Hello humans in Temple of Art land! This update is brought to by Temple of Art Co-Creator Olga Nunes:
Hi guys! Things have been super busy in our humble Good Bully offices, and I thought I’d share with you some news!
First off: this project has wildly surpassed our initial dreams of what the film possibly COULD be, back when we launched the Kickstarter and hadn’t even gotten funded yet.
How did the film get so wondrously grander than our initial ambitions, you ask?
It started with Barron.
Allan and I have been friends for ten years now— jesus, has it been that long? — and he would come visit me in my caboose in San Francisco about once a month, and between me writing toy piano songs and him taking photographs we’d drink tequila and generally riff on how to make our creative ideas better. Each visit we both left inspired and recharged.
On one of his jaunts to the city in August of 2013, he asked if I would mind assisting on a shoot for Barron Storey. “Of course!” I’d said.
I’d met Barron in 2010, at his birthday party at a bar during Wondercon, but we hadn’t chatted more than in passing — but I knew that I liked him.
We showed up at a design studio and met up with Barron and Ryan Graff (the man who would eventually be the graphic designer for the Temple of Art book.)
Allan took what is one of the most brilliant photographs of Barron in existence: Barron’s face awash with bliss, clutching his sketchbook with a love that appears both childlike and fierce.
And, let me rewind here for a moment, even further.
I would argue that the film as it stands today can be traced back, actually, to TWO people: Barron Storey, and David Mack.
Here’s an excerpt of an email that I wrote to Allan and David in December of 2011:
David Mack flew over to meet Allan, they did a few photoshoots, and they began to collaborate— sessions of casual creative brainstorms over coffee, or drinks, or late night soirees. How could they join forces? What magical art-havoc could they wreak on the world?
David began doodling on one of Allan’s portraits, and near-instantly, the Temple of Art book was born. It was settled. Allan would shoot David, and their collective artist friends, collaborating on portraits together.
Artists like Kent Williams and Jason Shawn Alexander, Stephanie Inagaki and Soey Milk, Christine Wu and Bill Sienkiewicz.
Artists like Barron Storey.
…So, on a cool day in August in San Francisco in 2013, I moved lights around while Allan shot photographs and we were both mesmerized by Barron telling us stories. No: by Barron *teaching* us. He talked about art techniques and the things that mesmerized him. He began to sing an old spiritual song, and I fumbled with my camera, just managing to take video.
(I also somehow managed to put a sticker over my iPhone’s microphone, sadly obscuring the sound. Bad Olga.)
Allan says it was that day when he decided he wanted to make a Temple of Art film— a film where artists could share the wisdom they’d collected over their travels through a creative life.
I completely agreed.
Allan launched the Kickstarter shortly thereafter, and I went to go crash at his place for a while, and ended up helping out a little on the Kickstarter— and then, helping out a lot. We spent ten and twelve hour days hovering over our collective machines, figuring out ways to get this film funded.
This small story, about artists talking about painting, and art, and perseverance.
We brainstormed. In the middle of the Kickstarter, on a road trip back to San Francisco, at around four in the morning, we decided to shoot a tiny short, a proof of concept of the film.
It would feature Barron.
We storyboarded it. Allan shot it. I edited. My art-comrade-in-arms Jason Seigler did the music.
And here’s where it all changed.
What if… this wasn’t a small story?
What if it was a big one?
What if we could interview artists of all kinds— not just painters, but writers and musicians and creative people of all stripes?
What if this could be a film that could be for not just other painters— not just other artists— but, as Barron so succinctly put it, all humanity?
It was a bigger story than the one the Kickstarter had set out to do.
We did it anyway.
Allan and I agreed we’d dive in and wrangle the beast of the film, as creative collaborators, as co-creators, as a team.
We interviewed Barron and David and Stephanie and Bill and Jason—
And we interviewed Kevin Smith. Chuck Palahnuik. Neil Gaiman. Amanda Palmer. Billy Bob Thornton.
We interviewed a guy *AT NASA.*
…why am I telling you this?
On August 20th, 2014, when Allan hit the GO button on this Kickstarter, we never imagined that it would become the vast and lofty documentary that we are working on today, a year and a half later.
That the intricate path of dominoes set in motion so long ago would lead us to the doorstep of this giant idea, one that was vaster than our collective imaginations at the time could contain.
But here we are. And we are so, so, so grateful to you that you’ve been willing to be patient with us on this journey as we sculpt this sprawling landscape of stories into a something that we will be proud and honored to share with you.
Something that we hope you will love as much as we do.
As it is, we’re currently working on the rough cut of the film, and we’re getting so, so tantalizingly close. We’ve shown it to a few trusted artist friends and the initial response has been really, really good. We’re bolstered by the fact that measured against the average documentary timeline– actually? We’re moving pretty fast. Especially considering that our average day-to-day operations involve a team a fraction of the size of a normal film crew.
In that vein, we’ve been experimenting with low-budget ways to make the film more visually arresting, and we asked David Mack if he wouldn’t mind illustrating a story from his childhood.
Here are the drawings of baby David and his little brother, and the house they grew up in:
And here’s an animation test using those drawings, of David Mack jumping off the roof of that house he grew up in:
(Yes, he really did do this. Spoiler alert: before David wanted to be an artist, he wanted to be a stuntman. True story.)
We’re planning on improving upon these animations with some color treatments, and have them throughout the film– little moments of imagination to illustrate some of the fantastic stories we get to share with you.
B-ROLL & A FEW LAST MINUTE INTERVIEWS
We’re also at the point in the process where we’re scheduling follow-up interviews and sending Allan off to shoot b-roll to fill gaps in the film. (Just in case you don’t know– though you probably do!– b-roll is supplemental footage in film to help better tell a story— things like film of David Mack painting or Barron Storey teaching a class.)
AND. Allan and I both managed to do a STUNNING interview last Friday with the charming-as-all-get-out Denys Cowan, who has been nominated for two Eisners for his work in comics.
We also are happy to announce that we also have a last minute addition to our roster of interviews: Gavin O’Connor, director of Warrior (and the forthcoming film The Accountant, featuring Ben Affleck.) We’re both crazy excited about this, particularly Allan, who managed to see a secret screening of The Accountant last year. Spoiler alert: it’s amazing.
Thank you again, for your messages and cheering us on as we get closer and closer to the finish line. We literally have hundreds of hours of footage at this point that we are editing down into something that I think is turning out to be pretty magical.
We couldn’t do this without you, and we can’t say thank you enough.
Temple of Art Co-Creator