Interview with ANTH II filmmaker Adam Gray

In last year’s ANTH I, Adam interpreted Hart Crane’s poem “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” through the use of archival footage. This year, for ANTHOLOGY II, he’s taking on the enigmatic challenge of Emily Dickinson’s “My life closed twice before its close…” We interrupted Adam’s editing to ask him a few questions. Scroll down to see his Crane piece and to read his interview–and join us at 8 PM at the Creative Alliance on Thursday, August 2nd (free admission!).

Adam’s film from last year, “The Space Between Her Eyes and Mine”:

||8: Who are you?

AG: Adam Gray is the name they gave to this baby person who saw things float through his eyes and found out that these sensations could be communicated through the medium of moving images.

||8: Where are you from originally (where were you born) and where do you live now?

AG: : I was born in the suburbs of D.C. and grew up in Mt. Airy, a small town with a lot of trees and big yards. I live in Baltimore now.

||8: How did you get started making films? What was your first piece?

AG: One of the first things I remember making was this video of a fly who was on its last legs on our kitchen windowsill. I just turned on the camera because I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t save it and I didn’t want to kill it, and I was curious how long it could go on. It feels really sadistic now. I don’t think I got any joy from watching its pain, but I was interested in documenting the narrative of its struggle. And the video is ridiculous because the fly is so small, it’s just a little speck on this screen of white paint and a dark window.

Of course, I don’t really remember what it looks like because it was about fifteen years ago and I don’t have a camera that plays those kinds of tapes anymore. It was a HI-8, sort of like a mini-VHS. I also made some videos with friends at that time, absurd surrealist action-comedies that, luckily, also survive only in a such an archaic medium that no reasonable person could ever see them.

Eventually I studied film formally and was exposed to artists that pushed me more toward abstraction and looking at moving images as vehicles for non-representational thought. That was just one direction my work in college pushed me; it opened me up to the idea that film is many things, and that to pin it down to any single function or ideal is to limit both one’s appreciation of it and the potential one sees in it.

||8: What are some of your influences? Alternatively–who are a few other people working right now, not limited to film, whose work you’re interested in?

AG: What influences me is just as much the sense of life I get from something as it is what is happening formally. Work in which I sense empathy and a sense of humor and an acceptance of strife with something beyond it- transendence I guess, or at least the recogntion and joyful acceptance that there is something beyond anything we can communicate with the senses or the intellect, beyond that which we can see or hear or read.

I’m really into this writer Diane Williams right now. She creates these elaborate worlds with very few words. It’s like listening to a thought develop and then listening to the space around it, in all that room that ambiguity plays in. But there’s also something very precise in how she chooses to play words and images off of each other to create that tension between meaning and ambiguity, which I think is what is inspiring about it, that this and this create a certain feeling, or convey a certain story or image or scene, but how we got there and what it might mean are not precisely defined.

||8: Describe the concept for your forthcoming ANTHOLOGY II piece, based on Emily Dickinson’s “My life closed twice before its close…” What will the film look like–what’s the general idea?

AG: The concept for the Dickinson piece is this sort of abstract narrative of beauty briefly glimpsed in the form of textured bursts of autumnal-hued light, which pulsate and move to match the cadence of the poem as well as the drone of the music.

||8: Process. What kind of equipment/techniques are you using? What has the process of shooting and editing been like so far? Have there been any unexpected challenges, or any changes in your original idea since you started?

AG: I have a hard time describing technique, even more so when it’s currently happening.

Check out Adam’s new film this year on August 2nd, five Thursdays from today, at the Creative Alliance. We’ll post interviews with each of the returning filmmakers every Thursday between now and the screening.

ANTHOLOGY II, the second annual Parallel Octave short film compilation, will screen on Thursday, August 2nd at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. Free admission! Drinks at 7:30 PM, screening at 8:00 PM. And look! There’s a trailer!

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2 responses to “Interview with ANTH II filmmaker Adam Gray

  1. Pingback: Interviews with ANTHOLOGY II filmmakers | Auteur 101

  2. Pingback: In-class visitor: Adam Gray | Auteur 101

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