Blog Archives

Interview with director James Mackenzie – A Draught of Vintage Artist Series

This is the 2nd post in the ADoV Artist Series.  I got a chance to talk to my good friend James Mackenzie about what he and his incredible wife are up to these days out there in Los Angeles. Check out James’ Vimeo for a taste of what he does, and always keep your ear to the ground for updates on American Zealot, which is currently in post-production.


Why do you make movies?

To cure a raging imbalance.

Describe the style of your films.

To be honest, I’m still learning my style. Visually, I like using natural light — American Zealot used 99% natural or available light, which was a challenge I’m proud of conquering with my director of photography. I like handheld camera. I despise actors wearing an unnatural amount of makeup, unless it’s a part of their character. So far, my films have featured innocent, teenage, red-haired female protagonists, and some of the most powerful imagery features deserted, mountainous locations, but those films just happened like that, I promise.

What are your major influences?

Ingmar Bergman, Joe Wright, Woody Allen, Max Reinhardt. Shakespeare.

mackenzie_IMG_7146_smallestWhat do you feel is missing in movies today?

I haven’t seen everything in the last ten years, so I’m scared to make a blanket statement, but I will say two important things:

First, there’s pressure as a filmmaker to make genre films. There’s a good deal of money to be found in an audience that’s already been created, so the underlying idea is to use the predefined mythology, iconography, and conventions to tell a similar story. But my favorite films don’t follow molds, they follow heart and character. They hold a mirror up to nature. If these are the guiding principles used to tell a story, even with glaring shortcomings, I want to see it! These two modes aren’t mutually exclusive, but when I see an interesting story covered with paint-by-numbers filmmaking, I cry inside.

Second, movies need active audiences that aren’t afraid to question society, tradition, and the bedrock of their lives. I’m eager to find moviegoers that want to leave a film full of questions because I’m not sure I have many answers to give.

What’s next for you?

I just finished writing a screenplay about a teenage alcoholic for a Lithuanian production company, but that’s for a friend to direct. I’m at-bat for a sci-fi romance (I can’t be more excited about this) and refuse to give many details away, but I think there will be a bizarre wedding scene — one unlike any other you’ve seen before.

Interview with poet Michael Horan – A Draught of Vintage Artist Series

This is the first post in a new series called “A Draught of Vintage Artist Series”. The series will consist of interviews with artists of all kinds: florists, musicians, photographers, potters, poets, painters, map makers, filmmakers, and makers of all kinds. It will serve as a way to promote local and small-batch artists as well as expose the readership to beautiful artwork being created today.

I had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Michael Horan and interview him about his poetry and current projects. Check out his writings and audio recordings on his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


ADoV: Explain your mental and material process for writing poetry. What is your first step and where do you go from there?

MH: I typically think of a first line while doing other things. Trying to go to sleep, for example, or driving, or working. It’s not inspiration, but a matter of you need a first line so you can write a poem. I get in trouble if I keep on composing it in my head because I might not remember the other lines if I get past the first stanza or so. The first line always sticks with me because it’s the hardest to get. However, the first line might become the fifth, or some other, after polishing. It usually would be displaced from the beginning if the poem is too abstract. With those poems, I find I have to ground them in an image, which means the abstract lines come in later.

ADoV: What about the material process?

MH: I have to be sitting down, usually on a chair or couch rather than at a desk or table. It makes for messy handwriting. Unruled, statement size Moleskin journals and a Pilot v5 Precise pen. After the poem is mostly intact, I will polish lines and half-lines on a computer, but if the revisions become too involved, I have to rewrite it down on paper. The first draft would be too riddled with mark outs and carrots and arrows to use it for any other substantial revisions.

headshot currentADoV: Do you have a topic or a vision for the poem before you start?


MH: I might have a single word, but apart from that, really my only goal is to write a poem. When I start to compose, there is a process of testing the water with clichés…the sky is blue, I went down to the sea, it’s a beautiful night, the flowers smell of honey…then breaking them up and rearranging them until you have a line that isn’t boring. Then the other lines follow as the image solidifies or as the ideas, associations, and logic implicit in the language become more apparent.

ADoV: Why do you write poems? What are you seeking to communicate or explore through your poems?


MH: The idea of poetry and the idea that I am a person who writes poems are very distant from me, really somewhat of an annoyance. When I think about it abstractly, it seems to be an entirely useless process of narcissistic self-reflection. A charade. But it’s redeemable because language is too important. I write because the process of writing is engrossing. The prospect of arranging words and ideas in an entirely original way is too great to pass up. It’s not narcissism because you still brush your teeth twice a day and wash the dishes. As far as communicating and exploring, it’s about the beauty of sound and the sound of beauty, and that is all ye need to know.

ADoV: What/who are your influences?


MH: Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, John Keats, Chris Petter, and Dante.

ADoV: What’s the next big thing for you?


MH: I am working on a big project on my website called The Poetry Audio Blog (link: Recording great poems and posting them. It gives me the chance to memorize poems, and I don’t have to create anything new. The poet has already done all the work. It has the added benefit of getting some good language in my head for my own work. I plan to do around 50 recordings in quick fashion, and then settle into a one recording a week rhythm. Anybody who’s interested can subscribe for email updates here (

Gregory the Great Crowdfunding Campaign – Land of Song

Dear Friends,

Gregory the Great Academy is gearing up for their annual crowdfunding campaign Land of Song – The Place of Music in Education.


You might recall last year’s crowdfunding campaign. They are calling for people to signup to be a part of it in order to get the word out. The title of the campaign is Land of Song, which are lyrics from the school’s song “The Minstrel Boy” by Thomas Moore. This song encapsulates the poet warrior spirit of the academy, recalling the brave and self-sacrificial deeds of the minstrel boy. These crowdfunding campaigns are incredibly important

Senior rugby players 6

Class of ’05 Rugby players

because they help the school’s tuition assistance program that lets deserving boys attend the school who cannot make full tuition payments. Without this fund, many of my friends would not have been able to attend St. Greg’s. Let’s get the word out there, and raise some dollars to support this great institution.

Click Here to signup as a member of the crowdfunding campaign team.

As an incentive, if you signup, you can download a complimentary copy of the album Introibo, which was recorded mainly by the class of ’05 (my class).

Peter Hilaire Bloch

SGA Class of 2005