Young Artists of the Week: The filmmaking duo of Erik Anderson and Josh Usheroff
Our young artist(s) of the week, Erik Anderson and Josh Usheroff, may be just a local duo, but between the both of them, form a complete filmmaking team. On one end of the camera is Erik, writer and director, and on the other is Josh, cinematographer; both making up the sum of a talented crew behind the screen. Their latest pic, The Second Times of Troubles, took the Best Feature Film prize at WT Os International Film Festival in Norway, and before that, Usheroff’s mesmerizing short, Skywriter, screened at Cannes’ court-métrage corner. Closer to home, Skywriter just appeared at this year’s Fantasia Fest to boot.
Aside from features, they also individually find time to work with fellow Montreal creators on some quality promotional bits and music videos—including a video-project Usherhoff produced for Besnard Lakes with his own production company, Black Box Productions. Here: Black Box has got a big, bloated Vimeo page to prove it all.
In recent news, the pair is gearing up for a new feature entitled Misogyny/Misandry. This gestating picture has got an innovative crowd-funding project tied to it. Here’s to yet another use for social media! In any case, read more about that—as well our usual lighthearted Q’s alongside the duo’s A’s—below.
Best movie theater in town?
EA: Parc Cinema is great for content, but I’m unabashed about enjoying the AMC. Why not? Air conditioning, good sound, comfy seats and stadium seating (so the screen is never blocked by someone’s bouffant), Plus, if you actually pick an interesting movie, chances are you’ll have the theatre to yourself. Movies should be watched in comfort.
JU: Private cinemas are way more fun than going to the theater. Get some friends together with drinks around a projector and good times are sure to ensue...
The Second Times of Troubles
Best gallery in town?
JU: I’m into contemporary and street art. So I really enjoy Galerie Push, CTRL Lab, Yves Laroche, DHC/ART and Parisian Laundry.
EA: Honestly, despite running the risk of sounding unhip, I’d say the Musée des beaux arts. Maybe I’m a romantic, but it’s a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.
If you could have your pick of any artist, dead or alive, as a mentor, who’d top your wish list?
EA: I don’t really want a mentor. But years ago when I was making my first shorts on 16MM, I met—through a film co-op in Victoria—an elderly filmmaker named Gilbert Taggart, who had lived and taught in Montreal for years. He made animations, so our work couldn’t have been more different, but he taught me the basics of how to use my Bolex and to edit using a splicer. He passed away a few years ago, so it’d be nice to have a beer with him and show him the work I’ve been doing. Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt to have a beer with Ingmar Bergman either...
JU: I would love to assist Matthew Libatique on any of Aronofsky’s films. As a cinematographer, he shows such creativity and control over his images, and that’s something I also strive for. Robert Elswit is another great I would love to learn from.
Reviews: a gratifying experience or a hard-to-stomach reality?
EA: We’ll let you know when they come in.
The business of art: do you embrace it or object to it?
JU: The creative project comes first. That is my inspiration and my end goal. But, filmmaking is expensive, so there’s this sort of secondary need to find a way to fund or market the project. I haven’t felt the need to modify my work to suit a market, because I think inevitably capital finds its way to support creative talent. I mean, I think that’s what we’re trying to do with our IndieGoGo fundraiser page: maintain creative control and raise the funds to get the project made as we envision it.
EA: It would seem hypocritical to appear in a magazine's art column whilst saying one hates the business of art. But as much as I can get away with it, I’d say that I do (object to it). It makes me uncomfortable. Plus, I think the ability to promote/sell art, and the ability to make it, are mutually exclusive. Maybe some people can do both, or are comfortable with both, but not I...
An actor who could pull off parts as serial killer, star-crossed lover AND hippie?
EA: Gary Oldman’s pretty top notch...
Andy Warhol: artistic visionary or dilettante?
EA: He’s a dilettante, absolutely. Or at least, in terms of his own art. The only way in which he could be seen as a ‘visionary’ would be in his ability to spot artistic talent in others. Yet that’s just an inherent extension of his own art; whether it’s glorifying Campbell soup cans, or the Velvet Underground, I think he’s more of an appreciator of others’ art and designs than an artist in his own right.
JU: A brilliant taskmaster.
Your favourite short?
EA: Unfortunately, I’m not sure I see enough shorts to even have a favourite, but The Man Who Planted Trees is pretty great if you can find it. I remember Gisele Kerosene being enjoyable as well, but it’s been a few years.
JU: I used to organize a short film screening series called Video Party and while programming I watched a lot of short films. One that always stuck in my mind was the crafty short film The Merry Sea-Gentleman by Sam Scott. Probably tough to find, but worth the watch. Now my favourite source of short films and new media is the Vimeo “Staff Picks” channel.
The starving artist syndrome: a self-imposed reality or the product of our current economic climate?
JU: Making a living solely as an artist ain’t easy, especially in the early years. But the artists that are talented and driven seem to find a way to make it work.
EA: Since I can barely afford to eat, I’d go with the latter. But I don’t think it’s necessarily down to our ‘current’ climate. There’s a reason it’s a longstanding syndrome and I think it relates back to the question about this business of art.
My sacred ritual :
JU: Making sure my camera batteries are charged...
EA: No rituals, per se. But I’m an old fashioned type pacer. I’ll walk back and forth or around the house when I’m thinking through problems, script issues, or what have you. Not sure why, it's just an impulse. Maybe my brain wants to get the blood going...
The secret ingredient to great chemistry with others on a project?
JU : Downtime with beers.