Peña, William

William Peña
Colombian videomaker

biography

Interview: 10 questions

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

My education was very standard. First, I studied in a typical humble south american neighbourhood primary school without any artistic speciality. We had the usual classes: mathematics, science, history, geography… there was an artistic class: “craftworks, and drawing”. I was one the coolest guys in that class, because I made very good drawings, and later I was one of the main drawers in other classes, such as science or history. I had to draw on the board the subject of the class, for example, the inner body organs (for science), or a Simón Bolívar portrait (for history class). I had one problem: my line was kind of soft, and the tough guy (another kid like me) had a more decided line style. He was the favourite one of the girls.

Apart from drawing, we had another important issue: the language class. Our teachers considered we, eight years old kids, could read any kind of literature, and we read very powerful books. The one I remember the most: “Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada” by García Márquez. My imagination grabbed the killing of Santiago Nassar and those images, hasn’t changed since then.

Later in the secondary school, i had a lot of fun doing caricatures of the other students (I had some good enemies, they hated me) and of the teachers; these ones never complained.

This drawing skill made me think the better decision was studying Graphic Design at one of the most important universities in Bogotá. The economical crisis in Colombia (the 90’s) Made difficult those studies, but everything went well, even though i wasn’t a good student. The comic class, the animation class, the illustration class, and later working in an advertising agency, helped me to find the path of video.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I worked in an advertising agency called “Morphos” (the 90’s) and the boss was a very interesting guy, an artist with a lot of imagination who gave us, workers, artists, the necessary freedom we needed to know what we wanted to do. We made animation, photography, and thanks to my dedication and patience, I conceived and directed the TV presentation of the only public broadcast channel Colombia had, Señal Colombia. It was a series of morphing between traditional and modern characters of my country.

My debts (i had to pay a loan to the university) forced me to abandon this agency and find a job as a graphic designer in a big factory, the creativity path ended in my country. Later, in Spain, i was very lucky to meet actors and technicians (all of us amateurs) and then decided to make my first short “simulacro” (2003). The script was written in Colombia, three years before.

3. What kind of subjects your films have?

My main subjects are Human spirit and Nature. Even though we think Human Spirit is something superior, for me it’s totally integrated with Nature, it is part of Nature with the rest of life. In my opinion, there’s no difference between us and the rest of life. We are a coincidence and a blessing at the same time, like Nature.

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

I work editing and filming as if it was a painting. The images I capture are the material, and the Final Cut Pro program is the canvas where I put those images, colours, textures… i think every shot in the canvas is part of a composition that leaves an impression in our minds.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use

My videocamera: Canon HV20
Mic: Rode Videomic
Computer: Mac Mini, good old 2005 model
Editing Software: Apple Final Cut Pro
Colour Application: Adobe Photoshop
Sound editing: Soundtrack pro

6. The field of “art and moving images” (one may call it videoart or also differently) is 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 think videoart is as open as other arts to be expanded without limits. The limits of videoart depend on how many people make videoart. If people feel free of trends then videoart is infinite.

There is, in my opinion, some advantage of videoart, being a non traditional art form: there are no academies, few theorists, internet delivery, this freedom is important because we can survive out of the traditional circuits of art, full of burocracy, full of people thinking the traditional way, and this alternative path full of people with thousands of points of view, can grow an idea more efficiently.

7. How do you finance your films?

I try not financing my films at all. I mean, I use the available resources, because i don’t have money, I only have my camera and that’s it. I try to invent stories where there’s no need of budget. And, independently of any budget, what really matters is how you tell your story, using imagination and talent.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

A priori, i prefer working alone. I have control of everything, shooting whatever I want, I edit without pressure, that’s more like a painter work.

A posteriori, when I work with a team, I’m always amazed about how many brilliant ideas and approaches to the same subject other people have and suddenly, the original idea of one person becomes something really cool, working in every aspect, when the work is finished. Working with the right crew is a big Key in every activity.

Both options are OK for me, and one idea can be done in both ways…

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

Akira kurosawa. I love his way of shooting images, his way of using the camera.

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

My next movement: videoart and documentary together, and strive for showing that new work in major documentary festivals. I want to make documentaries in a different way than usual, using more poetry.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on CologneOFF or VideoChannel? Where?

List some links & resources

www.vimeo.com/simulacro
http://simulacrofilms.blogspot.com/