Meet n a u t i c o:
“We’ve gotten a lot just from doing favors for people,” he explains, noting on the importance of meeting people and doing as much as you can as a start up filmmaker with a dream. Although n a u t i c o receives a lot of help for free, most of what John gets is for his “bobo” (low budget) films is from that paper: “yeah well, we have to pay people,” he laughs.
But this ain’t no Michael Bay budget. Most all the funding for n a u t i c o comes from out of pocket. And a lot of those benjamins were hard-earned from John flipping pizza dough. Do the Right Thing -style.
Based out of Los Angeles, the land of dollar-sign dreams and lines on glass tables, n a u t i c o found its footing this year with the video “She Found a Way Out,” a song off the debut album for CANT, Grizzly Bear front man Chris Taylor’s solo project. The piece nabbed over 13,000 hits on vimeo, making waves for n a u t i c o as a nifty little start up (and giving Rascal great ideas for puns).
John describes n a u t i c o at its core just “me and my roommate,” his roommate being film industry pal and Ohio University alum Chris Westlund. “We conceptualize everything together, we work together, and we figure all of the costs,” states John concerning n a u t i c o‘s humble little model. When asked how the pair work together, John said “Chris sits on a skateboard with a camera and I push him.”
Above is an example of Chris and John’s “bobo” techniques from “Contraption/Soul Desert.” Wow, I say.
“The lines are so blurred,” states Heeg concerning the “titles” he and Chris maintain. “I conceptualize all of the pieces, but Chris also helps further my ideas.”
“Each piece has a genre,” says John, noting on the difference between their first video, a romance, vs. their latest, an action piece. The beauty of range in their work is most definitely evident, as the poetry of touch in “She Found a Way Out” speaks in such a different way than the surf-rock skateboard chase of “Contraption/Soul Desert.” “People seemed to identify with the CANT video a lot” says Heeg, highlighting the idea of a romantic dance between two people and also the slightly controversial aspect of the Male Gaze and the inability to take lesbian relationships seriously. “I turned the audience into the male POV, and the last shot is Lisa closing the door on the male POV, like ‘don’t look at us that way, don’t treat us like that.’ And I think that point was made evident.”
Heeg not only finds inspiration on the streets and skate parks of LA, but also deep in books, movies, and, of course, music. “When I listen to a song I just get the visuals of what I’m thinking of,” he says, also extrapolating on his obsessive (and might I say impressive) fixation on colors in film and what kind of emotion certain colors can provoke. “The evil leader of the bike pack [in “Contraption/Soul Desert”] has the green shirt, which is like, sickly, or represents toxicity,” he points out. Herein lies the beauty of film as such a complex art, since the viewer doesn’t necessarily know all of this, but it still hits us in some certain way: “I think that when you’re watching a film, you might not see all of these things, but it all adds up subconsciously.”
This is coming from a guy who read a plethora of books on Robert Altman for his Sr. thesis script, a music festival story that closely emulated the “group cast” style of Altman staples like Nashville and A Prairie Home Companion. When Heeg plans for a shoot, he means business: “So much thought goes into every piece. Nothing is arbitrary at all.”
So what of the internet? These days, with helpful platforms such as vimeo and wordpress (word!) which aid in the publishing and showcasing of content which would otherwise be left in the show-to-your-family-at-the-next-reunion-party dust, it seems all the more exciting for start-ups like John and Chris to share their work with the world.
But then here comes the pessimism at your tail.
“I don’t think people have patience anymore,” proclaims Heeg, catering to the truth, yet opening the flood gates to my chagrin. In an age where any hash tag or reblog you can do I can do quicker (#sryboutit), the time it takes to read an entire article or watch a whole short film (god just to even write that) is tarnishing the 3 minutes I have to instagram my dinner from Sushi Samba.
“Because anyone can have the means of production, people are doing a lot of good work and anyone can produce anything” says Heeg, “but because of the internet, people are used to getting things so fast so they really don’t give a shit.” We’ve reached a 21st century catch-22, in which we can gain because of the internet, and simultaneously lose…because of the internet.
“People want to be entertained now, and these music videos are a quick way for us to do that.”
I’m proud, but also grimace while talking to Heeg. I close the tabs to my gmail, wordpress, “babies laughing” youtube, and esquire.com “Things to Talk About at the Bar this Weekend” and focus solely on his vimeo page. Okay, just focus on that for now.
“It’s really kid of sad for art. But also it’s good. It’s productive and it’s fun.”
Well, n a u t i c o, the last thing I’ll say is this: Keep it up and people will give a shit. That’s a warning.
All photos by: nautico. srsly.
By: Cynthia Robinson