If you haven't been to Rhinoceropolis, you haven't seen one of the most inspiring DIY art spaces in Denver and you also haven't experienced the cutting edge of Denver's art culture. Started by Spellcaster's Warren Bedell and MMC3's Milton Croissant III, Rhinoceropolis has been hosting music and art shows for nearly seven years and has been the home to some of Denver's most avant garde and boundary-defying acts like Pictureplane, Hollagramz and so many more.
A new documentary has just been released about the legendary venue and was created by a local high school student named Pete Bell. Titled, Neon Savant & The Silent Trajectory, it tells the story of what has gone on at Rhinoceropolis, how it came to be and what might be next. Bell recently chatted with The Huffington Post about the filmmaking process, being a young artist and what makes the Rhino so important.
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Who are you?
My name is Pete Bell and I'm 18 years old. I am currently a senior at Conifer High School and am also a student of the TV/Video Production class at WarrenTech.
When did you shoot Neon Savant?
I started shooting august 2011, when I was 17. Most of my shooting stopped at the beginning of 2012 as I went to focus more on editing. But I still shot a few things during the editing stage, like the driving montage when Milton Croissant talks about searching the city for warehouses. The editing started around November 2011 and I finished the whole thing early February 2012.
Why did you decide to focus on Rhinoceropolis?
It was a class assignment to make a documentary about anything. I decided to make mine about Rhinoceropolis because It was something I was really interested in and it seemed like a story people could really connect to. Rhino is a crucial element to Denver's music and art culture. So many people have been inspired by the Rhino community and so much culture and music would've never really existed without it. It's been a hub for crazy and exiting things to happen, friendships to be made, and memorable experiences to be had for me and for everyone else who goes there. Denver wouldn't be what it is today without Rhinoceropolis.
How long have you been making films?
I started learning about film making during my sophomore year of high school, so I'm still not that experienced. This was my first documentary, so it was weird going in headfirst not really knowing exactly how to approach it, but I learned as I went along, going through a lot of trial and error.
How did you shoot the documentary?
Most of it was shot on video using an HDSLR, but I used some DV cameras as well, sometimes with old and heavily used tapes so I got some nice glitches out of them. The amount of footage shot amounted to probably around 20 hours. I originally wanted to make it a feature length, but then realized I was kind of in way over my head trying that, so I trimmed it down to the length it is now.
Why did you release the film on YouTube?
I'm not really interested in trying to make money off of this movie or trying to distribute tons of DVDs, and I think everyone who wants to see it should have access to it.
What drew you to making documentaries at this young age?
I always liked watching movies. The way the movies I love combine sight, sound and ideas and present them in such provoking ways just inspired me to give it a try. The art of film/video is such a stressful, tedious, mesmerizing, unpredictable, satisfying experience that I was immediately sucked into it.
Do you have any other films planned that you want to tell us about?
I'm currently working on a few different things. I definately want to do more in the future with music videos, experimental shorts, maybe a few narratives, possibly another documentary if I find a subject that compels me enough. We'll see what happens.
Are you planning on attending film school when you graduate high school or just make films and learn on your own?
I'm attending Colorado Film School in the fall.
What have you learned about filmmaking from the process that you might want to share with other new filmmakers?
Hmmm -- when making a film of any kind, try to know as much of what you're doing as you can before going into production and make sure to always prepare for the worst situation possible. And to brush your teeth, and to stay in school and to eat your vegetables.
WATCH Neon Savant & The Silent Trajectory, in four parts, below: