The California Sunday Magazine, in collaboration with Google Play, is producing a series of animated interviews with Californians. This particular episode features Jack Black talking about life growing up in Hermosa Beach. Full disclosure: I love Jack Black.
Several years ago, I was part of a big art event here in Vancouver. An hour or so before the show there was a line of people around the block waiting to get in, and as I walked past them to the back entrance I noticed Jack Black was standing in line (waaay back in the line). I was gonna keep walking but I thought I should at least offer to get him into the show early. So I quickly introduced myself as one of the artists in the show, and offered to take him right inside. Without hesitation, he thanked me for the offer but said, it’s cool man, we’ll wait. Then the woman he was standing with leaned over and said she wouldn’t mind going in, if it wasn’t too much trouble, as she was pretty tired. So I took them both around the back, and while we walked he asked me my name, and what I did, and we talked for a few minutes, and he was pretty much the friendliest guy ever. After they got their wristbands and everything, he came back over to me and thanked me again.
Later on in the evening there was this TV personality type guy going around the gallery doing these mildly obnoxious pranks for some video he was making. At some point he was able to get Jack Black’s attention, and with a crowd of people around, he pulled out this McDonalds cheeseburger, sort of re-arranged the buns and everything, and presented it to the actor, demanding $200 for his work of art. Without skipping a beat, Jack Black pulled out a bunch of bills, and put it in the guy’s hand. And then he grabbed the cheeseburger art, and raised it up in the air, before dramatically throwing it directly into the garbage. It was hilarious.
Enjoy the animation below.
Here’s something cool for all you fans of director Paul Thomas Anderson and comedian-turned-podcaster Marc Maron. Paul Thomas Anderson is the latest guest on the WTF Podcast! You can listen to the 2-hour interview here. Film fans can also look forward to an interview with director Richard Linklater! Excited for Maron to start interviewing more directors.
Also, I found these great posters for Paul Thomas Anderon’s latest film Inherent Vice. Does anyone out there know who created them? I can’t believe it’s this hard to track down a designer credit. If you know, let me know, and I’ll credit the artist(s).
*The posters were designed by BLT Communications, who are known for their terrific poster designs. I’ve yet to find any further details about who created them.
See the rest of the posters below!
Okay, here’s something new! Over the next few months I’m hoping to have a few of my favourite curators from around the Internet pop in as guest contributors. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere! This is just a chance to get some content here and there from a fresh pair of eyes – eyes I respect – that will hopefully put you on to things that I don’t know about!
First up, is Zach Tutor, the curator behind the popular blog, Supersonic Art. If you’re into contemporary painting and illustration you should check it out. We’ve yet to meet in person but we’ve been Internet buddies for awhile, he actually submitted a great drawing to our “Drawing On The Past” project. Anyways, I thought the easiest way to introduce him to you would be in the form of a little interview.
Jeff Hamada: I know from reading interviews and Skyping with you recently, that you’re based in Oxford, Mississippi, your father is the famous photorealist painter Glennray Tutor, and you have a cat named Bookie. Tell me something the Internet does not already know about you.
Zach Tutor: Haha, yes all of those things are true! I suppose I should start back at the beginning with a nice little story my parents would tell me about where I came from when ever that question would arise from me. They would tell me that during this intense, hurricane like thunderstorm that they began hearing something knocking at their backdoor. At first they were afraid to answer it because the storm was so scary. But eventually they did, and there in the flashes from the lightning and pouring rain was a frog who had brought me to them. I always thought that was a pretty fantastic story about coming from somewhere. Being born from a thunderstorm. With the frogs and wilderness.
Another nice story: I think one of the things that peaked my interest in seeking out treasures/art was that my grandparents lived in this little, very little, town called Malden in Missouri. And every time my mother and I would go visit them, my grandmother, two aunts, mom and little young me would go antique shopping. It was like a physical Internet. You never knew what you’d find, especially in these truly bizarre, small towns in the “bootheel” of Missouri and northwest corner of Arkansas. These antique stores were like all the art and artist sites out there and my job was to find the best, most beautiful thing in there. Of course at the time the most awesome thing would be a really cool, strange action figure or ancient board game. I found some amazing things. Maybe I just like searching out treasure.
JH: What websites do you usually go hunting for treasure on?
ZT: I have about 60 pages that open up when my browser opens and I spend all day, seriously – around 8-9 hours looking through them, following links, looking at other artists links to other artists, etc. etc. Some of my favorites are BOOOOOOOM (duh), Carbon Cradle, Artnau, Arrested Motion, and Beautiful Bizarre. The best is when you come across a site you’ve never been on yet. There are thousands and thousands on Tumblr to discover. I really feel like Tumblr has changed the game at getting art and visual stimulation into the world.
JH: How has running a Tumblr with hundreds of thousands of followers changed your life?
ZT: Geez, I don’t know. I try not to think about it. But it is a strange thing. I’ve been lucky enough to write for art magazines like Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz, I’ve met some of my all time favorite artists ever, and I curate an annual art show called the Supersonic Invitational (The 4th one is in January at Spoke Art in San Francisco!) where I get to see all my favorite artists’ work in person. Those are all dreams, beyond my wildest dreams, that have come true. And I’ve made some of the best friends of my life by creating and dedicating myself to Supersonic. And seeing things I didn’t know were there or wouldn’t have thought I’d ever see. One strange side effect (I guess that’s a good term) is being recognized more and more at the bookstore I work at or in larger cities. “Hey you’re Supersonic aren’t you” is always surreal and then learning about the person who says that is a gift too, they’ll be from Maine or some place far away from what I know and it’s just like, “wow, the Internet is crazy.” It’s really nice to know people are looking at the art because that’s the reason I do it. But to sum it up I guess the way it’s changed my life the most is giving me more dream fuel. And telling me, “Hey – keep going, there’s even more! You don’t even know!” Life sure as heck is an adventure.
JH: You’ve already written for respected magazines and hosted art shows with high profile artists, so what new goals have you set for yourself for this next year?
KT: Supersonic does studio visits and my photographer, Shaun Roberts and I have been looking into getting a book done of the visits. I’d like to do more than one art show a year. Maybe on the east coast or somewhere outside the United States. The more I can get artwork into other people’s photoreceptors the better. I’ve also been working with a print company, The People’s Printshop, and I’d like to develop that more and more. The best things are things that just happen though, which these things I’ve listed sort of have. I have way more ideas for what I want to do, but I also like things to be organic and develop naturally.
JH: Yeah, I agree about not forcing it. Okay, if someone turned your life into a big Hollywood movie, what would it be called, who would play you, and what song would play in the intro?
ZT: Hahaha, I’ve actually thought about this a lot. (Is that weird?) There’s various versions of my life film that go around in my head so I’ll combine one or two of them. This would be an action comedy. Ewan McGregor would play me in a slightly hyper fictionalized story of my life wherein I’m an art curator by day / diamond thief by night. Woody Allen would play my worrisome mentor and the love interest would be played by Aubrey Plaza. Tom Hardy would be the villain. Guy Ritchie would direct it. The theme song would, of course, be “Supersonic” by Oasis and the title would be “Supersonic” as well. It’d be ahead of it’s time though and become a cult classic. Ewan McGregor’s career would be ruined.
JH: What was the best film you saw this year?
ZT: Insanely difficult question, Jeff. I love movies. I watch as many as possible. But I’ll try my best at naming off my top three. #1) Snowpiercer. #2) Edge of Tomorrow #3) Joe (This list might be skewed because I haven’t yet seen Nightcrawler, Birdman or Inherent Vice. Unfortunate side effects of living in Mississippi.)
JH: Nightcrawler was definitely one of the best films I saw this year. Does the difficulty of seeing particular films, or whatever else, ever make you want to leave Mississippi?
ZT: Ah! I gotta see it! Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my all time favorite actors, too. I don’t know, maybe it makes things more exciting? You have to work to get things here in Mississippi and the reward is maybe that they’re a bit more special? Not that I haven’t thought about moving. I’d move to California or New Orleans if I did move. Mississippi is the poorest, most uneducated state in the United States – but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad place. I mean, Rock and Roll was invented 40 minutes from my house. William Faulkner lived down the street. Magic still exists here and it might be the only place. Or maybe we’re just too dumb to try things other people would say “that would never work!” Haha!
JH: Yeah, staying naive has been one of the most important things for me. You might be the exact person to do the thing no one thinks can be done, and if you give too much of an ear to skepticism and negativity you’ll never find out. Can we end this with a piece of advice to the high school version of yourself?
ZT: Dear high school me: Don’t waste those next two years in college – go do what you want right now, you’ve got some good ideas! Save your money and travel more. Take more photographs. Write things down more often. Start drawing cityscapes now, not in four years! And in three years Steve Jobs is going to introduce this thing called an iPhone and it’s going to have something called “apps.” There’s this really great one called “Instagram,” which lets you put filters on photos and share them with your friends. Invent that. Also, there’s this website coming out next year called “YouTube” that lets you watch anything you want and it’s amazing. Invent that too. But basically though, don’t worry too much. Just do what you feel is right. Learn from your mistakes. The world is a beautiful place.
JH: Thanks for doing this, Zach!
Here’s a nice video profile on one of the most talented people I know, Melbourne-based artist, RONE. It’s a thing of beauty watching him work; he doesn’t even use a projector. Here he shares insights about his work over process footage of a gigantic 9-storey mural he painted earlier this year. Watch the video below.
I recently had a chat with Tokyo-born, Los Angeles-based director Hiro Murai who, especially in the recent months, has been nothing short of prolific. His videos for Flying Lotus and Chet Faker were two of my favourites this year, and were released on the heels of videos for Spoon and Shabazz Palaces. He just released his third video for Childish Gambino which featured an unexpected ending that got the Internet buzzing (something it seems he has a knack for). I’ve been a fan of his for quite a while so it was fun to get to ask him about his work.
I commissioned photographer Joyce Kim to shoot some images of Hiro for this piece and she did a beautiful job. Hope you enjoy it!
Jeff Hamada: Is there any aspect to your work that you feel is particularly Japanese?
Hiro Murai: I didn’t used to think so, but I had a crazy moment of realization when I read the graphic novel, Understanding Comics, a couple years ago. There’s a whole section in the book about the difference between how Japanese manga and American comics are sequenced and paced, and I realized how much manga has influenced the way I build shots for a sequence.
JH: How old were you when you moved to the U.S. from Japan?
HM: I was 9 when I left Tokyo, so I spent a good chunk of my formative years reading manga so it makes sense, but it just never really occurred to me until then. I don’t think I’d do a good job of explaining it in words, but this is the kind of stuff I’m talking about (see here).JH: I like the idea of leaving space for contemplation. I’ve been collecting all these Richard Scarry books from when I was a kid and when I think back to reading them, every page is full to the brim with drawings. I ordered this one called, Busy Busy World, off of ebay (so I could get the original politically incorrect version), and I opened it up, and the pages are all really empty. There was so much blank space, it was a really trippy moment, actually. I realized that my mind had filled in all these things that weren’t actually on the page. I feel like movies these days often leave nothing for the imagination. I recently watched a great one though, called Enemy, by Denis Villeneuve. It felt like something you’d make.
HM: That’s amazing! I love that. I’ve had similar experiences with cartoons I grew up watching too. Like, I’d swear there was a scene in a movie that didn’t actually exist. It’s amazing how much your mind fills things in, especially when you’re a kid. I forget who said this, and it might be one of those cliches that everyone says, but there’s a quote that goes something like “movies are just as much about what’s in the frame as what’s out.” I’ve always liked movies that are confident enough in their fiction that they don’t feel the need to show you everything. It leaves room for the viewer to engage, you know? I haven’t seen Enemy, but when we were prepping his video Flying Lotus told me that I’d like that movie too. I’m gonna have to check it out.
JH: Yeah do it, I think you’ll dig it.
Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” directed by Hiro Murai
JH: Maybe it’s because I met you and both Daniels at Kirsten Lepore’s Halloween party, but it really feels like your circle of friends are all insane directors ruling LA right now. How did this happen?
HM: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting to be surrounded by so many crazy talented people. I was a fan of a lot of my friends before I ever met them, which is bizarre but cool. I think it sort of naturally grew into a community because creators want to surround themselves with other creatively inspiring people, but also because freelance filmmaking can be a pretty lonely, chaotic endeavor without a support system. It’s comforting to know that your friends are living as recklessly as you are.
JH: That has to be the most important thing, surrounding yourself with people doing the wildest things all the time – like really going for it. So many of my friends now are actually living off of their passions that it feels normal. It feels like, of course you can live off the thing you love to do! But I remember coming out of art school really wondering if it was possible.
HM: Yeah man absolutely. When I see friends make things that feel like they wouldn’t exist otherwise, I get so excited, jealous, happy. It’s so stimulating and motivating creatively. I think about how it felt to be right out of school too. Looking back, I’m pretty impressed with how recklessly optimistic we all were. Or maybe at that point we’d already painted ourselves into a corner and had no other choice.
JH: Looking back on all the videos you’ve made so far, which one are you most proud of?
HM: I’m honestly proud of every video for different reasons (not to say there aren’t things that I also hate about some of them), but I’m still really proud of the very first video we did for Bloc Party’s “Signs”. The budget was something like $2,000, and the entire crew consisted of friends from film school doing me a huge favour.
Hiro bought the bluer frog (Frog Delano Roosevelt) for the Earl Sweatshirt video shoot for the song “Chum” and became attached so he kept him.
JH: I was just in LA a couple months ago and it really feels like the place to be right now. All that tech money in San Fran is bumping up rent and all the artists are moving to your city. Do you feel it?
HM: Yeah, I know a lot of die hard New Yorkers who made the move too. I don’t really know why but things seem to be brewing over here. Although, the weird part about LA is that it’s so scattered and big that I never really feel like I can read the pulse of the whole city, so i could be totally wrong.
Hiro eventually got a second frog, which he named Toady Roosevelt.
JH: Where’s you favourite spot in LA to go and think up new ideas?
HM: I really like driving aimlessly around town, especially at night. I feel like the simple task of driving distracts my mind enough that I can daydream freely. Maybe that sounds really irresponsible and dangerous. Do you have any favorite spots that you go during your visits? Always curious to see where people go in this city.
JH: I haven’t been to LA that much but I like being out in nature so I really enjoyed the trails around the Griffith Observatory. Actually, the observatory itself is a cool thinking spot. I’m sure you’ve seen it but that pendulum thing, when you first walk inside, blew my mind. It swings back and forth and it appears like it’s slowly rotating, and slowly knocking down these markers. But it’s actually stationary, and what you’re really seeing is the Earth rotating around it. I get so many ideas from things like that. I also hiked around Palos Verdes last time I was there.
HM: Oh yeah man. I love the Observatory. I remember the pendulum blew my mind when I went there for a field trip. I’ve been on a bit of a space kick recently after watching Cosmos.JH: I’ve always liked directors whose work is really different from one film to the next. Danny Boyle for instance, is probably most known for Slumdog and Trainspotting, but he also did that great kid’s movie Millions, and of course the sci-fi film Sunshine. Your resume sort of reads the same way: St. Vincent, David Guetta, Earl Sweatshirt, Queens of the Stone Age, Chet Faker, The Shins, Childish Gambino. How long do you have to do one thing well before people let you do whatever you want?
HM: I think a lot of that comes from the variety in the types music that I do videos for – and maybe my videos are more song-reliant than other directors’. I always feel like I’m putting visuals in support of the song, and not the other way around. Like I’m reverse scoring it or something. I think I’ve also been lucky with the artists I work with. Most of the people I’ve worked with in the past few years have been really trusting, so I haven’t really felt a lot of creative constraints. Nothing’s worse than having someone second guess your instincts before you get to see if it works for yourself.
Childish Gambino – “Sweatpants” directed by Hiro Murai
JH: I’ve always wanted to make a feature length rap action film in the style of Prince Paul’s “A Prince Among Thieves” video. I guess Belly was already essentially a really long Nas and DMX music video but I want it to be more like a musical. Anyways, I just saw the trailer for Tokyo Tribe directed by Shion Sono, and I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this dream. I feel like if anyone is going to do it right, it will be you.
HM: DUDE, I’ve never seen this Prince Paul video before. How did I miss this? That’s incredible. That movie looks insane too. I always really liked how Daniel Wolfe’s Plan B videos played out. They’re really gritty and cinematic, but peppered with fun theatrical elements like choreography.
JH: Yeah I love Daniel Wolfe’s videos, I posted up all those Plan B videos. Was there a specific music video or film that made you want to make them yourself?
HM: I was always really into drawing growing up, so I feel like my initial interest in films came from animated films like Disney or Miyazaki movies. When I started making short films in high school I was also obsessed with the Coen brothers and Takeshi Kitano movies.
Chet Faker – “Gold” directed by Hiro Murai
JH: Is there someone you wanna shoutout right now, a director making cool work that more people need to know about?
HM: I’m not as up on new videos, directors, as I’d like to be, but my buddy Isaac Ravishankara just showed me the short film “Tangerine” by Dimitri Basil, that kind of blew my mind. I think the link was from Booooooom, actually. His Riptide video is great too.
JH: Yeah, his style is great. His video for Wunder Wunder (which I only just saw) is his best so far I think. It reminds me a lot of Alex Prager’s photos, but really funny, and it shows he can do more than just throw random elements in all over the place.
HM: Yeah! I thought Alex Prager too. Pretty fresh voice.
JH: What’s next for you?
HM: I’m taking a break for a little bit, but I’m looking for longer form projects at the moment. Hoping to do a few short films soon too. I’m saying that out loud now so I have to follow through with it.
JH: I do the same thing! I often tell people my favourite idea just so I have to actually work on it or be okay with someone else doing it before me.
JH: Okay, I guess this is my final question. What has making all these films and videos in the last few years taught you about yourself?
HM: I feel like most of what I’ve learned about myself in my adult life has come from making and releasing stuff. When I was a kid all I did was daydream and draw, and that was always a very personal activity, but now those daydreams get to materialize through collaborations with the crew and elicit responses from viewers online. It’s bizarre but really interesting and rewarding. You learn a lot about yourself, positive and negative. (Sorry this is such a vague answer.)
Interview by Jeff Hamada
Photos by Joyce Kim