Chris Friend is a multidisciplinary artist who is currently channeling his creativity through directing, visual effects, and drawing. He has done visual effects for Mr. Robot Season 4, Lady Gaga’s Joanne World Tour, Nike, and many independent feature films. He has also directed music videos for Dropkick Murphys, Black Deer, and Jason Grier of Human Ear Music. An early childhood of moving around a lot helped foster a sense of curiosity about culture and the impact of art in people’s lives. He can be found in Los Angeles, helping directors bring their dreams to life with his company, VisionFriend.
In 2010, when I returned to live in Los Angeles after a long absence, I stumbled upon a Geneva Jacuzzi video, “Do I Sad?” (the live version), and was absolutely blown away. I was deeply into researching the New Deutsch Welles movement from the early 80’s Germany, and Geneva seemed to embody all of that, plus more. I immediately went to a live show and had a life-changing experience while witnessing her performance. I decided that she might be my favorite living artist. I became driven to direct a film centered around her and the energy she embodied.
Six years later, when the time finally came to work with Geneva on a film project, I knew that I needed to throw all of my resources into making the best short possible. I took a close look at my “project management triangle” and I realized that with almost zero money on the “Money” angle, and wanting to completely maximize my “Scope” angle, I would have to leave the “Time” angle as a big question mark.
I storyboarded every shot and knew exactly what I wanted. I traded three days of work to a production company I had as a client, to borrow their $10,000 Arri Alexa cinema camera for three days. I recruited a small group of friends with “day-work trade certificates”. We had only my small Hollywood apartment to use as a filming studio. It was necessary to create a clear space by piling everything that had previously been in the living room, into the kitchen.
Production week finally came and the set my Production Designer, Hunter Peterson and I built, was beautiful. The costumes my Costume Designer, Ajax Rag Hulce and I put together were perfect. Geneva was the best performer I could have ever wanted and was a better Hair and Make-Up Artist than I could have ever brought in. My Producer, Hunter Lee Hughes, enabled us to act as a small, crack squad to complete all of our shots within three days. The footage from the Alexa, shot by our Director of Photography, Cody William Smith, was better than anything I could have imagined. I quickly edited a rough using my sketches to stand in for the future VFX and animation sequences.
Four years after working long hours by myself in my Hollywood apartment, I finally completed all the art, animation, CG, and VFX on New Year’s Eve 2020.
My vision for the execution of the project stemmed from my time growing up as a troubled 13-year-old. I had a small VHS/TV in my bedroom, with a copy of “Pink Floyd’s The Wall”, “A Clockwork Orange”, and the first season of the animated “Æon Flux” MTV show. I would usually watch them all back to back as I sketched and created overly complicated graphic novels. The inspiration I gained in those years would cement my focus on the realization of art projects that would fulfill my initial visions.
I wanted to make the film, “Geneva Jacuzzi’s Casket” an over-whelming, dense, visual extravaganza, with a plot which takes multiple viewings to fully grasp. I imagined viewers watching it three times: the first watch, to be overtaken by the bizarre visuals, colors, and imagery; during the second viewing to be able to pick up on the specific themes of the plot and characters; and on the third viewing, to imagine everything that has been left out of the narrow window from which we view this story.
I hope that I made a surrealistic “pill” that audiences can enjoy watching over and over again, puzzling through the themes and symbolism.