I love the artistry of the official poster celebrating the 2019 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the longest running all-documentary film festival in North America. Designed by Sonny Kay, his entrancing, layered work is just as compelling as this year’s program of curated non-fiction shorts and features.
Sean David Christensen
Growing up, every Friday was “Blockbuster Day.” It was a treat at the end of the school week’s rainbow, my mom would pick me up from my after-school program and we’d round Glendale Ave. towards 16th street, the last of the evening’s sun glinting across the dashboard. Our destination was the Blockbuster Video across from the Shogun Express and Rainbow Cleaners (the lone survivor in the complex, today), to take home a tape to illuminate the blue glow of my parent’s television set, melting my childhood worries. Admittedly, I don’t create that same type of time, now that I’m older. The ritual has changed. Perhaps it’s also due to the changing landscape of the places I find movies, which aren’t places at all. Streaming services have made the “trip to the video store” as convenient as clicking a button, across a list of choices with no horizon.
I don’t celebrate “Blockbuster Day” anymore, but I do miss the aisles of tapes that were as tall as redwoods when I was young, and the joy of getting lost and not minding that I was lost. I would turn over boxes in my hands, wondering if the glossy pictures on its covers were enough to reward my faith in handing them to my mom and asking, “Can we rent these?”
When my dear friend Maggie Mackay, Executive Director of Vidiots Foundation, shared the news that a Vidiots re-launch would be taking place in 2020, I was honored to design this piece of commemorative art. After shuttering their original space in 2017, Vidiots will be returning to Los Angeles with almost 10,000 square feet of educational and entertainment space, awakening my childhood memories of losing one’s self in the aisles. Maggie says it best: “A one-of-kind hub for film lovers, filmmakers, and everyone curious about cinema, Vidiots is dedicated to inspiring human interaction around film through preserving, growing, and providing access to its diverse DVD, BluRay, and rare VHS collection, showcasing the work of emerging and master artists, and producing unique film events and vital education programs.”
2020 can’t arrive soon enough.
As Maggie Dave continues to record its upcoming full-length album, Mean Like Monsters, concept art for the cover is beginning to take shape. Here’s a glimpse of what’s forming, from illustrator Kadie Cook.
Thrilled to announce that Ghost Tape #10 will make its West Coast premiere at the San Diego International Film Festival next month. I’m honored to share their screens with the 107 selected films in Gala, Spotlight, Narrative, Documentary, and Short Selections. My spirit is grateful to my crew in Vietnam and Los Angeles, and my instructors at the USC Center for Visual Anthropology.
“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
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!