VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Napolitan, Gina

Gina Napolitan
US videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and educational background.
I’m a Boston-area transplant currently living in Los Angeles. I received a Bachelor’s degree in Film/Video from MassArt, and a Master’s degree in Experimental Animation from CalArts.

2. When, how and why started you filming?
I became interested in painting, photography, and sculpture at a very early age. I can’t remember a time I didn’t answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “I want to be an artist!”
I took my first film classes in college. Film is inherently interdisciplinary, and I quickly realized it was a way by which I could work in all the mediums I love at once.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?
I am fascinated with old things, whether a little-known historical event I stumble upon while reading a book or an unusual antique souvenir that I find in my travels. The notion of the past as a distant foreign land quietly but urgently inviting exploration is what inspires most of my filmmaking practice. My films often showcase the objects I find, organizing them into tableaux that suggest the lives of the people through whose hands they may have passed, and the details of a larger, forgotten history.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
For me, films happen organically and the way I work is very improvisational. The subject matter dictates style and technique.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I typically go back and forth between 16mm film shot on a Bolex, often processed by hand, and stop-motion animation shot on a DSLR and rendered out of programs such as Dragonframe and After Effects.

6. What are the chances of the digital video technologies for creating art using “moving images” generally, and for you personally?
Digital video definitely democratizes the entire filmmaking process by both its accessibility and low cost of production. An advantage and disadvantage of the medium, though, is the sheer volume of work people can produce—wonderful in the way it allows filmmakers the freedom to try whatever techniques they want without fear of wasting materials; frustrating in the way it means more footage to wade through.
I do worry, however, about the future of film, especially with major manufacturers such as Kodak and Fuji discontinuing so many of their stocks. In digital filmmaking, we don’t have the same physical connection to the images we capture. A good friend and mentor of mine recently noted that film prints allow us to hold little fragments of time right in our hands; we can put a film print against a light source and have individual fragments of time right there before us as an object. Where video gives me an exciting immediacy, film teaches me patience and forces me to consider images more carefully.
I love both film and video, and want to continue using both of these technologies for as long as I can.

7. How do you finance your films?
My films cost very little to make, so generally I can finance them myself. In the past, I’ve worked to receive small grants to help fund more technically challenging and ambitious projects.

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?

Before I moved to Los Angeles, I’d never done any collaborative work. I still enjoy working alone, but recently I’ve found fellow artists that I really work well with and who share a similar sense of process and aesthetics.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
My mother has been major influence on me, primarily through her enthusiasm for antiques. I’ve been lucky to have a number of amazing, generous teachers over the years, and each of them has helped me shape my practice in deeply meaningful ways.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
Keep making work until I go blind and my hands fall off.