Meet The Artist: Dana Boulos
Dana Boulos has been doing the photo thing for a minute now — having shot talented mates Lily-Rose Depp and Ariel Pink for Oyster in the past — but it's filmmaking that's her one true love. The LA-based artist recently quit all her day jobs to become a director and we're premiering one of her first projects right here, right now.
Called 'Crimson Rose', the film is a mildly disturbing exploration of youth and ambition starring Kate Bowman, Lucas Bin and so many aesthetic goals. Get acquainted with the young auteur below.
Name: Dana Boulos (pronounced dah-nna)
Nickname: Dana Bunny
Star sign: I'm both a Scorpio and a Sagittarius, but most of my friends who are into astrology say I'm more of a Sagittarius.
Where did you grow up and where are you living now?
I grew up in Hampstead, London and moved to the Los Angeles in the late 90s where I'm currently living.
What impact did those places have on you/your work?
Growing up in London I was influenced by my family who have always been interested in fashion and music. I was brought up learning about designers and artists at an early age. Then, when I moved to Los Angeles as a kid, I broke rules and was more daring.
What were you like in high school?
In high school I carried a camera everywhere I went. I had a fear that I would grow old and forget what I had experienced as a teen, so I decided to document it all. I didn't really go out too often. I would stay in reading biographies of people I admired. It wasn't until I was 17, when I started interning for Steve Aoki's record label DIM MAK, that I really started going out and meeting new people. I was their graphic design and photography intern.
How have you changed since then?
I take risks and just go for what I want.
If you had to describe your artistic output in five words, what would you call it?
COLOUR, TEXTURE, EMOTION, LIGHTING, STORY.
What fascinates you about themes of youth and sexuality that recur in your work?
I feel that the subcultures of youth are so misunderstood by the mainstream media. I'm not sure why they dumb down younger generations. I choose authenticity over high gloss drama when it comes to the ages of self discovery. Sexuality is such a normal part of life that it doesn't even occur to me that the themes are sexual — we are humans.
Can you tell us a bit about your Crimson Rose project?
I collaborated with a longtime friend, Jesy Odio, in coming up with a horror-inspired story about a young seductress' dream of attending a prestigious university that is foiled by her paramour's betrayal. She ends up scheming her way into the life of her dream guy; vengeance and murder are her only convictions. All actors in Crimson Rose were street-cast — I wanted to work with people who I had met on the street who had never acted before. There's something special about meeting someone by chance, rather than just calling up an agency to take some sort of shortcut. I'm pretty specific when it comes to casting, sounds as well. For the score, I worked with Calvin Markus who created all of the sound for the film. We had best team that didn't once question me on my creative process. I was lucky to have Milk Studios believe in my vision, and Kaitlyn Fong who let me break some rules.
What films did you look to for inspiration?
As we were figuring out the story I realised the role of Rose was inspired by all my favourite characters. The characters that mostly influenced the role were: Evan Rachel Wood in Pretty Persuasion (2005), Drew Barrymore in Poison Ivy (1994) and Isabelle Adjani in Possession (1981).
Best piece of advice you've ever received?
Just make it happen!
Whose work do you admire, who's doing cool things at the moment?
I admire the works of Nadine Labaki and Andrea Arnold, two female directors who I look up to for celebrating issues that are rarely shown in cinema.
What three songs are currently soundtracking your life?
Oh man, this was too hard to narrow down to three songs, hope you don't mind that I put five!
1. 'Messages from the Stars' by The Rah Band
2. 'Social Sites' by Cosmo Pyke
3. 'Foxy's Bell' by Foxy Brown
4. 'Sur La Planche 2013' by La Femme
5. 'Goosebumps' by Travis Scott
How does your photo work differ from your film work?
When it comes to photography I'm always trying to capture a side of someone that no one has seen before. But when it comes to making films, it's about creating a specific kind of character that needs to breathe. A lot goes on when making a film, I mean, it's a whole production of detail that goes into it.
What would your last meal be?
Salmon Sashimi = ^.~ =
What's the best thing on the internet?
Le Cinema Club! I watch a film every Sunday.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I'm already grown up and decided to quit all my jobs in order to keep directing.
Photography: Courtesy of the artist