ILYSM ZINE: No. 003
Interviewer & Photographer: Jenna Elizabeth
I like characters, like real “this guy’s a character” characters
♡: Hi John, how’s Vegas💸
JH: Hi! Despite Vegas being a complete hellscape, I’m having a great time.
♡: How deep are the bags under the eyes?
What brings you to Vegas? Can we get a window into the vibe?
JH: I am SO puffy
I’m doing a job here so I’m staying in a nicer hotel than I normally would and I’m wearing a white suit everywhere I go.
♡: Perfect - I for one am enjoying the IG new found persona stories
A post shared by John Hein (@johnhein) on Nov 24, 2019 at 5:00pm PST
In the timespan we’ve been friends, I’ve known you to wear many hats. Do you think being open-minded to different jobs has affected your ability to create?
JH: Definitely. I think open-mindedness to everything allows you to be more creative. It’s more experiences, people, places to spark something / steal from.
♡: Anything you’ve stolen on this trip?
JH: The stylist and the producer on this job hate each other and are always talking shit in front of everyone. It’s so uncomfortable and I love it.
♡: Makes for the best rhythm in a way
You moved from NY to LA somewhat recently, has LA changed your day to day creative process?
JH: I really think having an open sky gives me head more room to think. And I like driving more than most people in LA, and that’s when a lot of ideas click.
♡: That’s interesting. There have been a number of studies about people having creativity spark while running but I’m curious about the driving if it produces something similar with a changing atmosphere and letting your mind unplug
I don’t have a drivers license so I can’t attest to this - i think it would give more anxiety but I’ve seen you drive - you have the right approach
JH: You won’t find me running anywhere, so i can’t attest to that
♡: I’m laughing
And of course!
Something I love about you is you’re constantly inviting friends to create and make shorts and it’s turned into its own collective.
I think so many people wait for a moment to be granted to them
And you’re actively making and supporting with friends in this rare way - especially with video production I feel like people tend to be more precious in the wrong way instead of experimenting
Can you talk about your latest project?
JH: Oh thank you. Yeah, I have fun getting people together to make things. My last project was a horror short called”Closer to God” I sit for Halloween and I rented a huge cabin near ojai and we had a group of 17 come up and hang for the weekend. I will try to make a feature perfect, but I think using shorts to experiment and feel things out is helping right now. *ILYSM !!*
♡: Who did you write this with?
JH: My friend and frequent cinematographer, Patrick Hartley. We were roommates in college and now are working together a decade later, it’s great.
And him and I are interested in putting similar things on film. Like a black metal band slaughtering a Christian summer camp, which is what the Halloween short was.
♡: Common interests included but not limited to - haa
Do you have any pix from the shoot?
JH: YES SO MANY
♡: Did you guys write original music for this too?
JH: My friend Matt Gauntlett, the best metal guitar player I know, wrote music for the fictional band in it. He did a great job.
♡: Dying to know what the fictional band name is
Definitely not a wasted opportunity
JH: They are specifically unnamed. Quite mysterious
♡: Of course, of course
What was the genesis of this idea - what triggered this topic
JH: Growing up catholic *ILYSM hearts*
♡: Or was it something you guys had been mulling about for awhile
Do you star in this as well or were you behind the camera the whole time
JH: I’m behind the camera. I acted in this web series, Lowlives, that I also directed. I’m pretty happy with the result of it, but the process was not as smooth as I want in the future. I want to focus on one thing and give it my best effort.
♡: Well, I can genuinely say, I would never wish anyone into acting but I always had a gut feeling that you could do it. I loved the scenes of you and Rashida Jones in the piece I directed. I think you have good instincts in terms of finding a rhythm with whomever you are opposite of
There are some actors that can hit the dramatic cues but really fail in terms of comedic timing. To me the most dynamic on screen performers all share this quality of being able to bridge with an edge of comedy
JH: Thanks that means a lot. That was such a fun piece to do and I’m glad you just threw me into it. I was not prepared to improvise but left a little more confident in it.
♡: I think the way you carry yourself too - I mean even your modeling is character driven which I appreciate. Weren’t you discovered at a flea market or something?
JH: Ha yes at the Rose bowl flea market in Pasadena. I like characters, like real “this guy’s a character” characters
♡: That’s almost lyrical hahaha
Going back to your collaborative nature- I wanna talk about Itty Bitty Viddy film fest. Can you explain to those that are unfamiliar
JH: God, those are so fun. Mitch Ryan, Steven Yatsko, and I put those on together. Basic premise was we would give friends in New York a month to make short films. The only rules were they would have to be shot on a phone and they had to be less than three minutes long. Then, we’d get a bar and screen all of them in one night. They were only shown that night. I don’t know if a perfect itty bitty short was ever shot, but the circumstances allowed people to make some insane stuff they normally wouldn’t. So many dumb shorts that made everyone laugh.
♡: Is this still happening? How can people get involved?
JH: We haven’t had one since I moved to LA, but there will be another one someday *ILYSM hearts*
♡: I love the immediacy of it conceptually and that it encourages people to create instead of having a more passive role in a traditional film festival
You and your brother recently collaborated on a project. How does that stylistically vary from the other project?
JH: That is nothing like anything ever done. It’s a nature show I host with my brother, Cameron. Both of us studied environmental science and biology and it’s about time I use my goddamned degree. *ILYSM !!*
We shot a pilot in sequoia and Channel Islands and it was incredible. Is being cut now
♡: Your brother has an extraordinary eye. He’s also an accomplished nature photographer
Can you speak to more of his background and how this came about exactly? How are you challenging conventional nature shows?
JH: Yes, first let me plug my brother’s work. He’s a brilliant nature photographer. Everyone go look at his wildlife and landscape work. cameronhein.com
♡: These are striking and also almost meditative in a way
A stillness in relation to so much unspoken power/energy
The balance between the two is interesting to me
I also love the vibe between you both - do you have a photo of you together while shooting the pilot?
JH: I’m telling you, this guy’s no clown
♡: I can’t wait to watch this
Are you allowed to say more or not - I understand if you can’t given the circumstances
JH: Yeah, that’s about all I can say until some conversations are over. But I can say it will be funny in addition to beautiful.
♡: Is it harder to work with your brother? Are you more brutal in feedback or is it an easier rhythm to fall into?
JH: I get along with Cameron so extremely well and all we do is riff jokes that it isn’t hard at all. We are also both hyper-logical people and we can make suggestions and critique without the other taking it personally. We both know we want the best possible product. I also love traveling and seeing new stuff with Cameron more than anyone else. *ILYSM hearts*
Easy - if someone’s not funny, I don’t want to have a work or personal relationship with them.
♡: I feel like that sincerity and genuine connection is going to come through in the material as well.
You and I have had a lot of conversations about observational humor - I think funny people have a certain level of awareness like they’re in on the joke of a social situation before other people have caught onto the punchline - you’re internally generating the beats of why something plays if that makes sense. I think that sense of awareness translates to other aspects of life. Do you agree that finding humor is an act of creativity itself?
JH: I wouldn’t say “act” because it feels involuntary. I can’t help what I find funny, much to the disapproval of those around me.
♡: How do you use humor to gauge relationships?
JH: Easy - if someone’s not funny, I don’t want to have a work or personal relationship with them.
♡: Humor I feel like inherently filters out people in my life in the best way possible. And like you said, the involuntary aspect of it is powerful in a way- because it is coming from this intuitive place of judgement and finding connection with people
Where do you see yourself evolving, is there something you’d like to try?
JH: I’d like to make a feature someday. I think of the work now as a step towards that. I’d like to improvise more on set. I don’t like to make plans, though. Trying to focus on now and not think of what might be. *ILYSM hearts*
♡: Is there something that already exists that you wish you could take credit for?
JH: Ice Cream
♡: Last question, a hypothetical fake Proust questionnaire kind of question- you’ve just inherited Hearst Castle, which guest do you helicopter in to your housewarming party? Please answer in the form of a photo or gif
♡: John, a treat as always. Until our next ghost hunt 👋
JH: Jenna, I love you, see you in the haunted houses