The FunkZone Podcast with Ted Mills







January 2015
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Director of "Desert Dancer"

Howdy Funky Film Fest Lovin' Folks!

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2015 kicked off this week and I managed to score an interview with the director of opening night film "Desert Dancer" the true story of Afshin Gaffarian, the Iranian man who defied his government and set up an underground dance company. The film stars Reece Ritchie (as Gaffarian), Freida Pinto, and Tom Cullen and is Raymond's feature directing debut. It's a beautiful film made more lovely from the choreography by Akram Khan. It will be released stateside in April by Relativity Media.
We sat down for a chat at the El Encanto hotel in a private room full of wine and Dom Perignon (we didn't drink any, thanks!)

Topics discussed include:
The quick Desert Dancer pitch
How producing a film can also prep you for directing a film
Bringing Philip Ridley back out of retirement
How avoiding the British Gas Board led to a job in cinema in Pinewood Studios
Richard's early homemade movies
Working with Richard Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins on Shadowlands
Working with Jon Croker on the script and meeting Afshin Ghaffarian
How instinct works better than storyboarding and blocking
His loathing for shooting on digital and how film increases the stakes
Shooting in Morocco and Paris and London
Getting extras from Twitter
Working with Akram Khan and how Khan's own story mirrors the film's message
Ideas about capturing dance on film
Landing Reese Ritchie for the lead role
Shooting a test film in Jordan and a tale of intolerance
The Sisyphean struggle of making a film
How funding came from a former Russian dancer and Florida's
Richard's next film, Freetown and the story of David Richards
Keeping Sierra Leone on the radar after ebola

The trailer for Desert Dancer

Thanks to Andrea Sumpter and Relativity Media for helping set this up.

Direct download: 16_Episode_016_Richard_Raymond.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 10:34pm PDT

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Multi-media artist and horror film fan

Jillian McDonald got into horror movies later in life, but after working on video art pieces on Billy Bob Thornton and Brad Pitt, she turned her attention to zombies, just before the undead became "big." She plays with the narrative expectations of horror movies, either delaying, refusing, confusing, or inverting cliches.


Her current touring video installation Valley of the Deer comes from her extended stay at Glenfiddich's art residency program. (Yes, the distillery!) and features figures wearing animal masks looming menacingly in the misty, mystical landscape. Currently at SBCC's Atkinson Gallery, this three monitor, 48 minute piece is odd and hypnotic. It is accompanied in the gallery by her drawings of the film's characters. And by using the Layar app, at various locations around the gallery and certain locations in Santa Barbara, you can see the characters waiting for you in augmented reality.

Topics discussed:

Valley of the Deer's origins
The best length for video art
Working with the Layar app
The non-influence of You're Next
The influence of Scottish legends
Justin Bieber, and the cutlure of awareness
Narrative structure of post-'80s horror
Growing up in Edmonton and living in Winnipeg
Winnipeg's Gothic sensibility
Reading Stephen King novels as a kid
A very scary-sounding babysitter job
Turning to art in high school
How storage space can determine the art you make
One of her early New York works involving clothing
Her "zombie makeup" piece
Why zombies are the most horrific mythology
"Field of the Dead" and "The Scream" and "Zombie Loop"
Slow zombies > fast zombies
Horror movies in the cinema vs at home
The Walking Dead comic vs. TV show
Future work, turning away from monsters
The Blair Witch Project
Primal horror in the woods and her live performance in Sweden
Lilith Performance Studio
Haunted houses and paying to be kidnapped
Dressing up as a zombie
Would she ever make a feature

Films referenced:
You're Next
The Wicker Man
Kill List
A Field in England
The Shining
Night of the Living Dead
Wolf Creek
Children of the Corn
The Blair Witch Project


Ms. McDonald was in Santa Barbara briefly to install and attend the premiere, and thanks to the Atkinson's Sarah Cunningham for setting up this interview. Being a horror film fan and a filmmaker, I had a great amount of fun in this interview.


Valley of the Deer is up through February 20, 2015 and admission is free.

Outside of Santa Barbara, the show is also on view right now at Montreal's Centre Clark through Feb 21, 2015. It will also be touring to Air Circulation in Buffalo, NY May 16 – June 22 and Waterloo, Ontario later in the year.

Valley of the Deer from Jillian McDonald on Vimeo.

Her website is here

Direct download: 15_Episode_015_Jillian_McDonald.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 2:56pm PDT

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 2.30.32 PM

Abstract painter and former graphic artist (and hellion!)

Good day, funky peeps! For this episode I sat down in the spacious new studio digs of abstract artist Peggy Ferris, who turned from two decades of graphic design business to focusing on abstract art, both in the hard edge style and gestural abstraction.


In this chat we dug deep into her past and unearthed some groovy stuff.

Topics include:
Peggy's new studio
How she starts (and finishes) a series
Her time at Art Center Pasadena and at the Royal Academy at the Hague
Being the only American at the Royal Academy
Living with Transcendental Meditators
Meditation as "recovery" from making art
Holland's policy of paying artists
The influence of pop artist Richard Smith
Working in Graphic Design and dealing with clients
Peggy Ferris' father's wanderlust and living in Long Island as a kid
Coming back to West Hollywood and becoming a "hellion"
Her time at UCSB
How a Wacom tablet and a tennis injury got her back into fine art
Adjusting her expectations to the reality of being an artist
How Santa Barbara is not a great town to sell art, but a great town for the artist lifestyle
The beginning of the Abstract 10
The next series?


Peggy's work can be found at her website.

She is currently showing as part of the Abstract 10 group show at MichaelKate Interiors.


Direct download: 14_014_Peggy_Ferris.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 11:23pm PDT

Owner and curator of Wall Space Gallery

Howdy everyfunkybody! On this week's podcast we check in with Crista Dix, who has run the Wall Space Gallery for 10 years, showcasing the best in contemporary photography. As you'll hear, her path to running a gallery was not the straightest of paths, with stops in the theater world and the National Parks Service.

Wall Space Gallery is located in the heart of the FunkZone, in the blocky concrete building that houses both Pali and Anacapa wineries. I have hosted an art talk there--that's when I met Sue Van Horsen for the first time.


For those of you who are photographers and want to hear what is in the mind of a gallery owner when they are looking through your portfolio, this episode is for you!


Topics discussed include:
How a degree in geology led to photography
Working at Glazer's Camera in Seattle
Being the first Democrat in her family and life "behind the Orange Curtain"
Growing up in theater
Life in San Francisco in the early '80s and a list of bands Crista saw (so jealous!!)
Becoming an earthquake chaser and loving "road cuts"
Giving up photography to curate photographers
Opening the gallery in 2005
How portfolio reviews are like speed-dating
Portfolio review techniques
The cusp of the digital revolution
Moving to Santa Barbara and then to the Funk Zone
Where Santa Barbara photographers fit into WallSpace's mission
Straddling commercial and art photography
How to figure out where you fit in the world of photography
The necessity of an artist statement
The necessity of naming your influences

Artists mentioned include:
Louviere and Vanessa
Alex Prager
Rineke Dijkstra
Mitch Dobrowner
Deborah Bay
Charles Grogg
Maxine Helfman
Barbara Parmet
Christa Blackwood

Wall Space Gallery is here

Direct download: Episode_13_Crista_Dix.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 10:23pm PDT

Photo by David Pricco


That's the sound of David J. Diamant making another piece of his unmistakable art. The FunkZone fixture has been a tireless worker and a tireless self-promoter, but his enthusiasm is infectious. Whenever I talk with David, I get excited about art and possibilities and just want to get to work.


In 2013, he briefly joined my table when I was taking part with Jonathan Crow in MCA SB's 24 hour Dusk Til Drawn drawing marathon, and I got to see his technique up close. The pens came out and soon a piece has appeared out of the ether. His bold line and coloring makes his work pop out at various show openings around town, and recently he's been working on cityscapes, using wood and plexiglass to create multiple layers. During FunkZone events, if Diamant doesn't have a show inside a gallery, you can find him setting up shop on an available corner and selling art.


David’s family tree
How being positive is a conscious decision
Influences: Scott Anderson and Dan Longfellow
“Self-directed work teams” and corporate consulting
"Capitalism is awesome"
Getting the most out of Santa Barbara
Where David’s style came from
Waiting for the Muse
MCA SB’s 24 Drawing Marathon and Jonathan Crow’s Veeptopus
Why doing a series is important
Growing up in Montecito and Tony Askew
Singing in Canticle and how Phyllis Zimmerman influenced his art
Communication theory and how it pertains to art
Simple advice for the artist
Why bartending is the best job in the world
Thoughts on the FunkZone
The new plexiglass work

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This was one of the first podcasts we recorded, but it's still a good one. Boom! Thanks to Skye Gwilliam for the use of his gallery space.

David has a website here and a YouTube account here.

A little video that shows David's art and others in the FunkZone.

Direct download: 012_David_J_Diamant.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 11:20pm PDT