Paul Isaac, of local New Wave-inflected foursome People From Venus, is best known around town as a rock frontman. But close followers of the band might have noticed that his and the other members' artistic aspirations have always seemed to extend beyond just music. Everything People From Venus does is usually a bigger multimedia affair, from shows involving light and visual installations to short-form video experiments with their music as a soundtrack.
So it's little surprise that the latest installation in the group's extended family oeuvre is a short narrative film, Ball of Love,
starring Isaac and his girlfriend, writer/actress/fashion designer
Tammy Aida Diaz, and shot entirely on iPhones. "I had been going out
alone with my iphone camera and a flashlight through alleys and inside
clubs and kind of documenting emotions. It inspired me," says Isaac.
When he and Diaz turned the camera on each other, Ball of Love was eventually born. The quarter-hour result is a sort of gonzo self-love story set on the streets of downtown and South Beach -- uh, and partially in another dimension -- and soundtracked by People From Venus, naturally.
But its free-form spirit of experimentation struck a chord with the selection panel for the Raindance Film Festival, a huge alternative festival in the U.K. who's hosted figures like Anton Corbijn, Iggy Pop, and Quentin Tarantino.
Ball of Love will screen at the event in London in late September -- but you can catch it locally this Saturday at at O Cinema after the Wynwood art walk. The screening is a full-on event produced by Wasabi Fashion Kult and Mad Music, and features a full constellation of related artistic works.
There'll be an iPhone photography show, children's coloring books, Krelwear-designed stuffed animals, and more in a free wonderland that brings the film to life. Doors open at 7 p.m., the movie starts at midnight, and admission is free. Call 305-571-9970, or visit o-cinema.org.
Here's what Isaac and Diaz had to say about the film and the event.
New Times: First, what's the "ball of love" in the movie title?
Tammy Diaz: In the film we created a symbolic ball of love which we bury in the Earth with the intention of asking the planet for forgiveness and relieving us of yesterday with hopes for a better future. It's about making your dreams come true.
How did you two meet? Where did the idea for the story come from?
Paul Isaac: I met Tammy one evening on Lincoln Road, unexpectedly. We hit it off and we ended up going together to look at some paintings. The first time I saw her I knew she was special. Then all I wanted to do was capture her emotions on film.
We then had an event during this past Art Basel together. Tammy made a 3D live blog installation and People From Venus performed along with other artists working with various media. Soon after that, I made a short film called Ballerina starring Tammy. It was to a song People From Venus and Brett Thorngren wrote together called "Control."
Now we are boyfriend and girlfriend, and we do a lot of art. One night we sat on the carpet in a tiny room full of markers and paint and started to write on huge flash cards, and it eventually became the Ball of Love story.
Tammy Diaz: Kabbalah 1 also inspired us. We took the course together along with a UM film graduate, Hugo Torres, who also filmed a "making-of" about our project with hopes of creating a reality web series about our artistic lives. I had just completed the Life Mastery series with Tony Robbins and wanted to simplify what we learned together about the secret of life and share it with others.
The truth is, we started filming without having a story or knowing how to say what we learned. But the production company Mad Music backed our ideas so we were pushed to manifest something out of the nothing.
Was it a major challenge working with the iPhone format and its restricted visual field?
Paul Isaac: You know we all live in a digital world, sharing our life though 140 or less characters every day, picture messages that are all zeroes and ones. Sometimes, like in the songs I write with People from Venus, you can say so much with just a few words, one sound, one emotion. Restriction can be revealing.
How much did you edit or change in the change or fix in the editing process? Did you add a lot of sound or did you mostly leave it as it was captured in real time?
Paul Isaac: We spent about two months editing. Here I'd like to thank Mad Music Consulting for making it possible for us to edit, and for producing the film. There was a lot of editing involved. I spent night and day and day and night at their studio.
The actual filmmaking was on the fly. When we needed a scene we went and shot it. and a lot of times we got way more then we ever expected. Like there's a scene on a train where I was filming Tammy, and out of nowhere, a man started playing violin.
Tammy and I would also record sounds of our voices and e-mail them to ourselves and then put them in the film during editing. But the film really was showing us the way it wanted to go.
Tammy Diaz: We looked at the footage we had and then the script revealed itself for the story. Paul also dressed it up with music by People From Venus.
What exactly is the Raindance Film Festival in London and how did you come to enter the film in it?
Paul Isaac: It's Europe's leading independent film festival, which screens both feature fiction and documentary, and it's launched many debut filmmakers in Europe. Over the last few years the jury has included everyone from Lemmy to Charles Saatchi to Armando Iannucci to Tom Waits.
Anyways, I sent them a DVD and a month later I got an e-mail saying the film had been selected! The festival is in London between September 28 and October 8, and the actual screening dates for our film will be announced soon.
Paul, how does this project relate to the rest of your creative output with your band?
Paul Isaac: All the music in Ball of Love was Written by People from Venus. I wanted to see how pop music could contribute to a narrative; I had never done that before. As an artist I can't help myself. We're releasing the soundtrack separately, too, and it will be available at the O Cinema event. People From Venus will also be performing at Raindance.
The event at O Cinema sounds huge, and like you're involving a lot of different artists to create work related to the film. Was that kind of participation in your mind from the beginning of the whole project?
Tammy Diaz: We went to see a film at O Cinema and met Vivian [Marthell, co-founder] after the movie and pitched her our project then. She was incredibly kind to us and we felt such a positive energy from her so we stayed in contact with them. When we decided we wanted to find a place to show Ball of Love we automatically dreamed of showing it there.
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Then Pamela Wasabi from Wasabi Fashion Kult is a good friend of Paul's and we know she puts together great events for the underground Miami scene, so we asked her to team up with us for this. The idea was to share this film, plus do whatever else we can for a full experience.
Paul Isaac: None of this was planned, not one thing. It started from love and now there are so many people involved with love. It's like a seed planted underground, and then you go to sleep and wake up the next day and there's a garden.
After this event, what's next for both of you?
Tammy Diaz: We will definitely continue to express ourselves through art. It's amazing to be able to explore different media that allow us to be free. It's what we do& together with our spare time because it's what we love and who we are. I have a journal-type blog called TAMBONATION that's come a long way from dark moments of venting about difficult battles to Ball of Love, where my poetry and fashion inspirations found a new expression.