We had the good fortune of connecting with Cameron Kostopoulos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cameron, why did you pursue a creative career?
I don’t know if I ever chose to become an artist. I think art found me. I began pursuing it because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything else. Not passionately, at least, not with the same obsession that I pour into my personal work, the same heartache and adrenaline and devastation that a new project brings me. It’s always a struggle, and artists don’t really get paid like they should. Or recognized. I don’t think film festivals like me much. It’s a struggle, and it’ll probably always be a struggle. But I’m okay with that. I don’t think I really have a choice.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I accidentally became a multi-disciplinary artist, mostly because I get bored easily. I began in physical production as a writer and director, and have since expanded into VR & AR, installations, and interactive media. The overlap between my alternative writing & directing and technical VFX skills frees me to create dreamt worlds, fading memories, and deeply intimate experiences.
I like to challenge people with my art. My work digs deep down, presenting dreams at once otherworldly and yet incredibly internal. Much of this comes from my usage of art as a form of therapy, since I can’t afford actual therapy. I like to give darker themes an elegance, and adopt what the late artist Hugh Steers called a “soft glow of brutality”. Most important is that I try to find a glimmer of myself in the things I make.
Through my work, I have created corpse pianos, latex monsters, underwater churches and ribcage gardens. I enjoy spinning things on their head; instead of writing about children afraid of the dark, I write about children afraid of the light. I explore love and loss, sexuality and religion, and what it means to be human, to remember, to dream. You might find it ethereal, hauntingly beautiful, or just simply grotesque.
Many of my later works have combined intimacy with technology, in an attempt to bring queerness to the ever emerging digital world. My VR experience, “Body of Mine”, places you into the body of another gender, allowing you to explore your own skin to discover stories and interviews of trans individuals. I am continuing to explore this overlap between queer identity and digital worlds, while writing and directing my own short and feature films.
More than anything, I am looking for beauty in the horrific, for excitement in the mundane, and for a piece of us, together, in the cosmos.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would probably ditch the city and drive them straight out to Joshua Tree. Hopefully they’re visiting in the summer during a new moon, so you can see the full Milky Way. In the city we’d go eat KBBQ in KTown, do the neon light bike ride in Venice, and hit Weho until things close!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The two people who have had the biggest impact on my life are my parents, but not for the reasons that you might expect.
The first public screening of my work that my father attended was for my film “A Mother’s Soliloquy,” an experimental short that portrays through dance my relationship with my alcoholic mother. For the better part of my life, and to this day, my mother has been drunk, and this film was my therapy in dealing with that. After the movie ended, my father walked out without so much as looking me in the eye.
I thought of this moment when he discovered my film “Anti-Venom for a Snake,” which dealt with a drag queen during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Piecing two and two together and realizing I was gay, he cut me out of his life entirely, shattering whatever illusion of stability I thought I might one day achieve.
The years since have both hardened and softened me, emboldened and humbled me, grounded me and helped me soar into the sky. The isolation of his estrangement reinvigorated the artist inside of me, reminding me more than ever before why I make art: in hope that one day, somewhere, someone who needs it might watch one of my films, and not feel as alone.
So thank you, dad, for your bigotry. It has made me who I am.
Of course, not without the love and support of so many people. My aunt Laurie, who has always been my biggest champion, since I was a kid through today. My grandma and my brothers. And my best friend Evan Siegal, a mega talented filmmaker himself who has inspired me with his own work, and has lifted me up out of the dumps time and time again.
And my favorite artist, Jónsi, whose music inspires me day after day.
Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ckostopo