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Director’s Spotlight - Zac Clark (OPN People's Choice Award Winner)

Movie Reviews

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Director’s Spotlight - Zac Clark (OPN People's Choice Award Winner)


Zac Clark’s short film Private Slum was the Open Projector Night 18 People's Choice Winner. We sat down with the filmmaker to learn more about his work, inspiration and future projects.

Who is Zac Clark? Give us a short bio.

Zac A. Clark is from the Southwest Side of Chicago, who envies the homestead his grandparents built on the outskirts of Kalamazoo, MI. He has worked with Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Pulitzer-prize nominated photojournalists, had his photography featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and has worked around the continent. He believes in telling true stories, within fiction or non-fiction. He has worked with Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Pulitzer-prize nominated photojournalists, had his photography featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and has worked around the continent. He believes in telling true stories, within fiction or non-fiction.

Who and what inspires Zac Clark?

Who: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nicolas Winding Refn, Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar Wai, Richard Linklater, Reed Morano, and Natasha Brier.

What: a synesthetic approach to music

Tell us about your music video Private Slum. What's the overall narrative?

Alfonso Cuaron mentioned in his recent Cannes master-class that each of his films are like an ex-wife. Yes, I read that in I'm going to steal the metaphor, but interpret a different meaning. There are four music videos I have directed and produced that are catharsis for relationships coming to an end in my life. Relationships with places and people. This film is about a relationship in reverse, two people covered and blinded at the beginning, bare at the end. It's a place that I wish our relationship had started at, rather than finished, gasping after struggle.

How did the project form?

Graham Parsons, the front man from the Kalamazoo based-band The Go Rounds whose music makes the foundation of the music video, had me taking photos for the band while they toured Mexico in summer of 2016. On a bus--which was really a tightly packed van--Graham suggested that we start another music video project for the band's new album, i promise i wont get hurt. (We had collaborated before on their song Lay With Love.) He had liked the idea of performance, and asked about exploring abstract dancing in this video, and from the back seat, Adam Danis, the band's drummer, creeped out yeah, and make sure its viscous. So I went from there.

What's your next project?  

Which one!? I just produced a tech-heavy music video project called Bones for the band Low Roar, which was a project created down in Mexico and directed by the cool Toño Trillo of Pause & Play. And Westra and I just completed a stoner nightmare music video, Into The Smoke, for the Austin metal band Destroyer of Light. The project I want everyone to check out is Small Town for Last Gasp Collective. We're premiering that project in Kalamazoo, June 23rd, at The Wellspring Theatre, before it hits the festival circuit. It's the last story I could tell in Kalamazoo, where I've created most of my films. (Links below!)

Can you talk about your creative process? Overall, explain to me from the point an idea is born to the finish product. What falls in between?

It almost always begins with music and sound and that causes images to start playing around in my head. I need to search out new songs and artists. A good dream journal will take me far, as well. I'll wake up every hour or so at night with visions free of self-doubt or criticism, jot them down on paper, and go back to sleep. Above all, I have to find a place of discomfort for myself. Filmmaking is problem solving.

Tell me about your first film related experience, what hit you and made you want to pursue the world of film?

Mufasa falling down the canyon wall into the stampede. I cried.

Honestly, all of my parents have been involved in performance and theatre. Film mimics theatre in many ways, but I believe it should an extension of performance.

I guess I am just their kid.

Can you provide advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Love your crew. Take care of them. Without them, you are nothing. Surround yourself with people who you believe are better filmmakers than yourself.

Any words about Open Projector Night?

I have shown my work at festivals since I was still a student at Kalamazoo College in 2013. Open Projector Night is the first to project it on a cinema screen, with accurate and vibrant color renditions, theater sound, plus we have moved beyond any skipping DVDs! I've never had the chance to see my work presented so honestly, as intended.

If you were granted a large budget and could make your dream film what would it be?

Ever seen "Jodorowsky's Dune"? Yeah. Something like that.

See more of Zac Clark’s work (and future projects) at the links below.

1. Bones by Low Roar,

2. Into the Smoke by Destroyer of Light,

3. Small Town Premiere,

Want more of Zac Clark? You can find more of his work at: