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Art & Life with Joey Thompson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joey Thompson.

Joey, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I think I’ve always been drawn to filmmaking. When I was young I would watch every episode of Movie Magic. You know that 90’s Discovery Channel show about special effects in movies? I loved the behind-the-scenes action taken to create a story that could only be imagined otherwise. I would draw out my favorite scenes from different movies, sketching and recreating their movie posters. I loved reading books showing the art behind movies, learning how simple conceptual drawings turn into final motion pictures.

In high school, I became very involved in Mass Media (probably now called Video Production), learning the ins and outs of cameras, composition, and grabbing the basics and technicalities of using cameras to tell a story. However, my life took a turn freshmen year of college in 2006 when I got my first MacBook Pro and a had bootleg copy of Photoshop installed on it (sorry Adobe). From that point on, graphic design became my craft and I all but abandoned filmmaking. I delved into creating logos, designing print materials and began my career after college as a graphic designer for a small agency in 2011. I pay for Creative Cloud now, by the way.

But the desire to create films was still there. I don’t think you ever really forget your first passion though, and while I loved design, video production was what I truly always imagined myself doing. So, I asked a co-worker and friend of mine, Nathan Cheuvront, if he wanted to do a video series in our spare time. In 2015, I started Atlanta Makers, a video series of short vignettes on artisans in and around Atlanta. I decided to transition out of design and into filmmaking full-time, focusing on directing, learning how to write for film and rediscovering the art and magic I enjoyed as a kid. Last year in July 2017, I started a commercial video production company with Nathan called Southend Films.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As a co-owner of Southend Films, I mostly work on web and television commercials. Our goal is to create cinematic commercials that empower brands to stand out. Through the Atlanta Makers series, I took an intimate look into the life of a maker, creative inspiration and daily struggles of creating handmade goods within short vignettes. I think above all, I want to create films that connect with people. I do believe that each person’s art is their own and for many, it’s ok if that art is simply a personal expression that may not resonate with everyone. That’s just not what I want from any film I produce. I believe the joy of cinema comes from enjoying and experiencing it with others and there are so many stories I want to tell. I just hope and pray others will connect with those stories, whether to buy a product or become aware of a certain issue, or just think the story is as cool or fun as I do. Being a director, you find that your job is to be the keeper of the story. It’s my job to ensure the audience connects with that story the same way you do when you read the script for the first time. Each time I create, I think about who I am creating for, and what I want them to get from it. I don’t have a type of mood or tone I always fall back on. I am open to the story or brand and ultimately want that to shine through. I appreciate when a director has a signature tone or look, and after some time, I might end up having that too…but for me, right now, it’s all about the story.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
In my experience, the best way to connect with other artists or creatives is to get out there and do it. There isn’t a right or wrong way to connect with people. The only wrong way would be to wait for someone to reach out to you. Send an Instagram message or go to the next makers market or gallery near you. In Atlanta, there is always an opportunity to go to an event where other artists or creatives will be. It can be comforting to sit behind the medium we create and never really show ourselves, but if others connect with you, the artist, they will have an even deeper connection with you art. When you do get the chance to connect with others, you have to be ready and willing to show your work, and if you ask someone’s opinion, remember, they’ll always give it. Lastly, I believe we learn from those we admire most as well as from those who admire us. Find that one person you look up to creatively and reach out to them directly. Ask to grab a drink or coffee and see what happens. The worst they can say is “no.” To that point, when someone reaches out to you who wants to learn from you, don’t be too busy and say “no.” You never know what new and exciting opportunities can come out of just one conversation.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
There are a number of ways for people to get involved with the films I produce. To see my commercial work, you can visit southendfilms.com. If you’re interested in elevating your brand through commercial video, Nathan and I would love to chat with you. To watch the Atlanta Makers series, visit atlantamakers.co. You can also support Atlanta Makers on Patreon at patreon.com/atlantamakers. Any contributions on Patreon go to creating more short films and vignettes on local artists and makers in and around Atlanta.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Clay Goswick

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