Blog

Mud was my first love

Pueblo, CO, was built on ancient seabeds of clay and sandstone along the Arkansas River. Easy access to clay supports potters, masons and brickyards. High School provided an intro into ceramics for me, under the tutelage of Lyle Clift, who introduced me to salt-fired,...

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Landscape Painting

My first art teacher was my dad, who painted watercolors from the early 1960s to the '90s. Growing up, when one of us kids said we were bored, Dad would say, “paint me a picture.” I would sit down with him and paint, then complain that my painting was inferior to his....

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The Jewelry Business

With but one class in jewelry making under my belt, I began fabricating jewelry for Heather Laurie and her partner Phoenix Sun in 1990. After working for them for three years, I became a full-time designer and partner in the business, “Heather and Phoenix,” a...

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IN VIDEO

I was a part-time assistant director at Grassroots television in Aspen in 1990-91. We played over 80 hours of original programming per week, some of it live cast from our studio as well as remote broadcast events. It was just as digital was becoming a consumer medium....

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Screenwriting

Screenwriting

I wrote my first screenplay “Uncommon Bonds,” by candlelight, on a battery powered typewriter, while living in a 100 year old miner’s cabin and being a carpenter during the day. Upon completing my second feature length screenplay, “Coyote Paints the Town,” I submitted...

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Honoring the Ainu Ancestors

Ape Huchi Wacka Ush is an original song written and performed by Madi Sato. In it she honors her Ainu ancestors. Her performance, the setting, weather conditions and documentation all come together in this music video, which is the most recent OCC HD project. It has...

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Shrubconscious Basket Hut

The basket hut came as a result of my lifelong passion for shelter, beginning with studying adobe building construction after high school. The art of shelter developing more deeply when I was employed full-time in the construction trade for ten years, and also by my...

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Life Drawings

The Argos Gallery maintained by Eli Levin in Santa Fe, NM is the location where most of these drawings were produced. I attended the life drawing sessions twice weekly, for a number of years beginning in 2003. The management of that drawing group was impeccable. The...

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Graphics Lab Showroom

As each project spins off more and more possible outputs, there is no time to bring every new iteration to full fruition, so this gallery documents important watersheds of novel results, framed inside a moment in time in the studio, for potential further examination...

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Attempting Homages

For several years I occupied my studio time making homages of old masterpieces. Most of these were painted between 2003 and 07. This batch of paintings built my confidence. Reinventing a masterwork with modern materials is so much easier than inventing one from...

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“Two Methods”

“Two Methods”

•Feature Length Screenplay• Fresh out of the pen, Leo dives, nose-first, into a new deal in this dramatic feature length screenplay by Stryder Simms. Read the entire screenplay at this link.

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Blind Prejudices: A Preview of “Lore”

Blind Prejudices: A Preview of “Lore”

The U.S. is considered the evil perpetrator in the eyes of the Nazi children fleeing Allied occupation in Aussie director Cate Shortland’s latest film “Lore.” The script is adapted from Rachel Seiffert’s bestselling novel “The Dark Room.” In the aftermath of the this...

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Tales of Hoffman: A Preview of “Quartet”

Tales of Hoffman: A Preview of “Quartet”

The musical quartet was invented to exploit the fundamental registers of the human voice. Its meaning has morphed to denote any art form where variations can be tried on the theme of four. Four is a tidy number. Like voices in a music composition, an effective quartet...

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The Abysmal Gaze: A Preview of “Leviathan”

The Abysmal Gaze: A Preview of “Leviathan”

“Leviathan”, screening at the Santa Fe Film Festival this year, is a highly effective horror film made all the more so without a clear beginning, middle or end, because what we witness goes on in real life, day after day after day. With the preponderance of...

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Tough Love: A Review of “Monsieur Lazhar”

Tough Love: A Review of “Monsieur Lazhar”

Monsieur Lazhar,” Canada’s official entry for the 2011 Best Foreign Film Oscar, concerns an Algerian immigrant that finds work in Montreal standing in for an elementary school teacher who recently committed suicide. It sounds straightforward enough, but nothing is as...

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The Current State of Polish Cinema

The Current State of Polish Cinema

I had the pleasure of attending one of the 2011 Santa Fe Film Festival’s panel discussions Friday afternoon at Zane Bennett Gallery. Brent Kliewer, this year’s program director for the festival, hosted the conversation. The audience was made up of hungry local film...

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Spotlight on NM Filmmaker’s Shorts

Spotlight on NM Filmmaker’s Shorts

LOBSTERDirector/Screenplay: Jocelyn JansonsCategory: Comedy | 4 minutes A young couple must decide the fate of a lobster they’ve brought home for a special dinner. DELIADirected/Written by: Don GrayCategory: Drama | USA 2011 | 19 minutes When two broken people collide...

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Brent Kliewer to Select Films for SFFF

Brent Kliewer to Select Films for SFFF

It’s great news that the Santa Fe Film Festival has engaged Brent Kliewer as Director of Programming for this year’s Festival October 20-23. Brent loves the movies and knows more about them than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s the guiding force behind The Screen, Santa...

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Art In Film: A 2012 SFFF Panel Review

Art In Film: A 2012 SFFF Panel Review

No less than nine documentary filmmakers and artists offered their first-hand experiences to the audience for the “Art in Film” panel discussion and breakfast kicking off Saturday’s schedule for the 2012 Santa Fe Film Festival. Presenting a range from musicians to...

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The Gnat that Ate the World

One could not imagine until we lived it, how it felt to enter a town whose entire occupants lay prostrate before an invisible power. When Annabell Trainer and Miguel Vega arrived at the port of Manaus exactly three weeks after Fernando Lollo was expedited to the...

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The Shark Council

I’ll tell you exactly what happened. It was a lovely fall day, no fog, clear as glass. The Farallon Islands are twenty-seven miles out. You’d have thought you could swim to them. The Marin headlands, the lighthouse, the defunct windmills, they were all in view that...

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Homesick Blues

On the morning of the feast of St. Nicholas, the edges of Manhattan architecture first glimmered for me in the hard frost of early December. I was about to go ashore after seven miserable days at sea. These last seven days falling at the end of a hundred traveled from...

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Bailout

BAILOUT was awarded the “Best Picture” award at the Santa Fe Reporter 3 Minute Film Festival, which programmed 30 shorts from as far away as the United Kingdom and Latin America. It is an official selection at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival, and the New...

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John Barleycorn

"Ode d' Brew" with Brendan Wedner, Stephanie Nagler and Matt Sanford. Written and Directed by Stryder Simms for Open Channel Content, with music by Jake Sproul. Special thanks to David Aubrey at Lighteningwood in Santa Fe and Scott Roche at Coupe Studios in Boulder....

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Scorched Ladders

90 sec. trailer for the pilot of our current proposed episodic seriesThis month’s post was intended to analyze the movie “12” (2007) from the Russian Federation’s Nikita Mikhalkov. We will push that analysis forward another month so we can dedicate this month to our...

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The Chamisa Creatures are Coming

The Chamisa Creatures are Coming

The likeliest segue that I can summon for this occasion, is to introduce the larger than life fantasy figures that I have been sculpting for the past decade. These sculptures came about out of a need to get rid of some excess boughs. Every year, for fire safety, I trim the Chamisa bush back away from my […]

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Hammer Toes

Hammer Toes

Know why shoes became such a big deal to me? Me at ten years old cramming my feet into a certain pair of Buster Brown’s long after they were outgrown. I had eight brothers and sisters. The budget didn’t quite keep pace all the time.  In this photo, you can see my hammer toes. So […]

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Buy Local

Buy Local

The origins of my display work go back to school days when I was first immersed in theater and stagecraft. There I contemplated the possibilities of influencing mood and psychology through the combination of light, sound and visual design. Then, just out of school, I had a magazine route, where I trafficked in print advertisement […]

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Will Work for Shoes

Will Work for Shoes

  After nearly eight years of writing and posting monthly weblogs, featuring in-depth analysis of the greatest works of world cinema, as well as ten years of writing and directing a handful of original films and contributing time and skills to more than a dozen more, I’ve taken a sabbatical. You may have found us […]

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Searching for Mercy

It is not as simple as black and white, since we are all composed of some of both, to differing degrees, but justice alone does not wield the sharpest blade. If apathy is the dulling trait we each most need to self negate, mercy is most deserving edge to activate by all peoples, parties and states.

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Judging by what we are shown

Politicians and news reporting agencies are just another bunch of storytellers. Cinema makes us a better deal. It provides us the most factual history. Because it doesn’t rely on actual names or accounts to sharpen our sense of what is false and what is real.

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Lesson in Leadership

What is the value of community? How is it won? Who benefits most? This film is a primer in grassroots activism. If we focus on the film like a blueprint for organization, it could be used to help talented but underprivileged folk transcend their circumstances everywhere.

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Working Class Hero

The opening sequence in “Iron Island” takes place in the dark. A pair of hands lights a match and attempts to light a lamp. But it’s not so easy. The hands are obliged to light a candle first, then find a lamp with some fuel in it. We are watching the passing of flame from one source to another, each one more technical and sophisticated than the previous. It suggests that there are degrees of industrialization that correspond with stages of enlightenment. Multiple levels of evolutionary processes are on parade in this allegory.

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Big Wheels Keep on Turning

Pressure will build, exposing weakness until it reaches critical mass and crashes, causing corrections across the map. No thing is spared accept by luck, chance or happenstance. It is faced with just such a roll of the dice that Said seeks his one-way ticket to paradise.

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Seventh Richest Realm Blues

It’s capital, Caracas, as it is exposed in Sequestro Express,” will give many a viewer the impression of a modern gold rush town. Sequestro, better known in the United States as kidnapping, is a common crime in this region. Sequestro Express is kidnapping “light,” you might say. We’re given the impression from watching the movie, this month, that it could happen to almost anyone at any time.

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On Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Closer

I was not up to date on which countries in this world my country’s most pissed at, so I scooped up a few low hanging statistics. There are other ways to distinguish a snake from a hiss, but “enemies of America” is something anyone could search the Internet for a list and that’s what I did.

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Mystic Crystal Revelations

More than any other director than I can think of, Tarkovsky’s films could be strung together from first to last and represent a continuous fugue in which the artist’s grappled with the same challenge repeatedly and resolved some different aspect of it, each time, in some fascinating and inventive new way.

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Acrobatic Ideas

Tarkovsky would say the experience of the present is elusive, a slippery one where anything could yet develop. The past is certain, it is therefore more solid. Evidently even a sculptor in time seeks something substantial for his chisel.

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Unexplainable But True 

He tells her to throw away the book of translated poems she’s reading because “poetry, the whole of art in fact, is untranslatable.” This is Tarkovsky’s retort to the Soviet censors whose state he has fled in his quest for artistic freedom.

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Mise en Abyme

It sure seems like it would be a nice time for a poet to make love to the beautiful and intelligent admirer with some of the passion she’s just finished devouring in the pages of his poetry. He takes the book from her, shuts the door again and throws it across the room. It lands in the corner. What is wrong with this guy? I think I know. I can’t answer for his love life, but what’s a piece of art to an artist after it’s made? A former mistress.

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Malaise of the Future Past

I should clarify here that it doesn’t seem as though Tarkovsky was much influenced by his critics. His retorts were formal, not personal. They changed nothing of the way he experimented and searched. His films are sincere acts of faith, self-sacrifice even. There’s nothing petty about them. He’s not messing with anybody’s head but his own.

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Not a Pipe Dream

Tarkovsky may have known that “The Sacrifice” would be his last film, but it would be trite to say that he was putting himself up on screen as its tragic hero. Certainly the filmmaker would not deny a common bond with that man. Both are confronting the hour of their death.

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Edge of Tomorrow

In Tarkovsky’s cinematic language, which he calls sculpting in time, we race to outer space like we we’re surrendering to the pull of greater forces, as the leaf does, but partly also out of sheer exuberance, like the horse does in the opening sequence. But we do so out of fear, as well, like the child sprinting away from the horse in the same sequence. Whatever the motivation for this race, you can’t elude your emotional baggage, on earth or in outer space.

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Another Savoy Truffle?

If I had to describe it to someone in a single line I’d say Vol. 2 unspools like one-third act of contrition, another third true confession, shedding light in cracks on his persona, as well as a few embedded in the collective unconscious, and one third of the time jabbing at the eyes of his audience.

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Radical Rehab

The story I watched flat out warns us that violence breeds violence, as we watch Jo seesaw from being the punished to punisher in Volume 2. In the movie I watched, the protagonist finally learns to accept herself for what she is. That was not a predictable ending for me.

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“Contempt and Self-Hate”

If we in the audience were, up to this point, able to surf around the unseemly circumstances of the characters in the movie and cling to some shred of erotic stimulus from the earlier setups, both filmmakers rake them out of your fists, unequivocally in their Act III climax when human acts grossly defy common sense.

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Highjacking Intent

In direct contrast with mainstream internet adult content, we are shown the dark side of a disease and acquire compassion. The maker of this film is depending on our social corrective instincts to kick in, not to sexually gratify his audience with one more exposé of skin.

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Rearview Mirror

Screenplays chosen for wide release on the big screen are selected by the filmmakers for some reason, so lets’ examine why they gambled on an adaptation of Noah’s flood this time. The story of Noah reflects our current existential landscape. Noah’s spirit resides in every person alive today that assists in protecting nature and humanity from obliteration.

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Psychic Penetration

As a maker and watcher of motion pictures, it is customary for me to trespass undetected into the private lives of others. They’re only actors, pretending to be real, but my brain hardly notices. The camera leaves it up to me. Artificial access delivers genuine, gratification, I assure you. I lay down an average of ten or twenty bucks a week for it.

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Entre Noose

Every time his blind heroine comes to an emotional turning point, the filmmaker speed shifts into overdrive, covering the action with no less than 100 cameras at the same time. That’s what he claims, anyway. I find the prospect of looking with that many eyes is intriguing.

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A Gift to You

His multi-disciplined voyage of discovery, through art and architecture, philosophy and physics, poetry and music, intertwined throughout this series, present the viewer with an encyclopedia of masterworks, anecdotes, example upon example of the genius of every generation, for all to discover, appreciate and learn from.

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Host in the Machine

There is such a thing as mental pollution and that is what our children must be protected from at an early age. Adults are able to filter those toxins but not children. I was kept away from violently gruesome films until after my mid-teens. Maybe that’s why I can keep my peace. Perhaps others can’t because they were exposed too early.

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“The Merging of Man and Machine”

Why so many versions? Did the previous cuts ring too false or too true? Is a motion picture as mutable as a melody on which infinite variations can be tried? Or is everything in the man made universe going to be treated like an App, from now on, subjected to continual revision? This question becomes a theme in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982).

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“Nocturnal Emission”

If a major goal of democracy is to give everyone a gun, then a major goal of storytelling must be to prevent us from pulling the trigger. The preservation and protection of personal liberties could not be of greater importance in the minds of the great storytellers. The films in this series have that in common.

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Better Keep Your Wits About You

Luc Besson’s eleventh movie is an futuristic western adventure comedy with plenty of serious matters addressed. Korbin’s celestial hook-up begins in a cultural melting pot, divisively classed and pressed against the glass of heavy surveillance, suspended between aggressive, armed police and roving, ruthless gangs.

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The Machine in My Shadow

These “Prawn,” as they are known, walk on hind legs, like us, but are disgusting to look at and barbaric and kinky besides. Come be a spectator at Alien Relocation Chief Wikus Van de Merwe’s life while it turns to sheer nightmare. His one hope of deliverance comes by looking his enemy in the eye from inside.

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Before the Deluge

If machines were evil we’d have to condemn the movies as well. And if motion pictures, in the world of automated things, indeed prove to be among the greatest ones ever invented, then we may yet still learn to thrive in a world of machines.

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Building a Better Venus – Creating Beauty in Our Own Image

Beauty’s story should be interesting to anyone that feels trapped in a man’s world. This should be interesting to all genders when it addresses anxiety generated within our rigidly enforced hierarchy’s dominant sexual codes, and it should be interesting to all humanity in any way it might articulate our frustration when we are confronted with any of life’s polarizing dilemmas.

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A Modernist Inversion of a Traditional Theme

…this main character’s goal is not to idealize Venus so much as expose her as–as what? I am not sure. Is she a fraud, a groupie, a mere mortal, or a beast? Though it is obviously clear what has been exposed to all concerned in the story, the audience must decide for itself what the master has laid bare.

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Shamanism in Cinema

We surround our psyches with role models and heroes from stories we read, hear played on stage, watch inside our monitors, or up on the big screen because they expand territory for our hearts and souls to stretch out in.

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Cooking Up a Surprise

In his 1958 dark comedy, “The Magician” Ingmar Bergman makes comparisons between his experiences as a movie maker, and the adventures of an itinerant magic troupe from the 1840’s headed by Dr. Albert Emmanuel Vogler.  An interesting side note: from about the middle of the 19th century to the turn of the 20th, my family […]

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