Signal Boost: Success 5000

Hello all!

I have a bit of an unusual boost for all you lovely followers. Not too long ago, I interviewed a fantastic cinematographer named James Hastings (interview here: Tumblr & WordPress). He recently finished working on a music video for a musical comedy duo.

The video can be found here: I Wanna Eat Everything

The band itself is not ace, but James did excellent work on the video and feels they deserve a bit more exposure. 🙂

So give it a watch, leave a like and/or a nice comment, show them some love!

Interview: James Hastings

Today we’re joined by James Hastings. James is a phenomenal filmmaker who also dabbles a bit in music and comedy. He’s a freelance cinematographer, though he has a wide range of interests (and also happens to be a fellow fan of the great Buster Keaton). James is also working on writing a feature. It’s always fantastic to see aces in film. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.



Please, tell us about your art.

Oh man, I do all kinds of stuff. My main bag is my work as a freelance cinematographer, but I also do covers and write comedy music for fun. I run a sketch-comedy YouTube channel called Cinema Wagon on which I do videos with my improv and industry friends, and in addition to all of that stuff, I’m currently in the writing phase of a feature film that I hope to produce independently in 2018.

Bagman, Production Shot 1, photo by Chris Ertman

What inspires you?

A lot of my sketch-comedy work comes from the mildly obsessive way my brain works. An idea or an interaction that I had will get stuck in my head for a while, and I’ll replay the situation that created those ideas over and over again in my mind, but with something going differently each time, and it either becomes really entertaining or I just stop thinking about it until it pops up as part of another cycle of that process. That, or I’ll see a cool shot or think of a visual, then knock out a story to fit around that shot so I have an excuse to try it out. The people that I’m friends with also bring really good, creative stuff to the table all of the time as well.

Bagman, Production Shot 2, photo by Chris Ertman

My visual style is really informed by the works of Julian Smith, Edgar Wright, Ciaran O’Brien, the Kids In The Hall, The Coen Brothers, Charlie Chaplain, and Buster Keaton. I think the Edgar Wright and Julian Smith influences come through a bit more in my visuals than others. I’ve also been trying to look at and learn more from renaissance art and how the visual composition of those pieces worked.

Bagman, production shot 3, photo by Chris Ertman

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I initially wanted to be an animator. I grew up watching cartoons from the 50’s-90s, and I thought that it would be super cool to make things like them. As time went on, I got more into the theatre world, and that lead me to an interest in special effects makeup. Because of this, I found the Indie Mogul YouTube channel back when they were doing Backyard FX, and as I learned more about the rest of the filmmaking process, I went from wanting to be a special effects artist to wanting to direct my own films. Around that time, my dad gave me his old Mamiya ZE Quartz film SLR, and I started learning to take pictures with old photographic lenses, and I realized that I really love the process of working with a camera. I also finally accepted that I’m a terrible animator around that time, and my career trajectory was pretty well set.

Bagman, production shot 4, steadicam, photo by Christina Estillore

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I have a prop zombie head named Thomas that I made in my time learning FX makeup that I like to hide in the background of the occasional shot. It’s not a consistent gag, but it pops up in most of my indie projects. There’s also a running joke amongst my peers about my propensity for shooting with wide-angle lenses. (12mm and 28mm are two of my favourites.)

On the post-production end of things, I have a set of “woosh” sounds that I recorded at the age of 14 in my bedroom that I have used in almost every project on which I have been in charge of the sound mix. Sometimes, it’s subtle, sometimes it’s very noticeable.

Bagman, still 1

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This one is tough since I’m still pretty young myself, but I have two pieces of advice that really helped me.

The first one is specific to cinematographers. It is not your job to make the images of a project look the way that you want them to. It is your job to help the director get what’s in their head onto the camera’s image sensor. You’ll be bringing ideas of your own to the table for sure, but at the end of the day, unless you’re also the director of a project, you don’t get the final say. The sooner you can learn to collaborate effectively, the sooner you’ll start to get called back to work on more projects.

The second one is a little more general, but it was important for me to hear. If you’re just starting out, you probably suck at what you do. That’s okay. Everybody sucks at first. The important thing is to power through that sucking and never stop trying to learn how to be better. As long as you’re trying to improve, you will. It may take a long damn time, but it will happen, and you won’t even notice until you look back at your old work and see your progression.

Contract Killer, frame grab


Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a grey-romantic, sex-repulsed asexual.

Dead End Town, 2012

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

It really depends on the crew that I’m working with.

Some of the older, more established people in the industry aren’t really familiar with the concept of asexuality, but it also never really comes up when I’m working with them. If it does, I tend to blow it off by saying something like, “I care more about my craft than relationships.”

Relentless, on set, photo by Dan Chomistek

Younger crews that have been coming up at the same time as me have been far easier to explain asexuality to if it comes up, but again, it’s pretty rare. People hire me because of the way I make things look, not the way that I feel (or don’t feel) about other people.

It’s probably easier for me as a white, cisgendered man in the industry to deal with it than other groups of people, though.

Pee Break, frame grab

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I think the most common one that I’ve encountered has to be the idea that asexuality is just a lack of maturity. I’ve also heard a lot about it, “going against human nature” as well. Standard stuff. It got old fast.

Realistic Musicals, frame grab

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I actually had a pretty easy time coming to terms with my asexuality, so I don’t have much advice specific to asexuality.

I was a bit of a social outcast when I was younger, though, and when I finally did develop a group of friends in my high-school, it turned out that I had a lot of other stuff to work through. It really helped me to talk to them about those things. If you can find an outlet like that in real life, great! If not, there are all kinds of resources about asexuality for you to check out.

If all else fails, just know that you’re not broken. You’re valid, and there’s a veritable crapload of people like you. We’ve got your back. Take care of yourself.

Recalculating, frame grab

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I take set-photos on Instagram,

I tweet about all of my finished projects, as well as the occasional BTS schennanigans,

And I release all of my comedy sketches on the Cinema Wagon YouTube channel.

Thanks for checking out this interview, and I hope you enjoy my work if you do check it out.

Bagman, still 2

Thank you, James, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Malgorzata

Today we’re joined by Malgorzata. Malgorzata is another first for Asexual Artists: she’s a cinematographer. She has a unique insight into the language of film, which makes for an absolutely fascinating interview. Cinematography in unique in that it’s both the technical side of art and the artistic kind. Cinematography is part of what allows the audience to get lost in the film. It brings the story on screen to life. Malgorzata is a phenomenal cinematographer, as you’ll soon discover. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.



Please, tell us about your art.

I am a cinematographer, which basically means that I get to create the visual language of a story in a close collaboration with a director. It’s a great combination of artistic expression, understanding of emotions and technical knowledge about equipment and light.

Apart from that I still from time to time work on personal projects in photography, where I focus on human body, trying to catch those little moments of vulnerability and intimacy.

What inspires you?

I have a background in fine art, so majority of my inspiration comes from classical painters, especially Danish ones, like Hammershøi. But in the end everything visual can inspire me, whether is a photograph, a movie, or an observed moment from real life, when light was so exquisite and memorable that it just stays in your mind, waiting to be used, recreated.


What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I always laugh that I got into photography because I couldn’t draw so I started taking pictures in the need of trying to express myself. After I’ve finished my degree I got slightly bored with still picture and got into creating a moving one. The workflow in cinematography is so much different that being a photographer. You get to collaborate with great people, you are never alone, the artistic dialogue and spirit keeps you going. In the end we are trying to tell a story, whether it’s through sound, image or acting. It’s the working spirit of feeling alive on a set, that got me hooked. So, in the end, there was always something like a creative streak in me, that now I got to channel through working with other amazing creators.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

My style and approach to the work usually depends on a story and how the director wants the portray it, but I have my little quirks, like an extensive usage of negative space and emptiness in a frame or an approach to shoot emotional moments in profile close-ups to give an audience a feeling of closeness, but still not to reveal too much, so the moment is not becoming overbearing. In photography I do a lot of artistic nudes/semi nudes but my subjects are never portrayed in a sexual way. Nudity through photography for me is completely asexual, a body becomes a geometrical play of shapes and shadows. It’s intimate, but never erotic.


What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Stay true to who you are. Don’t even change that. There will be people looking upon you, because you don’t fit into their limited universe, times that you might think it might be easier to change yourself or pretend. But never yield to that. Being yourself makes you special and that’s what uniquely is represented in your work making it honest and real.



Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Gray-A. Sometimes I can overthink who I am in the need of trying to fit in or understand, and it’s OK. Being slightly confused and searching is somehow a natural state and I’ve learnt to accept that.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

In general film industry is a tough environment for women especially in camera or other technical departments, mostly because it’s still considered as an ‘alpha male’ job. Adding being ace to that sometimes feeling like an overkill. Because of that working in my field my sexuality usually doesn’t come up, I don’t feel the need to share it. But when it does come up it’s met with massive ignorance. But mainly on the same level that in other aspects of my life.

They only extremely negative experience I have ever had was not coming from fellow crew members but from a subject of a documentary I’m working on. Irony of this encounter is that we are in the middle of shooting a documentary about prejudice against sexual minorities in a seemingly accepting and liberal country like Denmark and my own sexuality came up in an offscreen conversation with a married, gay man who is a drag queen, so he represents a variety of minorities himself. I was met with highly judgmental approach, ignorance and prejudice. Starting from the fact that he (and other drag queens that joined) had no idea that asexuality even existed(!) to the borderline offensive comments (when I tried to explain what it means) that he can “sacrifice” himself and fuck me, so I will know what it feels like, because he couldn’t imagine being able to live without sex, ending with the note that he might accept who I am, but he can’t respect that. Irony of that whole evening hit me so hard that I still can’t process what happened. Here I am, working to give a minority a voice, to reveal that acceptance doesn’t meet respect and I am facing the same prejudice form a fellow LGBT+ member. If they don’t understand, than who will?


What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

“But you are not repressed!”, “But you had girlfriends/boyfriends!”, “You are just getting through a phase, because you haven’t met anyone special yet.” Probably three the most common reactions I’ve heard. If I had a dollar for every disbelieving reaction that I’ve encountered over the past two years, I would be financially set up for life.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t let other people get into your head that who you feel you are is not true. I’ve been struggling with the disbelief from even the closest friends for I while now and I’ve learnt that even as much as it hurts me, I have to ignore that. Because I know myself and what I feel, how I see the world, the best and there is no one know has a ground to say it’s wrong or different. They don’t live in my head or in my heart.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

For the films I have been working on, they are circulating around festivals in Europe, that’s why it’s impossible to publish them online before two years mark (weird rules). Hopefully one day you will stumble in the cinema and see my name in the credits (haha).

But in general I have a website with samples of my work, that I use as a portfolio.

IMG_8459 small

Thank you, Malgorzata, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.