Ventura has been in the throes of an art boom the past few years. I have watched amusedly as a diverse group of people have been drawn to our little berg from far flung corners of the earth and served as cultural and intellectual fodder for a renaissance of sorts. Creative seedlings they all are, putting down root, bearing fruit that the town will benefit from.
No where has this been more obvious to me than in the recent Ventura Film Fest event where during a period of four days, film makers, artists and musicians mingled with a diverse cross section of the public to create an organic phenomenon that served to inspire and connect people.
The driving forces behind the festival are myriad, but when one needs to put a finger on the actual pulse, it was film maker and writer Lorenzo DeStefano whose vision for a festival that focused on interactive participation and community based cinema, fostered what proved to be a unique experience. Simply put, Lorenzo wanted everyone to come and stay four days. What would arise was intended to be a collaboration of sorts that would motivate both film makers and art enthusiasts of all types to migrate here every year to experience, create and encourage. Though I could only attend for two of the days, my own experience illustrates well what happens when the creative commune. The following is one of many stories that developed.
I had been in an entertaining discussion with Director, Writer and Producer Robert Young, whose fantastic career was being profiled at the festival, when I was reluctantly drawn away to shoot something. I was collecting some stills and video footage for the VFF. It was a difficult conversation to leave since Robert was being incredibly generous.
The thing with creatives, is that we like to listen, we enjoy communicating, we drink of each others energies and feed off our collective experiences in a manner which in derivative fashion, expands us as people and artists. There is an enthusiastic charge that pulses through a crowd like the one at the event. You simply step into the flow and it carries you along without much effort on your own part. Easy as a languid swim in tropical waters, the experience is simultaneously relaxing, and energizing. Once you step in.
I found myself with film maker William Farley, whose film Shadow and Light was to screen later in the day. He wanted a cup of coffee. I wanted to hear more in a conversation that had immediately hooked me: the communication of things spiritual via the medium of cinematography. As we strolled down Main St and into Starbucks we shared some of the fantastic things that we had experienced over the years in the course of our work, where when we simply listened, a project would draw us into another world and show us things, tell us tales, that we would never have expected at the onset.
As he sat down in the City Bus stop next to the Elks Lodge, coffee in hand, William expounded on metaphysical reality, quantum physics and the energy signature that is both our lives and the not so workaday process of listening and communicating the voices we hear via sound, imagery and creative intent. He recounted a few of his startling experiences in working with Native Peoples. I in turn shared a couple of mine, and for a period of time that seemed like minutes but was actually two hours, that bus stop became a heiau, a house on a reservation, a distant shore. We simply waved off the bus drivers piloting the lumbering beasts past.
The key thing that transported us into the time and reality warp of that bus stop was the re enforcement that yes there are others like us out there. People who peer into a world possibly not evident to all, and whose prescient wish is to share a little of it. Though at times the localized creative process may feel a little like carrying water to a desert, when one has a colleague, the task seems to become it’s own reward. I was so grateful to have been included.
Click on any of the gallery images for a larger view and a little back story on the subject.