MEMBER MONDAYS | Jonathan Denham
is an Austin, Texas based artist who, beyond working in many different eclectic mediums, enjoys the multiple levels of involvement that film enables. On this week's Member Mondays, we got a chance to catch up with him to see what new artistic projects he is spending his time at Austin Cinemaker Space working on!
So you are a filmmaker. Tell me a little about what roles you've filled on sets, and some of your past projects!
Jonathan Denham: YES! I made my first film on a Sony Handycam when I was in high school. After the first SAW movie came out, I was inspired to make a version similar in twisted craft. There were several gap years since then, but the passion never died. Upon re-entering the scene in 2017, I am grateful to have been welcomed by filmmakers in Austin, TX. The very first paid role I had was in the background with director Robert Rodriguez in Battle Angel: Alita. Then as a grip/stagecraft/extra in a music video, Lightingbug by Middlespoon. Recently I wore the gaffer hat in a UT student film titled Who Am I directed by Brett Waguespack, and a web series called Public Displays of Insanity directed by Chrintine Chen as a production assistant.
You obviously are very drawn to creative endeavors. What is it that pulled you into film as a medium?
JD: Music was the first medium that I become obsessed with. I would purchase a CD and lie down with my 3-sec shock resistant Walkman, allowing myself to become lost in the vibrational waves. I was able to choose a soundtrack to live out that day. Which led me to play in a hardcore metal band from the Midwest! Music is magical, and it gave rhythm to everything I did, especially drawing. I favored abstract, for there are no rules; it allows emotion to take the spotlight and for the brain to create an image as ethereal as feelings. In a way, all mediums that are capable of displaying this expression of myself temporarily satisfies that desire. It can be: cloudy head-space, freed by the hand with pen and paper; a joyful emotion that demands movement of the body through dance; a photograph that captures a brief moment in time; the banging of the drums to the beat of my chest.
Being a writer, musician, painter, and photographer can be incredibly lonely. For me, it is something that has been practiced and created in solitude as a means to connect with other people and celebrate life. Being on set of a film production can allow for multiple creative people to collaborate on a single vision. This aspect is the main driving force that has pulled my focus into filmmaking. One platform that brings all the mediums of joy into my life, and most importantly to be able to share this journey with others like me.
It's amazing to come from such a diverse background of creative mediums! I think there are a lot of people like you that do get that feeling of alienation in solo-projects. Do you think that working here at the Austin Cinemaker Space has helped with that or had an effect on your art or work?
JD: The Austin Cinemaker Space has lot to do with why I joined. It is an essential asset as an independent filmmaker. Since I started working here, I have been surrounded by a center that has a lot of other like minded individuals in the same world as me. That has inspired me to continue on this journey with great joy and enthusiasm. Environment is a vital role in productivity, and this place is buzzing!
Word on the street is that you are working on a new project! What should the world be on the lookout for? Give us the full self-ish plug!
JD: Indeed, I am producing and directing my first screenplay that I wrote. It is a short film titled 'Fear ME'. Abigale is hunted by her deepest fear, an inescapable force that she must face to overcome her feeling of depravity. The story was inspired from a dream that I had in relation to a mental block that has prevented me from pursuing a desire. This is an experimental film that includes a couple genres. I can not say more without giving it away! If you would like to see it, I will be posting information on my website upon its completion.
Your new project is a horror film. Are you a big fan of the genre? What films are you inspired by?
JD: I would categorize 'Fear ME' in more of a psychological thriller/love story. I'm not trying to make you cringe in this one. I enjoy watching certain types of horror films. Ones that can be turned into a challenge or a test on your psyche. Use it as mental challenge and think, "Suppose this happens to me...what would I do in this situation?" Placing myself as the target of the attacker and how I might be able to outsmart them. This is a battle of the wills, and I will not let you break my center! I recognize the fear inside of me that I have refused to confront, and face it head on! Using the medium to guide and direct your character, personified inside of the film. With this intention, you could say I'm a fan of the genre. Some noteworthy films in this category in no particular order are: Donnie Darko, Shrooms, The Ring, American Psycho, Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, Event Horizon, As Above So Below, Black Sheep (2006), Death Silence, Martyrs , Edward Scissorhands, Rubber, Silence of the Lambs, The Butterfly Effect, The Thing, V/H/S , Seven, and Hannibal to name a few.
Where do you plan to go next? With all these art forms sort of converging inside you, what is your ultimate goal for what's next with Jonathan? Basically what I'm asking is if you could do anything, what would it be?
JD: Next, I plan to continue working and making more films. The ultimate goal for Jonathan is to unlock his super power! If I could do anything, it would be to travel to the undiscovered parts of the universe, witnessing the formation of clusters never seen before by the human eye. Capture it at 24fps (with my multidimensional lens/camera set up) and place the footage on a storage device and return it to its original home to be distributed world wide.
INTERVIEW BY: Carrie Cates
Check out some of Jonathan's work HERE!
MEMBER MONDAYS is a weekly interview series highlighting current members & alumni of the Austin School of Film + Austin Cinemaker Space community! Each week, we’ll be featuring one of our incredibly eclectic community members and take a deep dive into their work. Gaining an insight into what makes them, them.