Inspired by a photograph of a man dressed in an Elmo suit in the subway, The Dalmatian is a short film exploring moments in a man's life as he attempts to make some money in a character suit.
This began as a simple 16mm camera test. Two rolls of 400ft Kodak film and a handful of locations. But then it become something more than that the more I thought about this photograph and how often we see people without considering their lives as actual human beings.
Featuring the incredibly talented Justin Chon and DP'd by Janssen Powers, The Dalmatian is a tone poem of sorts about exploring the inner life of someone we may pass on the street and give very little thought or consideration to. They're often just relegated to the background of our vacation experience or our walk to work. But there is always more to the story.
To say that I have a fascination with the subways is a dramatic understatement. I have an obsession. I only recently moved to New York and the subway system is still my favorite new part of my daily life. It's gross and annoying and benignly unreliable. But it's also a fertile area for the imagination and for human observation and interaction.
Recently, while commuting, I heard a man playing a beautiful cover of Damian Jurado's song, Ohio. It was amazing. I filmed a little snippet on my phone as I was getting on the train and posted it to my IG story. An hour later, I got a message from someone saying that that busker was her cousin. She connected us via email and suddenly, a few days later, I was having coffee with Jesse, hearing about what it's like to make your living playing music underground.
We decided to meet up a few weeks later while he was working. I brought a camera and a lens and over the course of an hour, shot a tonal experiment of sorts.
I'm currently working with Jesse to fictionalize some of the wildest stories he's experienced to create a hybrid doc/narrative project. Jesse is just too interesting not to make something more substantial.
Thanks to Contrast Films for the Alexa Mini + Kowa Anamorphics.
Robert Frank's The Americans is one of the most impactful pieces of work on my career. He got in a car and criss-crossed the United States in the 1950s with a couple of Leicas and created an absolutely stunning portrait of America. This wasn't the Leave it to Beaver image the country was hoping to portray. It was loose and lyrical, filled with the moments in between the big things. It's a celebration of the mundane, an elevation of the little things, all embued with a spiritual melancholy that only an artist with dreams for a better world can convey. In short, it's everything that I want my films to communicate.
I was commissioned to make a music video for a band and I decided pay homage to Robert Frank. I grabbed a few friends and a camera and we drove from Los Angeles out into Yosemite and then into the Bay Area. We stopped were we felt led. Met strangers and invited ourselves into their lives for an hour or so. Every interaction was unplanned. Every location by happenstance. And yet, it was a profoundly moving experience - much larger than any little music video.
This experiment is really a tone poem about how I feel about our country right now. When I turn on the TV or read the news I hear nothing but snappy descriptors of uniform people groups: "Illegal Immigrants", "White Working Class", "Urban Poor", "Media Elite", etc. It just feels like noise.
But being out in the country itself, moving amongst each of these qualifier people groups a much broader, holistic picture emerges. We really are, One Nation.
This short experiment is also serving as a tonal reference for a doc series pitch for a show that explores some of these themes.
Please reach out for further materials, if interested.