Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A few degrees from Ben Affleck

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

An exciting tale and a few tidbits of advice...

Last week I got an interesting phone call from a set director/designer working on the latest Ben Affleck movie to be filmed in the Boston area. She was scouting for artwork to be used on set for the movie, and came across my work while looking through the web site for the Jamaica Plain Open Studios.

(photo to the left is of Ben Affleck and Blake Lively on the film set. Lively plays Affleck's ex-girlfriend in the movie.)

The film is called "The Town" and is a Warner Bros. adaptation of the Chuck Hogan novel "The Prince of Thieves," with Affleck playing a career thief who becomes smitten by the manager of a bank, he is also directing the picture. The bank manager named Claire, being played by Rebecca Hall, is apparently an art collector and my work will be placed in her apartment.

(photo to the right is of Rebecca Hall when she was in the 2008 film, "Frost Nixon")

This is obviously very exciting for me on many levels. For one, it means that making sure my work is represented on various artist web sites has paid off. Adding images and contact info to web sites, like artist associations and open studios, is a great way to have your work found for a variety of opportunities. Curators often look through such artist listings, and apparently set designers do as well.

The initial phone call, meeting with the set director, signing paperwork, obtaining the rental fee, and handing off the work, all happened really fast, like within 24 hours. The advice here is that if someone is presenting you with a good opportunity for your work, make sure you act in a timely manner, and make yourself available. I know from my own experience as a writer and curator that if I'm in a hurry, and the first artist I approach doesn't follow through quickly, I move onto the next artist on the list. In this case, the set director had to get the work fast because there was a possibility that the scenes in Claire's apartment were going to be filmed two days later.

With all the movies in the Boston area and other non-West Coast cities being filmed these days, the more pro-active you are in getting exposure for your work on-line (where out of town film crews are researching their set design needs) the better chance you'll have in getting into the film game. I'm sharing my story and pieces of advice not only as a working artist, but also as a professional Arts Marketer. Marketing your artwork can be as simple as having a well designed web site with good photos of your work, connecting with artist groups in your area and getting images of your work onto their sites.

Other ways to painlessly market your work is through networking both in-person by attending artist gatherings, salons, workshops, and classes, and on-line through sites like Twitter and arts discussion forums like on Art Calendar. Blogging on group blogs, individual blogs, and commenting on other people's blogs is also a great way to connect with more people on-line, as is putting images of your work on Flickr and participating in the community there by joining Flickr groups and commenting on other people's photos. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting your artwork out and about on-line, but every effort is worth the time it takes, and most of them come free.

Here are a couple of snap shots of the two pieces of mine that are being rented for "The Town" and hopefully they'll be seen in the movie and won't end up on the cutting room floor:
Both of these pieces are from my recent series of Paper Quilts: stitched original photos and found ephemera. You can see more of my work on my web site, and in my Flickr photo pool, and if you'd like to connect with me via Twitter please do.


  1. Jess I'm so happy for you! Those pieces are beautiful and I love that wonderful artists that I know are getting the attention they deserve! Awesome job and great advice in the post too!


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