VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Rohn, David

David Rohn
US videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

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

Grew up in a ‘bedroom community’ of New York City. Studiedart architecture in Paris and New York.
It’s worth mentioning that I used to go to the Paris Cinematheque, where student discounts made it easy to see the early film classics.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

After some exposure to video in the ‘70’s at NYU thru ‘Video Access’ in the ‘90’s I created a few projects with a lot of help from Miami Beach Cinema Alliance. Later, I learned some basic editing on my own and became more involved when it became possible to manipulate my own segments.
Documenting my own installation/performance work led to further video work as an end in itself.
The videos of Bruce Nauman and David Wrojanowiscz , the films of Fassbinder, Almodovar, and Chaplin have been the most unforgettable.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

Thinking as widely as possible, I think they re about alienation, pathos, personal expression, and the conflict between individual expression and social integration: of being oneself and ‘fitting in’.

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

I start off with some basic structural ideas; it could include specific lines, costumes, sets, a story line or sequence.. Shooting involves being open to options that seem to present themselves spontaneously, ideas from team members where applicable, events unintended or unforeseen events that may occur; using technology to facilitate visceral creative action is important to me. Editing is the second part of the equation: where ruthless discipline and carefulconsideration for coherence and brevity seem to be the most important things.

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

I have 2 consumer grade HD cameras, a remote mic and some lights. I edit with Mac I Movie 08, and Final Cut pro. I ve recently started using Mac Garage Band for some audio applications.

6. The field of “art and moving images” (one may call it videoart or also differently) 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”)

The short answer is that video exists in ‘High Art’ popular art, advertising, education, documentation of everything from a family vacation or wedding to journalistic and historic events.. You tube and Vimeo disseminate everything and anything equally. So even with the efforts of commercial interests to segregate aspects of the video universe,
the lines between the categories, the divisions of intention, of audience, blur. My own purpose is to create work that integrates personal and social content in a way that, whether it is palatable or not to a large audience., is at least widely legible. In spite of concerns about documenting performance work at first, video is a superb form for artistic creation: in this case blending personal and social concerns into an aesthetic whole.

7. How do you finance your films?

My primary financing strategy is to find ways to produce work with as little cost as possible.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?

I mostly work individually but like to work with a team. This is difficult without money.
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

Working individually is a rather personal procedure. It’s an interesting paradox to create in solitary for a virtual audience.
Working with a group, even as the director, is very different and very demanding: being receptive to spontaneous group dynamics and keeping focused on meeting specific goals can seem contradictory.
Ultimately the group dynamic is very liberating, even if the results aren‘t necessarily more evocative.

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

I think Chaplin really integrated a personal /individual quality with the social/ collective in a way that now looks timelessly accessible and poetically evocative. Genet stands out as a true original and a great artist. And David Lynch has also created an individual style that has taught me that film and video can exploit nuance and contain subtlety that mass audiences can respond to easily. The paintings of Giorgione, Poussin, Hopper and Bacon depict dramatic human movement in complex space that tell a story in a single frame that has also been important to me

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

Video and film have been used by the big commercial interests to a point where the world’s largest audience is probably more receptive to this form than to any other. So it’s a great opportunity for artists who want to advance a personal or more poetic message, to deliver to a greater audience.
The internet , mostly un-controlled up to now, is as big an advance as the printing press was in it’s time , for the dissemination of art and information.
So for all the flux we’re seeing, it’s a great time for art, knowledge and communication.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on CologneOFF or VideoChannel? Where?
List some links & resources :
Vimeo at:
( There are six or so videos, some with passwords. The titles of these serve as their passwords .)