VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Hambelton, Joe

Joe Hambleton
Canadian videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I grew up in Windsor, a small industrial City in Canada that borders Detroit. It is there that I
attended the University of Windsor for my B.F.A in visual arts. After that I moved to Toronto
and to get my M.F.A at York University. After graduating I decided to stay in Toronto and have
been working and teaching for the past seven years.

2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started to film in the first year of my undergrad. I took a videoart course because I didn’t
really know what it was about and was curious. Working with video felt a lot fresher to at the
time since I was kind of burnt out on painting and the time aspect of it opened up a lot of
conceptual possibilities for me.

3. What kinds of topics have your films?
I started with making a lot of work about the medium itself and how it plays with and
represents time and space. After that I started to make a lot of semi-autobiographical work.
Today I am doing a little of both, really just trying to experiment more with the narrative
possibilities of the medium.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
I usually start by focusing on what didn’t work with my previous video, then make a plan to
correct its mistakes. Usually when I am figuring this out, I start to delve into video or animation
techniques I am not very familiar with. The energy I get from researching and learning new
techniques has become a very important aspect of my process. After I get far enough with
developing my concept and technique, I usually start letting my influences start affecting the
work. I go through a lot of periods where I become obsessed with various narrative styles in
media such as film, television, videogames, music or literature. These styles usually help me
to further push the conceptual elements and to go beyond my original vision for the work.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I’ve been slowly acquiring as much video making tools as I can so that I can shoot any time,
any way when the moment is right. I use the tripod, dolly and steadicam to get most of my
shots. I mostly shoot with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. A camera I love because of its
simplicity and the latitude it affords me when colour correcting my footage. I also just recently
began using a GoPro for its portability and higher framerate options.

6. These days digital technology is dominating also video as a medium. In which way the
digital aspect is entering the creation of your videos, technologically and/or conceptually?

From start to finish, I work completely in digital. Honestly the decision to work this way comes
down to time and money. It’s just a much cheaper and faster way to work. When I am out
shooting I don’t really have to worry about wasting shots and the ability to look over my
footage on the spot becomes pretty essential when you have become accustomed to it.
Conceptually it has little impact on my work. When I first started working with video, I spent a
lot of time exploring the differences between it and film. Now its just something I don’t really
think about. Maybe the biggest impact digital has had on my work is on its visual style. As
video gets closer to matching the aesthetics of film, I’ve gone from making low-fi style integral
to my concept to letting my cinematic influences really take over and create atmosphere in my work.

7. How do you finance your films?
I’ve been fortunate to have most of my work financed through grants from the Canada Council
of Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

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?

When I am making art, I mostly work alone. I will shoot, edit, and make the soundtrack myself.
I find it really hard to allow anyone else control to affect the final work. Over the last couple of
years, to challenge myself I have spent a bit of time working in more traditional film. This has
forced me to learn how to work with a crew and actors. It’s only when you try something that
you start to really understand the advantages or disadvantages of it. Working with actors is
something I have really grown to love.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
Growing up in Windsor, I didn’t really have much access to art. Because of this, I think I tend
to be more influenced my other forms of media. Film has had the biggest impact on my work.
I hope that the influence of Stanley Kubrick, American New Wave and Science Fiction is
apparent in my work. The videogames I grew up with still affect the way I think narratively.
Game developers had little to work with back then and had to really experiment to push the
narrative potential of the medium. As I get older, literature has really started to influence me
structurally, with Samuel Beckett and William S. Burroughs having the greatest impact on me.

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

Hopefully I will get to travel more, show more work, meet some more like minds. Its a little too
easy for me to live in a bubble and not get to experience everything I should. I also want to try
to work more collaboratively, really force myself out of my comfort zone.