VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Nichols, Toban

Toban Nichols
US videomaker


Interview : 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background

I’m originally from the Midwest of the United States; Kansas. I grew up on a farm. I left Kansas in my twenties to move to San Francisco to attend the graduate program at the San Francisco Art Institute.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I began my art career as a painter, but after moving to San Francisco I quickly fell into a creative block. While sympathetic my instructors informed me that if I wasn’t painting I wouldn’t be able to stay in the painting program. I started building spaceships out of odds and end in my studio. Then I decided I should animate the spaceships somehow.
I hatched an idea to make a used spaceship commercial, and that became my first film.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

Most of my films are about the manipulation or degradation of found footage. I’m also very interested in creating off kilter characters that could possibly only exist in the context of my films.

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

I’m inspired by what I find, found footage or image, and that becomes the starting off point for the idea.

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

I don’t like to use an outside monitor, it’s always proven to be distracting to me. I use Final Cut Pro almost entirely in the creation of my work, and for years I edited on a tiny laptop but have recently began using a large monitor editing bay.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general
and you personally?

I’m extremely interest in exploring new media and new ways of working. In just the last ten years video making has morphed into a solid form of art and I’m very excited about where that may lead in the future.

7. How do you finance your films?

I finance all my films myself. I’ve never felt that anyone would want to invest in my way of making films.

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?

I generally work by myself, but on larger projects I will enlist others for assistance. I have an upcoming collaboration with a San Francisco video artist, Skye Thorstensen and I’m looking forward to seeing how he and I work together. Generally I can coerce my husband, who has a background in film production, into helping me. On occasion I have hired actors and crew members as needed.

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

Failed technology, melodramatic actresses from the Forties, and bright, popping color that makes your eyes hurt are a few of the things that have had a lasting influence on my film making. Oh, and my on-going fascination with music.

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

Other than my up-coming collaboration with Skye Thortensen, I’m starting production on two new video works and finishing up a music video for a Nineties San Francisco folk-rock icon.

Other places my work can be seen online: