Needleman, Neil Ira

Neil Ira Needleman
US – videomaker

biography

Interview:10 questions

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

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, way back around the middle of the last century. I’ve lived in the New York City area all my life. As far as education is concerned, I was a psychology major in college, but I took more art history, cinema history, and music history classes than anything else. My interests haven’t changed in all these decades. I have two children and two grandchildren.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I discovered, at a very young age, that images (especially moving pictures) cast a spell on me. I was able to remember very detailed information about the movies I watched: camera angles, lighting, music, editing, etc. And I was fascinated by the way these movies made me feel. It was normal, therefore, for me to want to shoot my own film. I began by borrowing my uncle’s old 8mm movie camera. Needless to say, he never got it back!

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

My videos range from purely abstract works with intense, optically violent rhythms to sentimental narratives using my friends’ paintings as visual material. I also create a wide range of “family movies” based on old 8mm movies shot by others. My work is really all over the place, as you can see for yourself at www.vimeo.com/neilneedleman.

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

I create what interests me. I follow a path that is determined only by the needs of each specific project. I listen to my heartbeat and my inner voices. I try to find a sense of vision in my projects (and in myself).

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

My video equipment is all a decade old. I don’t use anything up-to-date or sophisticated. With very few exceptions, equipment isn’t important. Vision is the important thing.

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”)

I cannot speak about the future (or even the current state of) video art. I’m happy that video art is being accepted and appreciated in more and more venues. My personal future is simply stated: As long as I can create, as long as I have a desire to have a personal vision, I have a reason to live. This is what makes me feel fulfilled.

7. How do you finance your films?

My videos are very inexpensive to create. I don’t worry about budgets or financing. I don’t have the patience to wait for funding or the help of others.

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

Most of my work is a solo effort. It is my way of getting in touch with myself. But there are a few exceptions: I have created a series of narrative videos that use paintings by my friends as the visuals. I generally don’t have the patience to work with others or to depend on them. I no longer have an urge to work with a cast or production crew in my personal work.

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

My inspiration first and foremost comes from music: Beethoven, Brahms, Bechet, Terry Riley…
Visual inspiration comes from abstract painters (Clyfford Still is at the top of the list) and a few (diverse) filmmakers: Orson Welles, Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Hollis Frampton…

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

My plan is to keep creating. My dream is to have the energy and imagination to keep creating.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on CologneOFF or VideoChannel? Where?
List some links & resources:
www.vimeo.com/neilneedleman

However, there are videos that I’ve created that I don’t post for several reasons: Some don’t look good on a computer screen coming off the internet; Some contain footage that I don’t want to be made available to the general public; Some are intended for other types of viewing experiences/venues.

Thank you for this opportunity.