A.V Rockwell “Open City” InterviewArt, Culture, Featured — By JGM Staff on October 19, 2012 at 9:19 am
Young, brown, and gifted Queens native, A.V. Rockwell, is the type of person to let her work speak for itself. The director and screenwriter whose patrons include Rita Ora and Pusha-T, captures and preserves the crux of New York City through her visual mixtape Open City. The coarse vignette “Heist”, scored by Travi$ Scott, was followed up with “Trey”, an enticing black-and-white interlude scored by Dominic Lord’s “Old English” on the Staten Island Ferry. Read more about A.V. Rockwell’s inspiration for Open City and its importance to the arts after the jump.
Interview by Isis Nicole
Photos Awol Erizku & Patrick Neree
JGM: What is Open City?
A.V: Open City is New York City through my eyes. It’s a collection of guerilla-style short films, both fiction and documentary, told through a mixtape format.
JGM: When was it created?
A.V: It first started bubbling in my head in December 2011. I was on the road constantly last year working as a videographer, which left no time for my film work. I was dying to start a new original project and somehow the idea of mixtapes, as a way recording artists showcase their talents, came to mind. I just wondered, what if I used that same concept to showcase my skills as a director. I told a close friend who shrugged me off and I was pissed! Doubt like that just motivated me to see it through, so as soon as I came back to NY in late April I got to work.
JGM: What is the cultural tone of Open City? Is there a common theme?
A.V: The number one relationship between all the stories is their connection to NYC. New York’s five boroughs have eight million inhabitants, which equal eight million stories. We may not all interact, but we’re all related through our shared experience of the city. Open City reflects that.
JGM: When did you discover your passion for music and film?
A.V: I’ve loved both art forms since childhood. Through my work, I’ve had the opportunity to blend the two interests, but cinema is definitely where my focus belongs.
JGM: Are the scores original or pulled from mixtapes you consider appropriate?
A.V: None of the music is original. They’re not all from mixtapes or even Hip-Hop, for that matter. I’m really just picking music according to what fits each story the best, as well as the project’s overall tone. The stories are most important. The music serves the films, not the reverse.
JGM: Is Open City strictly an internet experience or can people expect mixtapes/DVD’s
available for distribution?
A.V: The mixtape is designed to be a web-based experience, but it’d be really dope to see it in hard copy form. That would only happen if we secured the financing, but I can see the design for it already. It’s definitely crossed my mind before.
JGM: I’m really hooked on Amy Collado’s outtake from the short film “Heist.” How did you find your cast?
A.V: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed! Majority of the casting has been through word of mouth and my personal network. I wasn’t eager to work with professional actors on this project. There is something very raw and exciting about working with real New Yorkers.
JGM: How essential is Open City for the arts?
A.V: I just wanted to be experimental and have fun. Without taking itself too seriously, it’s essential because it’s a fresh idea in an industry that is more drawn to recycling. Anything that dares to be original is essential to the arts because it’s what keeps creativity thriving.
JGM: What do you want people to take away from Open City?
A.V: At minimum, I want those who watch it to be entertained. That’s my job as a filmmaker. If you’re inspired or if you gain some new insight as well, that’s even better. Whatever the ‘take away’ is, I hope you’ll continue watching.