News: Arts

Featured Dame Joan Sutherland Fund Recipient - James Stuart

Monday, December 4, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Who are you as an artist?
Coming from a music performance design and photography background James is interested in using the documentary format to explore otherwise untold stories in a way that marries aesthetic beauty and truthful story telling in a unique but balanced hybrid. James is interested in making films touching on the themes of the built environment, public infrastructure and urban sociology.


What prompted you to come to the US?
I've grown up between the United States and Australia. I attended the University of Technology of Sydney where I studied graphic design and photography. During my time there I always yearned to return to NYC. Rail Fan is a sort of indirect homage to the city as seen though its mass transit system and those who celebrate it. 

What did your course/project involve?
Following a group of young inner city adolsescents as they explore their passion for the city's subway system. My challenge was to cover how the subway serves as a forum for their subculture and a home away from home. 

What were the highlights of your experience?
Looking back I am really grateful to have gotten to know the railfans and learn a little about my own passions and impulses. Their subculture isn't so different from others, whether it be sports fans or members of other subcultures, like the local NYC punk scene. Substitute studded leather for train-branded garments and enamel pins showing the subway roundels, swap music for trains. 

Where did you find inspiration?

I was really attracted to the story telling style of films like Streetwise 1984 and the local legend Darius McCollum and his own unique relationship with the MTA. 

What will you take away from this experience?

I've learnt about pretty much all aspects of the documentary making process. I'm a stronger producer, director, cinematographer and communicator for having made Rail Fan. I'm really happy, it was a rewarding process. 

What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?

Rail Fan

What are you currently working on?

I just released an album with NYC band HARAM. We're off to Europe tomorrow to tour in support of the new album. The tour ends at SStatic Shock London, 2017. One of Europe's best and biggest underground punk festivals. I also designed the packaging for the album which is a co-release with legendary labels Toxic State NYC and La Vida es Un Mus. The labels let me produce extra posters and lyric books which come with the record – the result is a really rich packaging experience which is already paying dividends. The Toxic State versions of the LP are all hand screen printed on lovely paper stock. They are beautiful! 

What is your vision for the future?

My next documentary project! Watch this space. 

What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?

I've learned to now be shy about seeking feedback on my work from peers. It's not so much my work but the result of many rounds of feedback with the generous people who have lent their time. Any project I've done that has turned out well was the result of these discussions. Work, show people your stuff and then re-work it, this works for me.

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