Professional “9-5” by day, passionate creative by night; this is the superhero lifestyle of many artists, especially in the Bay Area.
In order to survive in the current economic grounds it’s vital to be able to find stable ground for many artists, but how can someone find the balance while maintaining inspiration, motivation, and passion? It’s difficult to not only hold onto creativity but continuing to foster and nurture it is a challenge many are facing. In a culture where the “hustle”, no matter main or side, has to always be your lifelong companion, it’s difficult to find the right balance of work and personal life, especially love. Taking pages from personal stories, inspiration, & the perfect mix of poetry, a group of creatives bring to life a seemingly simple story of love, in a wildly brilliant, colorful, and short way.
Taking us into the world of short film while navigating these same fields, arthur gallery, in all his lowercase finesse, brings to life the story of two creatives; two souls, finding, falling, and growing in love. Sharing an Oakland based love story in an experimental style, arthur melds together color theory, poetry, and emotion in a story full of symbolism within its 15 minute run time. Screening at The New Parkway Theater, arthur gallery stood looking around as the open seating of the theater known for its coziness became smaller and smaller as people pooled in to experience his story. With a calm expression at first, arthur held up the mic to address the crowd. Every seat full, and people standing against the wall to still fit in, everyone hushed to hear the beginning message. Stable expression giving way to humble gratitude and excitement, arthur began to introduce the crowd to the world of “Building Blocks” letting the purple pinks of the film lighting up the screen to tell us the rest of the story. Of course the film may not be entirely shared, but the trailer can provide the sneak peek to that very moment.
A panel discussion followed after, moderated by Kareema Thomas, head of marketing for the film. The panel consisted of indie artists and creatives with various backgrounds in production & creation:
arthur gallery – Writer & Director
Thomas Escudero – Cinematographer
Jaz Alexander – Male Lead “Diggy”
Bijon Hill – Female Lead “Faith”
The entire team doesn’t stop at the roles present in the panel. Production directors, set designers, costume designers, and more were all present to support the premiere of their indie project. Despite the title of an “indie film”, this was not the first project for any of the creatives. Experienced artists come together to not only celebrate local art, but to shine a light on pure talent, regardless of feature length film luxuries. Hard work, passion, and creativity all came together with this Oakland collaboration of multi-talented artists. Kareema and the panel led the audience through the story, concept, creation, and inspiration for the film. Each creative introduced another crew member, another anecdote, another explanation to all the nuances of the quick but relevant love story of Diggy and Faith. Diggy, played by Jaz Alexander, is an aspiring film director and Faith, played by Bijon Hill, is an aspiring poet. Brought together in a spellbinding (poetry reading) moment of Faith bringing to life the true theme of the film: Who is the reason you feel whole?
Questions presented by Kareema and from the audience brought to light a number of easter eggs present in the film, and allowed the crew to touch on the realities of making a film no matter what the length is. Thomas touched on the importance of time management for any artist out there looking to film, and how every shot is dependent on knowing how much time do you truly have for every detail. Location, lighting & crew needs are some of the factors impacted by time management and in a 12 month shoot every second mattered for the film. Jaz, as a first time actor, mentioned how having artistic restlessness makes him want to constantly jump around. As a photographer, writer, musician, & painter, Jaz is used to being the one that’s behind the camera or in control of the form but passed the gratitude along to the entire cast & crew.
Art really pulled something out of me that I didn’t even think I was capable of.
Art as in art or art as in arthur?
As a new medium that opened a new door for Jaz, despite the initial nervousness he embraced the craft and learned to let go. Letting go was the big learning point for many of the cast & crew, because collaborating together requires an artist to let go of their full control and trust. Bijon brought to light meeting arthur, receiving the script, and the moment she read her character’s name and the “spiritual connection”. As a spiritual and religiously connected individual, Bijon becoming Faith seemed to be like a made-to-be moment.
That’s why I don’t believe in coincidences, because God isn’t random
Taking the point of nothing being a coincidence, the audience began to question the journey of the writer, actors, and the symbolism of the film. Every nuance had a reason, and as art mentioned, allowed the panel to nerd out over the artistic details. Colors throughout the film, embodied the nature of each character. As purples, pinks, and pastel blues weaved through the film, the audience is left with a sense of deep emotion not understanding why a simple flower may be evoking a larger reaction. arthur explained the color theory he researched to touch on those points, to personalize what characters brought to the table. Thomas explained the nature of using certain types of shots, whether they be overhead or face on, took into consideration the relationships of each character. Closeness and comfort shown through different lens further deepened the poetry laced throughout the film. The technical details of what the crew had to go through to film one quick moving shot, the research of the production team, the dedication of cast and crew through unexpected obstacles, all brought the team together to truly become family. With an original soundtrack, every instrument and sound produced by Jerm 9V, captured and “merged emotions with sounds, lyrics, the absence of” all played into the audience’s immediate connection with the film. Trust, both in the process and in each other, not only holds together a team but allows inspiration to grow in many ways. Coincidences are truly not a thing when multiple artists learn to let go and bond over artistic perspectives of how to bring to life the beginning, middle, and future of an artist’s love story.
Audiences take in final products, completed, edited, perfected for consumption on all levels. Being able to dissect the nuances and tasks needed in actual production, shines a light on the resilience of indie filmmakers, artistic individuals, and the true heroes of the modern renaissance. Igniting inspiration and promoting creativity in the hearts of the audience, watch out for the creative minds, hands, faces, and voices of “Building Blocks”. The cast and crew show to the world their names and talent will go far beyond the embrace of Oakland, and the rest of the world should be ready with their arms open as well.[Photographs taken by Luis Arellanes, @arellanes.luis]