Internet Fame, Film, and Death.
I know you were producer, cinematographer, and editor of The Cost of Change. How do you feel in roles other than director?
I am sort of interested in being in a network or group of peers that’s all making stuff, and I’ve also kind of idolized that- a lot of great filmmakers like Godard and Francis Ford Coppola were in film circles where they have friends that are filmmakers and they’re all producing each other’s work, or they’re all competing with each other in some way. That stimulates you, and you create fresh, interesting things out of that.
Would you say you’re a workaholic?
Yeah. And in the periods of time when I’m not working or in pre-production, 23 hours and 7 days a week my mind is focused on film, and my role in film, and what I can do with film, and when I die. A lot of it is about mortality too. It’s like leaving things behind for when I’m not here.
Let’s talk a bit about your filmography and background. I know you started out at NYU. What was it like studying film there?
It was great and it wasn’t great at the same time. I think I have a natural instinct to be anti-authority. It would be frustrating when I would have a teacher telling me that I need to do something a specific way to achieve my goals.
I think a lot of times in your films the characters play themselves. Or it seems a little bit like an alter ego. You have models that play models, rappers that play rappers, socialites that play socialites. Do you feel a little bit like your job as a filmmaker is to be a documentarian?
I think that’s an aspect to it... [I am fascinated by] creating a world that is a combination of what I want to say, what I want to show- while also capturing what’s real and kind of mixing it into this sort of melting pot of real and fake, real and fake, until you don’t really know what’s real and what’s fake. My favorite documentaries have always been the ones about a person, or a figure, or an event that happened, where the filmmaker then sort of puts themselves in it and affects it, or changes it, or manipulates it in some way. But also the internet. Critiquing the internet is a huge part of my filmmaking.
Would you say that your films verge more on being critiques or celebrations of internet celebrity?
I think it has to do with a lot with that. It comes from ego in some way. It’s not like I’m doing this explicitly for the people I’m casting. It definitely has a lot to do with me [as a filmmaker].
What initially attracted you artistically to social media and the people that utilize it?
I was always fascinated with the internet, and I was always thinking the internet is sort of God. The internet is a lot more spiritual than people talk about or ever give credit... To think about what was created, and this sort of tool for access to information, people, communication– for access to anything. For access to creative expression... [And] it was definitely an interest and fascination for people that were fearless, especially for someone that grew up in a very strict household, and realizing that some of these other people also had strict upbringings and found solace in the internet.
Who do you make movies for?
I make it for myself, and for the future.
Let’s talk a bit about “The Cost of Change”. What was your experience working on the film?
With this project, we were sort of making it and figuring out the story as we went along. We had some ideas, we knew it was going to be about this drug that could alter your sexuality, we knew that it was gonna be about this guy that was confused in life, but we didn’t know 100% where it was going to end.
How do you feel about the subject matter of the film, and the question it poses?
I love it because the message is that there’s nothing wrong with you... It’s about realizing, no, that’s not right at all, and I might be more special because of that. Embrace who you are and fight for who you are.