Many people, pieces of art and events have helped to shape the Phoenix Art Museum during its 61-year history, and this trend continues.
To celebrate its six decades, the Phoenix Art Museum teamed up with local filmmakers Chris Heck, Kieran Thompson and Josh Gonzales to produce the shorts “The First Time,” “Wish You Were There” and “Represent.” The project was supported with funding from the Steele Foundation to enhance the museum’s digital media offerings.
“The First Time” was released through the museum’s website and digital media channels. The other two films will be available for view in December and February.
“The First Time” was written by Nikki DeLeon Martin, the museum’s chief marketing and external affairs officer, and directed by Heck.
“Wish You Were There” was written Heck and directed by Thompson. And “Represent” was written and directed by Heck.
Heck has worked on many commercials and TV and film projects, including the TV miniseries “Crossroads” and the short films “Mr. Memento,” “The Alchemist of Montenegro,” “Stay Home” and “The Devil’s Pawn.”
DeLeon Martin is a fiction writer and playwright whose work has been performed by local theater companies.
Most of the directors, writers, actors, editors and crew members who worked on the films are based out of Arizona.
DeLeon Martin considered hosting a short film series in 2015. She says it was important that the pieces get to the heart of what the museum has meant to Phoenix. After all, it was local civic leaders who conceived of and helped bring an art institution to Phoenix.
“I wanted to create something that told the story of the Phoenix Art Museum more meaningfully,” DeLeon Martin says.
“It’s a democratic story of what a community can do when they come together to create something lasting.”
“The First Time” was shot from the museum’s perspective and incorporates archival footage and photographs.
The people featured in “The First Time” are staff, board, community and museum members, as well as storytellers and teaching artists who worked with the museum. About a dozen voices were used in the voiceover for the short film.
“There are a lot of folks in the film who have an important relationship to the museum, but of course it was filmed in such a way that there’s no identity attached to it. That was the goal. It’s trying to be as representative as possible of all the people for whom the museum matters to them,” DeLeon Martin says.
The other two short films tell the museum’s story with narrative and central characters. However, they share a similar message.
“That’s ultimately the theme we are trying to hit on with all of the pieces, is that the museum is for and of the community that is represents,” Heck says.
“It’s this space that no matter who you are, you can pull something from it and give something to it, too, if you decide to.”
“The First Time,” phxart.org/blog/short-film-series.