Pink Floyd RSS News Feed

Statistics

We have 7 guests online
Visitors: 60948046
black strat book
Nick Mason Inside Out signed copy
Brain Damage and A Fleeting Glimpse
Home arrow Interviews arrow Other related interviews
Taken by Storm: the Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis Screenings, DVD Release Print E-mail
Written by Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Monday, 05 October 2015
Storm Thorgerson, at Burbank Studios

Roddy Bogawa’s Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis has been making the film festival rounds since 2011 to great critical acclaim. Its theatrical release, which coincides with a DVD release, will bring the project to a production conclusion, giving fans and arts enthusiasts a chance to celebrate one of the most important accounts of Pink Floyd-related history on the big screen.

The US theatrical premiere started on Friday, October 2nd, and is currently running at New York's Museum of Modern Art, with upcoming screenings today (Monday, October 5th) at 4:00pm, with more opportunities to see it tomorrow (7pm), Wednesday (4pm) and Thursday (7pm, including an introduction and discussion with Roddy and producer Orian Williams). On Wednesday between 7pm – 9pm there's the exhibition and book launch for AFTER THE STORM at Splashlight Studios, 75 Varick Street.

The UK premiere takes place on October 16th at 6:30pm at the Barbican, London, and includes an introduction and discussion with Roddy, Orian, and from StormStudios, Rupert Truman.

There are also screenings in Portland, Maine and Columbus, Ohio, in November - more details on the film's website.

We caught up with Bogawa to get a fuller background on the project's history and purpose in our extensive, exclusive interview, along with some very revealing and personal insights into Storm himself.

Brain Damage: How long, altogether has this project taken and can you describe its sojourn in terms of benchmarks from the moment of inception through this upcoming release?

Bogawa: I joke that the film was in pre-production for thirty-five years and then the shooting and editing took about two-and-a-half years to get it to a 'festival cut' – the cut that screened at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin in the Spring of 2011. It wasn't quite done but they really wanted it so we got a first edit together. It played really well there but I felt that it needed more breathing room – it was cut very tight to information – and so it underwent a few more picture edits. From there, it was a long process of negotiations with Pink Floyd and their management to clear footage and music that is featured in the film. They were helpful and supportive, just slow; but in the end they are behind the film and I have given them copies of my footage for their archives. Storm would be happy about that, I think. There were some slight changes made to the final version being released now, but they were very minor: a few image swaps, music cues, etc.

BD: How did (Storm) Thorgerson's passing affect your perspective on the project and did that translate into some change in the actual film (was the film edited at all after his passing)?

Storm and I became close: spending so much time together during filming and afterwards we became quite good friends. It is strange: though he intimidated people around him, I have a few friends who have similar personalities so I immediately realized he was all about work and that sometimes his brusqueness was due to frustration with things not being realized quickly enough. His mind worked extremely quickly: after his stroke and then his cancer diagnosis, the physical slowness and handicap really pissed him off.

I travelled with him many times and, let me tell you, it gave me an entirely new perspective on people who struggle with physical handicaps. Just negotiating going to the bathroom could be difficult; sometimes taxis would pass us by, not wanting to deal with a wheelchair and with the need to help someone into the cab.

I didn't know him before the stroke but I was close to him when he got diagnosed with colon cancer and was around during his treatments. I remember when he found out his red blood cell count was down by 50%, how we joked about working relentlessly with only a half-tank of gas. Unfortunately, this was a symptom of the cancer that had yet to be discovered.

When he was diagnosed with colon cancer they were able to operate on him immediately with David Gilmour's help. He was fortunate: had he been limited to waiting for the operation and not afforded private care he would not have lived as long as he did. Sadly, the cancer had passed beyond the colon: though chemo treatments reduced it, over time, the cancer spread.

It was an intense time, as you are intuiting: I wasn't done with the film as Storm was being treated. We would talk nearly every day and when I'd call up and ask how he was, he'd answer, "fine with the Spectre of Death hovering behind my shoulder". He was very scared but had such strength and humour until the end! On one trip, I met him in the chemo ward at the hospital. A few of the patients knew who he was. The entire time he was cracking jokes and cheering people up, saying things like, "not sure I like the room service in this place". He also had Sylvia Ruga, one of his assistants, next to him working on designs while he was getting infused. That was Storm.

As I neared the completion of the editing, Storm (in some ways) realized he was entrusting me with what would become his life story – a big weight on me – but I think our friendship really helped me deal with it emotionally. I'll never forget Storm calling me up and telling me that I was 'waiting for him to die' before I finished the film so I had the ending! He was great, never asking to see any footage or edits of the film and always reinforcing how it was 'my' film. I think he was smart enough to realize that it couldn't be a vanity project and I needed space.

SXSW Festival 2011

Storm was able to see a complete version of the film at SXSW. At the first screening he was sitting next to me and during certain moments in the film, he'd lovingly just whack me in the chest with his cane. I honestly think he felt the film captured something about his humour, work ethic, and thinking processes – as well as his place in history – so he was pleasantly surprised. I really lucked out that, somehow, our paths crossed when they did.

I spent three days with Storm about a week or so before he passed away. I had heard from Barbie, his wife, that his health was waning and that he wanted to see me. He hadn't started takin

g any strong pain-killers yet as he wanted to have a clear head. Though he had just started eating less, we had sushi together and one morning he had sips of my cappuccino and bites off my pastry. He had just approved a new design for a large anniversary Dark Side of the Moon print that was hanging in his closet, finished seeing the proofs of his last book, The Gathering Storm, and watched an assembly of footage from our Syd Barrett project.

I can't enumerate all the personal and private conversations we had but we spent quite a lot of time silently smiling at one another: at one point he squeezed my hand and said "sorry I'm dying on you, we have so much work still to do". When I left, I told him that I wouldn't say goodbye and that I didn't know how fate had brought us together but that it was an honour knowing him for the years I did. Storm looked at me and smiled and simply said, "Don’t be so melodramatic, Roddy".

BD: What was your first exposure to Thorgerson's work growing up?

My guess is that rock albums really were the first obsession I had as a teenager while trying to figure out adolescence like millions of others. I was into rock before I got into punk and the very first concert I saw was Pink Floyd, on the Animals tour. I had lots of Hipgnosis designed albums… the Pink Floyd stuff, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Paul McCartney and Wings, etc., and I remember wondering who or what this mysterious design company was. I was utterly obsessed with the cover for Black Sabbath's Never Say Die album, which features two WWII pilots with these flight masks and colour tubing winding around their faces. There was something about that design that I loved – the exploded diagrams on the inner sleeve, the cropping of the plane on the back cover... I would certainly include Dark Side of the Moon since I had both of the posters up on my wall. I really loved the green in the infra-red image of the pyramids. I still have the stickers somewhere but the original posters didn't last.

One of the back stories in my film is the story of vinyl record culture. I have clear memories of my friends and I loaning each other LPs and sitting around playing tracks for each other. There was no internet yet so we had no clue who or what Hipgnosis was though we did search out record covers that had their name in the credits. I think the kind of mystery and play that was behind Storm and Po's thinking helped mythologize the imagery.

Storm and Roddy in New York

BD: This film gave you a unique opportunity to get to know Thorgerson as more than just an artist – you became a good friend: what elements of his personality or interests outside of his artwork surprised you most?

It is hard to describe how worldly Storm was. We had loads of conversations about all kinds of subjects – films, literature, art, music, food, travel – but possibly what surprised me most was how much he knew about contemporary art. We had many conversations about art, not once mentioning Magritte or Dali. Once we were in Los Angeles and there was a Dali show up at a museum and I said to Storm that we should shoot an interview there and he politely told me to "fuck off". I remember talking with him about James Turrell's light rooms, Francis Bacon's paintings, Damien Hirst, Ashley Bickerton (I was Ashley's assistant for years and Storm was really curious about what kind of artist I would have worked for), and when we were in Chicago we went with his son Bill and with Rupert Truman (Storm Studio's photographer) to see the Anish Kapoor bean in Millennium Park. He loved good food so many meetings were in restaurants he frequented – Limonia and Artigiano – near the studio or his home. He took me to a Japanese café in Primrose Hill that he told me specialized in scrambled eggs. They were amazing, as you can imagine. There's an extra DVD clip that I’ve included which is footage of Storm and I riding around in a taxi in London while he tells stories about neighbourhood market places. I've always felt that bit of footage reveals an incredible amount about Storm's personality; people will get a glimpse of him in an everyday setting.

BD: What commonalities beyond your interest in art did you feel intensified the bond you developed with Thorgerson?

I would offer up that we shared a common liking in "smart" work, that is, things that had resonances beyond their appearance both in meaning and in culture. It is known around Storm's circles that he had a real "all or nothing" attitude and in some ways, I've always felt that way in both my own work and music, art, and films that I love. Music and art really changed my life so why wouldn't one see how important it could be for someone else?

Storm loved music. He would tell me at different times "Roddy, why do so many bands have such crap covers? Do you think it means their music is crap?" I think he always hoped that his images would function in the visual field the way he thought good music worked on the listener in the aural sensory realm. Those are extremely high stakes to lay down before one's creative practice: you can see then, immediately, how the idea of a picture of the band with their name in some large font on the cover is out of the game from the first step with Storm. I always hope that my films will function in a similar way – as triggers to thought and discussion about larger ideas and experiences.

BD: Your project included a Kickstarter campaign at an early juncture: how did this impact your effort?

It's funny because I only learned about Kickstarter accidentally while on a panel on film-funding with several foundations I was soliciting grants from. Yancey Strickler, a founding member of Kickstarter was there and started his presentation by saying "all the funding systems are broken". I immediately sat up in my chair, keenly interested in his talk. Afterwards I had a short chat with him about my film about Storm. He really encouraged me to apply (at that point you could only have a project on Kickstarter through an invitation system) so I knocked up the proposal a few days later. At that time, I had run completely out of money but had an editor on hold: Karen Skloss. I didn't know her but really wanted her to work on the film. She was an editor on the great film Be Here to Love Me by Margaret Brown, about the country singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt, which I loved and in which I saw a real parallel to my own film. I got accepted immediately by Kickstarter but held off on a campaign for a month: I spent the time looking at the site, figuring out strategies and what to do, and really planning the campaign. Once I did put it up on Kickstarter, I raised almost 22K in 45 days. A grant I had applied for took nine months of waiting before resulting in a "no", by way of comparison.

BD: Did you find yourself developing a more profound relationship with some of those that contributed to the Kickstarter effort than you expected?

I'm a fan of Kickstarter and though I've pondered reaching out through it again for help in distribution or new projects, I've decided for the moment to hold off. When I met Yancey, he gave me the whole Kickstarter community pitch and I was sceptical. What was surprising to me was that the Kickstarter pitch wasn't just PR for the company. Its structure allows an open system of not only communication and support but also of human interaction. Given how isolated we are nowadays, immersed in our electronic devices, this is something positive to add to a process that helps projects get made. It's how you and I met, right? (The author and his family contributed toward the film's production effort as part of the Kickstarter campaign). Through Kickstarter I also had email conversations with people that said they couldn't pledge as much as they wanted to but had other ways to help out, e.g., connections to rock DJs around the country, writers for blogs, etc. The idea of building an audience and support structure for your film before its completed is fantastic. For bands and filmmakers, can you imagine? Kickstarter gives them a reason to make a vinyl LP or DVDs of their films. It's a new pre-sale model that anyone can embrace. And there are a handful of people that specifically contributed to my campaign that I now call friends. That's kind of cool, no?

What's become apparent to me is that Kickstarter has proven they are not just building a new tech idea so they can sell it off for a billion dollars. I respect that, it goes against the grain of all these new start-up companies.

BD: It's safe to say those that contributed through Kickstarter have their own commitment to the band and to Thorgerson's legacy: as you met or interacted with them, did that interaction escalate your focus or approach to the project in any way?

Storm Thorgerson during a Pink Floyd tour

The one thing I would say about that question is this film needed and should have been made. Storm literally has designed some of the most iconic images in music and I've always felt they must have had huge effects on millions of people – like they did on me. I think Kickstarter initially gave me the motivation to self-distribute the film. This is something that I had no interest in trying to do, initially, but my experiences with Kickstarter gave me the confidence that if I had to, I could probably come up with good ideas on how to do it. I did tell Storm that I want this film to be seen by as many people as possible so I met with distribution companies for a little over a year. Quite a few wanted the film but it was really kind of sad how they lacked a sense of how to market and get films out into the world. It was pretty much the same discussion every time: "Well, we'd probably try and get the film shown in New York and Los Angeles and maybe some music festivals and then put it on iTunes or Netflix". Here I was proposing screenings with exhibitions, maybe bands playing at the screenings, book signings and panel discussions, etc., and I just couldn't see signing the rights to the film away for some company's back catalogue. Orian Williams, the producer who did the great film Control, about Ian Curtis, came onboard to help strategize release ideas and we decided together to roll the dice and put the film out ourselves.

BD: The website for the film was redesigned: was it purely a desire to revamp the content cosmetically or did you do it to give information and details a new presentation with a more targeted set of goals in mind?

Originally the website for the film was at www.takenbystormfilm.info because the '.com' address was taken. I eventually got a notice that the domain was free so I registered it and now the film's site is at www.takenbystormfilm.com. On the original site, I designed a really basic set of pages myself with IWeb not really knowing how to do much with the templates. When I got the new domain name, I hired Eilon Paz of Dust and Grooves to design the website. He had some great ideas about what to do graphically and conceptually. We also needed to add links to buy the film, etc. He's also designed it so it looks pretty much the same on mobile devices and all that technical stuff that I would never be able to do. I'm very happy with what Eilon designed; he's designed something that serves its function but looks great.

BD: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City has been a great partner to you in this project: they presented the film at an earlier stage and are now cementing their collaboration with you with an amplified partnership – can you tell us about this?

I've had tremendous backing in the festival and museum world and there have been several curators at MoMA who have been supporters over the years: Larry Kardish, who recently retired, and Sally Berger, who invited the film to screen at MoMA as the centrepiece project of their Doc Fortnight series a few years back and who has set up the theatrical release of the film starting this week. Larry was always a fan of my work and started organizing the mid-career retrospective of all my films: when he retired, Sally came on to complete putting it together and, after that, the museum purchased several of my films. So Taken by Storm is in the permanent collection of MoMA!

I think Sally gets the themes that cross over in the film: technology changing music and image-making, where art and commerce intersect, and Storm's impact on popular culture. Sally and I met before the summer started and she asked if I'd consider a theatrical run at MoMA, I couldn't see a better match. I think the film has found a great home.

BD: What cities has the film been presented in?

Storm Thorgerson, with Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon cover image

Taken by Storm has had various spotty screenings around the world, usually as part of exhibitions or special preview screenings so I really feel this next week is the official release. It did have festival screenings at SXSW in Austin, Boston, and Seattle and private preview screenings in Berlin, London, and Cape Town as part of StormStudios and Hipgnosis shows.

BD: How do you feel the film was received from city to city, i.e., do you feel audiences reacted differently to the film in each setting?

It seems as though the film really touches people in much the same way, that is, they are in total awe of the creative work and imagery that Storm accomplished over the decades and also this rediscovered pleasure in re-visiting the idea of vinyl records and what they mean to us culturally. I don't think this is a nostalgia trip but rather a desire to re-connect with physical objects that often are the tangible bits of our emotional lives. Technology has moved us rapidly towards isolation and intangibility with all the gadgets around us. Even the television as a broadcast device back in the day would have your family sit down together to watch a show. It's a big change to streaming Netflix on your iPad with headphones on. When I was a teenager blasting music in my headphones late at night, I also still enjoyed the times I got together with friends to crank the stereo speakers up, filling up the room with sound. There still seems to be a longing for that kind of experience and the film seems to rouse that feeling in audiences.

BD: Did you feel audiences were particularly keen on Thorgerson's work based on specific bands they follow, such as Pink Floyd, or was there a much wider audience for the project than that?

Of course, his most iconic images are for Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Wish You Were Here, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and Division Bell – and some know his designs for Led Zeppelin, especially House of the Holy... but I think a lot of people know the Genesis and Peter Gabriel work as well as 10cc designs. The interesting thing is that Storm did covers not just for so many bands but also for so many different genres. Some of the newer metal bands wanted to work with him because of his designs for the Scorpions, Rainbow, or AC/DC. Muse certainly taps into the prog-rock history of his work. A jam band like Disco Biscuits or Umphrey's McGee probably knew his designs because of the Phish cover he did, so it's amazing how many types of audiences are interested in the film.

An interesting late collaboration was with Steve Miller who met Storm through theatre director Rob Roth who actually ended up as the Executive Producer on my film. Storm ended up doing four designs for him and told me that he was a massive fan of Steve Miller's music: the Fly Like an Eagle record was really important to him at the moment in his life when he became a single father. Steve is a great guy and when I interviewed him, he mentioned he was writing some music for a new record that was influenced by one of Storm's designs. I thought that was an amazing idea. I'm sure it must have really knocked Storm out when he heard that!

Besides fans of all these groups that Storm has done covers for, there is also an audience that is into graphic design. They show up at the screenings often. That's another entire side to this all. The film gets into some of the techniques that Storm used to get some of the images but it's so much deeper than I could get into – how Po and he would literally bake pictures in the oven, print photos through pantyhose, airbrush, etc. – all things done to manipulate the image pre-Photoshop. It comes down to Storm's thinking process, ultimately – how to get the image that he has in his head by any means necessary. One time I was visiting a friend who owns an advertising company and who happened to ask me what I was working on. When I told him about the film, a smile came over his face and he led me into his office and pointed to his bookshelf. Sitting there were literally all of Storm's books!

BD: Thorgerson's work spanned more than one generation: how did Thorgerson feel about newer bands and new music he was exposed to as a commissioned artist?

Storm loved some of the newer bands he worked with – Muse, Biffy Clyro, The Mars Volta – and developed friendships with them hoping to have a long run with them as he did with Pink Floyd. I think he worked extremely hard on some of their covers. I always thought that Absolution for Muse was the bookend to Houses of the Holy. The Jellyfish head for The Mars Volta's De-loused in the Comatorium and Puzzle for Biffy Clyro are up there with his best designs. He definitely had resurgence in the past 15 years or so, starting around the time he started working with bands like Catherine Wheel and The Cranberries and then again, the internet made it possible to track him down, which contributed to this.

BD: Did Thorgerson take the music into account when designing album artwork to a larger degree than you expected?

There's a very true story in the film about Storm having a box of roughs and re-using proposals for covers. Storm did leave the studio with a few hundred of these, so StormStudios is continuing to shoot and design work in his name (StormStudios is Rupert Truman, Dan Abbott, and Peter Curzon). I witnessed a few brainstorming sessions while spending time with him so I observed a bit of how he came up with his ideas. In fact, the first day I spent in the studio with him, Storm and Dan and a few of the other assistants were trying to come up with names for a Pink Floyd box set. They were playing word games, free association, referencing past Floyd ideas, anything and everything in a real lateral thinking kind of process. At one point, Storm even turned to me and asked, "Got anything Roddy?" I couldn't sleep very well that night because of my jet lag and periodically would wake up in my hotel room and write down a few titles that I thought were pretty good (note: none of them were "Oh, By The Way"). Another time, Storm was trying to come up with a design for a band and was listening to their music on the studio's stereo with the CD player on repeat at full volume. It was almost like subconscious messaging, trying to discern sound patterns or colour palettes that would spark an idea. It's absolutely true that some of the images had absolutely nothing to do with the music but, most of the time, Storm would get advanced copies of demos or rough mixes and he'd submerge himself in them at the studio, car, and at home.

BD: What work did you feel Thorgerson was most proud of?

That's a hard one but my answer from getting to know Storm pretty well is that he was really mostly interested in the moment of creation and that the image was just a document of this. So to see the huge stone and metal heads for The Division Bell in the fields of Cambridge in person was really where he was at. He had to get the shot but it was all about how he had to get the shot. I once told him that the Hipgnosis covers always intrigued me because I saw them as film stills, moments between other moments and that's why they always seemed in motion or unfixed. He smiled at that one.

BD: Did you feel there was any specific work that Thorgerson wish he had approached differently, in hindsight?

If you could ask Storm this question, he'd say a lot of them were turkeys. He was dismissive of a lot of great designs for different reasons. Once he and I were being interviewed on a hard rock station and the poor DJ would ask him about a Scorpions cover, or Sammy Hagar, or Def Leppard, and he'd just answer "Sorry, hate that one. My fault" It was hilarious but a tough interview.

BD: How did working as closely as you did with Thorgerson impact your own style in film?

I think Storm's work ethic is something that I have taken away from being around him. We would sometimes talk to each other about how fortunate we were having the lives we do, being around music and art and being able to travel and how much we cherished these experiences. I'm not sure if any of this specifically influenced my filmmaking but more so my outlook on life. One has to find something they enjoy to do and if they can hit the right notes at the right time, they will not only carve out some happiness but also will excel at what they do. I truly believe that now.

BD: To your knowledge, were there any projects that Thorgerson was working on at the time of his passing and what has happened with those?

Storm finished The Gathering Storm book which was his chosen images; these are the images that he felt best represented his body of work through the decades and it is an amazing book. It was self-published in the UK by the DeMilo Art and StormStudios but has just come out in the states through Insight Editions in San Francisco. Storm asked me to write an essay for it so I horse-traded with him to do an image for the cover of a book coming out on my film work titled If Films Could Smell, which is coming out early next year on Kaya Press in Los Angeles. In the end, he took over the design of the entire book. It has changed a bit as I ended up adding more material but it contains the inherent design that he did with Silvia Ruga. I’m really excited by this and it is perhaps the last thing he worked on and it’s going to be really beautiful.

The Hipgnosis portrait book that's come out in the UK was actually started before Storm passed away. I had pitched the idea for it to Po (Aubrey Powell, founder of Hipgnosis with Storm) and Storm after seeing so many great portraits of bands in their archive as I was working on my film: saying that since they absolutely hated the idea of pictures of bands, they’d never do a book on it. Over a few bottles of wine, what started off as a lark ended with an extensive list on a napkin. It wasn’t published before Storm's death but Po was able to complete it and I think it's a really great document of another aspect as to how talented and accomplished Hipgnosis was.

One cover that Storm designed but wasn't able to shoot was the Biffy Clyro single, Opposite, which has a woman whose face is covered in roses, really stunning. I think that was shot a week after he passed away and I think it's up there with his most memorable images.

BD: One of those projects may be the Syd Barrett documentary: it seems this is now an effort you are giving continuity to: can you tell us more about this?

I don't want to say too much about this yet but this was a project we hatched in Berlin with StormStudios illustrator Dan Abbott. Months before, Storm had done a show at the John Varvatos shop in West Hollywood and John brought me out to do a private screening of the film at the Soho House. I invited Rob Dickinson from Catherine Wheel who lives in Los Angeles and he loved the film so much that he went up to Storm immediately afterwards and told him that I should do the Syd Barrett film that had yet to be made. The next day, Storm asked me what I thought of Syd and I told him a story about how in college I had been in a band with a bass player who was obsessed with Piper at the Gates of Dawn. We would play Lucifer Sam but couldn't really learn any other songs because the structures were just so odd. I told him that I thought his music was some of the most honest I had ever heard, especially the two solo records, and that it still seemed incredibly modern even now. Between a bite of eggs, he said to me: "Hmm… maybe you are the one". He said that if I was interested in doing a film on Syd Barrett, having grown up in Cambridge, he knew everyone close to Syd. I told him how I had been gearing up to do a narrative film that I had shelved when I started the film on him so I wasn't sure but that he needed to give me a month to think about it. That summer, I got all the documentaries out on Syd as well as the three main biographies and went over all the material. I called him up and told him I thought the films were all pretty similar, fairly standard TV docs, and that I felt there was a more complex story there. So I told him I was in and at the meeting with Dan in Berlin we wrote out an initial outline. I was to direct the film, Storm was going to produce it, and Dan was to be the consultant. The thing was that while we were preparing the film, Storm's health starting declining. He started shooting interviews in London and Cambridge while I did some of the interviews in New York, including Mick Rock. I kept asking him to let me raise money for the film but he went full on with Rupert Truman, from the studio, doing camera and Julius Beltrame, a friend of Rupert's, also on production in a real race against time.

The initial funding came from Believe Media in Los Angeles. The owners of Believe, Luke Thornton and Liz Silver, were old friends of Storm's and are the executive producers on the film. I brought in Orian as a producer to help finish it. Rupert, Julius, and I are all partners on the film and are committed to making a film true to Storm's vision and ideas. Jenny Spires, who was one of Syd's girlfriends is a consultant on the film and has been vital to connecting us to various childhood friends and Syd's other girlfriends, as well as for giving a lot of important background information. David, Roger, and Nick are in it. Before Storm passed away he and I watched a basic assembly of the material and I think it saddened him to know that he wasn't going to see the film completed. I think it's going to be a beautiful film, more intimate than the others because of who's in it and having Storm there as a presence. I shelved the script again and joke with Storm's friends that he finally got me to work for him! It's about 95% shot and in the editing stages. Beyond that, I don't want to say too much more.

BD: What is your favourite work by Thorgerson?

Can't pin one down. Far too many. A few favourites? Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, Atom Heart Mother; Chrome for Catherine Wheel, De-loused in the Comatorium, Presence for Led Zeppelin, Blinker The Star's August Everywhere, Smell the Coffee for The Cranberries, 10cc's Deceptive Bends, Transmissions for Gentlemen Without Weapons...

BD: Is Thorgerson’s work mostly cryptic?

I don't think so. The darkness is always tethered to some humanistic impulse. They are never futile and always have some poetic beauty that makes them seem transcendent. Or is it transformative?

BD: Is there more humour in Thorgerson's work than most people realize?

Absolutely. More Monty Python than 'funny ha-ha funny'. Sometimes more Benny Hill.

BD: Would you say Thorgerson shares as similar artistic space as someone like David Lynch – even if manifested in different mediums? Are there other artists you feel more accurately or similarly inhabit a specific space of expression?

That's a really difficult one – I think mainly because ultimately Storm worked in a very commercial medium and was always, no matter how hard he worked against the grain, making commercial art and not fine art.

LPs were mass-produced but then again there is something really interesting and perhaps subversive in that. I've mentioned in other interviews that when I realize just how many record covers Storm had done, that I had obsessed over, I had to meet the person who had shaped so much of my teenage psyche. It's hard to work in this manner and be as idiosyncratic as someone like David Lynch is. Storm's imagery infiltrated our collective psyche because when we wanted to hear Dark Side of the Moon we had to buy the album that contained the art work. It's not really an advert but packaging.

Lynch has some kinship with the psychological undertones in his films and maybe the loose strands of his narratives but Storm always seems to me to be striving to make an image as recognizable as the Mona Lisa. He got close with the prism.

BD: Besides providing a narrative about Thorgerson's life – what else did you want to convey with your documentary?

I really miss the culture of vinyl records. I like how bands used to structure the song tracking on side one and then side two with that divide in mind. Quite often, the first song on side two or the fourth song on side one were the ones I liked best. I liked reading liner notes, looking at pictures, researching the engineers, examining the inner hub for any weird etched messages. When we were editing the film, Karen asked me what I wanted the audience to take away from watching it and I said "I want someone to remember an old album that they had and to run home to realize that an old girlfriend or boyfriend took it long ago and get pissed off".

BD: Are you completely done with this project, i.e., is the release of the DVD and the theatrical presentations that are being done in conjunction the last stage for this project?

I’m hoping in the next few months to have screenings of the film along with events or exhibitions of Storm's work. In New York, during the theatrical run, after one of screenings we're having an exhibition of Storm's prints at a photo studio called Splashlight, along with a book launch party of The Gathering Storm. On the closing night, we've organized an after-party at Jesse Malin's club Berlin with a band that I like a lot, The Everyothers, playing a set followed by a DJ set with Josh Cheuse, who is in the film. Orian and I are trying to organize a screening in Los Angeles along with a panel discussion about album art sometime soon. It's these kinds of things I was always interested in doing with the film.

BD: What are specific dates that we want to keep in mind and keep an eye out for in terms of the film playing in theatres and in terms of the film's release on DVD?

The film has its New York theatrical run at The Museum of Modern Art from October 2nd through the 8th then the next screening will be the UK premiere on October 16th at the Barbican Centre as the opening night film of a new BFI series, "Sounds of London". A screening at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio has just been booked for November 5th. I'll travel out there for that screening. There are a few more cities and dates in the works. By the end of October or early part of November the DVD will be done. Right now, it is available on the film's site for a pre-sale discount. There is also a DVD + print edition available which is the image that Storm shot for the cover of my book. A portion of the proceeds from the pre-sale will be allocated to a scholarship set up in Storm's name at the Royal College of Art, where he went to school. The site is up and running at www.takenbystormfilm.com. The DVD has some scene outtakes as well as some really cool footage and artefacts from Storm's archives.

BD: Will people be able to stream the film at some point?

Around the time the DVDs are ready to go out, the film will be available for streaming from the film's site. There is a link on one of pages that will be active and go live around early November.

BD: What do you feel Thorgerson's legacy will be 50 or 100 years from now, i.e., how will society and the art-world perceive him, in your opinion?

I'm sure there'll still be kids walking down the street with Dark Side of the Moon t-shirts.

You can find more information about Roddy Bogawa and Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis at www.takenbystormfilm.com.

 
< Prev   Next >
Brain Damage on Facebook Follow Brain Damage on Twitter Brain Damage's YouTube channel
Pink Floyd Calendar

Next 20 concerts

Pink Floyd on iTunes
Donate to Brain Damage
Behind The Wall book
Pink Floyd: Backstage book
HeYou Floyd Fanzine - order details
www.Brain-Damage.co.uk - the Pink Floyd, David Gilmour & Roger Waters news & info site
All content except where noted otherwise is © Brain Damage/Matt Johns 2018.
Please see 'About Brain Damage' page for legal details and the small print!
Website generously designed and built by 3B Web Design 
http://www.buyambienmed.com http://premier-pharmacy.com http://healthsavy.com