Samera Entertainment and Chloe's Chronicles catch up with successful Photographer, Film Producer, and Artist Graham “Grazzla” Jones on his passion to create art, his work in film, how he sees the world, and what’s next for him creatively.
Q: Graham! It is great to get to speak with you, can you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and how you discovered your passion for the arts? Was there a specific piece or instance that made you know it was something you wanted to pursue?
A: Thank you for your time today. It's great to speak with you as well! Sure, a little about myself, is I was born in Sydney, Australia in the late 70s. My love for the arts started very early in my life. Cinema, art, and music have always been a huge part of my life. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are from when my parents would take my brother and me into the city to the cinema. In those days it was quite an event. In particular, during the late 1970s, early 1980s I had the privilege of seeing all the Star Wars movies at the time of their original theater showings. That being said though, I would say the two films that really stuck out to me and made a lasting impact on me as an artist were Mike Hodges´s Flash Gordon with its colorful universe and kick-ass soundtrack featuring Queen, and John Landis´s An American Werewolf In London. That film showcased a whole new take on the Supernatural, Horror, and Comedy genre incorporating Special Effects that were so groundbreaking for the time. And yet, another incredible soundtrack! I recently watched them both again and for me, they both still hold up cinematic-ally just as well.
It wouldn't be until many years later though that I would realize that movies would be more than an interest for me but a passion. In 2011, like many Friday nights I went to my local cinema but that night I discovered the film Drive by Nicholas Winding Refn. That is the beautiful masterpiece that changed everything for me. It did exactly what a good film is supposed to do, it transported me into the cinematic world and it felt like it was made from another time. A road movie, Western, and Crime/Mystery all rolled into one! From that evening I decided I wanted to start making films.
Q: You started your work in film and photography from a very young age, you began editing skateboard videos at the age of 11, how did you get involved in that and how do you think those creative beginnings have influenced you as an artist today and your artistic interests?
A: It all came together very naturally for me in that regard, that creative visual arts side of me developed from the time I was about 8 or 9 and I picked up a skateboard like most of the boys in my neighborhood. It was a sort of a right of passage. But after a couple of months, I realized this was more than just a bonding experience to pass the time with my friends for me and my love for photography and filming videos grew more and more. Through this passion, I connected with other kids in my area who shared the same love for the board and before we knew it we had our own little skate crew. Back then the big thing in the skateboarding scene was skate videos. The two biggest of the time being Powell Peralta’s Bones Brigade and Santa Cruz’s videos.
After a few years one of my closest friends and brother of the skateboarder the “Board Benon'' decided we would borrow his dad's old handy cam and should start making our own skate videos as we were really starting to cultivate our talent, very DIY/home-video style. Our “equipment” was very primitive and a lot of the two of us video recording and then dubbing over a soundtrack from a mix of bands we loved. I still to this day own some of these old video cassettes.
I think these skate videos influenced my work by helping me learn and explore finding creative ways to shoot, and different camera tricks and angles. You can manipulate what is seen and how it is viewed through your lens and the lens of your audience.
Q: Graham, you are a very talented photographer with pieces such as “Outside Looking In, a Moment in Time” and “Towering Giants” as well as several others. How do you approach shooting and how would you classify your photography style? Is it more methodical or impromptu?
A: Thank you, I truly appreciate that! I would say my style of photography is just very much influenced by the way I see the world. Nothing is straight, so mostly everything is made up of angles. I have no formal photography training and am completely self-taught and taught by way of different experiences, so I could never give you the “perfectly composed sunset” but I can give you the world through the eyes in which I see it. I just try to show people the way I view things whether they are great, or small, or truthfully captured in that one moment. I do try to evoke and bring a slight nostalgia to my work. Stylistically, a lot of my work is Black and White.
Q: You have previously stated that two of your artistic inspirations include Eugene Atget and Man Ray, what is it about these men that inspire you creatively and how do you see their influence in your work?
A: Great question! For Eugene Atget, I think it is the way he shows beauty in buildings and his respect for the Old World that inspires me. He was always so determined to document all of the architecture and street scenes of Paris before their disappearance to modernization. There is such a beautiful Nostalgia to his work. His work truly takes you back to a Paris of a long time ago. While Man Ray on the other hand was all about making life playful. Both of these guys were pioneers of their time and brought to life masterpieces more than a century before we could just edit a digital picture with a computer program. True masters of their craft.
Q: What do you think it is that has fascinated you about capturing moments through photography and film? How are the approaches to that art form similar and how are they different?
I have always been quite a romantic and nostalgic at heart. We are all just a spec on this timeline and if we can leave behind a moment or a small piece of art whether it’s a single picture or a motion picture masterpiece to the generations to come, which hopefully inspire or move them. Then our lives mean something.
Q: Graham, as previously mentioned besides photography you are also very passionate about film and cinema as well, co-founding your own production company Angry Bee Films and Red Bee Productions in 2013 with fellow creative Fay Beck. What has the process of running your own production company been? What would you say has been the hardest challenge in doing so and what has been the biggest advantage?
A: Fay and I started Angry Bee and Red Bee Productions in 2013 when we made the short film Stroke The Black. Since then, Fay and I have collaborated on five short films and have three feature films In-Development. In 2018, Martina Avogadri, a long-time collaborator joined our production company. I think the hardest challenge comes from all of us having to agree on finding the budget and how we are going to take an idea and bring it to fruition. I think a lot of studios are very wary of getting involved with productions that are daring these days. They are looking more for their next “sure bet”. But part of being creative and impactful is to dare, and that is a task we challenge ourselves to do with our projects.
Q: Angry Bee Films’ short film The Breakup directed by Fay Beck has been very successful on the festival circuit, how did this concept for this film come about and what was your favorite scene to see come alive from script to scene?
A: To be honest, for The Breakup, I have to give all of the credit to the Director, Fay Beck, as well as the Writer, Producers, and Cast Martina, Lorenzo, and all of the Crew who brought it to life. This was quite a hard and personal film as this was somewhat of a goodbye to a relationship and chapter in life. They did an incredible job on this.
Q: You have worked as a Producer and Set Designer for several film projects with your company, how do you think your visual arts background and artistic eye blend into those sort of set positions?
A: I think as an independent filmmaker and co-owner of an Independent Film company, you have to be as they say a “Jack of all trades” as budgets are tight and money is hard to come by and you need to make the money stretch. All while still telling the story of the film as it needs to be told. I also believe working with a tight team and everyone having the same vision goes a long way. I have always been a very visual person and feel that perspective very much has helped to set the mood and tell the story for my projects. Sets play such an important part. They are not only the Directors' Canvas.
Q: And finally, what’s next for you as a person and creator, and what is next for Angry Bee Films?
Next thing coming up for me, as a person is I will be becoming a father. My wife and I are expecting our first child this month (March 2021). On a creative note, I am continuing to concentrate on my art. I recently exhibited my photography work for a small gallery in Madrid, Spain. As well as working on our companies films and TV series that are in Development. Hopefully, this year will prove to be a productive year!
I finally would also like to thank Sharry Flaherty and the wonderful team at Samera Entertainment for giving me the time today to discuss all things personal and creative.