5 Questions With FAR OUT Curator John Warren
John Warren is a filmmaker and educator based in Nashville, TN. He earned his BFA from Emerson College and his MFA from California Institute of the Arts and currently teaches video and film courses at Vanderbilt University. He often utilizes a Bolex 16mm film camera as a method of letting the technical boundaries of the medium create, what he calls, "an organizing structure" and flow for his film-making process. See more of John's work with Wildwood productions at www.johnwarrenfilms.com
Jonathan Lisenby: Which 5 films/videos should everyone see before they die? Which 5 films/videos do you think your students need to see before they graduate?
John Warren: A few touchstones that have been inspirational to me—the psycho-trance cinema of Maya Deren, the hand-painted abstractions of Stan Brakhage, the flicker films of Paul Sharits, the optical wizardry of Pat O’Neill, and the psychedelic ethnographies of Ben Russell (who happens to have a film in Far Out).
JL: Is there a festival or institution that you feel FAR OUT takes inspiration from?
JW: In the beginning, we looked to Milwaukee Psych Fest and Austin’s Levitation for inspiration. This year, FAR OUT NASHVILLE has expanded beyond music and art to include a podcast and a film festival. Cinematically, we show work in the same underground spirit as Experiments in Cinema, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Other Cinema, or the defunct PDX Film Fest, just to name a few.
JL: What are you looking for the most when watching video and film submissions to FAR OUT FILM FEST?
JW: We are excited about films that present physical voyages, psychedelic journeys, or a phenomenological experience of the world. We look for films that offer new ways of paying attention, new ways of understand, and new ways of thinking and feeling.
JL: Does the idea of Nashville specifically interact with FAR OUT? Could FAR OUT happen in any city, similarly?
JW: Nashville will always be Music City, but it is also home to a thriving alternative art scene and a burgeoning film community. The cultural atmosphere of Nashville is unique enough for a psychedelic music and film festival to take root in a way that would not be possible in other cities. Third Man Records is a testament to the city’s creative evolution, and has previously presented marginalized cinema in the intimate Blue Room, which is also the venue for the FAR OUT FILM FEST.
JL: How do you approach collaboration with an artist of another media, like musicians, actors, or choreographers, for example? How do you approach limits of control?
JW: Collaboration is about finding the places where you overlap, then moving deeper into that territory. Film/video, music, acting, and choreography all have their own language. When collaborating, it’s like working together to invent a new language. Film/video is a time-based medium, so pacing is very important. Sometimes there are beautiful accidents, other times there are minor train-wrecks. Giving up complete creative control can be stressful, but sometimes much more rewarding than just moving around inside my own comfort zone.
FAR OUT FILM FEST happens at The Blue Room at Third Man in Nashville, 623 7th Ave. S., Thursday, May 10th 8-10pm. FAR OUT NASHVILLE music and art fest continues on Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, at Mercy Lounge and The High Watt. Visit https://www.faroutnashville.com for more info on admission and to purchase tickets.