Interview: 10 questions
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background.
I grew up moving frequently all over the United States. I studied art (focusing at first on painting, later on video) and Spanish translation at Brigham Young University, after which I worked as a legal interpreter in the courts. I attended the University of Illinois for an MFA in art (New Media emphasis).
2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started experimenting with video as a painting student at university. Video offered new and relevant opportunities for conceptual exploration that crossed cultural lines between the traditional worlds of visual art, film, technology, etc. Although I haven’t shown my first video works since they were first exhibited, when I look back at them I can still see my excitement at the wide open possibilities of working in this new (for me) medium.
3. What kinds of topics have your films?
There are a few themes that recur in my work. One is language and rhetoric, and the ways language, images, and sound are used for persuasion in advertising and politics. Another is the landscape and the relationship of my own body to the land.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
Because I wasn’t trained as a filmmaker I don’t follow a traditional process for making films. I have never started by writing a script or storyboarding, although I am considering it for an upcoming project. In general, the films start with an area of conceptual exploration and start experimenting with ways of examining it through video. I often shoot footage and do nothing with it for many months or even years until I figure out how to use it.
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
My work isn’t really very tied to the specific tools of its production, but I use Canon XF300 and Nikon D610 cameras. I got a grant for the XF300, otherwise I couldn’t have afforded it. I wish I had gotten something smaller and more flexible. My Zoom H4n audio recorder has been great, especially for a piece of equipment that costs so little. I use Premiere Pro and After Effects for most of my video editing, Audition and Logic Pro for sound.
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?
I have never known video as anything but digital, as I first learned to shoot and edit video around the year 2000. Working digitally permits me to work in a fluid, unplanned way. In editing I can try something and undo it as many times as I want. I can save a copy of project and work down one potential path and then go back and try it out a different way. It’s easy to underestimate how profoundly the ease of the tools and their relative affordability (compared to their price in the past) alters the possible working methods. It allows me to be much more exploratory (Hmmm…, I wonder if anything interesting could come from this.) and not worry about planning first, executing later.
7. How do you finance your films?
They’re really low-budget. I have been able to get grants to buy equipment, but most of the costs beyond that are pretty minimal.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
I have always worked individually in the past, but a few projects I’m working on for the future will require working with others. This will be a new challenge for me (finding the people, compensating them or making it worth their time, planning everybody’s work, etc.) but will open up new possibilities for my work.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
The directness and bluntness of 60s and 70s video art relating to performance (Bruce Nauman, Dan Graham, etc.). The sharp examination of the visual and rhetorical mechanisms used in advertising from artists like Christopher Williams. Other artists I really admire who work with video include Anri Sala, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Elizabeth Price.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I’m developing a project right now that will probably be the most related to conventional narrative film and will require lots of planning and other people’s help for execution. I’m excited for what that process will force me to learn. I’m also using 3D modeling to explore ways of taking apart the ideologies of modernist architecture and might turn some of that work into animations. I try to keep myself really flexible and open to new directions and I’m sure that new things will emerge in the coming years that I can’t foresee now.
Can works of yours viewed online besides on the CologneOFF platform? Where?
Yes, the best place to see my work is at http://www.collinbradford.org