Connor Wiles and Nat Alder are Chicago’s New Trash: a relatively young filmmaker duo that’s making marks all over Chicago. Although they describe their own work as “Basement Hollywood”, there’s no way they could possibly escape their own righteous midwestern vibes. You can almost feel them crafting the golem-souls of their videos in the heat of the set; using the energy of the people around them to tell the action rather than an overworked storyboard. The visuals themselves range in style from soft and lovely psychedelic adventures like that of MTVghosts‘s “Very Much Loved” to raging, explosion-laden action shorts such as The Peekaboos’ The Quantifiable Song. Most artists might get tripped up trying to match so many different themes, but you can almost picture New Trash tying a pretty little bow with all the strands of ingenuity available to them.
Their latest release for Woongi‘s “Coins” is something out of David Joyner‘s worst nightmare; a horror short about a children’s birthday party gone wrong and the lovable purple dinosaur who might have to pay with his life. Like most of New Trash’s video work, the sights fit the sounds pretty damn perfectly. It’s funny, it’s dark, it’s got good pacing, but where the duo really shines is in their ability to create markedly unique visual pallets that serve other people’s visions. It’s all definitely New Trash canon, but without stepping on any of the cheery-faced nihilism that Woongi brings to the table.
Connor Wiles was nice enough to sit down with us here at Midwest Action to share a little bit of insight into the working method of this successful young duo:
MWA: First, I just want to thank you for spending some time answering these questions! It seems like New Trash is shooting a new video at least once a month, which is pretty unheard of for a video crew. How do you maintain that level of output?
Connor: Because we’re masochists (Laughing). But nah, we maintain the schedule we do by tailoring the videos to the resources that we have available between ourselves and the band. In addition to that, every shoot we do is a one day thing, which helps us keep costs low and make scheduling easy for cast/ crew.
MWA: So you’re saying New Trash is a pretty D.I.Y. outfit then? I’m guessing you have some artists that have inspired you to do a lot with very little…
Connor: Yeah, New Trash is a two man outfit. Myself and Nat Alder. We produce, prep, direct, edit, etc. So it’s very “Basement Hollywood”. We’re inspired by filmmakers like John Waters, Roger Corman, William Castle, Cassavetes. People who made films with any resources they could find to make uncompromising, unique work on a budget.
MWA: You just released a great music video for Woongi’s track ‘Coins’. Despite what you say about budget and personnel limitations, it’s a great looking video. What kind of challenges did you face when you made it?
Connor: The kids were a challenge. (laughing) We had about 15 of them and in our youthful cockiness we were like “no problem. We can handle drunk bands, we can handle a bunch of kids”. We were wrong. So getting them to stay on task and interested though the day was a challenge, and it also poured rain about an hour into the shoot and continued to all through the night. Most of our shots were exteriors so we had to pretty much re-write the video on the fly to shift more of the plot indoors. But our crew was great and we were able to make it work.
MWA: That flexibility shows through on some of your other videos, a lot of which remind me of Troma films; The action always looks good if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, and since everyone in the videos are obviously having a blast, it’s hard not to when you’re watching it. What’s the general feel of a normal New Trash shoot? You mentioned drunken bands…
Connor: Hey, sometimes artists need a little something to loosen the nerves.
I think the general feel depends on who you ask. But we like to think it’s more intimate than a normal shoot, since there’s a smaller amount of people involved it feels more like a family project that everyone is equally vested in.
Or we could just be total dicks all the time. It’s hard to tell, you should ask the people we work with.
MWA: Just say, like, “Hey, are these guys dicks?” That wouldn’t worry ya at all?
Connor: (laughing) Not really, like most people I think everything we do comes from an honest place with the best intention, and I can’t think of any instance where’s there’s been negative creative friction. I think that sometimes when you’re artistically focused, you can become blinded in the pursuit of it, and you can lose yourself in it sometimes and not be as aware of people as you should be.
MWA: That’s certainly sound advice when it comes to young punks making art. Want to leave us with some other words of wisdom for the young dudes and dudettes coming up in the scene today? Maybe something that you wish you had known when you started out?
Connor: 1: Make what you want. You’re the audience for your own work, it’s not worth the stress and blood if you’re not making something you care about.
2: Be honest. With yourself and the people you work with.
3: Fuck everyone, there are no rules, listen to no one. Especially us.
Catch New Trash’s event NEW TRASH LIVE July 7th at The Auxiliary Art Center. Featured bands include The Peekaboos, Woongi, The Cartoons, and MTVghosts. More information about the event can be found here.