STATIC! An interview with Bell Soto plus exclusive film premiere

Saved by the Bell. Interview with Bell Soto for KALTBLUT. Bell kindly allowed to exclusively premiere his unconventional movie “Static”. It was never shown to public, so see it first at Kaltblut Magazine! It seems like we live in a century where art has lost its value. Everything is affordable. We can click the pad and open any webpage we want, to see anything we desire.

STATIC a film by Bello Soto. Starring PAWEL OLCZYK. Music by STAS GENAVIEV. Special thanks to DAVE at REDNYC.

There is no more mystery in art and fashion. I remember my pre-digital 90s, when freedom just began to spread along Russia and I had an opportunity to occasionally see something new on TV or accidently read the story of a foreign artist in the magazine. Guess it was common for most of countries (it just was more highlited in Russia) – we all had to «dig» the information up somehow, and the more our excitement was, when we got it. Fashion was on its rise and art scene grew dramatically. We’ve been breathlessly waiting for new VERSACE show and everybody had a buzz on what’s Karl hiding behind his shades.

Digital era changed it all (did it really?). Generally we became more insensitive and cold, but not all of us. There still are some artists, who truly believe in power of creation. They are inspired. They are aspired. Despite they can open the laptop and find anything on Tumblr, their hearts are still pure and minds are open. Probably those few are exactly the ones, who will help art to be saved by the bell? Bell Soto is my hero today. I asked him some pathetic questions and got some extraordinary answers. Let’s see what New York based photographer and videographer is up to now.

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KALTBLUT: Photography (especially digital one) is so widely spread and seems being easier in production, so why you’ve chosen to make fashion films instead of doing photography mainly?

Bell Soto: I have always been interested in images that communicate a story, The transition from photography to film or moving images, was actually great to me because technology made it possible. I still love photography, but every time I do a project, I like to incorporate film. I think moving images and fashion film is the future happening now.

KALTBLUT: Your videos are very sensual, but that is not their main feature. Unlike most fashion videos yours have a story behind them. So where you get the ideas to make another masterpiece?

Bell Soto: I get inspired all the time, sometimes it is a picture, or a song, or a person. When i meet with models in castings i like to talk to them and I am very curious about the way they see things, each video has little bites from a conversation and the connection that i have with my subject. We collaborate and talk about the project, the direction of the story. Film is a team effort and everyone has to be excited about bringing a story to life.

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KALTBLUT: Do you get any profit from doing those fashion stories, or is it just your let’s say hobby?

Bell Soto: At the beginning, about 4-5 years ago when I was just doing it for fun, but never as a hobby, and because my photography had already been widely exposed, most of the people I worked with loved to be part of my new adventure. Nowadays technology made possible to know how the picture will look before we start shooting. With film there are so many more elements that will bring the magic later, and change the final product, and I am always surprised, sometimes a moment on film with the right music will create an emotion that I can’t achieve with still images. I think that is why people connect with my work, and lately most of my commercial work includes fashion film. Also commercials and music video.

KALTBLUT: Tell me about your favorite work, and why is it special for you?

Bell Soto: Every time I do a personal film, I fall in love a little bit. So it is hard to pick one film. I have shot 270 short pieces so far. Shooting film it is almost compulsive, I get ideas all the time and I give myself 2-3 weeks to shoot it, otherwise other ideas take over, it is crazy.

KALTBLUT: You mostly exposing the beauty of a male body in your videos, why?

Bell Soto: Well, I think men are beautiful, I love women too, but for me film started as a natural way of expression. And my stories were about connecting with a guy. However, at the moment I am interested in other themes, love, women, couples, and now I am more interested in the narrative aspect.

KALTBLUT: How do you feel about the gay culture in general? Does it changed from the period when you just started making your art?

Bell Soto: Of course it has changed a lot, Media has a huge effect on the perception of the people that made it a little bit easier for the LGTB community to feel free and safer than before.  Still there is a lot more to achieve as a global society. I think the labeling of gay and straight is a little bit too B&W, still there is a lot to work in terms of gender identity and sexual preference. In the US, finally the transgender community starts to have a voice. I think it is very positive that there is more information and tolerance these days than 10 years ago, Digital era has affected a lot the art and craft.  Fashion and male photography became ubiquitous. Thanks to Internet I am able to reach so many more people. One music video I directed reached 1.5 million views in a week… that did not happen with fashion magazines.

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KALTBLUT: Iggy Azalea is one of the most popular female rappers at a time (after our beloved Anaconda of course), so how it happened that you collaborated? Tell me about your experience with her.

Bell Soto: I love Iggy and I’m super happy she is so successful. People forget how competitive is the music industry and she made it against all odds.  I met her about 3 years ago. We did a shoot for fun, with fab stylist Alejandra Hernandez, who is a dear friend and introduced me to her. We all connected so well in that photoshoot, that we decided to do a music video “The last song”. I was using a lot of surrealism and very polished photography and Iggy was very supportive of my vision. A year later we did a second video “My Time” and it was like a family reunion, the second video was more in the direction of her music, and she had a clear vision of what she wanted, and it was a lot of fun.  Last month I saw her in LA at a concert. She is incredible on stage, I’m so proud.

KALTBLUT: How do you feel about contemporary art? Do you think that everything digital kills art, or probably it just forms another way for art to develop?

Bell Soto: Digital era has allowed us to see more of it in much faster.  Audiences are not easily impressed. Some people use gimmicks, or shocking value, I think it is part of freedom and as an option I’m pro technology. I think it depends on how you use it. My photography has very little manipulation, and in my film I do not rely on technical gimmicks, explosions or uber postproduction, I prefer to work as if we were working with film, and I try to express through emotions.

KALTBLUT: I’m always very curious of what people think of Russia, because I was born there, so tell me if you are familiar with any contemporary artists from Russia and is it generally possible to make art in such environment as created by our government?

Bell Soto: My first contact with Russian culture was through classical music. I went to the conservatory to play violin for 11 years and my teachers came from Russia and of course your amazing composers. There are so many names to mention. In photography I like Nikolay Bakharev. In film, you have amazing directors. There is a scene from Father and Son by Sokurov that is so inspiring. In regards of government, it is terrible that people in Russia have to struggle so much about self-expression. I grew up in Peru during an awful period of terrorism but I think it molded a whole generation that was way more sensitive that the previous generation. I hope the challenges of this time in Russia will motivate people to express through art. Struggle makes you grow sometimes.

KALTBLUT: How do you see the future of your work? Tell us a little about your plans, statements and desires.

Bell Soto: What I like about the future is that does not exist …so I really don’t think too much about it. Some people make plans, but I am very spontaneous. I try to feed my work with good and bad things, it is a learning experience. I have been working on a project of short films filmed in a corner of my studio. It is called “white stories” and it is the same corner but the stories are completely different. Also I have been shooting series of stories about LOVE, in NY but probably will take it to LA and London later this year. Another project which is important for me, is a series of interviews with all the people who supported me or inspired me to create films, we started filming yesterday with one of my first muses David Axell, from 10 years ago and then model Will McLarnon, who is the last person I shot a film with a week ago. I have an amazing art director Glenn Johnson and he takes you to a journey on each interview. We are talking about making it into a video show installation or something next year.

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It was my friend Bell Soto, a photographer and director, who exclusively worked for Yohji Yamamoto, David Koma, Alexander McQueen and others our favorites. Feel free to reach him at

www.bellsotostudio.com
bellsotofilm.com
vimeo.com/bellsoto
@Facebook

To my mind art is slowly killed by the “Digitalism”, but probably those like Bell Soto could definitely find a way for it to be saved by the bell.
Interview by Vladislav Turanski

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