Friday, December 6, 2013

Get To Know: Donny Slater

"Perfect Attendance" by Donny Slater.
At twenty, Donny Slater is prime to set off a cultural and artistic revolution in Savannah. He firmly believes, as you will see in his deep, thoughtful answers below, in the power of art, and the power of people (especially young people) to communicate through art. When Slater's not capturing the world on his array of cameras, he's blogging for The Creative Coast, or promoting parties downtown, or teaming up with the future (and current) powerhouse, Juwan Platt, to build their legacies. We are proud to feature this exciting young man, and even more excited to see all of the things that he has yet to do. Please, Get To Know Mr. Donny Slater....

Clutter Furnishings & Interiors: Who gave you your first camera? Do you remember what it felt like to hold the equipment for the first time? To capture life on film for the first time?
Donny Slater: I got my first camcorder in 2003 from my sister. It was a JVC - GR something. It took tapes and I would just use the same tape over.
     The first time I held that camcorder I knew I liked documenting the world and playing back footage of things that just happened around me, but I put it down for like 6 years.

CF&I: Stills or movies? Which excites you more? Which medium do you prefer to speak through?
DS: I think I’m equally excited by both mediums. Stills are the magic of freezing one moment of time and to me that is AMAZING! Movies are storytelling, movies can be passed down from generation to generation and dictate so much from dialect, style all the way to spiritual beliefs. Both very powerful mediums and I love running back and forth between both!

CF&I: What filmmakers inspire you?
DS: Michael Mann, his writing ability is insane! He is a true master at the craft of filmmaking with character development. He writes biographies on almost every character in his films so that his actors have an understanding of their characters' childhood, traumatic moments and just so much!
     Melvin Van Peebles, I respect him so much for being able to make some of the first films that depicted the life of African Americans in the 60’s and 70’s from a true perspective. I think he is one of the prime examples of storytelling in movies that can change a culture and make a culture proud to be who they are!
     Wes Anderson, he has a style that can never be duplicated! Every shot in his films is like a great still photo. Aside from that, is it even possible to not love a director who uses Bill Murray so often!?

CF&I: When is Donny Slater taking home the Oscar for Best Director? What does your acceptance speech sound like (we know you’ve practiced…LOL)?
DS: I’m thinking 2020 is when my breakthrough coming of age movie changes the history books of our generation.
     It will probably be very short and powerful. Something like, “Thank you mom and dad! Thank you Velma (my sister) and thank you Savannah,Ga for raising me to know anything is possible.”

CF&I: What local artists are you drawn to? Is there a sense of positive competition between young artists to always make bigger/better products?
DS: Well of course I’m a huge fan of the legends of the culture like Katherine Sandoz, Matt Hebermehl, Chuck Hamilton and Steve Schuman. But I really love the new wave of artists in the city, Evan Walker, Tim Almodovar, Juwan Platt, Keith Morgan, Ellese Garvin and Lana DiCostanzo! It’s a ton more but I just really feel like that group of maybe 100 kids is going to make some awesome things in the near future for our city and the world!
     The level of competition that young artists in this city from Savannah and not from Savannah is insane! We all encourage each other, support, retweet, share and all of that great stuff but then we all are secretly working on something awesome to push the culture forward! Like from my personal circle it’s me, Juwan Platt, Keith and Tim. We hang out pretty often discuss everything going on in pop culture, education and our local community. Share different ideas we have for projects and then are at each other’s necks constantly on making something better.

CF&I: If budget was no option, what dream film would you make? Who would you love to cast? Documentary or feature film?
DS: Feature film! Denzel Washington,James Franco, Lindsay Lohan, ASAP Rocky, Johnny Depp and Shia LaBeouf! The best coming of age and generational gap movie ever! Produced by Scorsese.

CF&I: What music do you listen to while editing film? Who would be on your dream soundtrack?
DS: Right now I listen to Happy from Pharrell all day and an absurd amount of Jamiroquai, Dom Kennedy, Curren$y , Toro Y Moi and James Brown.
CF&I: We know community outreach is something that's important to you. What projects are you working on right now?
DS:  Currently I'm in the last stage of organizing and designing a series of everyday events to add some youth culture to our city! I think that we should have more things to do in our city. Places and events to just have great conversations. Places for the under 21 crowd to party and have a good time without so much scrutiny. We're doing a New Years Eve celebration and then following that up with some more laid back experiences like morning conversations, and a few other cool things that might spice the city up and up the ante for our city leaders!

CF&I: How do we, and others, get involved in your community enriching programs?
DS: We get involved by giving the youth a voice! We have thousands of kids in our city and I'm pretty sure nobody knows what the young people like and don't like in the city. Having a chance to work in the school system gave me a chance to see that these kids are creative, ambitious and determined. They just don't know where the opportunities are, it's for our local publications, media (SavannahMagazine, Connect Savannah,WSAV , etc. ) and community groups to allow the youth culture a chance to express themselves in any way they see fit that will move the entire culture of our city forward and keep our Chathamites in Chatham county!ha

CF&I: Where do you see Savannah in terms of art and community, and the two worlds coming together, in five years? In ten years?
DS: In five years I think The City of Savannah will have agreed to
modernize the other 21 squares to finally merge preservation and
innovation properly in our city. I have a strong belief that if we
begin to innovate our city we will start seeing changes in education, crime and economy. I mean, can you imagine the aerial view of downtown if every square was lit like Ellis Square and surrounded by so much energy! I think The Savannah Chatham County Public School System will adopt a new set of standards, guidelines and regulations to follow that allow for our kids to be the leading innovators in technology and the arts and not make these kids be stuck in the system of the Industrial Revolution. Not every child is going to get a post secondary education, not every child is going to join the military. We have to let these kids understand passion, perseverance and purpose are always going to be the leading factors in long term happiness.
     In ten years I think Savannah will be the leading creative community in America and will set the template for other small towns to develop themselves where young tech heads, entrepreneurs and artists can live in affordable housing, have tons of resources to put out amazing work and thrive in whatever endeavors they wish to indulge in!

CF&I: Describe your films in five words. 
DS: Accurate depiction of our generation.

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