Sight, Sound, and Vision: A Q&A with Jeremy Rall

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I was an aspiring writer/television producer disguised as a graduate student. To make ends meet (or at least come in the vicinity of one another), I worked as receptionist at a high-end post production house, 525 Post Production.  It was at 525 where I had the blessed opportunity to witness masterful directors such as  Mark Romanek, Wayne Isham, Gore Verbinski and F. Gary Gray create some of the era’s most amazing music videos.

I also got a glimpse of a star or two. (Once, I saw the back of Madonna’s head as she was leaving the building. You can be jealous. I give you permission.)

And it was at 525 where I was fortunate to work with great people like Jeremy Rall, a Michigan native and an aspiring visual artist. Jeremy went on to become an award-winning music video director working with the likes of Ludacris, Snopp Dogg, Jay-Z, and most recently, R. Kelly (“When a Woman Loves”).

An accomplished photographer, Jeremy’s work has been displayed in galleries around the world as well as included in books and publications. His critically acclaimed short film, Keys of Life, received several awards including Best Short and Best Cinematography…Oh, and Jeremy produced a short documentary, Stories of Work and Survival: A Public + Artist Project in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles about activist/artist Suzanne Lacy.

Impressed? You should be. I know I am.

So, darlings what you done lately?  Looks like it’s time for us to get on OUR grind.

I was delighted when Jeremy agreed to a Q&A for The Ride to discuss his art and its inspiration.

And now, for your reading pleasure…

The Ride: It seems like back in the day, music video directing served as a kind of a film school for folks. Many music video directors, some that we saw pass through the halls of 525, have gone on to direct feature films – Mark Romanek and Gore Verbinski come to mind.  Is it the same for today’s crop of video directors?

Jeremy: I’m not sure to be honest.  There was a period in the mid 2000’s when music videos were still thriving and I know that directing videos became a finite goal for a lot of directors, rather than seeing videos as a path to feature films.

However, I do believe there are still directors using music videos as a training ground for feature films.  It still serves as a great way to develop technical skills, and experiment with ideas and creativity.

The Ride: Is a feature film in your future?

Jeremy: Yes, that’s the goal. I’ve been developing a feature film that I wrote entitled THE LEGEND OF NINA SIMONE. After hearing a legend about the lost recordings of Nina Simone, a young boy teams up with his friends on an adventure to find the treasure in hopes of saving his dying Grandfather.  Set in inner-city Detroit, it’s essentially about a kid dealing with legacy, identity and the loss of a loved one.  It’s a “coming of age” adventure – think of it as THE GOONIES meets THE 400 BLOWS.

The Ride: Your photographic work is stunning. How does your photography influence your video directing and filmmaking?

Jeremy: My photography influences my videos and filmmaking in creating a perspective, finding a single image to tell a story.  My photography informs my filmmaking and vice versa.

"Smoke Paris" (photo: Jeremy Rall)

The Ride: What is it about a scene that inspires you to capture it in a photograph?

Jeremy: The inspiration behind capturing an image is instinctual – a moment in time and space that for whatever reason, inspires me to capture that image.  It’s discovery of self in relationship to the world around me in a given moment.

Jeremy’s Favorite Things

Favorite museum?

My Favorite museum is the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. (MOCA, LA).  Their programming and exhibitions are exciting, challenging and fresh.  When I moved to Los Angeles, the first thing I did was become a MOCA member.  The museum has been a source of inspiration and significant outpost in my life. I was at MOCA when I got word that I was awarded my first music video and years later it is where I met my wife.

Favorite work of art?

That is a hard one to answer.  It would probably be a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Some of my favorite works are Gold Griot (1984) [oil and oil paint-stick on wood] and Flexible (1984) [oil and oil paint-stick on wood] both are bold, African influenced pieces painted on slatted wood.  Also Sugar Ray Robinson (1984) [acrylic, oil stick on canvas] for its powerful simplicity and Tuxedo (1983) [silkscreen on canvas] for its dynamic intricacies.

Favorite television show?

Food Porn – anything on Food Network.

Favorite film?

This is nearly an impossible question to answer.  I have several – Shoot The Piano Player – Francois Truffaut, 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick, Do The Right Thing – Spike Lee, Le Mépris – Jean Luc Godard, Fight Club – David Fincher.

Here is my top 10 list of 2010:

1.) I Am Love – Luca Guadagnino

2.) Social Network – David Fincher

3.) Inception – Christopher Nolan

4.) Black Swan – Darren Aronofsky

5.) The Kings Speech – Tom Hooper

6.) True Grit – Joel and Ethan Coen

7.) The Secret In Their Eyes – Juan José Campanella

8.) The Prophet – Jacques Audiar

9.) The Fighter – David O. Russell

10.) The American – Anton Corbjin

"Dapple" (photo: Jeremy Rall)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Never Let Me Go – Mark Romanek

The Town – Ben Affleck

Exit Through The Gift Shop – Banksy

127 Hours – Danny Boyle

The Ghost Writer – Roman Polanski

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Niels Arden Oplev

Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik

"Luna" (photo: Jeremy Rall)

The Ride: Where is your dream location?

Jeremy: My dream location would probably be the Mayan ruins Tikal in the northern region of Petén, Guatemala.  The location is lush and epic.

The Ride: What or who would like to shoot there?

Jeremy: A music video for Prince or Radiohead.

And Now a Piece of Randomness

How do you like your eggs?

Scrambled.

They Say It Comes in Threes

The Ride: What three qualities should any video director possess?

Jeremy: Vision – having the ability to see and cast a unique vision.  A director must be a good collaborator, which includes being a good listener and communicator.  Most important of all, director must possess passion.

The Ride: What three things do you always carry with you?

Jeremy: Journal/ Notebook, camera, ID.

The Ride: What three things are on your To Do list for 2011?

Jeremy: In addition to securing funding for my feature project…I know this may be bit mundane, but build bookshelves for my office/studio, learn the Family Gumbo recipe, and catalog all of my film negative.

Thank you Jeremy!

Check out Jeremy’s website, jeremyrall.com

"Shadow" (photo: Jeremy Rall)

 


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