It was an interest in street art that introduced filmmaker Selina Miles to filmmaking in the first place and it has been her love of capturing the scene on camera that has fuelled her career ever since. Since she first started documenting graffiti in her hometown of Brisbane Miles has gone on to film a short documentary series for ABC iView titled The Wanderers and has worked with award winning Australian musicians The Hilltop Hoods on one of their video clips.
Now Miles is about to release her debut feature documentary titled Martha: A Picture Story. The docco explores the life and work of celebrated photographer Martha Cooper who is famous for capturing the New York street art over the years. HEAVY Cinema recently caught up with Miles to chat about the docco.
“I first hear about her very early on as you do when you are interested in graffiti,” says Miles as I ask her when she first learnt about the legendary Martha Cooper. “It is hard to get very far and not hear about her name, mostly through her book Subway Art which she was co-author of. So yeah, I knew about her work for many, many years before I met her. Then I met her in Tahiti of all places, we were both booked on the same festival. She was the photographer and I was the videographer so we worked side-by-side and I think that was a really good way to meet because she meets so many people but it is not often that you get to spend that intimate time with somebody. I would drive her around, I would drive and she would sit in the passenger seat.”
That leads me to ask how Miles broached the subject of making a docco about Cooper to her. “I had been working with her for about two years,” she explains. “I had a really pivotal conversation with Steve Harrington who is one of the guys from Brooklyn Street Art, which is an amazing blog about street art, and as he does with every person he is contact with and every artist he works with he said ‘what are you doing next’ and I was like ‘well I have so many different ideas’ and I was making these short profiles on different artists and I said ‘I want to make more of these, on this person and that person and Martha Cooper.’ Then he grabbed me and said ‘Selina, you have to do that.’ And then he was really the person that really reacted to the idea of somebody making a film about Martham but then it was just a ten-minute film and that is what I pitched to her. Then when I started I realised that it wasn’t going to fit into ten minutes and it kind of just escalated from there.”
You can listen to our full Selina Miles interview on the media player above.
Martha: A Picture Story opens in cinemas tomorrow.