“Film has always been a personal medium for me. Some people write with journals. I have always made little films that shoot right out of my soul. And I’m making them with my hands.
I profile Seattle-based film director David Russo and his feature film The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (which plays at the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend) for the Seattle Weekly.
For more than 15 years, David Russo has been making films, short films, funded out-of-pocket or by arts grants, rarely seen by a general audience. Until recently, they have been the creation of a solitary artist carving personal visions out of the world around him. His animated shorts typically combine painting, sculpture, photography, music, poetry, and soundscapes on unique moving canvases. In Pan With Us (2003), he takes the cel off the studio animation stand and makes it a canvas floating freely through space. As his paintings are photographed frame by frame on 35mm film, then transformed into a flowing, flying image, the surrounding throngs of people become pixilated, jittery, impermanent things.
I Am (Not) Van Gogh (2005) uses the same stop-motion and animation techniques to produce a visual stream of consciousness, set to a soundtrack of Russo explaining his idea for a project that an arts organization doesn’t understand. To date, his short films have been entirely non-narrative, works of wonder and grace, chaotic and visionary, unlike those of any other artist in Seattle.
Which is why you’ve probably never heard of him. Until now.
The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle represents a major leap for Russo: his first feature, his first narrative, and in many ways his first collaborative endeavor. Certainly it’s his first picture with actors (including troubled former starlet Natasha Lyonne), a substantial budget, and the pressures and compromises that inevitably come with indie filmmaking. “It is extremely distracting at first,” says Russo of his 19-day Seattle shoot last year, “especially being the kind of filmmaker I was—that always worked by myself. It was a nightmare.”
Read the complete feature here.
Update 5/21: More from my David Russo interview at the Seattle Weekly here.