Leaning over to a plateful of No.
1 (eggs over easy, sausage, hash browns) at Shirley's Diner, the
Millard-based restaurant owned and operated by his parents, Fackler
explained how he got involved in the video business.
At 16 he was the youngest ever to be accepted to the prestigious
Los Angeles Film School. But after checking out the campus and lining
up the $50k per year tuition, he decided it was a bad idea. "All
these kids my age and older being taught by some dude about how
to make films, I didn't want my mind to get tainted," said
Fackler between bites. "I was scared to death that I would
end up making films only one way. So I turned it down knowing that
it'll mean taking more time to get where I want to go."
But it also gave him more time to work on his own projects. He
got involved with Saddle Creek Records while making "Mynoot
Loss" a bleak short film about suicide based on a story by
Leo Fitzpatrick (who you might remember as "Telly" from
the 1995 Larry Clark film "Kids"). A fan of Creek music,
Fackler wasn't even aware that the label was headquartered out of
Omaha when he e-mailed Azure Ray asking if they'd provide the music
for his film. They did, and Fackler quickly became friends with
the duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, who asked him to make a
video for their single, 'We Are Mice.'"
Set in the early 20th century, the video opens with a crowd watching
a child's shadow-puppet show depicting his mother being beat by
a drunken father. It's inter-cut with brutal flashbacks of the real-life
abuse. When the boy decides to take matters in his own hands with
a butcher knife, the mother intercedes, takes the knife from the
boy and does it herself. The stark images perfectly reflect the
song's haunting tone.
Fackler was then asked to create a video for The Good Life song
"Lovers Need Lawyers" after meeting lead singer Tim Kasher.
The entire video was done in a single shot using a steady cam winding
this way and that through Fackler's handmade sets, ending in a gymnasium
where the band is performing on stage.
Both videos, online at www.nikfackler.com,
were shot on a shoestring but look as good as anything you'll likely
see on MTV's Subterranean. "Working with a small budget forces
you to cut corners, but it also forces you to be inventive,"
He met Oberst in New York through Azure Ray and was offered the
tour video project shortly afterward. "Conor wants a lot of
visual stuff for his videos that enhance the rhythmic feel of the
music," he said. Asked when shooting would begin, he checked
his calendar and groaned. "Oh God, they have to be done in
the next few months."
Just add it to the other projects that he's tackling, starting
with an unfinished animated Tilly and the Wall video. He still needs
to fly to L.A. to finalize a deal with his new agent from William
Morris. Then there's the full-length motion picture he's writing
with Tim Kasher originally scheduled to be shot this winter but
that was postponed for rewrites -- a love story involving the elderly
(that's the only details he'd give me). It's being produced by local
filmmaker and friend Dana Altman. Kasher, Oberst and other Creek
regulars are helping select music for the film.
"Film is a tapestry of all these art forms -- writing, photography,
music and acting -- brought together in one package," Fackler
said. "But it's the music that makes it work."
Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 5, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.