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Nik Fackler: Young Eyes, Big Vision

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: Jan. 5, 2005













Clocking in at a mere 20 years old, Nik Fackler has been making short movies, videos and other artwork since his days at Millard West where he dreamed of being an actor and wound up spinning his dark visions on the other side of the lens.

And spun them he has, for Saddle Creek bands The Good Life and Azure Ray, as a video producer for The Faint, and now as the visionary behind 18 videos that'll be used to support Bright Eyes when the band hits the road in late May with The Faint. Anyone who's been to a Faint concert knows that a big part of the experience beyond all the sweaty, grinding bodies is a video projected in perfect sync with the band's throbbing rhythms. Bright Eyes' leader Conor Oberst figured he might as well use The Faint's huge video screens for his own multi-media extravaganza. And that's where Fackler comes in.

 

 

 

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," Fackler said.

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."


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Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 5, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



"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."