good way, in that it was challenging both for me as well as the actors. I relied heavily on them and their faith in the project to really achieve the authenticity of that scene. We did a lot of takes, and I never felt like they were giving anything less than their all.

CDC: Pls share with us on how you got to know Chris Dallman?

I met Chris through one of his best friends, who happens to be my wife's cousin. I actually worked with Josh Pohja, Chris' husband, first on a film school project. But I knew Chris was a musician and the first time I heard him perform live I was blown away by the power of his presence. I knew he was someone I wanted to work with, and it was such a wonderful bonus that he's such a fun person to hang out with.

CDC: How did the concept of Chris Dallman's "Ghosts" music video come about?

Chris came to me with the idea of doing a video in black and white for "Ghosts". I instantly felt the connection with that particular song. Something about the abstract feel of black and white fit the music, especially since neither Chris nor I wanted to do anything literal. After that, we bounced ideas around and I went through my usual process of listening to the song over and over and jotting down images and ideas. The use of silhouettes and extras and even the 2.35:1 aspect ratio of the video all came so naturally from listening to the song, that I knew they would work really well.

CDC: Were there any special considerations that you had to take while filming this music video?

I knew I wanted to composite multiple shots together, so we had to make sure in the silhouette section, for example, that Chris didn't overlap his three different positions. That was challenging because I had to estimate where he would be in the other positions. Also, the shot with the extras working in fast motion while Chris was singing at normal speed had to be carefully set up so they didn't cross behind Chris. I had to put down a piece of tape so they would know where to stop. You can see it in the video, running across the floor.

CDC: Did the finished product for the "Ghosts" video differ from the original concept in any way?

So often my projects end up looking different than I originally imagined. Most of the time, though, the feel of them is consistent. The "Ghosts" video was the first project where the final product looked and felt almost exactly how I envisioned it. I knew it would be this way as soon as I started looking at the footage. The editing was quick and easy because the pieces just fit together so well.

CDC: Are there talks between you and Chris Dallman for another music video?

We haven't spoken specifically about any new projects, although we did toss some ideas around for a simple video for "Anthem". I think I'll always be ready to make a Chris Dallman video. I respond so strongly to his work, and so the ideas for videos come easily. I'm looking forward to our next project, whatever it may be.

CDC: What other projects are you working on currently? Tell us a little about them.

I just finished another music video for my good friend Sandeep Bhatt (http://www.soulwideworld.com/), where we built the interior of a spaceship inside my garage. Sandeep's music is this cool blend of funk/soul, electronica, and his own unique mix of influences. It's coming out soon and I'm very excited about it.

I was also one of the producers on this really nice short, "A Crossroad Called Manzanar", (http://www.manzanarfilm.com/) written by Alice Kim and Cindy Fang and directed by Cindy. It centers around the friendship between a Chinese-American girl and a Japanese-American girl during WWII, at the time of the Japanese internment. It's also coming out soon.

Thanks, Kevin -- for taking the time to answer our questions!

You can find out more about Kevin R Thompson and his various interesting projects at his website - http://www.kevinremonthompson.com/

(@syzzlyn for the CDC)

No comments:

Post a Comment