what is it like to work with Salt & Sugar Productions?
Working with Barbarella and David was magical from the very beginning. I’ve never been the subject of a film before and had no idea what to expect but they made the whole process easy and comfortable. They are both so incredibly talented with what they do. Barbarella knows exactly how to put her subjects at ease so their personality and authentic nature come through. Meanwhile, David is getting the subject in the perfect light at the perfect angle. Together they create emotive, real stories that invite audiences to engage deeper. At the opening night of the film, “From Haarlem to Harlem,” the audience gave a standing ovation and people were wiping away tears. I attribute this to Barbarella and David’s ability to understand me, my work, and my vision thoroughly enough to be able to translate it into a film that has won awards and screened at film festivals, museums, and galleries across the country.
I love how the film has helped my career in so many ways. I’ve noticed the ability to have deeper conversations with gallery patrons after they view the film. Their questions are more pointed and we’re able to have a real discussion about real topics quickly and in a way that time usually does not allow at an opening. Having a film like this gives people access to my art and me as an artist. It has reached a lot of people and gives them insight into my process. I cannot even begin to tell you the wonderful connections this film has facilitated for me. I have received countless messages about how the film has changed how people see themselves and the world. And that’s all I could ever ask for. The film itself is a beautiful and complimentary piece of art that will forever live alongside my work. I’m extremely proud of this film and incredibly grateful to have worked with these two visionaries.
Barbarella and David have a pure talent to persuade me to open up and be raw about my work, which I believe led to a dynamic and engaging documentary. Within a short story, they were able to not only give a clear history of my progress as a full time artist, they also truly captured my creative process and my personality. It has been extremely helpful to now have the short documentary, "New Stellar Order" in my toolkit as I am offered more and more opportunities to speak about my work. Beginning talks with this visual narrative makes it that much easier to expand the conversation further and establish a connection to the audience exponentially quicker. David and Barbarella absolutely have the vision to tell unique stories that are tailored to their unique subjects.
On Working with Team Fokos
How to make a cantankerous hermit agree to open her studio doors... David and Barbarella laid a foundation of trust and empathy in our early conversations about this project, and they did their homework. By the time they showed up with camera bags and microphones, I was willing to let them follow me around and record. By the second day, I was an eager collaborator and thoroughly enjoying their process and company. By the time they wrapped up, we had deep respect for their own creative drive and visions… and we were fast friends.
Accuracy of Portrayal
As the master keeper of all control, in my studio at least, (please don’t tell the muses), it was a massive leap of faith, to abandon all manner of it to…well anyone else, and let them tell the story of my art. Team Fokos took tender care of that vulnerable soul, and gently wove it into a portrait that was honest and bold and truer to myself than I had ever been.
I appreciated the way they balanced process, and final painting images, and the magical way they captured the depth of relationship which lies at the foundation of both.
As is true, when art gets it right, I learned something about myself…from their…art.
The Business Side of Things
I’ll have to go into the office and put on one of my other hats to answer this one, which is, after all, the singular challenge of we, the self-employed-artists. The promotion department, around here, used to be buried somewhere to the left of the basket of bills and hiding under the pile of tax papers.
After this film came out, we had to dust off the hat and catch up with the website, where the number of visitors spiked, and continues to rise steadily.
The Fokos film has become a valuable tool for the galleries representing my work, and the patron response has been strongly supportive in both kudos…and sales.
The work that David and Barbarella have done, actively entering their film in festivals and showcases around the country, and successfully achieving recognition and awards there, has trickled down, and flooded my website and enhanced my humble creds. Their coattails are long and generous and we are thrilled to be riding the waves of their vision and passion.
Barbarella and David Fokos are sentient filmmakers whose dedication to producing sincere, exquisite films has helped me pay respect to the people, the work, and the life that I cherish so dearly.
Their passion for storytelling guides artists deeper into our own work through honest conversation. This organic process allowed me to ruminate on facets of my art, helping to clarify the way in which the work weaves one into another. As an artist who often focuses deeply on the project at hand, their film also granted me a broader third-person perspective on how my art might communicate as an ever-evolving body of work.
Barbarella and David appreciate our complex emotional and aesthetic influences which gives them the natural ability to pull deeply from the heart of their subjects. By recognizing and meticulously responding to the inspirations that fuel the artist’s work, their films commit to our true narratives.
Our film, Honoring Life: The Work of Trinh Mai, has been instrumental in helping me share my work, my influences, and my family history in significant ways. As part of my lectures at numerous academic and arts institutions across the country, screening the documentary has initiated important discussions with educators, students, and art supporters on how art can be used as a vital tool in the building of bridges, the transferring of information, the documentation of history, the exchanging of perspective, and the raising of important questions that fuel humanity’s constant need to search for answers.
Barbarella and David value the truth behind artists’ processes, concepts, stories, and emotions. This sensitivity makes for the invaluable and honest filmmaking that they have consistently produced. I am grateful that such inspired artistry exists in this world, and feel absolutely privileged to have taken part in their creative process and to have been a subject for such fine cinematography.