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An Interview with Darrel Latch

by homsar_eggplant


Thank you for joining us for another installment on our ongoing interview series. The Eyes on Central has selected and spoken to a wide variety of figures within Neopia dubbed culturally important, many of whom are paramount to the furthered development of the arts. Our writing team, overseen by Senior Editor Von Smubenduffle, ensures you the highest of quality and only the best in our guests. Please enjoy our latest entry to the interviewer series, with acclaimed art filmmaker, Darrel Latch.

     Darrel Latch is a filmmaker who grew up in Neopia Central. His career in the realm of film launched after 7 years of painting related projects around Haunted Woods. The series that launched him into the realm of cinema specifically was the paint-based animations called, “The Sick Cries of Several Sick Painted Pets”, a macabre surrealist piece where various paintings move in animated sequence while a distant alarm sounds in the background. This dabbling with reels of film only piqued his interest to experiment further. His first short film, “How to Grow A Grandmother” was met with acclaim only a few years after graduating from Brightvale University with a Bachelor’s in Art. The short detailed a young boy contending with harsh parents who screeched like wild beasts, only for him to take seeds from a book to grow a grandmother to look after him. Critics and public were mutually moved. This led to his first foray into horror cinema, with the masterpiece known as “The Eraser Elephante”, about a deformed neopian who adopts a screaming potato-based petpet that drags him into madness. He would later go on to create beloved works of cult cinema such as “Mauve Fabric” and “Highway to No Where”. His jump to the world of Television further caught critics and viewers off-guard with the semi-paranormal drama of “Twin Beaks”. Darrel Latch has worked in the cinema industry for over 50 years, with the anniversary of his first motion picture being later this year.

     Montgomery: Thank you so kindly for joining us for our ongoing series of important Neopians of the art world and beyond.

     Latch: Um, I’m very happy to be speaking with you tonight. And the pleasure is all mine. Art, music, big concepts, realizations, cinema, lots more. These are subjects that come to me and I sculpt like a clay. They’re all elements to a greater picture and all of these elements need to be played with.

     M: All of these comes coming together to make something whole?

     L: Exactly, one big fantastic new creation. To give an example, I think Sloth Faerie is a pretty neat creation; a wholly realized mixture of ideas.

     M: Excellently put. If I may begin, I would like to ask what brought you to the world of film making?

     L: That’s a simple one. One day during a session of painting on three canvases at once, I hit a road block. I asked myself what the point was and lulled myself into a trance like state. Then it hit me, these paintings needed motion. At first, I constantly painted over each dried layer… and the result?

     M: A masterpiece?

     L: No, it was garbage, a total muddied mess.

     [Both of them chuckle lightly]

     L: But that’s when I realized, I need to buy a camera and just film the works. With the right light and right frames, I can capture movement. It wasn’t magic, pure science. I felt like a cracked a real code, just break it down at the fundamentals.

     M: Breaking the transition between painting and film through a science, that’s brilliant! Where do these realizations come from?

     L: It’s a mixture of things. You can’t come to a conclusion normally; it has to hit you. Lots of factors build it all up for me. During my youth, I learned to fall in love with meditation. Through it, I believe you can connect with yourself. And should that not be enough, lucid dreaming techniques can be a marvel for the creative process. The power of the subconscious, grabbed by your own hands. If you want to eat a sandwich with Lord Kass, you can do that! And then you wake up and write it in your journal. It’s all lightning in a bottle, that moment where those creative thoughts are fresh.

     M: Any tips on that? How to get into that dreamy process you use.

     L: Well, some of them, I don’t think I can disclose in this interview. That’s okay, right, Montgomery?

     M: No, that’s fine. Share what you can.

     L: First, I set up my lab space. My zone to create and do things. Then I placate it with objects that stimulate my desired outcome. I study them, often deprive myself of sleep until my senses begin to go wild. Sometimes, I drink plenty of coffee. When I’m ready to sleep, I transition at just the right amount to ensure I can seize full control. This is no Math’s Nightmare; this is Darrel’s Nightmare.

     [Darrel Latch proceeds to stare at the camera for 10 seconds]

     M: Uhh…?

     L: See, like that! That’s the start of what you do! Try it with me!

     [Darrel Latch and Montgomery stare at the camera for a prolonged period]

     L: See, exhilarating and inspiring. But again, just the first step of my methods. And even then, everyone has their own. You spoke Neoplant Bob a month ago, great interview!

     M: Why thank you.

     L: His breakdown on his breathing exercises and intaking the right amount of sunlight, really profound stuff. It got me to change my approach to one of my characters in an upcoming project.

     M: Upcoming project?

     L: Yes.

     [Darrel Latch makes a big wide grin]

     M: What can you tell me about it?

     L: Nothing, not yet. I can tell people when they’re ready.

     M: Not when you’re ready?

     L: No.

     M: You’ve given us some insight into some of your creative methods, you also mentioned meditation. Does that coincide with the sleep or is that wholly unique?

     L: Well, meditation brings a kind of peace to one’s self. It’s hard to be creative when under a certain duress or strain. It’s possible, but the outcome will usually be muddled or aggressive. I can work with that, but I want my creations to come from a part of that relaxed stuff.

     M: Even the more horror inspired stuff?

     L: Oh, especially the grim and horror stuff. I can’t write all of that when I’m in a bad mood. That terror has to come from a place of peace.

     M: Terror from peace? Can you give us some insight into that?

     L: A lot of actors like to draw from method, being placed right that in the moment. That’s fine, but I really like it when actors can harness something they’ve witnessed. But, otherwise? It’s a normal day on set, they’ve taken the time to reflect and meditate in a sense. I do a kind of meditative acting, rather than method acting. Know what I’m saying?

     [Montgomery blinks for a second]

     M: Okay, I think I’m starting to understand.

     L: Good, then there’s hope for you yet.

     [Darrel Latch giggles slightly, Montgomery joins in]

     L: But seriously, I’d be nowhere in my career without taking that time through meditation. It lets the world breath, you breath, your works breath and so on. It gives those projects a little extra life.

     M: Speaking of projects, you’ve made so many works. Your catalogue spans countless short film, feature length movies and even television shows. Are there any you’d like to focus on in first?

     L: Well, there is this new movie I’m working on. It’s about two Gilerts who take up realtor work.

     M: That’s a fair premise. What more can you say about it?

     L: If I described any sensations, moods or visuals, that would spoil the whole thing. You’ll have to wait until you’re ready to hear more.

     M: Understandable point. What of prior films? Let’s talk about Eraser, a classic. You had previously spoken about that film recently. Could you fill me in on some details?

     L: Believe it or not, The Eraser Elefante is my most enlightened, spiritual and philosophical movie.

     M: Hmm, that’s very intriguing to hear. Could you elaborate on that?

     L: No, I don’t think I will?

     [Montgomery’s eyes widen a bit for a second, regaining composure]

     M: No? And why is that?

     L: Like with my other works, I want you to learn and discover at your own pace. A good teacher doesn’t just tell you the answers, right?

     M: Touché, a fine catch.

     [Darrel Latch simply nods and grins, while gesturing Montgomery to continue]

      M: One of your most famous works known to the general public was the dramatic television series, “Twin Beaks”. What was that show in your words?

     L: In some good words, an interesting experience. Being with a syndicated program, it was really different. As you know, I like new experiences to engage my style in new ways. In some fewer good words? A lot of bureaucracy, tons of people who wanted to push the series in some way that was less abstract. I don’t like that, takes away from the greater feeling.

     M: But as a whole, you certainly had your great moments with the show

     L: *nodding*

     M: So, tell me, you took bold steps on that show that many wouldn’t expect with a tellie drama. Care to share any favorite examples?

     L: When you look back, this was a time when your digital media was emerging from just infancy. I know little on that world, but I had the idea for an ambitious crossover of sorts. Do you know Joran from Neo Quest? The Dream-like world of the Curtains Room took him in, as he began to question reality. And through the Blumaroo-like guardian of the realm known as “The Leg”, I further explored that. Linking the black and white zigzag patterns to the character’s own strife was a really important part of that.

     M: Wait, NeoQuest II wasn’t out then. How did you know about the characters?

     L: *tapping his forehead twice* Connections and meditation. But also, various trade agreements.

     M: Trade agreements. Mr. Latch-

     L: I’m either Darrel Latch or Darrel, never Mister. Also, how I knew what to do?

     [Darrel Latch taps his forehead]

     L: Doppelganger

     M: Huh?

     L: Exactly. Now, let us continue.

     M: Darrel Latch, do you worry about becoming mainstream? Is there a fear of art selling out?

     L: I’ve been mainstream since I created a feature film, even if not many people want to acknowledge it. I think it’s a question of how it affects your perspective and personality. I don’t think any media has really changed me as a person, save for the most moving of pieces. As for selling out? It comes down to what do you believe in?

     [Darrel Latch looks to the camera, grabbing a NeoCola from seemingly nowhere, cracks it open and sips it. Upon putting it down, he looks back to Montgomery.]

     L: It’s about who is worth your support and why. There’s much more than just money and more than it being something you happen to like. If you can find deeper reasons, plenty of things are worth it… like this can of pop here. There’s plenty in the back, if you want one.

     M: A very personal outlook. Now, if I may, how do you keep people from getting to you in general?

     L: In a sense, yes. You simply get older and you don’t care as much what people think of you. You do your own thing, hope to get it done and keep your mind on track.

     M: Good advice for the growing artist.

     L: Indeed. Young artists, let me give you one thing to take away. If you worry too much about what people will think of you, it’ll affect your art for the worse. Be you, find you and stay try to you.

     M: That’s really inspiring. I hope our younger listeners will take that to heart. Now, on heart, you always put lots of heart into your productions. You also take care when it comes to finding talent.

     L: There’s a thing about that, every piece of the project needs me to care deeply, even finding the right person for not just the job, but the characters.

     M: When it comes to direction and acting, you’ve always favored Outsider Actors, what does that mean in your words?

     L: That can mean a lot of things. For starters, they’re actors outside of the mainstream. Some are merely talents that choose to turn down big stage productions, while others have only a miniscule amount of experience to their name. Take the mysterious techo scientist named, “Doc”, he was a joy to work with despite his lack of experience.

     [Senior Editor Von Smubenduffle visibly cringes in the recording booth beyond, his associates trying to calm him down]

     M: It seems our senior editor is well aware of your associate. It’s great to know how interconnected we really are in the art world.

     L: Of course, that web of connections is important. Without that tangled mess, who do you know who to rely on and contact?

     M: Who are your contacts?

     L: A long established trade secret

     [Darrel Latch winks at the camera]

     M: The joys of meeting so many Neopians, so to speak.

     L: Oh, absolutely. Meeting someone new for a production is a treat and a mystery. I’ve had plenty of genuinely great tales and a handful of far less wonderful experiences… got a face full of coffee one time. But on the bright side, that moment provided inspiration for another work.

     M: As for other productions and works that have popped up recently, which ones have you enjoyed and why?

     L: That’s a simple one. Not long ago, I went to Brightvale University, my alma mater, to see what their drama department had planned. They were doing a rendition of The King in Emerald.

     M: You mean, The Faeries’ Ruin?

     L: What in Aipoen is that? Perhaps you didn’t see it from the right angle or lighting. But they really did a stellar job at that story.

     M: It would seem we both saw different plays.

     L: It would seem that way. But, that’s one of the great things about art. Art can take you where you want to go, and much of it is free enough to do so. The best art doesn’t need to spell things out, it leaves the audience to their creativity.

     M: Very much like your approach to films.

     L: Now you’re just trying to flatter me.

     M: Not true, but you’re well aware that we’re all big fans here.

     L: This has been a really engaging interview. I’m hoping you aren’t against the studio continuining another discussion over a coffee and some cherry pie sometime.

     M: We’re almost done with this interview, but we’d love to do a more casual follow-up.

     L: Well, if you’re hungry, I do have my travel case with me. I packed plenty of cream corn, more than enough to share

     M: No thank you, but that’s a kind offer.

     L: If you say so. Either way, a pleasure. The offer still stands for everyone before I leave.

     [Darrel Latch and Montgomery shake hands before leaving from a makeshift stage.]

     Thank you for joining us for another installment of our interview series. The Eyes on Central is a multi-platform journal that seeks to highlight and showcase the artistic talents across Neopia, far beyond just Neopia Central. Please stay tuned for next week’s announcements, where we will reveal future interviews as well as events and upcoming articles.


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