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An Interview with Kristian Day, Director of James Bearden: Man of Metals

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2013

Kristian Day on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new documentary James Bearden: Man of Metals - in a few words, what is it about?


It is my interpretation of the art and mind of metal sculptor, James Bearden. So it is sort of like a documentary, but there is a lot more to it. James is sculptor who creates very abstract pieces that each come from a different reality inside his brain.


How could you personally relate to Bearden's sculptures, and in what way did they influence the style of your documentary?


They come from an alternative reality. As if there is a simultaneous reality happening side by side with our own reality. He and I talked about people from these alternative realities and how the people would influence the pieces. There is also the heavy influence of the female figure and how they inspire our own work. You notice the curves and shapes of his pieces and you can see the echo of woman's figure within them. I really wanted to explore this.


Speaking of style: In James Bearden: Man of Metals you took a rather unusual, almost abstract approach to your subject - could you elaborate on that?


Well,  firstyou notice that there is very little on camera interview happening. We shot a teaser trailer to attempt raise money with a Kickstarter campaign and it was a huge struggle to get him to talk directly about anything. I knew going forward that it couldn't be done that way. I was given a television interview he did back in 2011 and I extracted the audio from it. I really liked the way he answered questions and explained things on it. The rest of the audio came from a recording session we did together in his gallery that is located in the Western Gateway area of the Des Moines. I had him explain theories behind his work without a camera on him. I held a microphone and asked him questions.


The use of microscope footage happened out of boredom. I showed up for a shoot with James and he wasn't ready. I believe it was the day we were going to shoot with his daughter (the young girl who is walking through his studio). I showed up with my gear and she wasn't there. So I decided to just fool around with different things. I recently had purchased a $6 microscope lens attachment for my iPhone 4S on amazon. With the lens attached I would just run the camera along the surface of the sculptures. When I played the footage back I got really excited. I thought to myself, "Just imagine all of these pieces that you can see..." It reminded me of the film work of Stan Brakhage, who has been a huge inspiration of mine.


One other thing I would like to mention is that this movie is very similar to a lot of the music I make. I love noise music and the use of noise in commercial recordings. I feel like the noise brings out a deeper understanding of what is being portrayed.


As far as I know, over 70% of James Bearden: Man of Metals were shot on the iPhone 4s - now how did that work out as a filmmaking tool, and would you shoot any more movies on it?


The iPhone is an amazing filmmaking tool. With the Filmic Pro app I can capture 1080hd, raw uncompressed audio, and it encodes at 50mb per second (Blu-ray is encoded at 40mb per second). All of the microscope/psychedelic footage was shot on the iPhone. As a matter of reference, the first 2 minutes and 15 seconds is all iPhone. The shots with him showing his sketch book is all iPhone. I shoot on a 4S but you can do even more amazing things on the iPhone 5 or 5S.


I would totally shoot more films with an iPhone. In fact, some of my earliest test footage was on a project I have been working with my girlfriend on Pioneer Cemeteries. We shot a bunch of stuff back in the fall of 2012, and those shoots convinced me that the iPhone is a suitable camera option for movie making.


As far as I know, it took about 2 years to shoot this from start to finish - so do talk about the shoot as a whole for a bit!


In reality, it should not have taken that long. But a few things happened: I was hired to make the Templeton Rye documentary, Capone's Whiskey. Then Bearden's career took off and he was making pieces for all sorts of clients. He now sells his work all over the world and his commissioned to make furniture and other custom pieces. It was a lot about time availability. When we did shoot it was for only a few hours at a time. I think the longest session we had was the gala celebration because we had all those people there. The girls really didn't take that long to shoot. The longest part for them was getting the make up on. Each girl took about three hours to do up ahead of time.


Also getting the right direction was hard because you had James and I both coming up with ideas and bumping heads. His mind would change often and making it very difficult to figure out how to make this piece. Finally I had to just stop listening to him and go my own way with it.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place?


My first feature length film, Brent Houzenga: Hybrid Pioneer screened at a coffee house here in Des Moines called Mars Cafe. Bearden's representative, Stephanie O'Neal was in the audience and loved it. She wanted me to come meet James at his old studio in what was considered the Market District in downtown Des Moines. It was a weird experience. We had some beers, he smoked some grass (I don't smoke weed), and talked about HIM. Later that night I got an email from Stephanie asking if I wanted to do this project.


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Kristian Day
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Kristian Day here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Kristian Day at

The $64 question of course, when and where will the movie be released onto the general public?


Well all the DVDs have been pressed and are actually stacked 10 feet from where I am sitting now. They should be live on amazon to purchase by September 24th. We are going to start our gallery tour next month. It will be similar to what I did with Hybrid Pioneer. This one may actually get some festival play.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Well just that my first movie theater is opening on September 27th in Fairfield, Iowa. You can check out the FB link here:


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD