Official Selection, running out, Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong (2014)
Grand Jury “Femmes Fatales” Award, Killer Jane and Indigo Lady monologues, L.A. Neo Noir Novel, Film and Script Festival (2016)
Selection, PASSAGES, A MYTH: The Discovery of the Pregnancy of the King, Fest Miden (2016)
Honorable Mention, VOICE A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE, Los Angeles Underground Film Forum (2016)
Official Selection, THE HARPY, Bucharest ShortCut CineFest (2016)
Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography, before chill, Creative Arts Film Festival (2016)
Official Selection, VOICE A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE, Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival (2017)
Official Selection, VOICE, Underground FilmFest (2017)
For about a minute (3 years, actually, I think), I had a fiscal sponsor so that I would be eligible to apply for grants as an artist. I think I applied for three grants in the first six months of my sponsorship. I did not get even a nibble of interest in my proposals, which I expected to happen, having been competing for exhibitions, gigs and cash as an artist for most of my adult life and thus knowing rejection is part of the artist’s life.
I suppose I could say that I gave up, even though I maintained the sponsorship just in case while feverishly creating work that I spend (not that much cash outlay on, really) most of my waking hours making, somebody else magically appeared and offered me a grant that I needed a fiscal sponsor to administer.
But I could also say that since I’ve mostly paid for my own work and dealt directly as an independent artist with art dealers, collectors, theater producers, casting directors, video art curators and film festival administrators, that nobody is my boss except me and I am not beholden to anyone except my husband who is periodically inconvenienced by stage sets all over the apartment.
Anybody who puts their work “out there” is participating in the System no matter how much they might rail against it – as I will never stop pointing out that art dealers, curators and producers would not have anything to do if artists stopped making art or just didn’t play with art dealers, curators and producers anymore.
Independent artists, even ferociously independent artists like me – who would rather fail and or be repeatedly rejected than take commissions, fill out forms and reports, create and justify budgets, follow protocols that exist primarily because of bylaws nobody’s ever read since the person who wrote them, and commingle with patrons – are just as much part of the System as those folks who get all the grants.
The System is anybody considering your work at all for any reason and to any end.
I am very pleased that”before chill” was selected for 2016 Creative Arts Film Festival and nominated in CAFF’s ‘Perfect Spirit Award’ category. This movie is a video poem about aging/the changing of the seasons. It was inspired by the signs that winter is about to happen here in San Francisco, this town that “has no seasons.” Just like everywhere else that I’ve lived, however, there is a pungency, a dryness in the whispering breeze that will grow into a raging wind in a few weeks, a stillness and a beautiful pearlescent sky. I shot this movie on my way home from dayjob as I the scenic route through San Francisco’s beautiful Civic Center. I edited this movie in first-gen Splice on my IPhone. What a lovely way that was to begin twilight. A limited edition DVD is available on Saatchi Art
I was expecting a rejection today, but it was not quite. You can make a crazy movie in your living room about being bipolar with your psychoses in outer space; and get an honorable mention in a cool film festival in LaLaLand!
I wound up selling streaming video because I don’t have the disposition to wait to see what someone else “can or will do for me” – partly from nature, partly from experience. I had already learned what happens when your sculpture is selling – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got better work in you or just want to experiment. I already knew what happens when you are a black performer with a play about the Civil Rights Movement – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got a lot of other stories in you.
When I started entering film festivals, I expected to be treated like a business person. For the most part, that did not happen – in my opinion, filmmakers are treated like beggars in much the same way studio artists and small theatre artists are. Artists, who very possibly were progenitors of entrepreneurship as creator-purveyors of magical images and gods, are now expected to be supplicants who have to wait to see what someone else “can/will do for me.”
When I began to think like the former theater producer that I was for 20 years, I realized that not all film festival organizers are organized enough to be businesslike or businesslike enough to be organized. People who start film festivals likely are motivated by frustration with The Business/wanting to take charge of their own career paths; or motivated by the intense passion of wannabes; or sometimes by a bit of both.
I am not sorry for my tantrums about lack of communication from so many festivals (poor communication may be understandable, logistically speaking given manpower issues but not excused). I have seen so many art and theatre projects NOT happen over the years because available manpower did not match the size or structure of a project. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
However, I am sorry, considering how many shows I arranged without even being in the same town as the venue back in the days of dialup, for not putting myself in the shoes of festival organizers, who are only human and probably most of them not obsessed overachievers who don’t sleep.
Amazon changed its online video business a few months ago to aggressively sell streaming minutes rather than individual rentals and purchases. What can I say – most of the people on this playground know that art sells by the piece. Duh. I am not being paid by the piece by Amazon. It’s not about much money. But the content is mine. I would rather give it away.
What the hell – it is about time for my tantrum / protest / action / installation on Amazon to end, anyway. I am taking most if not all of my videos off the streaming market and making them available on signed DVDs – by the piece.
THE SPINSTER, final version, will soon be available on signed DVDs on Etsy. THE SPINSTER is a performance art movie about an office worker who lives to draw in the classical style. She is obsessed with the Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo. ‘Pontormo’s Diary’ is the only thing she has on her IPod. She lives alone with art supplies and rolls and rolls of paper. She mostly eats eggs & salad, just like her spiritual mentor, Pontormo.
“Sylvia Toy St. Louis is a true artist, struggling the same struggle every artist has fought. I’m right there with her. Her characterizations are true to heart and she fills the screen with words that hone toward the truth that she finally reveals.” Review by Tess Collins Ph.D.