By Champ Ensminger, Summer 2015 Emerging Artist Fellow06.30.15
When I left New York last year for my birthplace of Chiang Mai, Thailand, I thought I had stepped away from my career and artistic practice in film for a while to enjoy some time traveling the other side of the world. Through a few happy coincidences, I found that all roads somehow led me back to the Hudson, and more specifically, to the Jacob Burns Film Center.
Living and working in my home country made me realize a growing fact in the 21st century - that creativity and world travel are not mutually exclusive. While working as a volunteer and instructor at Documentary Arts Asia, a non-profit in Chiang Mai aimed at advancing visual literacy and photographic artists based in Asia, I was offered the opportunity to create a music video for some friends at a New York City-based record label. Thanks to a great network of creatives I met through Doc Arts, Pony Blues teams an international crew with a local cast to adapt a Thai ghost story to screen for an American Southern blues soundtrack. Check out NPR Music’s great write-up on Pony Blues here!
Our production coordinator and my good friend, Jay Santhiphap, is a longtime collaborator with Thai film director Apichatpong Weeresathakul, whose films were a major influence to the style of the music video. To my surprise, “P Joe” also happened to be a JBFC international artist in residence! I had the pleasure of meeting P Joe at an exhibition opening in Chiang Mai, just a few weeks before I arrived in Pleasantville. As a fanboy, I was of course incredibly happy to have exchanged words (in Thai and English) with one of my major influences. With respect to his busy schedule following the premiere at Cannes of his most recent film, Cemetery of Splendour, I eagerly await his critique of the music video sitting quietly on his Twitter feed.
Another happy coincidence while in Thailand came through meeting and working closely with Guy Reid, an alumni of JBFC’s International Artist Fellowship. His feature documentary PLANETARY has been a shining example of how to stay creative while traveling, but is still deeply rooted in the cinematic tradition. While touring with Guy in promotion of PLANETARY, I was introduced to the great staff at the JBFC and the creative potential of the Media Arts Lab. I couldn’t help but see parallels between the work I was doing in Thailand and the JBFC’s mission of empowering new generations with visual literacy and community.
I wish a hole could be dug through the earth from Pleasantville to Chiang Mai, two places which I’ve grown to love, and where the love of the moving image is shared by so many on opposite sides of the world. Until then, my goal as an Emerging Artist Fellow is to work with the staff, through my project and through their education programming, to affirm cinema as a universal language, spanning cultures and traditions and built on imaginations as big as the world itself.
To check out more of my work or contact me visit my website.
The Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellowship is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Westchester Community Foundation, a nonprofit community endowment for the benefit of Westchester County.
Applications are now being accepted for our Fall 2015 semester Fellowship. Apply today!