VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Fedak, Andy

Andy Fedak
US videomaker


Interview:10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and educational background

I was not always an artist, or at least called myself one. I actually for a long time considered myself a feature length filmmaker and wrote screenplays for epic big budget films – which would never be made because they were incredibly strange and weird (unknowingly I was already a surrealist). My educational background reflected this in my undergraduate work at USC and NYU’s film schools.

I grew pessimistic of what was possible within the confines of Hollywood production. I moved towards a more solitary practice utilizing the same skill set, but angled more towards a conceptual short form approach. At this time, which was around the years of my graduate schooling, I studied at the University of California, Irvine’s studio art program. It was here that I was exposed to video art and other art forms outside the realm of film.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

It’s more or less a way to express myself and to change the world in some minor way. Just from a practical side, I consider the moving image incredibly saturated with possibility, and find it quite intoxicating to explore, especially with the computer through visual effects.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

Most of my work deals with perception, either my own, or someone else’s and how they or I see the world at a particular time or place. There is usually a latent feeling or zeitgeist I want to get at and I utilize the form (of visual effects) as a way to examine it. Topics such as Surreality, Utopias, and other alternative realities – either direct or just under the surface – have always grabbed my interest. I would also say that my work is political, as many times these realities brush up against whatever are the current hierarchical structures in place at a given time. Sometimes just pointing out this structure by giving it a form more representative to what it is actually doing is a very politically charged gesture.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

I respect the classic filmic method that I learned in film school. Even though I don’t particularly always do narrative work I find it quite useful as a starting point. Pitch, outline, screenplay, storyboards, etc. all help me prep ideas and see if they are working before going out in the world. I think it gives a good framework for an artist to play within and eventually smash as needed.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

I mimic the methods used by Hollywood visual effects houses, so I need some high end equipment to render at a descent clip. Thus I use a MacPro, along with a RAID drive to stream my work from (around 1 terabyte). I also try to stay current on the latest cameras as acquisition is very important to the final result in visual effects, thus cameras like the RED Epic and the Sony F3 are quite exciting to me. Other elements such as greenscreen, high end software such as Maya, Renderman and Nuke, all come into play as well.

6. The field of “art and moving images” (one may call it videoart or also differently) is is manifesting itself as an important position in contemporary art. Tell me more about your personal position and how you see the future of this field (your personal future and the future of “art and moving images”)

It is quite clear (to me at least), that contemporary film is so expensive that it’s very difficult to make creative work that takes chances within it. On closer examination though, with the cost of production moving away from the equipment side (cameras being cheaper, CPUs cheaper), towards talent – the production value of solitary artistic work has increased dramatically in the past 5 years.

I think it’s here that I see my work fitting into the overall trajectory of both cinema and video art, at a place where the production value is the same (or at least in the same ballpark) as the Hollywood blockbuster, but much more free to explore and bend into the shape that I wish. I can also use the languages of both cinema and video art to convey my ideas, and have audiences understand (at least some part of) the work I am doing if it is screened in film festival or gallery space.

7. How do you finance your films?

In general I finance my own work, or sometimes with help from a grant, the school I teach at, etc. However, one of the main reasons I became an artist working in visual effects was to find a way to make the images and worlds I could not create because of lack of funds. I learned this method so I could make my own sets, effects, props, even actors inside the computer. Of course there will always be the need to get more CPUs, better cameras, or getting to a specific location, but I do feel that it was a direct choice on my part in order to circumvent the funding process as much as possible in order to have more creative freedom in my practice.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

In general I work alone. However I’ve had people help me along the way on particular projects – actors, guides, talent, etc. But I would say the majority of the work is done on my own. I would enjoy working with others and have at some points in my career before getting into conceptual art, but as of right now I’ve not done so in quite a while. Through teaching I’ve come to enjoy the group dynamic of my student’s projects and would love to foster that in the future in my own practice.

One thing that I do find interesting in working alone is that visual effects compliments a studio practice. Similar to that of a sculptor or painter, as one is doing the majority of work on your own (in my case inside the computer), it is a place you can go and work each day – slowly building up over time, rather than like a filmmaker, waiting and preparing for the actual “work” to happen on set. The decompression of the work from a distinct scheduled moment of time into a longer period allows for a fostering of ideas that I think would be lost in the cauldron of intensity that is the film set.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

Contemporary Hollywood cinema – the work of the visual effects artists in the blockbuster films (not the films themselves). Writers such as Borges, Kafka and Cervantes. Early surrealist artists such as Breton and Duschamp. Filmmakers such as David Lynch, Cronenberg, etc.

Not having enough money. Frustrations with the status quo. Neuroplasticity. Anarchist theory, and the Spanish Civil War.

10. What are your plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

Continue to make work while living a normal life like everyone else. I would like to have a family and make art that is vital and useful. It’s a somewhat simple dream, but I think is quite difficult if you wish to retain your autonomy.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on CologneOFF or VideoChannel? Where?
List some links & resources