Filmmaking is in Ace Norton’s blood. With both his Father and Grandfather working in the biz as Writers and Directors, it’s only natural he would follow the path laid before him. And we’re glad he did! Ace has created over 200 visually unnerving videos for unique artists like Aesop Rock, Death Cab for Cutie, and Norah Jones. He’s produced unforgettable commercials for Adidas, Coca Cola and Honda. Pretty impressive for a guy still in his 20′s.
Ace Norton: I had a few (videos) on TRL. But most of my videos played on that show Subterranean, which I’m not sure exists anymore. It was a great venue for the more experimental low budget stuff.
DK: You started making films at a very young age. How does a kid who just learned to tie his shoes direct a film?
AN: As a kid I wanted to be a pro skater, but when I was 13 I shattered my tailbone jumping off a flight of stairs. For 6 months I had to sit on an inflatable doughnut cushion and couldn’t do any physical activities. So one day I asked my dad if I could borrow his Hi-8 camera…
Instead of skating, I’d go home everyday and make these little short films which I would direct, edit, and star in. They were all pretty bad but a it was a fun way to kill time and make mistakes.
DK: The transition from USC Film School to getting signed to Partizan Films is huge. How did your career as a filmmaker evolved into what it is today?
AN: I wanted to get a head start on building my reel so I dropped out of USC Film school a year early. I spent about 2 years living on the dime as a bus boy at Capri Resturant on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. In my spare time I would go to local shows and convince the bands I liked that I could make them cool videos for no money. To increase production value, I thought animation was the best route.
DK: What have been some of your favorites out of the projects you’ve directed? What stands out?
AN: I’m really proud of this short film i just finished for Dolby (Surround Sound). We made electronic beats out of noises originating from the human body. We isolated the body into top, middle and bottom sections and turned each area into a mini electronic symphony.
DK: The Aesop Rock – Coffee video is a trip. Which of the great horror exploitation flicks had the most influence on that one?
AN: When I was 10, my crazy Grandfather showed me this movie called Re-Animator which scared me shitless! It’s arguably one of the most grotesque, violent, and bloody films ever made. I was near tears but he was laughing the entire time. When I re-watched it a couple years later I understood the humor and it made me laugh too. There’s more Re-Animator in my video than anything else.
DK: How did you and Aesop Rock meet up in the first place?
AN: I wrote a treatment for “Coffee” and when the video was awarded, Ian (Aesop) and I clicked on set. We became pretty close. He ended up scoring a short film I made last year. I can’t say enough good things about that dude.
DK: You have also done a video for Mandy Moore. Do you enjoy working with pop stars as much as creating bloody exploitation type videos?
AN: I like blood, but yes money is nice.
DK: What do you think will happen to the future of the music video?
AN: With evolving technology, everyone is able to make their own art and I think it’s a good thing. It evens the playing field and keeps people creative. I really think it’s up to the blogs, curators, and taste makers to filter through all the crap because as it is now, there’s just way too much information. I don’t know who or what to listen to because there are endless video premieres and album releases everyday.
DK: What advice would you give for someone trying to follow in your footsteps?
AN: Keep busy and MAKE STUFF!
DK: Word is you’d like to direct a feature soon. Any details about what we’ll be seeing from Ace Norton next?
AN: We’re working on a script now, hoping to be finished soon.
DK: Time for the short answer Questions. What are 5 of your favorite albums?
1. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
2. Beck – Mellow Gold
3. The Clash – London Calling
4. Radiohead – OK Computer
5. R. Kelly – Double Up
DK: What are 5 of your favorite films?
1. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
2. The Original Dawn of the Dead
3. Pulp Fiction
5. 2001: Space Odyssey
DK: What would you like to eat for your last meal if you could choose?
AN: If i was on death row? A massive cake with a key hidden inside.
special thanks and shout out to Ace.
to see more killer work from Ace Norton check out his site www.acenorton.com