June 20, 2017
An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 60 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs, Evalyn Gleason, Adrian DiMatteo, Biz LaChance and Saadiq Muhammad, Manny Greene and Kaisean Roseboro and Rayla Meshawn.
In this highlight, Che turns our attention to SOTA alum Tom Sipples
I grew up in Charlotte, New York – a small beach town near Lake Ontario which is technically part of the City of Rochester, even though it’s miles away. While I loved growing up near a beach, when I got accepted into the School of the Arts in 6th grade (for piano), I lived about 35 minutes away by bus. When you live that far away and can’t drive, your social life kind of sucks. So, once I graduated high school and moved to New York City to go the the School of Visual Arts for Directing – it was extreme culture shock. I went from being by myself almost all of the time to being surrounded by people 24/7. The joke being, at times, it felt exactly the same – millions of people in New York, but you’re all alone. Ha!
What inspired you to be an filmmaker? Early experiences worth sharing?
When I was a young kid I went to a Catholic school where I often found myself getting in trouble for doodling instead of working. In the 5th grade my teacher kept me after class and asked if I had ever heard of “School of the Arts,” handed me admission forms and told me to tell my parents because she thought I was talented and should give it a shot. So I auditioned and got in, but not for drawing, for piano. I was classically trained as a kid and could learn compositions by ear, so I was confident in my piano playing, I wasn’t as confident in drawing, I only doodled for fun. Fast forward 3 years, everyone who auditioned in 6th grade had to audition again to get into the High School. Long story short, I got in again but THIS time for drawing. This time I was confident, I had the help of some of my favorite Art teachers and had an overflowing portfolio of work, from sketches to sculptures and from paintings to over 50 flipbooks. As a result, for 4 years I was immersed in drawing, painting, photography and filmmaking. I realized then I had stories to tell and I wanted to do this for a living, I needed to make more and I didn’t want to stop.
My thesis film in college was with out a doubt the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. For about a year I had been writing a story that everyone could relate to, no matter your background, and realized it’d make for a perfect Thesis film. My screenwriting teachers loved it, my advisor Aurelio Voltaire loved it and my friends thought it was strong. So I tried to get everything ready for the production. It seemed as though I had everything set, I had a cast, I had a crew, I had studio equipment and enough money to swing the whole thing. One by one everything fell apart. First the studio equipment wasn’t properly set, the school’s production cage gave my equipment to another production and left me with a DSLR set up and sophomore level audio equipment. After that, actors started to fall out of place and would have to drop out. Then my crew started being picked up by other productions and I was left with myself and my friend Pat. I wrote, directed, shot, edited and animated my thesis by myself, with Pat helping me with audio recording and sound effects. To this day I still don’t like how it came out, but it still gets people crying when they see it so at least the story is good!
I don’t know to be honest. I’ve been told many times that I have a certain style to my work that’s all my own. In my drawing, photography work, and filmmaking, I have my own flair and style choices that seem to attract people. “It’s very dark but feels very real” is a comment I get a lot. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I just want to get people’s attention and tell them a story they haven’t heard yet, or one that reminds them of something important or personal.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
– I play the piano
– I play guitar
– I am a huge car nut (I have a 2016 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack & I’m the NY Chapter president of the Head Turners Car Club)
– I am an avid cologne collector (I currently have 42 in my collection!)
Jeez let’s see.
– Just finished editing a maternity photo shoot
– I have a fine art photo series I’m almost finished with
– I have two short Stop Motion scripts I’m finishing
– I have a feature length live action script I’m half way through and
– I was just picked up to do a advertisement for a Domain company where I’d be directing, shooting and editing.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to see myself in California, Oregon or New York again, but working in either film or stop motion.
What advice can you give to aspiring filmmakers?
Don’t stop creating! Keep pumping out work. If you’re passionate about it, don’t let anyone stop you. If you have a talent, don’t waste it.
I have 3 instagram accounts, one personal (@tsips13), one for my car club (@nyheadturners), and one for my fragrance reviews (@scentomental). I’m currently revamping my website because it didn’t look that great. It should be up soon though!