Alex Casanas (also known as Alex Kansas) is a high school filmmaker based in Gainesville, Florida. At the moment, his body of work consists purely of short films of nearly every genre, including horror, experimental, and animation. He aspires to become involved in the film industry to introduce his unique style to a greater audience.
He talks to artCollective Magazine about his short films, his plans and his ambitions on becoming a filmmaker.
– How did you start with filmmaking in the first place? How did your first ever idea come?
I’ve had the ambition of becoming a filmmaker for so long that it’s nearly impossible to recall a time before then. But it must’ve begun when my older brother, Nicolas, took film courses at the University of Florida. I would see him carrying tremendous pieces of equipment into his room and curiosity led me to watch him use the equipment to create his experimental short films. I was ten years old at the time, and eventually, I began making my own little videos with the family camcorder. Initially, I used action figures as my primary actors, then I resorted to fabricating stop motion puppets, and most recently, I’ve begun incorporating myself as the protagonist of my videos. It became a very enjoyable hobby of mine, and it wasn’t long before I realized that filmmaking was to be my passion. I don’t remember my first ever idea, but it probably had something to do with dinosaurs.
– Which film makers or artists in general, have influenced your work and have inspired your creativity?
At first, I was intensely fascinated with science fiction films like Terminator 2 and The Matrix. These were the films that motivated me to make little videos with my action figures. Yet at the time, I hadn’t really found myself considering filmmaking as a serious career option. When I discovered the brilliant work of Ray Harryhausen in fourth grade, I was inspired to create puppets of prehistoric animals and animate them. It was then that I ceased using the family camcorder and utilized a newly bought laptop to edit the animation. I took great pride in presenting my stop motion work to the class, and the positive reactions drove me to keep creating. However, it was when I watched two films, Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in sixth grade that I found myself devoted to the art of experimental movie making. I would constantly brainstorm and create digital animations until I progressed to mainly live action work. Animators like Run Wrake and Mattis Dovier are greatly inspirational, along with filmmaker David Cronenberg and YouTuber Casey Neistat.
“The Fractures” by Alex Casanas
– Within your creative process, is there something that you are constantly looking to change or improve?
With every short film, I always strive to make the most enjoyable piece of entertainment possible. There are smaller goals that are specific to every video, like testing a new special effect or diving into a new genre, but the main goal is to make something entirely watchable. The best thing about filmmaking is the satisfaction that comes with completing a movie. If I don’t like my own work, then it’s no good. My own satisfaction is key.
“this is a routine” A Film by Alex Casanas
– Can you take us through your creative process? From the conception of the idea to the execution.
My creative process is something that comes to me quite naturally. I receive an idea, I collect the footage, request music from a friend, design sounds, edit, and I publish the film on social media. The key to my prolificacy is the perpetual brainstorming that goes on in my head. I’ve imagined my short film a thousand times in my mind before it ever reaches a viewer’s eyes.
– You are from Gainesville, Florida. The city has a decent support for culture and arts, like annual art festivals. Now, coming from a place that supports arts how beneficial was it for you?
Although Gainesville presents itself as a supportive art hub, it’s really not. In fact, living in this city has likely impeded my ability to spread my work to a larger audience. Here, no one’s too terribly concerned with filmmaking as they are with finance and football. I’ve been lucky enough to find some friends who are enthusiastic about my ambitions, but the only physical award I have ever received in regards to my short films was picked up in Atlanta, Georgia (over 300 miles away). Mister Manticore (click to watch), a horror animation of mine, received Best U.S. Animation at The Lovett School High School Film Festival.
– What is in the mind of Alex Casanas, your personal philosophy?
My personal philosophy…(laughs). I’ve been asked this question too often! My mind is a good coffee, and like a coffee, it’s something you’d have to try in person. No text description can describe a nice coffee’s taste as well as the actual physical experience of drinking the beverage.
“Great Coffee” by Alex Casanas
– What do you want to achieve through your films?
Through most of my films, I intend to entertain people as much as possible. But really, every project has its own goals. With certain films such as Soft and Golden (click to watch), my aim is to capture the complex feelings and thoughts of friends and release them to the world to create a deep discussion of certain subjects. However, it is first and foremost that before any short film is finalized, my own satisfaction must be achieved, for I am my most valued audience member.
– What are your filmmaking / artistic goals?
I regards to my progress as a filmmaker, I’d like to continually advance with my skills and increase the exposure of my work. I like to have fun in life, and to continue having that fun, I will continue to pursue my ambition and spread the word about my short films. It would be really great if I could get studio funding and become involved in Hollywood.
– Do you have any projects in mind?
I recently watched Labyrinth, so I might be getting into the fantasy genre sometime soon. But you’ll just have to stay tuned and see.
“The audience will find me. If I satisfy my own wants, the people will come to me. My filmmaking is uncompromising. “
– Your experimental films are a solid foundation for your future. You also get very positive reaction for your work. Where do you see Alex in the future? Any plans in mind?
Alex Casanas will always be a filmmaker, no matter where he is. I don’t think about the future too often since I always live in the moment. All that matters is that I continue creating short films and pursue my dream for as long as I live.
– Doing experimental independent films gives you a great opportunity to basically do whatever you want, use different techniques, mediums and equipment. Do you believe that once you become mainstream you need to follow a specific workflow to satisfy your broad audience? What is your opinion on this?
This is an excellent question, but I don’t believe I will find my audience. The audience will find me. If I satisfy my own wants, the people will come to me. My filmmaking is uncompromising.
For all the aspiring artists, keep up the fantastic work.
Suggested short films:
Mister Manticore – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1ILlq0LDzs
High School with Alex Kansas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEgNHU2XVP8
Bike Sneeze – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rJ9Lndxayo