Indie Artist / Filmmaker Calder Greenwood to Release His Short Films L.A. NINJA and HOLOGRAM COP on Limited Edition VHS! Exclusive Interview and Details on How to Grab the Slabs!
Calder Greenwood is on a mission. When he’s not copping cardboard from wherever he can to create interactive art installations or crazy-cool movie props, he’s endeavoring to be a one-man force not averse to enlisting help from whoever is willing, out to create the films he insists should exist. Calder has forged ahead with that distinct indie gusto, tossing aside those hard and fast rules of Hollywood and created his first two short films L.A. Ninja and Hologram Cop with the express intention of emulating that authentic video era essence. He wants you to feel as if these were films you would snatch off of a rental shelf in the 80s and he’s just about ready to bring that rewind-inclined artistic vision to full fruition by offering both shorts on fresh VHS, exclusively available by contacting him directly. Read on, my fellow Videovores, and get back to Calder’s vision of the action-packed past…
There he is! Calder up in the clouds! VOGUE.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your creative background? You’ve been referenced as “L.A.’s cardboard artist.” Can you elaborate a little on that title? I'd say first and foremost I'm a filmmaker. I love movies. I love watching them. I love making them. I went to school for film and being a director has always been my long term goal. I got into street art a few years ago as creating a public installation that people can see and interact with was a faster turnaround than making a movie. You can build it one week; the next week it's out on the street. For L.A. Ninja, even though it's only 3 or 4 minutes long, it's taken a year and a half to finish. It's a harder endeavor when it's a group effort; you need people to help you make it. Even if you do it all yourself (which I do) you need actors; you need someone to push the dolly you're sitting on. So the street art stuff would happen during down time. Cardboard is my preferred medium as it's free; people picked up on that. I make cardboard costumes and props for movies too. For no-budget projects it's a great medium. Hologram Cop has a few cardboard props in it – next to the punching bag on the wall are free weights; that's just painted cardboard. If you watch Harbinger Down on Netflix, I built the deck crane – that's just cardboard too. It's 12 feet tall and looks like metal though; it pivots and lowers and everything.
The official posters for HOLOGRAM COP and L.A. NINJA. We can dig it.
You’ve also made some short films with L.A. NINJA and HOLOGRAM COP. Can you tell us a little about those flicks, and what people can expect from them? The inspiration / influence behind their creation? Both films grew out of my frustration with trying to get a feature project funded in Hollywood. I've written a dozen scripts. I've gone into pitch meetings and knocked 'em dead, but I felt like I was constantly waiting for permission to make a movie. For these I said, “Fuck it. I'm just going to make them myself. The movies I want to see.” I basically threw all the filmmaking rules I learned over the years out the window, stuck with my gut, and had fun with it. The cool thing is the more I make, the better I get; I have more experience now in editing, shooting, FX, so I can pull off a pretty polished final look despite the fact that there's no crew. Totally the Robert Rodriguez school of filmmaking. Both are inspired by my favorite genre of movies, namely mid 80's action. I feel like there is no great ninja movie out there that isn't animated. The 80's American ones are too cheesy, and newer ones like Ninja Assassin are too dumb. L.A. Ninja is my ideal ninja movie – the ninjas are scary and dangerous; it's more Cronenbergian. But it's set in 1987 so we have some fun with it too. Hologram Cop actually came about during the down time of L.A. Ninja –I was talking to Michael Madison (the lead in Hologram Cop) in a bar about 2 months ago, I was saying something when he stopped me and asked "Hologram Cop?" I was like, "What?" The bar was loud, he must have misheard me. "Did you just say Hologram Cop?" he asked. "No, but that's a great idea for a movie!" I said, and that night ran home to write it. Two days later we were filming. That one came about very organically; we shot it scene by scene, whatever we could, with whoever was willing. It became a neighborhood effort. The bad guys work in the bar across the street from me, the police captain is a security guard.
L.A. NINJA and HOLOGRAM COP on VHS. Go tell Calder you need these, man. GO TELL 'EM!
You’ve recently announced that both of those films will be receiving VHS releases, which totally rules. Why do you want to put these short films on VHS? Are you a fan / collector of the format? Being a movie fan and growing up in the 80s, VHS was my most important medium – pre-internet, if you want to see a movie not in the theater and not edited for TV, you needed to find it on VHS. So I'd read magazines like Cinefantastique, and try to track these movies down – at rental stores, flea markets. I used to make my parents drive me 2 hours to Kim's Video in NYC to search for obscure movies. I tracked down all 42 Jackie Chan movies (circa mid 90s when he was just coming out in the US). I still have all my tapes and display them proudly. I have DVDs and Blu-Ray too obviously, but the VHS tapes are the star of my collection. I display them most prominently. I've set up my collection to look like a VHS rental store from growing up – each box at a quarter turn so you can walk down the aisle, see the cover art, and decide what to watch that night. I wanted both L.A. Ninja and Hologram Cop to feel like they grew out of that era, that maybe they both came out in 1987 and you just haven't heard about it until now.
Now is this rewind room VHSexy or what, man?! I wanna hang out here.
Will you be releasing them yourself, or partnering with a distributor? Any specs on the release thus far? I think I'll just release them myself; I’ll make VHS copies at home and sell them out of my studio. Maybe mail order too. Obviously digital versions exist; I've sent some close friends the link, but I think the value of holding the finished film in your hand, pulling the tape out of the box, dusting off the VCR and popping it in – the whole experience of that – far outweighs the convenience of an immediate link. I don't know about you but when I try to watch a movie online on my computer, I zone out – computers are instruments that constantly distract you. They beep; there's alerts and pop ups; I find myself checking mail and Facebook. When I watch a movie, I want to give it my undivided attention, otherwise you miss all the nuance. That's why movie theaters are so great. Lights go down, phones off, everyone shuts up and watches. VHS is the next best thing. Amen to that, Calder. When and where can we pick up your flicks on VHS? Either in person at my studio (where you can check out the collection, and props from both films), or mail order. I'm currently using temp music so I can't legally distribute them just yet, but once that's fixed they'll be available.
You know we will, Calder! We just don’t know any other way! Calder is on the move, Tapeheads, and is carrying the tape-lovin’ torch all the way. Be sure to stay tuned to his Official Site for updates on all of his future creations, and don’t’ forget to give him a VHShout and reserve your copies of L.A. Ninja and Hologram Cop to help him make his VHS-driven dreams an absolute reality. We can’t wait to VHSee what comes next, man.