SUNDANCE Film Festival | 2019
JB Ghuman Jr.
THE ART oF BE(i)NG
New Frontier Exhibitions
January 29th 18:00 - Egyptian Theatre Park City
First, filmmaker JB Ghuman Jr. brings us an epic 45-minute visual-sonic experience meant to expand one's consciousness and emotional capacity through an explosive mix of hand-crafted art and multidimensional storytelling. Multifariously following the story of the Little Mermaid, THE (ART) oF BE(i)NG reaches for mathematics of the soul to engage the more “subtle” functions of the mind.
Hi JbJr thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for the festival?
I am, it’s been a bit over 5 years in the making so, needless to say… I’m grateful / stoked beyond to finally share the final product.
Are there any nerves ahead of your Premiere at Sundance?
Um… actually yes. Given my film is a bit off the beaten path with regards to storytelling on top of tons of tech stuff that needs to go right, I’m all but hoping towards the stars all lands as it should.
You had a tremendous run with SPORK, what did it mean to you to win the Audience Award at Tribeca?
Oh boy… it mean the world. Truly. Like my current film, SPORK was sort of it’s own thing. From subject line to even even my style of storytelling, I had shaky hands with each Q&A after my screenings. Though lo and behold, things totally went upwards and literally even to this day it brings a smile to my heart. Very fun ride over all.
Tell me a little bit about The (ART) oF BE(i)NG, how did the film come about?
Well I had originally made one short art film. Then another. Then combined them on top of shooting tons of new footage and finally finished out the full project of which is set to now premier. The process was rigorious to say the least. I spend a LOT of time creating on my own so as a solo artist, the quiet can become almost deafening. But all in all, from joy to endless nights of editing & days on end of hustling to get what I needed, all is a gift. So… ya know.
What was your inspiration for The (ART) oF BE(i)NG?
Well to be honest, I look out at the world and it’s filled with so many wonderful things. Wonderful humans. From animals to sunrises to sunsets to the moon to the insects to the smiles and kisses of love that vibrant from end to end of the world. The planet is ripe with beauty. Alas, it’s also filled with war. Starvation, misogyny, racism, judgment, murder, jealousy, greed and contempt. Hatred and anger seem to find it’s hold and thus I’ve felt compelled to stare for long hours at what the potential issues could be stemming from. I’m nothing above the line, though it appears pretty clear that an increase in conscious awareness coupled with a widening of the emotional capacity for the species could do wonders for most if not all of the humans ailments. So…
What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing this film to life?
Oh gosh… probably just the constant effort to keep going. From over 64 setups to so many set backs, I find in the end the fact I even finished at all to be my best take away.
"Never ever ever ever ever ever ever give up."
Looking back is there anything you would do differently?
Hmm… well, in danger of sounding smug, I kinda don’t. I mean, it’s not that I don’t see areas where I could have done better but given my limitations overall I sort of give myself the same “understanding” I’d give and do give to any other creative or humans who jus… want’s to get it done. Regardless of the outcome.
You have an amazing cast, how did you go about getting everyone involved in the project?
Ha, thanks. Their all actual friends within my life. From rappers to designers to dancers to so many more, each is a personal part of my life. I basically went about it pulling this and that into my studio along the path while creating. Grateful beyond is an understatement, to say the least. I love each of them dearly.
As Director, Writer, Editor & Creator how on earth did you manage all these roles at the same time?
Sigh… it was def. not easy. I’m also a lead performer in the film on top of it all. Though the good part of it is that as an artist, I tend to have an extremely crisp idea of what I want / how I’d like to expose the expression. So In most cases, I chose so many roles merely to be able to express, well… my truth.
Have you always been interested in filmmaking?
Not always. Beforehand I have an installation artist in Harlem, NYC. Before that, a break dancer who wanted to go big in Miami. My life seems to shape itself via my passions and Filmmaking simply became the route to allow me to harness both dance and art into one outlet. Merge it with storytelling and I was pretty much hooked.
As a filmmaker how important is the collaborative process for you?
I mean… it honestly depends on the project. If it’s a music video then I obviously like to get to know the artist in depth so I can thus translate my own expression around them in a way that kind of “puzzle pieces” with themselves. If it’s a film I wrote then I see it all beforehand and thus merely need someone who can translate to the detail that’s given. I’m not controlling in my day to day life. I’m actually the quiet type who let’s most speak, listens more than rants and gives all of my enthusiasm to other’s point of topics. I like to connect to trees for nothing more than to listen to them as well as let my pets rule all around me. Yet when it comes to my expression… I’m pretty straight forward and know 100% what I want. To design the world brick by brick. Its sort of like my projects is moving paintings in my heart. And the humans within tend to be friends given it’s so personal to me.
How much has your approach to your work changed since your debut short film?
My fist film was actually a feature film. SPORK was a larger format given the big budget and over 130 humans assisting me to get her on her feet. Though this process was a massive change in path. I think my approach has changed more so in my ability to really clarify what I want if even unto my own self. The preciseness of this or that as grown increasingly clear for me and I feel growing confidence within my expression has played a big role in that.
Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow filmmaker?
Of course. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever give up. It’s the most common thing you’ll hear yet the most important. Also, try and keep your voice authentic to who you are vs allow the world to sway you into immolating other’s work. I say this with kindness given, like our fingerprints, we are all just as unique as the other. Inspiration is understandable but truly, the greatest inspiration one can get is the kind that merely encourages your own voice to find its footing vs standing on another. From writers to directors to actors to producers…do you. Stand film in the white noise of a shared reality… and do you. You're worth it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently shooting yet another art film that’s shaping up to be pretty special to me and my path. As far as feature film, I have another script titled RHINO that I’m applying my last wave of changes to then setting out to get her made.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The (ART) oF BE(i)NG?
Gosh… I mean… a deeper sense of awareness of both one’s self and others. Simultaneously and equally of importance & worth. In a way that allows the ability to forgive to grow. An ability to say “I’m sorry” expand. While seeing both the past and future as one and the same. Curating a present that is endlessly filled with hope. No pressure, I know… but you asked. ha. ox :)