“I’m not asking you to call me / I’m not asking for much / Just want to hear the right words fall from your mouth.” - Lyrics by Heather Marie Ellison
Sean David Christensen
A fun, early morning [4:12 A.M.] cut-out to get the juices going!
100% handcrafted, each "Queer Sleepover Classic" VHS pendant necklace celebrates critical formations of queer identity nurtured by independent video stores in the late 80s & early 90s. Pieced together with craft wood and paint, I hope to add more pendants to this special series, now exclusively on-sale and on display at the boutique gallery A Love Bizarre in Los Angeles.
The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film & Media Festival screens work by students, professional anthropologists, and professional filmmakers at the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference. This year’s festival is hosted in the beautiful city of Vancouver, and I can’t wait to present my film alongside other works of visual ethnography at such a critical event. This year’s theme, “Changing Climates,” invites anthropologists and their collaborators to examine how we engage with communities around issues of change over time, including climate change, to envision and build a more equitable future.
For my sister’s birthday last month, I wasn’t able to afford tickets to Phloston Paradise for her and her husband David - but I was able to grease the palms of a few intergalactic customs agents to secure a MULTIPASS. It’s good for the next five years.
Recorded live at The Moth LA's GrandSLAM; The Regent Theater, January 28th, 2019.Read More
It is my profound honor to count Ghost Tape #10 among the incredible, award-winning films at the 2019 Athens International Film + Video Festival. Awarded a Special Jury Prize, the “Alden Award,” from a guest panel of renowned artists and filmmakers, I was moved by this unexpected surprise early this morning. One of my favorite destinations for humane and invigorating experimental and documentary works, AIF+VF continues to inspire me with their lovingly-crafted shorts blocks, as delicate as ever, this year…definitely not to be my last! Special thanks to Festival Director David Colagiovanni and 2019 Jury Members: Laura Harrison, Lynne Sachs, Chris Sullivan & Jodi Wille.
2019 Athens International Film + Video Festival - Award Winners
Documentary Short Award: Stone Engravings and the Three-Colored Chickenpox Tale by Vinícius Lopes & Luciana Mazeto (Brazil)
Narrative Short Award: De Terugkeer van Sooi Dingemans by Marc Bryssinck (Belgium)
Animated Short Award: Egg by Martina Scarpelli (France)
Experimental Short Award: Goodbye Fantasy by Amber Bemak & Nadia Granados (Mexico)
Black Bear Award (Best use of sound): Pain is Mine by Farshid Akhlaghi (Australia)
Film House Award (For visionary filmmaking): Shooting Crows by Christine Hürzeler (Switzerland)
Alden Award: Ghost Tape #10 by Sean David Christensen (USA)
Narrative Feature Award: We Are Thankful by Joshua Magor (South Africa)
Documentary Feature Award: A Thousand Girls Like Me by Sahra Mani (Afghanistan)
Special Jury Mentions:
Fest (Animation) by Nikita Diakur (Germany)
Elder Abuse (Experimental) by Drew Durepos (USA)
I Have Sinned a Rapturous Sin (Experimental) by Maryam Tafakory (Iran/United Kingdom)
Fauve (Narrative) by Jeremy Comte (Canada)
The Academy Award-qualifying Athens International Film + Video Festival awaits Ghost Tape #10 next month. I’m honored to be included in this year’s documentary program, alongside AIFVF’s 46-year legacy of finely curated shorts & features. Very special thanks to the faculty & instructors of the USC Center for Visual Anthropology MVA for their support - my film wouldn’t have been possible without their guidance and patience.
A long time (first time) fan of the show, it was an absolute delight and an honor to perform on the RISK! storytelling stage in Los Angeles last winter. A show whose impish premise is grounded in “true stories you never thought you’d dare to share,” my story came from an original idea I workshopped with The Moth GrandSLAM in October of 2018. The version on this RISK! show, “The Album Cover,” was expanded from that original performance, with thanks to Master Instructor Larry Rosen for his notes and guidance.
Whenever I’m on stage, I can’t help but lose myself in the story I’m crafting for the audience in real time. I hope it feels real and immediate for them. Sometimes, the emotions of whatever I was feeling in those moments within those stories, those past lives, will finally catch up with me behind the microphone. Sometimes they surprise me. The story above was a special performance for me, one that I’m thankful I’m able to share thanks to my friends at RISK!; LA producer Beowulf Jones and Executive Producer/Founder, Kevin Allison. Special thanks to the storytellers I shared this episode with, Mike Cho and Leland Carina. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. As always, thank you for taking the time to listen. It means more than I can ever express on my blog!
As I’ve stated before, birthdays are excellent motivators for artists to establish deadlines for themselves. Let’s say a friend’s birthday is coming up. Do you have a calendar? Do you want to make that day special? Plan ahead! This year, I’ve made a commitment to hand-make as many gifts as I can for those I love, rather than contribute to an avalanche of products, “stuff” and other retail ephemera. Boo! There’s a magic that happens when you transform raw materials with your own hands, knowing that whatever you’re breathing life into is going to find a home with just one special person. I see it as a communication, a special message that repeats each time they look at it or pick it up. Emotional/Memory replay, like a video?
Engineering this piece solely by eyeballing photos on Google Image Search was a unique challenge, as I didn’t have a VHS tape handy for physical reference. (Next time, I will!) The process began on paper, as I sketched out its rough dimensions and visualized it hanging from someone’s chest, once the chain would be added. I approached it as a three-dimensional cartoon, as I hand drew the sprockets and wrapped the inner gears with construction paper (VHS tape). This project has definitely awoken more ideas within me to create colorful representations of household items, as well as setting a high bar for Maggie’s next birthday. *wink* Love you and Vidiots Foundation!
My goal is peak-Sailor Moon.
Cola @ Coachella
Finished crafting these last night, additions for a miniature room I’m designing with my friend/musician Ricky Berger for her upcoming music video, “That’s Where I Belong.” Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes snapshots!
It was an honor to illustrate for the LA Phil as 2018 came to a symphonic close. Seeing my work animated (by Daniel Anderson) was a real treat, as my drawings transformed in imaginative ways along with Olivier Messiaen’s vibrant Turangalîla Symphony. I’ve gathered additional illustrations for this piece, as seen below, to give you a more complete appreciation for the evolution of the video:
December 21st, 2018: Arizona was especially cold this winter. As my family & I admired the illuminated cacti at the Phoenix Zoo, fond memories of this Christmas tradition added an extra glow to the similarly decorated mesquite trees that lined its walkways. Mountain lions, gila monsters, roadrunners, snakes and all manner of desert creature scurried to the surface in decorative form, amidst the chatter of sneakers and other slow moving families trying to keep warm. As I cradled my paper cup of hot chocolate in my hands, grateful for each sip, I saw a saguaro cactus strung with brightly colored bulbs next to a howling coyote. “I still need to glue on those needles,” I thought, picturing the half-finished art project which would become this year’s Christmas gift for my mother: a paper cactus.
Firmly believing that birthdays make the best deadlines for artists, holidays are an equally powerful motivator. Fueled by the giving spirit of the season, I began crafting this cactus (seen below) in LA, finishing it back home in Arizona after an inspirational trip to the Phoenix Zoo. Just as the resilient desert plant stores water for the dry seasons ahead, I treasure these trips back home to charge my emotional batteries for the droughts in my life, giving back to those who mean the most to me. This year, I chose to leave my mom with a cactus, a model of perseverance and stubbornness…two of her finest qualities. By making something from the heart, why not choose to leave a part of your spirit with someone you love, instead of something factory-assembled? A new tradition, perhaps?
Working as a graphic artist for the USC Thornton School of Music has given me the opportunity to help visualize some incredible stories about its students & faculty. One of my favorites from last year was “The Magnificent Seven,” about a group of seven legendary drummers brought together to honor the legacy of professor Leon "Ndugu" Chancler. Faced with the challenge of completing her friend and colleague’s remaining weeks of instruction after his untimely passing last February, Patrice Rushen, Chair of the Popular Music Program, “…called seven legendary drummers, asking each to fill in for one week. They all said yes.” Having grown up listening to Chancler’s work with artists such as Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Lionel Richie, it was a honor to express how much his impact on the music communities, both at USC and around the world, will be cherished and missed.
Story by Julie Riggott / Illustrated and Animated by Sean David Christensen / Music by Ricky Berger