Inside “The Film Lounge” with Christopher Ford and Bruce James Bales

    Chris Ford and Bruce James Bales.
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    Welcome and thank you for joining us in the Film Lounge.

    If you’ve been with us before, feel free to scroll down to our conversation with Christopher Ford and Bruce James Bales. If this is your first visit, here’s what you need to know:

    "The Film Lounge" is a new TV series that features a sampling of short films by Iowa filmmakers. It's produced by Iowa Public Television in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the state's media-production office, and its first episode airs at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12.

    Three preview parties are set for Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City in the week leading up to the premiere.

    While you’re here, you can also see our earlier posts about P. Sam Kessie, Paul Berge, Ian Carstens, Josh Thorud and Joseph Alan Smith. Be sure to check our blog for more posts about other filmmakers during the next few weeks.

    Ford and musicians on set, On My Final Day music video.
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    Today, we’re visiting with Bruce and Chris, who have teamed up on a number of projects during their careers.

    Bruce is a storyteller from Bettendorf whose photography and videos are studies in perspective that create and re-create memories. Chris is a songwriter and performing musician from Dallas Center who combines sincerity with satire to help listeners gain greater self-awareness. Both now live in Des Moines.

    For “The Film Lounge,” they contributed a music video made for Chris’ song “Everybody Rains,” which features him and a cast interacting with a little gray puppet rain cloud to explore the common experience of crying. The video was made possible with support from the Iowa Arts Council.

    What type of films do you usually make?
    Chris: Music videos for my songs. That’s really the entire scope of my film work.

    Bruce: I primarily work within the realm of short films and music videos. I work under the label DEFT, a production company I founded in 2013.

    Bales and Ford filming What's the Name of That Town? music video.
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    What themes does your work deal with?
    Chris: My songs tend to be reflections on the self, the individual’s place in the grand image of humanity and society, and processing that. The films that accompany songs vary quite a lot, from somber and simple to bombastic and a bit ridiculous.

    Bruce: My work revolves around moving through the tragic human experience with fluidity and honesty.

    What are you currently working on?
    Chris: We made five videos for my new album and released four of them. We shot footage for a sixth at the album release concert, so I’m hoping to get that edited into something interesting soon.

    Bruce: DEFT is currently producing two short films -- “Mutt” and “What Cheer” -- plus music videos for Patresa Hartman, Foxholes, The Maytags, Goodcat, ION, Quick Piss, and Extravision.

    Bales, Ford and cast on set, Everybody Rains music video.
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    What do you enjoy about being an artist or filmmaker in Iowa?
    Chris: The gatekeepers are your neighbors, and there aren’t too many hurdles to getting a gig, a showing, a meeting with someone you want to work with, whatever. It’s cheap to live here and centrally located.

    Bruce: The most meaningful part of being a filmmaker in Iowa is the freedom and space. Iowa is an open palette.

    What is one thing you would change about the art and film scenes in Iowa?
    Chris: More diversity. I’d like to see more artists get out of town and bring home new perspectives.

    Bruce: I would like to see more honest critique among peers. It isn't your compliments that will help, it is your critique.

    Coming up next: Greg Best of Norwalk is the self-taught filmmaker behind the “Teen Cop” comedy series.