Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six
Very recently (as of yesterday, in fact) we had the opportunity to conduct an interview via email with none other than the Director of “Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six“, Kevin Burke. Kevin was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule in Toronto, Canada to answer the questions of self-proclaimed “Poster Art Fanboys”.
For those of you who are not regular visitors to the Blog, “Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six” is an upcoming film produced by Post No Joes Productions documenting the revival and increasing popularity of the illustrated poster art scene. Kevin, as the Director of the film, has had numerous interactions with Designers and Illustrators all over the world, and sat down to speak with us regarding the origins of the project and his love of illustrated film posters. Without further ado, I present to you A Conversation with Kevin Burke!
igotbirds: Kevin, tell us a little about yourself and your early life. Where you grew up, what kinds of things were you into as a youth?
Kevin Burke: I grew up in a medium-sized Canadian city right across the border from Detroit – Windsor, Ontario. I was into movies as far back as I can remember – not just the stories and the escapism, but the general movie-going experience. Which, back then, was very different than it is today. Movie theatres and video stores used to celebrate the movies, celebrate nostalgia for the art. There were murals in our local theatre of famous scenes from old westerns and paired portraits of golden age stars all over the walls. The local video stores were very much the same. My first job was in a locally owned video store and I loved it – no uniforms, no 2 for 1 candy upselling, no bullshit – just a bunch of people who loved the movies and wanted to be around them 24/7. Then that video store, and all the others in town were muscled out by Blockbuster and Rogers, and now video stores are all but dead entirely. The same culture shift happened with the cinemas though – they were all bought out or out-sold by multiplexes with 24 screens, coffee bars and arcades and synergistic, cross-promotional visa cards with movie points. It used to be about the movies, man. Talking about it now I feel kind of sad for kids who will never be able to experience that – because now it seems like it’s all about screaming commerce into everyone’s face, as loudly as possible, as soon as they open the multiplex doors. Alternatives are starting to pop up though. In Toronto we have The Royal Cinema, Underground Cinema and others. I’m happy that indie cinemas are making a comeback, at least in bigger cities. I hope it spreads.
igotbirds: How did you get interested/involved in the movie poster art scene?
Kevin Burke: When I was a kid I collected one-sheets. I used to get put on a waiting list at the cinema and video stores and they would call me when a poster came down out of a marquee. Then I’d beg my parents to drive me there, or I’d bike, to go and pick it up. My walls were covered with posters as a kid. I kind of drifted away from movie posters around the same time that posters started to stray away from illustration in favour of the cheaper, easier to market, photoshopped alternative. I’d love to say that I had the foresight to see that posters were becoming bland and that’s the reason I stopped collecting, but the truth is that I became a teenager, and like most teenagers I decided that I was way too cool for anything and everything. It was just good timing. Fast forward to 2010 when my fiancee buys me an Olly Moss “There Will be Blood” print from Mondo and I’m hooked again and led to question what happened to posters over those couple of decades.
There Will Be Blood – Olly Moss
igotbirds: What made you want to create a film about movie poster artists?
Kevin Burke: Being a collector, a filmmaker, and noticing that there’s this glaring hole where a movie about poster art should be. I had mulled around the idea for a little while and had settled on doing it after completing another project. Then one day, my fiancee (and co-producer) Andrea gets a call from this really awesome horror lecture series in Toronto called The Black Museum (Seriously, look them up. They’re incredible) and they ask her to do an academic lecture on the history of horror movie posters. Perfect, right? So, in talking about the evolution of the art she decides to talk a little about modern screenprints in the lecture – we get in touch with Gary Pullin, who everyone will tell you is one of the friendliest horror maniacs in the world, and ask to shoot an interview with him to include in the lecture. He says “Sure thing.”, we say “Rad!” and we shoot this great interview with one of our favourite artists. And that pretty much sealed the deal on moving forward with the film for me. I figured – if all of these people creating the art that I love are as cool and fun as Pullin then I’d be stupid not to move on this. And so far the poster art community has welcomed the film with open arms and been amazing to work with. I’ve made a lot of great friends.
Friday The 13th by Gary Pullin
igotbirds: Being a filmmaker, what aspects of the filmmaking process are most important to you in conveying the individual stories of the poster artists you have encountered during the making of “Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six”?
Kevin Burke: The most important thing, to me, is creating an insightful film about movie posters and how they’ve evolved. I also intend to try and answer the question of whether or not illustrated screenprints fill a void for fans left behind by studio key art straying away from illustration. A key component of this is, of course, the artists who create them. We intend to use interview footage with the artists, and insights from them, to tell the story. Now obviously we won’t be able to focus on everyone’s life story as much as we’d like (but if you can get me an audience with A&E to pitch a mini-series…ha), but we do want to explore what it’s like to live as an artist working in this industry. We want fans and viewers to have a human element to relate to, because no one wants to just see heads talking at them for 90 minutes. So we’re going to be placing a special focus on a select few artists, each at a different place in their career and personal life, and giving some insight into what it’s like to live as a poster artist. We’re also going to be doing some really rad compositing in order to bring some of these great illustrations to life with unique animation. We’re bringing our “A Game” to this flick.
igotbirds: On average, how much time do you get to spend interviewing the various artists for this film? What artists have been your favorite to interview so far and why?
Kevin Burke: Everyone is different, depending on the situation. I live in Toronto and I’ll likely have the opportunity to interview Phantom City Creative 2 or 3 times before the film is complete, so we may spend a great deal of time together. But during my first trip to Austin, one day we knocked out 5 interviews, back to back, over a span of 2 hours. I’ll be in Austin again next weekend to speak with Laurent Durieux – I plan to sit with him for an hour or so and just have a chat, whereas if we were shooting the interview at his home in Brussels we would be able to tour his collection, workspace, etc… like we have been able to with other artists. So, it’s always dependent on what we’re able to make work within everyone’s schedule and location. It’s a hugely ambitious project and we’re speaking with a ton of artists. We look to make the best out of every interview scenario. As far as favourites go – everyone has been really pleasant to interview. I’ve made a lot of really cool friends in putting this together. I just interviewed Matt Ryan Tobin and Paul Ainsworth this weekend and had a lot of fun. They’re both really funny dudes. I plan on drinking many beers with them before our Canadian soil thaws in the spring.
Kevin Burke with Paige Reynolds & Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative
Kevin Burke with Matt Ryan Tobin
igotbirds: Who are your favorite poster artists to collect?
Kevin Burke: Yikes! There are so many. I love Ken Taylor’s stuff. I just scored one of his “Where the Wild Things Are” prints off of a Mondo drop, so I guess fate was on my side that day. I really love Tracie Ching’s stuff too, and I dig what she’s doing in Kickstarting print projects. I think that’s a really great way to get art projects off the ground. I snagged one of her “War of the Worlds” prints by supporting her campaign and I can’t wait for it to come in. Pullin, Phantom City and Jason Edmiston of course. The aforementioned Paul Ainsworth and Matt Ryan Tobin – what can I say? I’m not going to profess to be any kind of art critic, but I see both of these guys doing huge things over the next couple of years. I finally saw Paul’s “Back to the Future” print in person, for instance, and holy shit – no pic on the internet can do that thing justice. There really are too many favourites to name.
War of The Worlds by Tracie Ching
Halloween by Phantom City Creative
Die Hard by Matt Ryan Tobin
Paul Ainsworth “Back to The Future”
igotbirds: Can you give us a rundown of the equipment you’re using to produce this film? Camera equipment, mics, editing equipment, digital storage, etc…
Kevin Burke: Sure. I’m shooting on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera which gives me a ton of colour control in post, and the image quality is stunning. We use a couple of DSLRs and a Panasonic HMC-40 as back-ups. We run a Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic into a Tascam DR-60 audio recorder for interviews, and mic the artists up with Sennheiser lavs when they’re giving us tours of their homes, workspaces, etc. I edit and do motion graphic compositing through Adobe Creative Suite on a 2013 iMac i7 and store footage on 12Tb of LaCie Thunderbolt drive(s). We’ve been shooting with steadicam gimbals, vests, dolly track, sliders, you name it. My favourite part of every shooting day is looking over the dailies. I’m very excited to really sit down to work on post in the summer/fall.
A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors poster by Jason Edmiston
igotbirds: Can you talk a little bit about Post No Joes Productions? Your role in the company, what you’re looking forward to produce next, etc…
Kevin Burke: Post No Joes actually began as a little comedy sketch video troupe that me and my friends Richard Chan and Vance Gillis put together after college. We would get together and have meetings about conceptualizing shorts, run writing exercises, shoot some ad libbed stuff. Anything that we could do to keep working on film related projects to get practice and stay current. Post No Joes ended up creating commercial ads, music videos and gigs of that sort for clients and last year we co-produced our first documentary feature which ended up being picked up by The Documentary Channel here in Canada. Richard is co-producing Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six and working as Assistant Director. He’s a very active member of Post No Joes and we work on everything together. Vance is now living in Montreal knocking people dead on the improv and sketch comedy circuit – and I’m going to keep hassling him to write a narrative comedy for Post No Joes to produce until one of us dies/kills of frustration. We have a lot of ideas in the pipe to follow Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six, but as it stands it is our primary and daily focus. I’d love to produce a doc about the elderly Japanese citizens who volunteered to clean up the wreckage after the Fukushima disaster knowing they would die. They volunteered their lives to save younger citizens. Those sorts of stories are always really touching to me. We’re also working on a short subject doc about “Le Nain Rouge”, the historical Detroit urban legend of the little red demon that has been sighted at disasters in the motor city. And yeah – narrative comedy and horror. One day.
Kevin Burke outdoors
Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six by Paul Ainsworth
We here at igotbirds.com would like to thank Kevin Burke for taking time to speak with us. You can follow Kevin on Twitter, as well as Post No Joes. Be sure to visit the links featured in our interview and be on the lookout for “Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six” in the Fall of 2014!