INTERVIEW WITH FOXOZA from FOXOZA MEDIA - C. T. HERRON

Foxoza is a native of the castle-covered, mountainous country of Slovakia, a very advanced European nation. He has lived in Glasgow now for ten years. He is a very talented photographer, filmmaker, videographer and cinematographer. He has done photography work for various magazines including a photoshoot for Rebel Rebel Barbers which appeared in national print in BarberNV. He has done filming and photographing for professional companies such as the large hotel chains, and H.I.T Scotland. He has directed music videos for bands such as The Larch and Loopata Makay (his two videos for the latter gained notoriety for him for his work in Slovakia). He has also done video work for huge fashion company Zoot in central Europe. He films and interviews for NHC music and the Gonzo Division. And his latest work was a music video for local Glasgow hip hop legend Jackal Trades.

He describes his style as art-punk and he uses all possible tools at his disposal. With a keen eye for detail, light, shade and story-telling and a passion and esoteric knowledge of his art that is prodigious, he is one of Glasgow’s best filmmakers. He is reliable, professional, friendly, outgoing and resourceful and delivers his best every time.

Now we’re going to go inside his head…

NHC: Let’s start with a brief description of your childhood and where you’re from.

FOXOZA (in thick Eastern European brogue): I’m from Slovakia. I’m 32 years old, born in 84’. My childhood was quite fun, I went through all the normal problems of a child growing up that needs to learn what is good for him. I was watching stuff that was around me, in the 80’s, 90’s, the Cold War. So you start to think ‘what is this war all about?’ When I turned 13/14 I started to discover bands like Bloodhound Gang and The Offspring and that gave me a rebellious push in my life which sent me to the left side, finding myself still as a child but entering my formative years and starting to look around more.

NHC: And at what point did you get into photography and filmmaking?

FOXOZA: Filmmaking was always my dream, I had a friend who was from a gang and he told me he was gonna steal a camera from a Japanese tourist for me. Haha! I was imagining at twelve years old I was gonna have a camera and do films and it never happened, but it was always on my mind. With the first cameras in mobile phones I started to create shorts for fun, which was quite fucked-up fun and funny and it was quite good. I don’t have any left because they were on old phones which I’ve lost, but I started filming with mobile phones, creating short films. Photography I started learning from working with photoshop and making fun of friends by doing collages with their faces in the pictures, I would like put a friend into the picture of Mona Lisa or you know just making funny collages on photoshop like twenty years ago…

NHC: Before everybody was doing it?

FOXOZA: Yeah, exactly, it was unique, now it’s easy, but before it was unique, you were actually creating something, which when you took to the people they were laughing, saying ‘how did you do that!?’ Because you needed to have an expensive computer, install that program, and have knowledge. Now everybody has a computer and every computer has a program like this, anyone can play with it and see what is possible. Technology is no longer a problem, but way before it was something special to make something fucked-up and make somebody laugh or maybe even make somebody angry.

NHC: When you started filmmaking, who were your influences?

FOXOZA: There was no real influences I was self-taught, still am, I mean I like films but…

NHC: Well what were your favourite films?

FOXOZA: I like Tarantino films. When I was young I enjoyed Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park. I suppose my first influence was Karel Zeman, a brilliant Czech director, and a special effect artist, he was a pioneer. Japan was influenced by him to create Godzilla, they used his methods to create it. He was a pioneer of special effects, he made a movie ‘Journey to The Beginning Of Time’ [1955] about boys who travel on a ship through the ages and in the end they come to the beginning of time when there is just the sea, and ammonites and trilobites are just starting to come out of the water…

NHC: And who are your modern influences?

FOXOZA: I don’t really have any. When I do something, it is unique because it is coming from nothing, the idea, the progression of the project… But I like Zdenek Burian the painter, he did beautiful dinosaur paintings and he illustrated some amazing book covers. I was influenced by Heironymous Bosch. I like Caravaggio’s work, I like Baroque, I like Salvador Dali. Ralph Steadman, Hunter S Thompson who is a big influence in my life. And history, I love history and trying to learn, and I like Leonardo Dicaprio and his movies …

NHC: So when you do a video shoot or a film or whatever, what sets you apart from others in your field.

FOXOZA: I can do it fast. And I can compose unique compositions really efficiently. If it’s a music video I can spice up the music with a cinematic approach. I create stories. Everything inspires me, my ideas, my thoughts, my knowledge, day-to-day life… I’ve seen so many fucked-up things and I’ve been in so many fucked-up situations in my life I have a lot of resources to mine for creative material.

NHC: So what kind of projects have you worked on lately?

FOXOZA: I just did my fourth music video, which wasn’t meant to be a music video, just an interview, but we ‘gonzoed’ it, Jackal Trades;

I also did two videos for a huge hotel chain, and I did a video for Zoot magazine, and a photo shoot that was in BarberNV. I’m using technology, filming with a DSLR camera so you can do both photography and filming at the same time. I’m started to work on my first photography book and I want to do a documentary about Glasgow .

NHC: What kind of equipment have you got?

FOXOZA: Quite a few different lenses, with a good F stop, I’ve got a couple of DSLR bodies and then I’ve got equipment for motion shooting… I have quite a good variety of tools, too much to go into, I can send you a list. What I like to do with my accessories is just have everything under control and put extra additional movement in to create atmosphere, approach from as many angles as possible and stuff like that. You need to do that anyway if you’re a filmmaker, every filmmaker knows to do that. It’s not so unique these days to be a filmmaker but I think what makes a good video or movie is dynamics, the dynamics of the cast, the dynamics of the stories, so you cannot get bored. That’s important, anybody these days can just put it on an automatic setting. The camera will do a good job for you, but you need to have an eye for composition and an eye for details…

NHC: You’re quite creative, you come up with your own plots and how you wanna do things, you directed, filmed and produced that entire Jackal Trades video. I had a few cameos in the video. All that the rest of us did, was turn up and do what you said, Mark rapped his parts and I did what you asked me to do and looked how you asked me to look…

FOXOZA: My videos wouldn’t exist the way they do if I didn’t approach it like this. My most popular video which has had 120,000 views, it is by a Slovakian artist, and he became famous in that country after I released that video. I came back home after five years in Scotland with my equipment and with the knowledge I’d gained since the last time he had seen me, and I surprised him. When I met him after five years, in his studio he sang me three songs, I’d brought my equipment from Scotland back to Slovakia just to do a music video for him, without him knowing about it and without me knowing what kind of music video I would do, I just knew I wanted to do that. So I went home with one of my DSLRs and my fucking heavy filmmaking tripod. I went to my city and he was in his studio and he was singing some songs and I heard a song and I was stunned by it, I knew it was gonna be a big one. He didn’t want to do that one, he wanted to film some scenes for a different one, but I said ‘look man these aren’t worth it, let’s do a music video for this one, it’s a perfect opportunity, we’ve got folklore around, beautiful mountains, we can create something different, which will be unique with these lyrics and music’. I met another friend who was a filmmaker and he was a really big help in making that music video, Mäsko, I met him in the club and said you want to create a video and I’m here, if you want you can help me with it. The budget was 100 euros. 15 euros to get a bottle of Slovakian spirit to the owner of the place where we shot interiors, then just petrol costs, and some food. And in three days we created something that spread all over Slovakian internet, and all through the community of the young underground, punk rockers and hippies, whoever, people like us, who started to know about this guy because of this video. The story was created by us, it was filmed perfectly, and that’s how I realised my music videos would never just be a band playing, boring singers, I’m sure you can create beautiful videos like that as well, but I like to try a different angle, in my videos there must be a plot, there must be something happening.     

NHC: Have drugs influenced your work in any way?

FOXOZA: A good story never started ‘we went to the pub and had glass of Sprite’. I don’t know if there is any artist who said ‘fuck dude, that milk really opened my eyes and enlightened me’. I’ve been experimenting with them since I was a teenager. Drugs can give you a different point of view on life, a different perspective, to see something that is in front of your eyes. You’ve got all the knowledge, all the knowledge is around you, it’s about your approach and what you wanna see, you cannot learn or see something that isn’t there, but everything is there, you just need to tune in to it. Drugs can be good servant but a really bad master. I’m not encouraging wannabe artists to take drugs to be good, if you combine your intellect and knowledge you can see what is happening behind the mirror.

NHC: How has your heritage impacted on your work?

FOXOZA: I grew up in old Czechoslovakia, and that place had beautiful, beautiful country and not just that, but beautiful TV programmes, and shows, and movies and fairy tales. Even the BBC was stealing stuff from old Czechoslovakian movies. And I love the fairy tales of Czechoslovakia, the folklore…

NHC: What like trolls and fairies and elves and stuff?

FOXOZA: Yeah

NHC: And do you believe in that stuff?

FOXOZA: I cannot say I’m believing, but there is something maybe. We don’t know about different dimensions, and who is living out there, energies are around us and we don’t even know about them… Who knows?

NHC: Because many Europeans believe in that kind of stuff too, Irish, Scandinavians etc..

FOXOZA: A lot of people in my country, even young people who like to go to trance parties, people who like to have fun, are starting to go back to the traditional way of a simple life, like our forefathers. They start escaping to the fairy tales, which Slovakian forests look like anyway. Or having religious experiences that are psychedelically induced. All these kinds of stories come from Pagans, and Pagans took a lot of drugs, so you know, drugs are deeply ingrained in our cultures…Before Christianity took over and wiped almost all of the Pagan traditions out.

NHC: Yeah watch out for those Chriistians! Well, thank you Foxoza.

FOXOZA: Thank you.

Follow Foxoza Media on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/FoxozaMedia/

And check out his work here: https://vimeo.com/foxoza

Foxoza Media is available for hire for music videos and photo shoots, just contact the page via the links above.

Interview conducted by C.T Herron