Name: Robert E. Ball Jr
1) Tell me about yourself, where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Midwest and in California. Some would say I’m still growing up now. I directed my first film when I was 13. Since then, I’ve made feature documentaries, documentaries for cable TV, reality TV shows, short films, music videos and fashion films. Some films I’ve made don’t fit into any categories.
2) How did you become a director?
In the beginning, I was a cinematographer and later evolved into directing because, as fate would have it, I preferred my own thoughts on the editing of scenes and how to collaborate with actors. I had this undeniable desire to (1) create the artistic vision for a film and then (2)
use my ability to think logically and assemble the practical means on how to actually make the film. Once I began directing my first film, the energy quickly kicked in to control all aspects of making a film - the editing, working with the department heads and especially creating characters with actors. Making films is my passion…always has been and always will be.
3) Tell us about the clothing design for your films. How do you go about that?
For “The One,” I featured the works by Maddox Leather Designs (www.maddoxleatherdesigns.com) – which is located in my beloved downtown Los Angeles. I met Josh Maddox (the designer) during the production of “The Dark Side,” which is my documentary on the international Goth scene. There was a fashion shoot where all the models were wearing Maddox Leather and it was easy for me to see that Maddox designs would be fantastic pieces to feature in a movie. Josh creates handbags, accessories, briefcases, and other leather items. I thought it important to recognize his talent by making a film featuring his work. And, lucky for me, Josh believes in my films.
4) Where do you draw your inspiration from when creating your films?
In the beginning of my career, I was often inspired by the works of other film directors. Lately, I
have been watching silent movies from the 1910s and 20s – which can be quite amazing!!
As I’ve lived my life the sources for my inspiration have expanded. The inspiration for the
look and feel of “The One,” my latest fashion film for Maddox Leather, was from my reaction
to classic paintings from Italian Renaissance – the lighting, the composition, the tableau of
characters within the frame, the drama between the subjects in the paintings and sometimes
the explicit erotic passion and violence depicted – I incorporated it all into my film. I can’t
wait to do it again.
5) When beginning a film project, where do you begin?
For me, a film begins with what I call, ‘THE SPARK’ – it’s the first idea upon which I build upon and add other ideas. I’m constantly seeing, collecting and filing ideas in the dark recesses of my mind - then ‘THE SPARK’ happens and illuminates all these ideas and then they explode into one unique creation. ‘THE SPARK’ in “The One” was ignited by a close friend and performance artist, Cat Ravyn, who also starred in the film. Her talent is truly mind-blowing. I have no doubt Cat will spark another film!
6) How did you find yourself in making fashion films?
Fashion, as expressed through still photography, has always been of great interest to me and sometimes quite inspiring, too. As for fashion films - I was at a social gathering and was introduced to Fred Sweet from the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival. I was unaware of the fashion film genre until Fred showed a favorite fashion film of his streaming on his cell phone. At that precise moment, I understood that the art, business, and future of fashion films is truly fantastic! I then began to obsessively brainstorm about making my own fashion films, which gets more intense every day.
7.) As a director do you watch films differently now?
Yes, I do!! For example, I see that “The Wizard of Oz” can be interpreted as a fashion film as much of the plot revolves around who ultimately possesses the magical Ruby Slippers. “Wizard…” is obviously far more than a still photography session, though, as it’s packaged in a dramatic movie format to take me into a world of adventure and then bring me back home. Also, being involved in directing has increased my different levels of watching a movie – I can see the conscious decisions that are made in the making of the movie. It is altogether a different experience – at the same time less and more satisfying.
8.) Do you have a brand or designer you would like to make a fashion film for?
Karl Lagerfeld! A short while ago I was in Paris and whenever I’m there I always visit the Eiffel Tower. This time, however, the elevator was marked “out of service” so I began to walk up the stairway. At one point I realized that the elevator was not functioning because Karl Lagerfeld was in the middle of shooting a fashion session. There was a brief pause in the shoot and I just stuck my hand out to shake his. He smiled and was most cool. At that point, I knew it would be a goal of mine to make a fashion film for him!
9.) What advice can you give, from personal experience to future filmmakers?
In life or in any art – it’s all about passion. Make movies about things and stories that inspire your passion within. Put that passion into your film and communicate the passion you feel through the art of cinema!