During the COVID-19 pandemic, most film festivals are postponing their events or switching to an online streaming format. Artificial Ink Creative worked on a few creative projects that have recently been selected for screening in late May 2020, particularly Cat Fly Film Festival‘s “Cat Fly and Chill” event as well as ConCarolinas Short Film Festival, not to mention festival strategy work for other filmmakers.
“Cat Fly and Chill” is the latest event from Cat Fly Film Festival, originally intended as a three day screening in Asheville, North Carolina, though now rescheduled as an online streaming event. Ted Kendrick assisted Kira Bursky in extras casting and festival strategy for BEAUTIFUL MESS short film which plays on the first day, May 29th. The second day on May 30th will showcase multiple film projects produced by Ted Kendrick including the DOUBLE AGENT short film which was also written and directed by Kendrick, MOMHEART short film starring Gunner Willis and directed by Joe Naylor and Joe Pellegrino, as well as the “Elevator Went” music video for the Asheville based band Wyla which was directed by Rome Widenhouse.
THE REPLICA RAID II short film starring Jeff Alexander was written, directed, and produced by Ted Kendrick, and will play at the 2020 ConCarolinas Short Film Festival, which is traditionally paired with a comic and gaming convention in Charlotte, NC but will stream online this year in response to the pandemic. THE REPLICA RAID III final installment is in pre-production with the hope to film ASAP.
Follow both Cat Fly Film Fest and ConCarolinas Short Film Festival on social media for more information on the upcoming screening schedules, and tune in to the online livestreams at the end of May 2020 in an effort to support indie filmmaking.
Bless Your Heart released their debut album “New Very Strange Songs” on December 6th as a collection of lonesome cowpoke ballads with characteristics of a southern pastel gothic flair from Southeastern born-and-bred frontpeople Sunn Set Apple and Vigilance Deadname.
The band defies genre conventions by combining classic country with post-rock, lacing up leather boots for its shoe-gaze aesthetic, all in an effort to unite their southern heritages with queer identities. Songs like “Coyote” and “Meet Me in July” are noodling entrees in an album full of spaghetti western dinners.
Southern slang like “bless your lil’ heart” has always implied a polite but backhanded “screw you” in Bible Belt colloquial, but the phrase has now been repurposed in punk fashion as a rock band.
Sunn Set and Vigilance met in 2005 on their first day of high school. “We were in a couple of [music] projects in high school and college,” said Sunn Sett, “but Bless Your Heart as a concept started in 2013” which is when they began writing and playing music together in a garage as a trio.
“I was having the worst year of my life. I found it cathartic to write country songs, but I wasn’t a very good guitarist,” said Sunn Set, “but I found different palettes to put country songs in while I was learning as I went.”
The band formally came together in 2017 when Sunn Set and Vigilance debuted the project in its current incarnation at a birthday party benefit for J20 Defense.
Bless Your Heart currently features D.K. Ryan on the standup bass, Mike Johnson is the engineer and pedal steel player, Nick Morrino plays drums, and Mary Beth Byrd sings harmony and does all the graphic design.
Since most of the band are professionals in their craft, Bless Your Heart has been able to embrace the semi-DIY approach, and keep many aspects of production in house. The one thing they went out of house for was the mastering.
“Mike was looking into mastering engineers and noticed that Harris Newman at Greenmarket Mastering was available, who mastered ‘Pony’ by Orville Peck,” which was one of their favorite albums that came out in 2019, and received some attention at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
“We sent it off to [Harris]. His rates were reasonable. We’re really happy working with him,” said Sunn Set. “Lo Wolf just sent an album off to him as well. We’ve gotten him some work. I feel like it’s the year of the gay cowpoke, between Orville Peck and Lil Nas X.”
Vigilance revealed that ze worked on the album for over a year. “We hashed out these songs, and these arrangements that just blow my mind and helped grow the band,” said Vigilance. “Now we want to get back into songwriting, start making some new stuff, and playing stuff live.”
Bless Your Heart played an album release show at West Asheville hometown venue The Mothlight on December 9th, and returned for a follow up feature shortly after on January 14th. “Pulling off a show like that, I feel like it’s not really the end of a cycle but the beginning,” reflected Sunn Set. “Setting a goal to release the album on time, getting the release show done, and nailing it, I was driving home, and felt like I had pulled off a heist. Like Bonnie and Clyde.”
“There’s this combination of exhaustion and inspiration,” said Sunn Set. “I feel like I’m going to be tired for the rest of my life, but I’m content with it. It’s like when I was younger and couldn’t fall asleep, my mom and my dad would always say, ‘You didn’t work hard enough today.’”
The band identifies as boot-gaze, bridging the divide between country and indie shoe-gaze. “People compliment my guitar playing, and I still feel a lot more confident than I did when I was starting to play guitar live, but I still feel like I’m not as good of a guitarist as I am a tap dancer,” said Sunn Set. “Solos are easy compared to the basics, like I can’t play a solid rhythm guitar.”
Although Vigilance takes the lead on most of the guitar solos, ze consider themselves to be more of a lyrical person. “I’ve always kinda felt like I’m the forest and Sunn Sett sings all the trees,” explained Vigilance. “I can build the world, and Sunn Sett picks all the plants.”
“I totally love pop music,” said Sunn Set. “I love it from a production perspective, and being able to bring elements of that scale of production to something that’s a little more outsider.”
“The really cool thing is we brought our songs together at the beginning. Now we write together, and you can just hear the unity of just working on it together than separately,” Vigilance spoke to the collaborative songwriting process with Sunn Set. The song “Coyote” has had several phases of existence, spanning back nearly a decade. “I definitely feel like songs are living things. I wrote ‘Coyote’ at three separate points of my life because the song needed more words as it went along to flesh it out. It’s basically the story of my life since 2011 in a sarcastic way.”
Although the band never explicitly went out of their way to present as southern gothic, they inevitably embraced the aesthetic. Sunn Set admits their goth phase began at the same time the band first formed in 2013. Vigilance and Sunn Set dyed their hair black at the same time.
Sunn Set and Vigilance revealed that their true influences are anything from James Taylor to the Magnetic Fields, and The National for the sadness factor. “I definitely feel like it’s really easy for me to go through the songs and be like, ‘Oh yeah, we totally had a Jesus and Mary Chain moment here,’” said Sunn Set. “I also really like Brandi Charlisle and think that comes through.” Sunn Set cited their all time favorite artist as Willie Nelson while Vigilance said White Pilgrim.
I feel like it’s the year of the gay cowpoke, between Orville Peck and Lil Nas X.
Sunn Sett Apple
The album title “New Very Strange Songs” was inspired by the song “Lukenbach Texas” by Waylon Jennings. The chorus includes the lines, “Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and Newberry’s train songs…” but when Sunn Set was a child, they always thought Jennings was singing “New very strange songs” in that final line.
The album title is both a nod, stating their allegiances, and passive aggressively wedging themselves into this canon of country music. “It’s also descriptive,” laughed Vigilance. “Someone told us that at the release show.”
The album was significantly funded by a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign as a community effort. “We had over twenty contributors give us more than $600 to help make it happen,” revealed Sunn Set. “That means absolutely so much to us, with so little to show for what we could do, for that many people in our lives to put their faith in us, is just incredible to me.”
Bless Your Heart is pulling all the stops on the merchandise as well, with cassettes of the debut album, stickers, and T-shirts and posters with the various design layouts by Mary Beth Byrd. Online ordering for any of Bless Your Heart’s products will be available in the near future.
Bless Your Heart also performed shows at Static Age Records on February 15th, and later that month in Savannah, Georgia where they opened for a burlesque group at the Jinx, which has a stage designed like the Black Lodge from TWIN PEAKS.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Find yourself at home on the dynamic range displayed with true grit from Bless Your Heart. “New Very Strange Songs” is now available for streaming wherever you listen to music like Bandcamp and Spotify.
THE REPLICA RAID II sci-fi short film was selected to screen at the 2019 Greek Short Film Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of the Geek Gala event. The theme this year is Tiki Slumber Party-o-Rama. Don’t ask me what that means because I don’t know yet. The film festival runs throughout the day from 10am to 4pm as part of the Muggle Market at Noah’s Event Venue which is free to attend.
I’ve added laurels for the Geek Short Film Festival to the film poster, next to the ones from Cat Fly Indie Film Festival which is where RR2 premiered in March 2019. THE REPLICA RAID III, the final installment of the unanticipated series, is in development with a finished first draft underway in edits. More on that to come.
The DEATHYARD short horror film served as the 2019 promotional video for The Haunted Farm popular attraction in Hendersonville, North Carolina, which was primarily spearheaded by Co-Directors Taylor Hellhake and Daniel Ballard. DEATHYARD turned out too great not to share with the world, so I was hired on as an Associate Producer to assist with film festival strategy and submission process. I was happy to help since the film’s crew included friends of mine such as Braethun Bharathae-Lane as the Sound Recordist and Lauren Rivas as the leading actress.
DEATHYARD first premiered to a local screening with the cast and crew at the Carolina Cinemark in Asheville, NC while simultaneously going online via YouTube. You may watch the full short film below. Rumors are circulating regarding its expansion into a full feature, but that sort of info is above my current pay grade.
Artificial Ink Creative, LLC has produced its first batch of official t-shirts which were given as gifts to key cast and crew who have been important assets over the years. Lightning Bolt Ink screen-printed the shirts out of their shop in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. They approached the white font and grey streak in the logo design with two separate screens to create the desired texture effect.
The shirts were modeled by Braethun Bharathae-Lane and Whitley Albury who now rep the Artificial Ink brand both online and out in the world. Another batch of t-shirts will be ordered from Lightning Bolt Ink before the end of the 2019 year, and will be available for purchase at $15 per shirt in sizes S, M, L and XL. Shirts in XXL and up available upon request for $17. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your shirt today and ensure you don’t miss the second round!
I’ve written a few more articles for The828.com throughout the fall and winter of 2018 into the 2019 spring. Find my most recent writings embedded below, detailing all things eat, drink and play in the 828 area code of Asheville, North Carolina.
Asheville’s Cat Fly Film Festival 2019 returns with events at The Asheville Masonic Temple, New Belgium Brewing, The Mothlight, and other venues around the city.
The articles are listed in reverse order of publication with the newest at top. The feature on the up-and-coming Beacham’s Curve development zone was the most time intensive piece of the bunch as it involved multiple interviews with various business owners in the East-West Asheville area, but a fun challenge nonetheless.
Artificial Ink Creative, LLC is a limited liability company for creative services, specializing in the development and production of trans-media entertainment and intellectual properties, as well as an ever-evolving, experimental project hub to track the visionary endeavors of Asheville, NC based storyteller Ted Kendrick.
Artificial works are produced by people, rather than occurring organically in nature. When breaking away from blueprints, mankind acts as little gods; sometimes in the collaborative spirit of the Greek Pantheon, else-when in the efforts of Artifice, where the fabric of reality can warp in the act of sublime craft. Never strictly Official, always Art, or better; Artificial.
Ink is the liquid used to flow ideas to fruition through writing, drawing, and printing, as well as the verb that solidifies a business contract, and the abbreviation for Incorporated. Artificial Ink Creative merges the worlds of Ink and Inc., and creates Something out of Nothing with digital content from a quality Quill, whether that pen is formed by feather, porcupine, or toothpick.
Cat Fly Film Festival is preparing for its second annual event over the weekend of April 6-8th. Another incredible lineup of narrative short films and documentaries, all created by filmmakers in the Southeast, have been selected to screen at three exceptional venues in Asheville. Tickets are on sale now, and they do sell out!
I don’t have any shorts that I personally spearheaded in the lineup this year, though I was an Associate Producer and Sound Recordist on SIDES by Will Osigian and Trust Fall Productions. I am also assisting the festival’s directors– Brittany Jackson, Madeleine Richardson, and Cat Wityk– in an administrative capacity where I help plan the event and logistics in Cat Fly’s new status as a Nonprofit organization.
Cat Fly Halloween was held on Friday, October 13th at UpCountry Brewing in West Asheville, North Carolina. The event sold out days in advance, and was a wonderful follow up to last spring’s inaugural Cat Fly Indie Film Festival, which was founded and curated by Brittany Jackson, Madeleine Richardson, and Cat Wityk. UpCountry Brewing hosted the screening in their tasting room, and provided a special craft beer for the event, the Cat Fly Witches Brew, a blonde ale infused with cinnamon.
These photos are from the step-and-repeat at the entrance of Cat Fly Halloween. Feel free to tag yourself and your friends and share around!
One of the films that I recently produced, AS ONE FLESH, played with an array of other horror and thriller shorts from across North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and the Southeast region. Additional cast and crew also attended, such as writer and director Joe Naylor, cinematographer Madeleine Richardson, lead actor Jeff Alexander, supporting actors Franklin Lovingood and James Martin, soundtrack composer and sound engineer Tony Mozz, lighting tech Brittany Jackson, editor Thomas Goddard, and makeup artist Ashton Helton, just to name a few, many of whom were also volunteers or programming staff for Cat Fly. I couldn’t have been more excited to share the night with such an awesome gathering of filmmakers.
Cat Fly Indie Film Fest returns for the Cat Fly Halloween event on Friday, October 13th at UpCountry Brewing in West Asheville, North Carolina. Tickets are currently on sale, so be sure to snatch yours up in advance, because they are sure to sell out. Watch the trailer for the upcoming horror film event embedded below.
Get ready for a night of terrifying films and creepy monsters. #catflyhalloween2017 is coming this Friday.
I’m excited to announce that AS ONE FLESH, the short film I recently produced, will premiere at the event. The film was written, directed and edited by Joe Naylor, starring Jeff Alexander, Victoria Rae, Franklin Lovingood and James Martin, with an original score and sound mixing by Tony Mozz. It’s a fun demented mess of a movie, and I can’t wait for a live audience to watch its first time on screen.