Picture courtesy Patrick Green; illustration: Monique Jones
Writer/director Patrick Green is all about making films that puts its audience in the center of gut-punching artistic creation. Over the weekend, I asked him a couple of questions about his short film, TAG (which I’ve reviewed), and his upcoming film, For Your Consideration, which focuses on the creation of the Harvey Weinstein statue on Hollywood Boulevard called “Casting Couch.”
In the interview, Green touches on the artistic process, when art should push viewers’ buttons, and what got him into graffiti artists. Make sure to follow him on Twitter.
I read that you developed TAG after seeing a graffiti artist in your neighborhood. What about that inspired you to create the short film?
I wondered what type of person would risk everything for the sole purpose of expressing themselves. I thought back to when I told my Vietnamese mom that I wanted to be a filmmaker, which in many way was just as scary as being chased through the streets of LA by homies. 🙂
Graffiti artists are often viewed by the non-initiated as criminals or hoodlums. But to others, they’re viewed as revolutionary and part of the democratic artistic process. How do you view graffiti artists, and what resonance do you think they hold in our society?
Graffiti started in the urban ghetto to provide a voice for the voiceless. It’s always been a form of self-expression. An art form that has evolved over time, yet at its basic core is about messaging, letting people know “I am here”. I think that ethos fits in perfectly with the here and now. All of us, especially POC, women, etc — feel overlooked at certain situations in our life. So, if no one’s gonna listen you gotta make them see. That’s exactly how graffiti artists feel and I felt as an overlooked Asian American indie filmmaker, which is why I used it as the tag line to TAG.
For Your Consideration is also looking at art from its place as a counter-cultural, revolutionary act and as a way to comment on society at large. What comments do you think the Casting Couch statue is making with regard to the Me Too movement and similar movements in America?
What initially attracted me to Plastic Jesus and Ginger’s art that it makes you stop, think and perhaps even laugh (and then ask yourself why you’re laughing). That’s very hard to do in this love-hate political climate. Now, the big question is does it hurt or help the Me Too Movement and others? I can see both sides to it being “satire” or “piling on”, but as an art piece I think it was genius. The concept, timing, sculpting, etc.
What were some things you learned while filming For Your Consideration that you think viewers will also be fascinated to know?
Most of us can appreciate a beautiful piece of art, but we don’t see is the blood, sweat, and duct tape that goes into making it. I wanted to document that process — from the concept to the execution to the reaction. I found out that like every artistic endeavor it’s more about hard work than finding inspiration.
With art like Casting Couch and other works ala Banksy’s graffiti, there’s a danger of the message getting lost due to the spectacle (such as folks taking pictures with Casting Couch as a tourist attraction, people selling Bansky art for high prices despite Banksy’s anti-capitalist stance). When you were filming For Your Consideration, did you think Casting Couch was able to get its message across?
Like all good art, Casting Couch was meant to spark a conversation and the fire and ire it has drawn is still burning brightly. I think that’s great. We should discuss issues that are hard to talk about, no matter how ugly.
Do you think we need more artwork like Casting Couch in order to provide commentary on societal ills? How do you think society should support art that asks tough questions?
Sorry to get political, but I said, okay tweeted, that one of the positives of the Trump era would be the creation of great art. Artists are at their best when they have something to fight against and talk shit on. Anger and frustration inspires people to get off their ass and do something. In this Fake News era (both real and imagined) artists are playing an even bigger role in providing a voice for the voiceless. Unlike filmmakers and musicians, street artists can take their message almost instantaneously from the the art studio to their Instagram and/or streets. We interviewed Sabo, a right wing street artist, for the doc. He was bit hesitant and asked me what I thought of his art beforehand, “I told him that I may not agree with his views, but that every artist should have a right to express their opinions through their art form.”
Do you have any other upcoming projects after For Your Consideration?
I’m also in post-production on a new short film Mommy’s Little Monster that we shot in Big Bear, CA. I’m very excited. It’s a personal story with a strong social message wrapped in an elevated genre movie. The goal is to make Mommy’s Little Monster into a feature which I’ve already written the script for.