Culturist: Grant Singer | Filmmaker

Culturist: Grant Singer | Filmmaker

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Photography by Ashley Sky Walker
By Ashley P. Williams

What’s your AMMO?
Damien Echols is a huge inspiration to me. After everything he’s been through, he’s still so incredibly positive, seeking truth through magick.

Tell us about your background. Are you from LA originally?
I’m from LA. I grew up here until I went to college in Vermont, and lived a few other places. Most of my life I’ve lived in either LA or New York. My background is in music. I wanted to be a composer, specifically film scoring. I grew up really into John Cage and Christian Marclay. It was only until I went to Paris to study at CCMIX (Iannis Xenakis’s studio) that I stopped. It became very academic and pretentious, whereas music to me is all about feeling and emotion.

How did you get started in film?
I always loved movies, but growing up in LA I was repelled by the industry. It wasn’t until I took a film history class my freshman year at Bennington when I realized I needed to make film. For me, it’s the sound, the images, the editing, every single beat. I wanted to create a world, have complete control over the entire cinematic experience, whereas making music for film you’re at the mercy of the images provided to you.

Are there common themes that prevail throughout your work?
I’m not sure. I know that I’m fascinated with very real, human themes, that aren’t black and white. I feel like as a person I’m constantly changing my opinions on things, constantly contradicting myself. I think it’s amazing. I’m not ashamed of it. I guess I try to embrace that. But the most important thing is to be honest, and daring. There’s a Kubrick quote where he talks about being both sincere and daring. That’s something I strive for. But the older I get the less I question my ideas and the more I just go with my unconscious. I don’t know how most people work, but for me, specifically, I try to actualize specific visions, and tones, and feelings, then a theme might arise afterward.

How do you select your subjects? Your casts?
It’s sort of like a love at first sight thing. I usually see someone, or meet someone, and I know it on the spot. I don’t care about previous acting experience or anything like that. One of the things I hate about Hollywood movies is how boring and bland most of the actors and actresses are.

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What pieces are you most proud of?
IRL because of how ambitious it was, and what we accomplished with a very small amount of resources. There were days we’d shoot 14 hours and then I’d leave set with Leigha Mason, who is an amazing artist and was my right hand on the film, and scout locations for the following day. And probably my Call From Paris video. Matt, Liza, and I were very close for a long time, we still are but they now live in New York. That video was the culmination of a really intimate friendship, a specific moment in all of our lives that we could never recreate. So it’s sort of nostalgic I guess.

Tell us a little bit about IRL.
IRL happened because Patrik Sandberg and I decided to make a film about New York, specifically the New York that we lived in, that was both visceral and dark and funny and alienating. We felt that there weren’t any films set in New York that depicted what it was truly like to live there as a young person.

Who would love to work with in the future?
Tons of people. Waka Flocka Flame. Willem Dafoe. Isabelle Rupert. Christopher Walken. Trent Reznor. I could go on and on…

The project with Sky Ferreira, how did that come about?
When we were starting to make IRL, Patrik was adamant that Sky play the lead. I hadn’t met her and didn’t know much about her. We met at Coachella and hit it off. We made the film together and became very close through that. The rest is history.

If you got to play 7 Minutes in Heaven with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
Stephen Hawking.

What’s next for Grant Singer?
I’m writing a feature film that I will hopefully get financing for. Patrik’s writing a film that I want to direct as well. More music videos. I now work with this really great production company Bunker so will be doing stuff with them.

For more from Grant Singer and IRL go to grantsinger.com.