The Voice of Creativity
This week we are pleased to introduce a project that has been years in the making by our Director of Photography, Mike Rossi. The name - Facio - is Latin for create and through long form video interviews Mike has been able to elicit from artists: what it is that fuels their creativity.
I’m Jim Hummel and we are pleased to introduce a new project that has been years in the making by our Director of Photography, Mike Rossi. Its name - Facio - is the Latin word for create and through long form video interviews Mike has been able to elicit from artists: what it is that fuels their creativity.
On a Saturday morning in a Boston hotel room, Mike Rossi is preparing to sit down with Glenn Kotche. Kotche is the longtime drummer for the band Wilco, which will be playing that night at Boston’s iconic Orpheum Theatre, just a few blocks away.
For more than a hour, Rossi asks Kotche about his evolution as a musician, while videographer Brian Jennings captures it all. Rossi began his own career as a television videographer more than two decades ago, before leaving to start a portrait photography business; eventually he migrated back to video.
Kotche: ``There’s definitely a biological evolutionary element, you know, for so long rhythm - drumming - has been tied to dance, tied to a ceremonial aspect of early culture, that was a big part of it. You have feasts, whatever occasion, celebration, there was always dance, rhythm, drums. We’re so used to it, it’s a part of us.’’
Rossi: ``The whole project is about inspiration and thought.’’
What you see in Facio is much different from what most people expect when they tune in or go online to watch a television show.
Rossi: ``It’s not entertainment. It was never mean to be entertainment TV - I’ve done entertainment TV and that’s fine if that’s what you’re trying to do. That is not what I set out to do in this project at all. My goal in this show is to talk to a talent - we call them artists, and they are artists - talk to a talent and give them a platform where they’re unedited; where they look at me while I’m talking to them. And I ask them some pretty heavy questions, but they can respond, and their response goes from the beginning of that, to the end of that.’’
Among those Rossi has interviewed renowned glass artist John Simpson and blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker. One of his early interviews was Bobby Whitlock, who played with Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and other prominent musicians during a five-decade musical career. Rossi wanted to know more about Whitlock’s musical and life journey.
Rossi: ``I’d go online. I’d go on You Tube and you just couldn’t find anything deep. You wouldn’t find anything deep, it was all surface stuff. It was all shallow. And it wasn’t his fault, it was the questions he was being asked. And everybody wanted to know: What’s it like being with Eric Clapton? Nobody cared what it was like for him, who co-created Derek and The Dominoes; nobody cared about that. They wanted to know about star power and wanted to know the dirt.’’
Whitlock: ``Fresh picked is best. It’s just like an apple off a tree. Pull that right there, it doesn’t get any better than that. Pulling another apple off isn’t going to make that first one any better, not going to do it. Same as music, first time, first take. Second take will never be there. All you’re really doing is just spending money if you’re hiring studio and all of that. Engineers are like: `Let’s do another, let do another. We’ll save those. Don’t worry we can fix that.’ No, no, no. Want it right the first time.’’
And, Rossi said, there is nothing quite like what you see through the lens of a videocamera.
Rossi: ``There’s something magic about video because you hear the person, you hear them breathing you look in their eyes and they’re live. They’re talking to you. If you pick up a Rolling Stone Magazine and read an article about a talent, it may be great, it might be well written, but you do not hear that person, you do not see that person talking to you.
Take Josh Simpson. You may have seen his work, but few know the inspiration behind it.
Simpson: ``I think the struggle that I’ve gone through to teach myself everything, to teach myself how to build equipment, to teach myself how to weld metal together, to build furnaces, I even made my own blow pipes, and the fact that I did it absolutely from scratch and did it absolutely by myself, has added to….I hope it adds to the fact that what I’m doing is genuine.’’
Hummel: ``What was your sell to the artists that you wanted to interview. What convinced them: I want to sit down and do this’’
Rossi: ``Honesty. No questions what sold it. Initially when I would talk to somebody, before an interview, when I was setting an interview up, they wouldn’t believe what I was saying. They wouldn’t. They be like, what? You’re going to do a whole show on just me talking and you’re not going to edit it? That’s completely right. I’m editing the sound bites out and I’m putting the slates to get you to the next sound bite, but there’s no alteration of to what they’re saying. There’s something that happens in those interviews - and you’ve seen them - there’s something that even the artist feels it, they’re sitting back and I’ll often say- and it happened to Joe Louis Walker I’ll be like, ‘cause we talked about doing a half hour interview. We do the half hour interview and then I’ll say it’s going over, do you want to keep talking? Yeah, I want to keep talking. They definitely want to keep talking. Because they’re not typically asked these questions.’’
Walker: ``I mean this is cathartic for me. For me to bare my soul, you know, and I find when you do that, me or any other musician, you find that you’re connecting with…if you bring it up, bring it out, you’re connecting with a whole lot of people. And that’s art should be about - connecting.’’
Rossi: ``I want to be able to just look them in the eye and listen to what they’re saying. And work off what they’re telling me. In my head, while they’re talking. I’m tying that into my own experiences as an artist- and other experiences that I’ve felt by working with other artists.’’
Rossi says long after the artists are gone, he wants their window into the creative process to endure.
Rossi: ``We’re purely interested in creative technique and procedure and inspiration. That’s what we’re looking for, is something a viewer can see today, 10 years from now, 40 or 50 years from now. And have an emotional human connection to it. That’s how I look at this program: this is a tool for people who need it. Who are creating, want to create, are stumped. They might be in a blue period where they’re not doing anything and they’re just flat out, I’m not inspired. Watch these programs. and you’ll get inspired.’’
If you want to see Mike Rossi’s collection of interview simply go to FacioCreate.org