Kipp Normand is a local legend around Indianapolis. He is a quaint man who creates wonderful pieces of art from objects that were thrown away or disguarded. Filmmaker Jonathan Frey created a personal short film about this artist, entitled “Kipp Normand” and it is one of the Festival Award-winning short films. We talked with Jonathan about his relationship with Kipp and the art that really speaks to him.
Heartland Film Festival: When did you first hear about Kipp and what was it like meeting him for the first time?
Jonathan: I actually met him photographing a wedding. Once we started with the pictures he told me he wanted two specific portraits. One of him facing the camera and one of his profile. I had no option but to oblige since I was completely enthralled with his glasses and beard. He was intimidating, friendly, and mysterious all wrapped in one.
Heartland Film Festival: What is it about Kipp’s art that draws attention from people? Is it the tools he uses or is it something more than that?
Jonathan: His work represents who he is. Kipp himself draws attention; the way he dresses, the way he speaks, the way he carries himself. It’s as if he’s from another era of time. He’s fascinating and you expect him to have just as fascinating stories.
His work is just the same. It’s a bit clandestine. The pieces showcased are somewhat unfamiliar since they are made up of found objects(typically antique like). The individual objects come together to form a story of another time era. And, we from the present, want to learn more about the unfamiliarity.
Heartland Film Festival: Was it difficult to have Kipp talk about his art or was he willing to share from Day One?
Jonathan: Kipp and I each of have an appreciation for one another’s work. We sort of did an exchange; in exchange for exploring his world and he would be the subject of mine.
Kipp has an exuberant amount of stories and good perspectives on life and art to share. As a result, the most difficult thing to do was keeping him on subject during the interview.
Heartland Film Festival: When you have a great subject in a documentary, all you have to do is let them go and most of the work is taken care of for you. I still can’t articulate it, but watching Kipp make a cup of tea was utterly fascinating to me. What was it about that moment that made its way into the film?
Jonathan: This is a moment in which Kipp didn’t know he was being recorded. Moments like these show how Kipp is just as real as he’s portrayed throughout the rest of the film. Because he has this aura of mystery, any glimpse into his life is like a secret told to us personally by him.
Heartland Film Festival: Are you working on a new project? Can you say anything on what it’s about?
Jonathan: I am. I’m really excited for it. I’m writing a feature length narrative about a girl. And since I typically write about things I wish my life reflected or things I wrestle with, this girl embodies many of my perspectives on life. Besides that, there’s not much else I can share about it.
Heartland Film Festival: What have been some of the moving films that have inspired you as a filmmaker?
Jonathan: The pieces of art or music that I connect with the most usually fall into the period of Romanticism. The works carry with them a longing for something better but this longing or hope is never realized, never comes to fruition, or has no resolution. The pieces to me are beautiful and full of emotion – they’re striking. Films that wrestle with hard issues or experiences (that don’t necessarily end well) show that life is never simple or easy or what we expect it to be. These are the kinds of films I like.
For me it’s less about films inspiring me as much as it is a recognition of what I already like. My hope (ironically) is to one day add to that category of art and filmmaking.
You can purchase tickets for “Kipp Normand” which will play in the program block “Festival Award Shorts 1” for the following days…
– Friday, October 19 at 10:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
– Saturday, October 20 at 12:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
– Sunday, October 21 at 7:00 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
– Monday, October 22 at 4:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
– Tuesday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
– Friday, October 26 at 11:30 a.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
– Saturday, October 27 at 11:00 a.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
Interview conducted by Austin Lugar