Phantoscope

Sound & Silence: Interview with commercial and narrative filmmaker Brian Cox

Thanks so much for taking a moment to answer some questions. First, please tell us about yourself.

I’m Brian Cox. Originally from Richmond, Indiana. Living in Bloomington, Indiana now, and moving back to Chicago later this year. Have been doing video production for a little over a year and really enjoying it.

What type of films do you specialize in? What are some projects you’ve worked on?

I’m still trying to understand exactly what I specialize in myself. There are so many different things you can do with video, whether commercial, narrative, etc. I’m always developing a taste for what exactly it is I want most out of video production. So far, the projects I’ve worked on and the clients I’ve had have been really diverse. I work under a couple different names. Hidden Hand Films (vimeo.com/hiddenhandfilms) is where I keep everything I’ve done that’s not commercial. I’ve done a couple music videos, a short graffiti film and some other things. I have some awesome narrative projects planned this year for Hidden Hand Films.

The project I’m really focused on is Sound and Silence Films (soundandsilencefilms.com). This is all commercial work for small businesses, as well as weddings. I enjoy creating stories that help businesses engage with their customers. Many small business owners work really hard, yet no one really knows who they are. Video helps build this awesome empathetic connection between the hard work and the customer, it’s fun.

How did you get started making films? Is it something you’ve always been interested in, or did you become interested over time?

Yeah, I’ve been interested in video for most of my life. It’s something I’ve always thought about, but never took action on until recently. I’m a really visual person by nature, and am normally thinking about things like they’re connected visual sequences that I can edit. I’m also a “techy” and very analytical person, so I think video production and I have been a good match.

Video is something that I’ve always loved and wanted to do, but I always used to think I was just too broke, that it was out of reach. But, I saved and saved, and finally bought what I needed to get started. I saved some more, spent (and still spend) hours and hours studying the many awesome resources online and I’m where I’m at now. I’ve learned so much from every shoot I’ve done so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me. 

I noticed you made a music video recently. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, music videos were a huge part of our culture. Please, tell us how it felt to put together that project and give us some insight into the process involved.

Yeah, the last music video I did was for a hiphop group in Bloomington, Indiana called “Mean Quizine”. It was a really fun shoot. You can check out the video here – https://vimeo.com/137800655. For this project, the band wanted a throwback 90’s hiphop vibe. They didn’t want the project to feel intently or aesthetically “90’s”. Instead, they wanted the content, the scenes, to mimic a kind of “dudes hanging out in the 90’s in the summer” feel. We looked back at music videos from the 90’s for inspiration, especially hiphop, some grunge, and found so many (mostly hilarious) examples of iconic videos. Having grown up in the 90’s, I still remember how the era felt. Mostly tacky and colorful, but also, as I remember anyway, at least in my youth, unpretentious, simple and fun.

You also develop web pages and do graphic design. How did you get started doing those things? Do you feel it overlaps or compliments your filmmaking?

I do web design under the name Quiet Ghost Design (quietghost.com). I actually started doing design commercially around the same time I decided I’d finally start doing video production. Tasking myself with both design and video has been really difficult at times, but always remains a good balance of work. So far, and I think I’ve been lucky, if video production work isn’t as available, someone will contact me for web design. I’m really grateful for that, because it keeps me going both financially and creatively.

The two are very different, but I’m able to use similar styles for both. I love minimalism, I think more than any other creative element, for both design and video. I try to apply minimalism to everything I do personally and creatively. Both need to be authentic, and I think being minimal helps the content speak for itself, no matter what the medium.

Are there any projects you are working on right now or will be in the near future?

I shot an awesome promo video for a queer bar called The Back Door, in Bloomington, Indiana a couple weeks ago, and am almost finished with the project. It’s the only queer bar in Bloomington, and one of the only ones in state. The video is nearly finished. I’m also building their new website as well, which should be done in the next few weeks. Have some other fun client projects coming up as well!

Thank again for taking time to answer these questions and to tell us about your filmmaking.

Interview by: Joe Swanson

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