INTERVIEW: FILMMAKER/PHOTOGRAPHER KEVIN HORN

 

We got lucky enough to get in contact with one of our favorite cinematographers, Kevin Horn, and talk about himself and what's like to be a cinematographer in today's world.

Here's how it went:

So you're from Minnesota. Are you still living there?

Yup. Born and raised in Saint Paul, MN, and I currently live and work here.

Cool! How was life growing up out there?

Saint Paul was a great place to grow up. The Twin Cities in general has a lot of tight knit communities that support what I do; skateboarding, filmmaking, and photography. I've made a lot of valuable relationships in those spaces.

Do you think  where you grew up inspired you to get into what you do currently?

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I don't think that my geographical location inspired me to get into anything in particular, but I think my friends and one of my high school teachers were the reason I do what I do. So in a way, yes, where I grew up played a part in what I do. As I get older, my location starts to shape my art a bit, but otherwise I pull inspiration from all over the place.

Do you film most of your work in Saint Paul, or do you prefer traveling instead?

Most of my work as a Cinematographer is local to Minnesota. I'd say I travel for work 1 or 2 times a year, but that seems like it may be increasing as the level of productions I work on grows and my network expands. I actually hate traveling for work because I lose a sense of control. I know Minnesota so well and it becomes a crutch sometimes. It's good to be vulnerable in a new city because it helps you grow, but it can be really frustrating when I'm shooting in an unfamiliar city and can't find a decent rental house, or the local crew doesn't understand my sense of humor.

So, what came first, skateboarding or film-making?

Right on! I hope to make it out to New York soon. Skateboarding came first, 16 years ago now. The interest in film-making came out of a need to film my friends and I so we could see how we were doing tricks. I think we started filming full videos as soon as we got our hands on a Sony Handy cam. Cameras weren't readily available like they are today, so it was always a matter of whose mom or dad would let us borrow the family camera for a few hours. Somewhere along the way I inherited my grandparents' Canon AE-1 and started shooting 35mm photos of my friends skating and being wild.

Skateboarding for us was a good transition into what we do today.  Would you say skateboarding is an entryway to many art forms?

Skateboarding is the perfect gateway into a lot of visual mediums. I think that skateboarders in general see the world in a different way, which is partly why we got into it in the first place. We take interest in the most ordinary things: stairs, handrails, handicap bumps, brick sidewalks, curbs, etc. Like, who the hell ever notices that stuff or even cares? Skateboarders found a way to make those things fun, which is an art in itself. I see a lot of skateboarders transition into Cinematography or Film-making for obvious reasons. It's an easy transition from making skate videos. Photography is another common one, particularly documentary or "street" photography. Street skating is to street photography as park skating is to studio photography. Street skaters are always looking for that spot that no one's skated, or something that's visually interesting and unique, much like a street photographer tries to find the best light or the most interesting person on the street. It's a fun game.

We really loved your project "Hiatus", do you have any new projects in the works that are skateboarding related?

Thanks! Hiatus was a very special project for me. Now that skate videos have transitioned into shooting feature films and commercials, my time on a board and behind a VX is rather limited. I got depressed from not skating much between 2011-2014 so I forced myself back into making skate videos and made Hiatus. During that time I worked less than normal and stopped nurturing my work relationships and it's starting to have a negative impact on my current work life. As much as I'd love to make another full length video this year, I don't think it's going to happen. I still skate a few times a week if I can and I am working on a smaller video project, but nothing like Hiatus.

BUY THE FULL DVD HERE

Was Hiatus your favorite project so far?

Hiatus was my favorite skate video project so far, but it's only my 2nd full length video. I made another video in 2009 called New Flavors, and I'm still proud of that one too.

We loved New Flavors! Where do you pull inspiration for when it comes to your work?

Awesome! That was when I was in my skating prime, too. Those were the best days. Whether it's skate videos, film-making, or photography, I pull inspiration from my surroundings, friends, music, current events, basically anything that I consume that moves me in one way or another. These days I'm inspired by the GX1000 crew and the Isle team, when it comes to skating. In photography, I'm currently inspired by the works of Larry Sultan, Jason Fulford, Justine Kurland, and Chris Verene.

What are your top favorite films?

I always struggle with the favorite films question, but I'll keep it to my top 3: Donnie Darko, Requiem For A Dream, No Country For Old Men

All those movies have pretty dark vibes, is that what draws you towards them over others?

I prefer watching dark films for several reasons. I am fortunate enough to have lived a pretty positive existence thus far. I haven't experienced a lot of death in my life, and have for the most part surrounded myself with positive influences. So when I'm watching a film that has story lines too similar to my own, I get bored. I live that everyday, why would I want to watch it? Film is supposed to be an escape from reality, so I like diving into darker stories, particularly ones shot by talented Cinematographers like Roger Deakins or Matthew Libatique. I like contrast and film noir, and darker stories lend to that look.

Do you have anything new in the works that you would like to share?

I just recently released my 3rd photo book called The 5 O'Clock Club. I'm in the midst of planning a show for that but in the meantime I'm shooting 2 new projects. One of them is a long term documentary project, and the other may eventually take form as a zine rather than a book. I'm not sure how I want to move forward with it, but I'm busy shooting stuff regardless. As for film-making, I am currently doing a lot of work for Target, and have some short films lined up to shoot this summer. Skating will always be going on in the background and I hope to have something new to put out at the end of the summer.

Here's a little look inside The 5 O'Clock Club:

BUY THE BOOK HERE

What advice would you give to individuals starting out as a cinematographer and or photographer? In a time where independent media is becoming a lot more popular, and there are so many creative outlets out there.

Make work that is personal and unique to yourself. So many people are jumping on trends and copying each other. At the end of the day it all blends together and nothing is memorable because there's no personality. Tell a story that you care about. More importantly, care about your work. Don't make work for the sake of making work. Take your time, get to know yourself and your work, and release it when it's ready. There's no rush, it's not a race.

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with audience reading this?

I don't think I have anything else I feel like I need to share. Here's my website, kevinhornography.com for people to check out. Thank you for everything and take care.