Anna Hogg is a filmmaker whose work addresses the relationship between memory and the body archive. These investigations extend to the collective feminine that gathers memory, its objects and stories, the archive as affected by trauma, the intergenerational archive, as well as the ever-accruing archive of daily media and news sources. Within these contexts, one finds that the act of remembering and forgetting, preserving and refusing, are often intimately connected, and the boundary that divides them more fluid. Her practice is based in both research and writing, touching upon feminist discourse, queer theory, and phenomenology. Her films have screened internationally, including the Kasseler DokFest, Chicago Underground Film Festival, and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. She was awarded the Jury prize for Best International Work at the 2017 WNDX Festival, and nominated for the Golden Key award at the 2017 Kasseler DokFest. She holds an MFA in Film & Video from the California Institute of the Arts and now teaches Cinematography at the University of Virginia.
Rachel Lane creates and teaches filmmaking programs for the Charlottesville community as the Program Director at Light House Studio. She loves teaching, learning, and collaborating with others through creative storytelling. Rachel earned her BA in studio art from the University of Virginia, where she concentrated her art practice in cinematography and new media. She received her MFA in film, video, animation and new genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and had the opportunity to teach film courses at UW-Milwaukee and the University of Virginia before joining the Light House Studio team.
Jason Robinson is an artist and educator. Formerly the Program Director at Light House Studio, he is currently an associate professor of digital art at The University of Mary Washington. Jason is excited for everyone to see the talented lineup of experimental filmmakers that make up the inaugural Odds & Ends program.
AF: Hi Anna, Rachel, and Jason! We are so excited to chat with the three of you – you are officially the largest interview we’ve had! To start us off, we would love to know more about your upbringings. Where are you from and what are the arts communities like there?
AH: I’m from Hampton, Virginia, but I also lived for several years in Charlottesville and then Los Angeles. Growing up, my hometown had a very small arts community, and so I am entirely indebted to excellent art teachers for fostering a love of art. After leaving Hampton, I attended UVA, where I first encountered an experimental film community in the UVA Art Department, taking classes with filmmaker and artist Kevin Everson in a space that we affectionately refer to as “the gutter.” The gutter is where I started to consider myself a filmmaker and artist, making feminist reinterpretations of fairy and folk tales. From Charlottesville, I moved to Los Angeles for graduate school, and it was there that I became more involved in the experimental film scene, through CalArts and other organizations like the Los Angeles Film Forum, Echo Park Film Center, as well as more community-oriented arts organizations like Community Arts Partnership. During the pandemic, I made the decision to move back to Virginia, where, oddly enough, I started to reconnect with my artistic roots, both in Hampton Roads through organizations like the Contemporary Arts Network, as well as through a group of former classmates who also took film classes at UVA.
RL: Thanks so much for the interview! I grew up in Boise, Idaho, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I currently live in Charlottesville, VA. Charlottesville is a college town, so the University of Virginia brings a lot of students and faculty to Charlottesville who make up a big part of the art community. I was a Studio Art major at UVA, so in college I got to know the UVA art community pretty well. While I focused on learning filmmaking and new media with Kevin Everson and Lydia Moyer, I worked alongside many artists who practiced printmaking, photography, painting, and sculpture. Elizabeth Schoyer teaches painting and drawing in Studio Art and had a big impact on my practice while I was going through the program. In addition to the UVA Department of Art, the Department of Music and the Department of Drama have a lot of talented artists who share their work with the community throughout the year.
The Fralin Museum of Art is a fantastic art museum at the University of Virginia, along with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, which is dedicated to the exhibition and study of Indigenous Australian art.
Charlottesville is also home to Light House Studio, the McGuffey Art Center, Second Street Gallery, Live Arts, the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Visible Records, New City Arts Initiative (NCAI), and Ix Art Park. These are just a handful of the many organizations that are doing great work for the art community here! There are also talented individuals in the community like Bernard Hankins, a musician, filmmaker, and spoken word poet who has played a big role in many arts programs and impacted the community with creativity and mentorship over the years.
JR: My dad was in the Navy so I Iived all over – Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Florida, and a few different places in Virginia. I currently live in Charlottesville but work in Fredericksburg so I often feel between two arts communities and not really a part of either. One of my motivations for starting Odds and Ends was to establish an event that created a deeper connection to the Cville (and beyond) art community.
AF: What was your first ever job? What did you learn from this experience?
AH: My first ever job was probably as a babysitter, but the first job where I earned an “official paycheck” was as a lifeguard in the summer. From this, I mostly learned to keep myself entertained during the long and monotonous hours in the sun.
RL: In high school I made some money painting, babysitting, and pet-sitting. In college I was a Digital Media Lab Consultant at the University of Virginia Clemons Library. All of these first jobs taught me how to communicate more effectively and be more responsible. My job in college helped me learn more technical and teaching skills because I was helping students and faculty incorporate filmmaking and editing into their research projects.
JR: I worked at Putt Putt when I was 16 but I got fired after two days for “not smiling enough.” I was officially too goth for mini golf.
AF: What do you do in the arts today?
AH: I make both installation and theatrical-based work, and I am starting to work more in sculpture as well, integrating film and video projection onto the surfaces of those sculptures. I also teach cinematography and foundations of studio art at University of Virginia.
RL: I love sound art, making films, and painting. Recently I made a digital theremin, taught my friends how to make electret condenser and contact microphones, and went on hikes in the Shenandoah National Park with a 16mm camera and a group of friends to film waterfalls. My friend Elizabeth just taught me how to make a sloth sock puppet, and now I’m really excited about sewing! For work I get to teach filmmaking to over 1,000 kids every year and support a bunch of different creative projects with community partners.
JR: I make a lot of things. Mostly short films but sometimes live performances, sound pieces, and 2D work. And I teach digital art, animation, video, and new media at the University of Mary Washington.
AF: Together, you three have founded Odds & Ends, an experimental film festival located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tell us more about what inspired you to start Odds & Ends!
AH: Since I moved back to Virginia two years ago, it has been a dream of mine to establish an experimental film microcinema, in tandem with a film and arts collective in Virginia. Part of the motivations or inspirations for this come from feelings of isolation and lack of connection fostered during the pandemic, but it was more than that. I was missing the community that I had in LA even while I was still living in the city. When I moved back to Virginia and reconnected with an amazing group of filmmakers here, Rachel included, it seemed like something doable – to establish and grow a community here. I had been bouncing the idea around with Rachel for the past two years, and when she brought up that Jason was also interested in doing something similar, we saw an opportunity to combine our interests and collaborate on something.
RL: We wanted to bring more experimental film from around the world to the Charlottesville community, and Light House Studio supported us!
JR: I’ve been attending experimental film festivals since I was an undergrad and I always had it in the back of my mind that I would like to try my hand at starting my own one day. Charlottesville is home to the Virginia Film Festival which is a very big deal multi-day festival that in recent years has moved away from showing short experimental work. Last Summer I pitched the idea of doing something at Vinegar Hill that could fill that niche to Rachel, she suggested that we ask Anna if she wanted to be a part of it and we started planning the festival.
AF: What are some challenges you have faced bringing this film festival to life? What has been rewarding?
AH: I agree with Jason’s answer – we all have big dreams as to where this festival can go in the future. We had to, very conscientiously, scale back to something that was doable in the first year. From here, we hope to have multiple days, possibly live events for both image and sound, performance, and other time-based work, as well as site-specific installations threaded throughout the city. It’s rewarding to think about that future, but grounded in our current goals and expectations for our first year.
RL: The most rewarding part of co-directing and programming this film festival has been the opportunity to watch all of the films that people submitted. There are so many talented experimental filmmakers! It’s been really inspiring to be reminded of that and to meet new creative work and ideas. The biggest challenge for me was choosing only 23 of these films to screen in our festival this year.
JR: I think the biggest challenge has probably been reminding ourselves that this is our first year and we need to start small and save some of our grand ideas for future festivals.
AF: This film festival is a passion project that you are working on in addition to your respective careers. How do you budget your time?
AH: While it is a passion project, it is one that feeds directly into my pedagogy and practice as both teacher and artist. Establishing and growing an arts community benefits all who live in Charlottesville, and beyond. On a practical level, it’s just setting a series of goals each week to hit. As it is our first year, that has been a work in progress, but next year, we will know exactly what to do, when, and how much time it will take.
RL: As the Program Director at Light House Studio, the Odds & Ends film festival is one of the many programs that I get to help run. I’m so lucky that this is part of my job!
JR: My entire professional life is run off of an elaborate to-do list in the notes app on my phone. I’m just always doing what ever is next on the list.
AF: What is one thing you want our audience to learn about the Charlottesville art scene?
AH: There are many growing organizations in Charlottesville that are both arts-based and community-oriented. Jason’s list is an excellent one, and I would add to it the UVA itself, the Fralin Museum, and the Virginia Film Festival that takes place in the fall.
RL: There are a lot of creative people in Charlottesville who are excited about sharing their work, collaborating with others, and supporting each other. The art scene seems to be growing!
JR: That it exists! And you should come check it out. We have so many arts organizations consistently doing amazing work for such a small town. Second Street Gallery, New City Arts, The Bridge PAI, Visible Records, The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and our partner Light House Studio.
AF: What are your hopes for the future of Odds & Ends?
AH: I’ve gone into some of this above, but to reiterate…I would like to see Odds & Ends expand to include installations, live performances of sound art, expanded cinema, and more. I would also like to see Odds & Ends grow in terms of the opportunities it opens for students in the area – to intern and be a part of the process for creating and running a film festival. Eventually, I could see it also incorporating workshops for people of all ages to learn and work in the mode of experimental film and video.
RL: It would be great to grow so that we can share even more experimental work with the community.
JR: I would love to expand the festival beyond the screening to include installations and live performances.
AF: Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
AH: Know your worth, and be assertive and explicit about it. It’s often hard to quantify what one does and contributes with different jobs in the art world (because it is perceived to be such a qualitative field), but being able to verbalize what you offer is important. Networking is extremely important too.
RL: It’s going to be a lot of work (like most careers), so I recommend seeking out work that you enjoy doing. Set up conversations with people who have jobs you’re interested in so that you can learn more about the work and how they got there. Find mentors along the way to help you network and navigate your career. Trying out a bunch of different roles early on is a great way to learn what you connect with the most. If your job brings you joy and feels meaningful, then it’s sustainable. If you’re a creative person, it will be important to find ways to stay creatively inspired throughout your career. Visiting art museums, keeping a journal in your back pocket to write down your ideas, going to art events, and engaging with a creative community regularly are some ways to stay inspired and feel supported. Then it’s just a matter of carving out enough time to sustain your own creative practice!
JR: It might seem cliche but you really need to put yourself out there. The good news is that not that long ago that meant showing up to every event and introducing yourself to as many people as possible. That’s still definitely a good thing to do but now with the art world so intertwined with social media you can do a lot of that without leaving your house. Also be persistent. Sometimes you need to be so persistent that you get right up to the line of being annoying in order to get people to notice you. It’s not always comfortable but it works.
AF: How do you think the art world can become more transparent?
AH: I agree with Jason’s comment below. There is such a lack of transparency, especially in film festivals, between screening fees (and why they are set to where they are set), how much (or whether) artists will be paid to show their work, etc. Paying artists is important, but also breaking down organizational costs, and showing how much and why we are able to pay artists. This is something that the Arts in a Changing America organization talks about with their Community Benefits Trainings – that transparency, in terms of budget, is one way to establish a more equitable and inclusive arts community. We, as a film festival, will continue to think about this and work in these ideas to how we run Odds & Ends in the future.
RL: Art Frankly’s Frank Talks initiative seems like a great model to look at! Taking the initiative and the time to research, ask questions, have conversations with people, and share information with your community is a wonderful approach to gaining more transparency.
JR: That’s a great question. We are very proud that in our first year we are able to offer screening fees to all artists that have films showing in this year’s program. Our goal is to increase that fee next year. Always paying artists is one way to be more transparent.
AF: Thank you, Anna, Rachel, and Jason, for participating in Frank Talks! It has been our pleasure! To wrap up, if you could have the chance to work with any filmmaker (alive or not), who would it be and why?
AH: Ah, there are too many to choose from! I was able to meet and/or take workshops with great filmmakers during grad school, like Agnes Varda, Tacita Dean and Deborah Stratman. Beyond these individuals, I would love to work with Lynn Hershman Leeson. I think that she still has so much to say about the way that film and video mediates and archives the human experience, even how science and genetic engineering plays into questions of mediation. I’m a fan of her work, which bridges between sculpture, drawings, photography, essay, documentary, and narrative film.
RL: Kevin Everson, Lydia Moyer, Elizabeth Schoyer, Cecelia Condit, Carl Bogner, Steve Wetzel, Kelly Kirshtner, Jesse McLean and Lori Felker significantly impacted my understanding of filmmaking as an art form and how to pursue a career that includes space for art and creativity. I would love to keep learning from them all. I would also love to join Derek Jarman with a camera on a dance floor in the 1980s.
JR: Maya Deren. Seeing her films as a young person completely changed my perception of what a film could be and how it could be made.