gibbs chapman has worked in and around audio/visuals in San Francisco since 1984. As a recording engineer, he has been involved with hundreds of recordings ranging from Thinking Fellers to Marianne Faithful and additionally has worked on composing, recording, and/or producing many music and sound pieces, and sound for film for American Playhouse, Taiwan Public television among many others. Mr Chapman has become active as a cameraman and audio manipulator for film and video, working on hundreds of shorts and features and has written, directed and resourcefully produced numerous films of his own. He is also owner of non productions, a small audio/visual factory in the San Francisco bay area and works as a technician and consultant in recording studios, post-houses and performs myriad duties from negative cutting to lens repair in an effort to finance his personal projects. Mr. Chapman is also a senior projectionist and film tech at the Pacific Film Archive and for many years has been a technical pivot for the Flaherty Film Seminar.
(as writer/director/photographer/editor/sound designer)
• mother mortar, father pestle (the petty apocalypse of 2007) 2KDCP B&W, 93min, 2013
A black and white and gray-area film about the fallibility of perspective, a weekend seminar on the irrelevance of human achievement in geologic time, a 26-step program seeking to correct the behavioral dysfunction known as “religiambition.”
There seems to be some problem with the atmosphere. Is it a result of an astronomical disturbance or is it an act of god? The two sides face off, but the spokespeople have problems of their own. The Theologian is having trouble with his sedan, the Homeless man with homeland security. The Religious woman may worry herself into the hospital, while the Secularist marinates his arguments. The Lobbyist begins to see that he may not emerge from this one unscathed as the government Official tries to keep up appearances and the gods try to make a dent in their busy agenda. Although the dying landlord will go to a better place, at the end of the day, the length of which has now been forgotten, no one is more exhausted than they were before, some have gone, some have gone to jail, and we may now know only that perspectives are fallible, relative and of minimal importance in geologic time.
“…a beautifully achieved and deeply pleasurable
exemplar of banana-peel noir. A disturbance has taken place in the upper
atmosphere, portending a day when the world won't end with a bang but with a
splat. I couldn't tell, frankly, if the characters are thrown off-kilter by the
gradient change in the environment or become more concentrated versions of themselves, but their interactions run the gamut from absurd
to surreal to hilariously recognizable. Chapman envelops his droll worldview in
a lush, enveloping mise en scene built on a
rock-solid base of black-and-white celluloid. mother
mortar, father pestle is an altogether rare and precious accomplishment,
and moviegoers in love with the texture, grain and look of black-and-white film
should not miss it (nor, for that matter, should ad agency creatives
and directors of TV commercials, always looking for an aesthetic to rip off). A
terrific piece of work, well cast, with a lot of wit, fantastic cinematography
(and lighting) and fine performances.” – Michael Fox, KQED
“The sheer visual pleasure and sensuality of the film’s photography almost functions as an implied rebuke to the characters; they live in a world of such rich visual splendor, but they can’t see beyond their own noses. With Mother Mortar, Father Pestle, Gibbs Chapman vigorously skewers every possible intellectual approach to living in what he calls “an indifferent universe.” In doing so with humor and a large dose of compassion, the film makes an impassioned plea for tolerance and understanding, a plea all the more effective for being in the film’s structure rather than its rhetoric.” – David Finkelstein, FILM THREAT
"What are we drinking to?" asks the priest. "The apocalypse," the intruder replies. "To your health," says the priest. So goes a characteristically sardonic exchange in Gibbs Chapman's feature mother mortar, father pestle in which "some sort of atmospheric problem" casts San Francisco, and by extension the world, in perpetual twilight. Annotated by inter-titles in the form of partly redacted State department missives, Chapman's archetypal yet marvelously idiosyncratic characters gamely carry on along their crossing paths, with shadows ever darkening. Not since our days of vintage film noir has (the) city seemed so palpably sooty.” – Jonathan Kiefer, San Francisco Weekly
“An engrossing black-and-white cryptogram by filmmaker Gibbs Chapman. Pestle in turns resembles Aronofsky's Pi and the films of John Cassavettes, depicting at length the shared mind-space where obsession, routine and inevitability meet.” – Jackson Scarrett, 7x7 magazine
“It's a provocative film, (reminiscent) of Scott and Beth B's films, especially VORTEX, also of earlier work like Fassbinder's KATZELMACHER, and later work like Araki's first film THREE BEWILDERED PEOPLE IN THE NIGHT and James Fotopoulos' MIGRATING FORMS. All good company. I definitely enjoy the debates it has started for me.” – Ralph McKay, Rotterdam IFF
“Chapman’s films are highly stylized and darkly funny snapshots of the end of times and errant human behavior. His sharp camerawork and attention to sound endow his films with pitch perfect atmosphere and cryptic, cantankerous wit.” – Anthology Film Archives
“Filmmaker in attendance!” – Philadelphia International House
“Bay Area filmmaker Gibbs Chapman presents his most recent film, which he describes as ‘a weekend seminar on the irrelevance of human achievement in geologic time.’ For David Finkelstein writing in Film Threat, ‘Gibbs Chapman vigorously skewers every possible intellectual approach to living in what he calls an indifferent universe. In doing so with humor and a large dose of compassion, the film makes an impassioned plea for tolerance and understanding, a plea all the more effective for being in the film’s structure rather than its rhetoric.” – Pacific Film Archive
• I know there’s something going on back there 4-channel Sdvideo 19min. 2008
Compiled from surveillance recordings from an urban apartment building, the activities of the inhabitants provide evidence for the theory of emergent behavior, and direct analogies between human and animal behavior. What is being sprayed upon whom? Why is the man burning his armchair? What exactly is the man expecting to find in the trash? And many other questions posed in this lecture on leaderless organization.
• please do something useful 16mm, color, 1min. 2007
A public service announcement suggesting, at the risk of being all too serious during the holidays, that there are still pressing issues in the world seeking solutions.
• push button: a history of idleness & ignorance 16mm, color, 16min, 2004
In the modern era, the combined elements of human innovation and dementia have led us into a new relationship with our time and energy, one in which the quest for a current immediacy or an ease of operation has created a culture of lethargy and ignorance of new proportion.
push button - a history of idleness and ignorance is a film, setting out to describe the journey from hunter/gatherer to sloucher/slacker and the dangling carrot of "leisure" time. Additionally, the piece is a call to action, to crush the monstrous cancer known as advertising and the salivating hyenas of consumer-dollar extraction.
This piece was funded by a grant from San Francisco Film Arts Foundation, and is part of the 2004 Film Arts festival. This work has screened at the San Francisco Cinematheque, UnionDocs, Brooklyn NY and the film was also featured at the 2010 Flaherty film Seminar at Colgate University in Hamilton N.Y., and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014
• turbine: russian scissors 16mm, color, 4min. 2002
A commissioned alternative "music video" for (firstly) DVD release, to accompany a musical piece called russian scissors by the ‘euro-trash techno parody’ ensemble, turbine. The band's only suggestion was that the piece contain some reference to a pre-elite-seized San Francisco, and with this in mind, "out came the box of miscellaneous SF singularities and urban landscapes."
• an examination of exhibits A(1) through E(5) 16mm, color, 19min, 2001
A mysterious film about mystery and the human insistence on order from chaos.
Via its 5 departments: the scientific, the academic, the romantic, the psychological, and the critical, a filmic surgery mounts the evidence submitted - the remains of our culture. A quest structurally influenced by its subject, this regurgitation, pre-occupied with its own insatiability, realizes that people, places and things are inherently interesting only when one does not have enough information about them.
This film won an award in Ann Arbor 2001, and also screened at Chicago filmmakers g. chapman mini-retro 2001, the Saint Brooklyn NY Straight out of the machine 2001, Southwest film center Albuquerque NM alien anomalies 2001, Blue Screen Austin TX alien anomalies 2001, Foreign Cinema SF ‘trailer’ 2001, Pacific Film Archive Berkeley CA retrieved images 2002, Fine Arts theater Berkeley CA short and shorter of it 2002, the Blockhouse Portland OR 100 minutes 2002, Yerba Buena center for the arts SF Bay Area Now 2002 and screened at the SF Cinematheque's post-industrial speculations, March 13th, 2003, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• for 'swell' 16mm, color, 4 min. 1998
A commissioned alternative "music video", to accompany a musical piece called make up your mind by the Beggars Banquet recording artists swell. This piece is a vaguely lyric-associated series of interpretations, using new and found materials, following a character through psychological testing, surgery preparation, participation in a Magritte painting, viewing the props in the piece in a store display and watching a time-lapse sunrise.
This piece was broadcast extensively in Europe (where the record label operates) on Euro MTV and in clubs. It has also participated in music oriented cinema shows such as San Francisco's own other cinema: new music/old movies. It also screened at the SF Cinematheque's post-industrial speculations, March 13th, 2003, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• your tax dollars at work 16mm, B&W, 3 min. 1997
Occasionally, one wonders what "democratic" processes accomplish. Your tax dollars at work, a moment of legislative nebulum, prompts the obvious follow-up question: What are we paying these people for? In addition, the precision razor applied to this found material is meant to draw attention to the changing nature of evidence in our mediated and technological times.
This short film has participated in many programs of re-contextualized found material such as Outsiders 16 at Filmhuis, Arnhem Holland and Doverfest, Belfast Ireland, Zoobizarre, Bordeaux France and is included in most of mr. chapman's body of work shows, and also screened at the SF Cinematheque's post-industrial speculations, March 13th, 2003, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• m. hallisey's tire dance 16mm, color, 3 min. 1997
This is a document of the NY choreographer Margaret Hallisey's tire dance, performed at Context theater in NYC in 1997. Margaret went on to perform the piece in conjunction with the film at other venues including NYC's PS1, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• if only I were big enough, I'd kill you (a love story)16mm, clr, 90min. WinP
An urban guy - he’s unhappy, why? It’s not clear. He has an interesting job, sexy girlfriend, a relatively stable, free society, so, what’s the problem? He decides to live on an old farm because he thinks he might be happy there, living more simply, working harder, being alone. It doesn’t work out - perhaps because depriving oneself things, which one knows one can easily acquire, means nothing.
Mr. g. chapman's second dramatic feature, was shelved after shooting only 2 sequences due to apathy and guilt related to too much favor-cashing during the previous feature film. One sequence was made into a short called scene 23 from a larger work, in which a woman speaks candidly with her substantially disabled lover.
• the intellectual 16mm, color, 3 min. 1996
There are but a few brave men willing to explore the dangerous ideas that can bring them down. When opening Pandora's boxes, one must adhere to the appropriate safety procedures or face certain fatal falls.
This short film has participated in many programs of re-contextualized found material and screened at San Francisco's Castro theater as part of the Docker's Independent film festival 1998, Minna street Gallery SF pretty but stupid 1998 and is included in most of mr. chapman's body of work shows, and also screened at the SF Cinematheque's post-industrial speculations, March 13th, 2003, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• ...higher animals 16mm, color, 70 min. 1995
Doomed to be mysteriously connected to the essence of life, square peg Audrey Muse wrestles undauntedly with the future machine of western civilization. Squatting with a bumbling undesirable and an obsessive criminal handyman in the anarchistic zone outside the new world order, she naively launches illegal social commentary. And in a world without plants, animals or reliable oxygen, begins the inevitable journey into cynicism and disillusionment.
"Mr. chapman should've called his debut effort 'weekending'." - J. Boyreau, Chronicle Books SF
"A hallucinatory anti-commodity, involving squatters, sexual frustration, and synthesized food." - C. Stephens, SF Bay Guardian
SF Cinematheque presents Victoria theatre SF 1995, Chicago Underground Film Festival 1996, Other Cinema SF presents spectacle 1995, Cultural Exchange Station in Tabor 5 Nights 1996, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• meet the thinking fellers 16mm, B&W, 7 min. 1993
A collaboration between a mr. g. chapman and the musical phenomenon known as thinking fellers union local 282, this series of vignettes scored after filming, surveys the love between the eyes and the ears during the 3-month period of wedded bliss. Destroying the MTV commodities, this circus of unassociated notions, caused the participants to later be heard mumbling, "I don't know what we were thinking, and I wouldn't do it again without certain assurances."
This film has been widely screened, on tour with the group all over the US, Canada and Europe, and at the Helsinki FF in Finland Carnival 1995, European film college in Ebeltoft Denmark 1995, Chicago UGFF 1996, Minnesota College of Art & Design 1999, Cal Arts Valencia CA 2002, Filmhuis, Arnhem Holland Outsiders 16 2002, Festival dei Popoli Firenze Italy 2002, Image Film and Video Center Atlanta GA mini-fest '96, and has sold many copies to individuals through distributors - in the US by revolver usa, SF CA., in Japan by Japan overseas ltd., Osaka Japan, and in Europe by Jack Stevenson film distribution. The piece is also included in most of mr. chapman's body of work shows, and will also screen at the SF Cinematheque's post-industrial speculations, March 13th, 2003, and part of a mini-retrospective of works at Anthology Film Archives, N.Y. N.Y. in January 2014.
• man of unfoundedness 16mm, color, 25 min. 1991
Vance Frear, stricken with an irresistible urge to return to the womb, attempts to maintain through a day in the life. After making it to the doctor's, he'll really need a stiff cup of tea, an easy woman and couple of rounds through the girl from ipanema. This film has been restored to a 16-minute version and will be available as a DCP in 2017.
"Gibbs, I like your film." - Jonas Mekas
Anthology Film Archive NYC 1993, Other Cinema SF new experimental works, 1992
• red carpets, brass placards and other items 16mm, color, 3 min.1990
A news bulletin regarding a group of vandals, comments on the morally corrupt and misdirected priorities of capitalism.
• exteriors 16mm, B&W, 3 min. 1989
A document of four women's conditioned beautification processes, examines the negative consequences of society's unrelenting construction of a female model image that is inherently unachievable.
• controlled logic and binary co. 16mm, B&W, 3 min. 1989
A parody of vocational computer science training suggests that society cultivate the intellect with which human beings are born before installing all faith in artificial versions and a small group of elite computer dictator/programmers.
These three experimental public service announcements were designed to be shown consecutively from unmarked storefront windows in a looping fashion.
•some music Audio CD, 60 minutes, 1996
In addition to mr. chapman's other Audio releases, this soundtrack compilation containing 24 music or sound pieces, written and/or produced by mr. chapman for use in his films, was released in 1996 on the Bent record label and is distributed worldwide by Revolver USA.