Film Speak encourages artistic expression

Heidi Speck

Findley urges audience to pursue passion in work


In media, there are often artists that do not always seem to be grounded in reality by their experimental styles of creation and their abstract ideas.


Janice Findley is what one might picture when they think of the stereotypical abstract artist. Her love for older methods of filmmaking and art, as well as her self-assured demeanor, describes much of who she is.


On April 6 in Demaray Hall, SPU had the opportunity to hear from Findley as she shared personal experiences about her films and career at the second annual Richard Sohn Lecture.


The lecture was put on by the university’s Film Studies Program and all students from the greater Seattle area were encouraged to attend. The lecture gave students a view into the world of experimental filmmaking.


Janice Findley is an experimental filmmaker who has made works such as “Beyond Kabuki” and “Faux Paw.” Her stop-motion style and attraction to other tangible art mediums prompts her quirky films.


Professor of Communications Todd Rendleman hosted the discussion, as he asked Findley questions in an interview style. Occasionally the questions were paused to watch one of her films, which are all only five to 10 minutes long.


Findley grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska where she was encouraged to become an artist because of the lack of culture in her town. Because her hometown was so isolated, she said that there was little that sparked artistic endeavors.


“I grew up going to the movies a lot because it was my only glimpse of culture,” Findley said.


Findley described her high school experience as devoid of artistic exploits because of her original interest in the sciences, particularly physics. By her senior year high school, however, she took an art class where she discovered her passion for film.


When she went on to college at Pacific Lutheran University, Findley’s work revolved around abstract concepts, similar to what she would continue to build upon later in her films.


Findley said that she loved to work with tactile materials, those found in the mediums of painting and sculpture. It was not until she took a film course that she realized her passion for stop motion and experimental films.


Following her graduation, Findley threw herself into making experimental films, whether or not she had the funding. She worked day jobs so that she could fund her films independently, without being sucked into the world of Hollywood, a place that she felt her films were not welcome.


Whether or not audience members could relate directly to Findley’s experiences, Film Speak presented a unique opportunity for film students, art students — anyone interested in a creative calling — to see another facet of the artist world.


Often, the media can present film as strictly limited to the realm of Hollywood, which is not the case. Findley’s life and career is an example of an artist who strayed from mainstream versions of film, and found success in her work.


Findley is not making millions off of her work, but she is doing what she loves, even if that means she has to work tirelessly to produce her masterpieces.


She encouraged her listeners to pursue what they are most passionate about and be willing to sacrifice a stable environment for fulfilling work.


If nothing else, Findley wanted her audience to remember one thing: “Don’t waste your life doing something you don’t like doing.”