This week we’re joined by Chicago director and actor, Connor Allen Smith!
(This interview was edited and condensed for clarity)
CA: Hey Connor! Hit us with your bio.
CAS: I'm Connor Allen Smith, and I'm an actor and director from Arkansas currently based in Chicago with my partner, Alexis.
CA: You use the term 'Visual Anthropology.' What does that phrase mean to you?
CAS: My background is actually in doing like photo-essays of self-identifying Christian bikers. And while I don't do research like that anymore I can't help, but like take all those like readings I've done on Joshua Oppenheimer and Jean Rouch and Sarah Pink and try to apply that to my creative work. I don't really believe in auteur theory. So I really try to be a good apologist when I'm on set and just like try to facilitate any part of like this communal story, because no person is an Island. And so my story is nothing, in and of itself.
CA: Tell us about your role at Camera Ambassador.
CAS: So like a lot of people back and March, I found myself out of work. For the last 10 years, I've worked in specialty coffee. And after like some of like the shock and kind of hurt from losing that gig, I found myself in a really lucky position because of this internship at Camera Ambassador, in their social media, opened up. And so as someone with a non-traditional background in film– but one who's really interested in it –I got to work with Austin and Erica and Dom, and get firsthand an inside peek of what Chicago film looks like and its community. So it's been a really cool opportunity, just to be a fly on the wall in some conversations and just part of the community by submersion.
CA: What's been inspiring you lately?
CAS: Right now, I'm reading Charlie Kaufman's "Antkind," which has been really wild in I think some good and not so good ways. As far as music, I'm listening to Lomelda's "Hannah" like on repeat on Spotify. That's really good. And then as far as films, I got to see Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" back when I was in Arkansas, a couple of weeks ago. And that was special. And maybe my favorite movie this year was Stella Meghie's "The Photograph" with Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield. And that's kind of a special, perfect little movie.
CA: What are some recent projects?
CAS: I'm pretty green. But that just means that everything's been all the more important. I got to work on a film last year called, "Phosphorescence," that was really personal and really special. And I have to shout out Chimika Rudy, Allyson Womack, Amy Carpenter and of course, Ross Gehm, who are all really integral in making that happen. And then most recently I get to work on a short film with Emma Thatcher, Fletcher. That was improvised, and that was really fun to work with her. And Evelyn Landow, who edited that, did the music for that, and produce that as well and a big fan of hers. So that was really exciting to work with her.
CA: Where can we find you?
CAS: You can find me on Instagram @kondorfalcon, but I'm not on there too much. So for more reliable and pertinent information, you can go to my website, connorallen.site. And then as far as movie stuff, uh, you can follow a little company I'm part of Prairie Creek productions at prairiecreek.pro.
CA: Thank you, Connor! Where can we find you?
CAS: I'd like to just thank Camera Ambassador everybody for watching. And thank you to the little Chicago film community that we have that is just so lovely.
Check out the video interview (and all our #filmmakerfriday videos on Youtube):