I came across Dante Luna's work online a while back. Far back enough to the point that I can't even remember exactly when. We met in person about a year ago, through a mutual friend. Since our first conversation, we have collaborated on numerous photography projects, traveled to Philadelphia (to Interview Jason David Frank
[known as the Green Power Ranger]), documented countless events and even photographed a few weddings. Not to mention a few extra spontaneous adventures along the way (which I didn't mind).
I've met many talented individuals in my career, but what makes Dante different then the rest is his spirit (his being). He is the type of person that know's exactly who he is and what he wants. His vision is crystal clear. Maybe just to him, but it's clear! Which is normal, considering he has an artistic mind. His arms (and neck) are covered in tattoos; each one comes with a story worth telling and hearing. Not once will you see Dante without his camera, and if you do, best believe he'll be using his phone as a replacement. He is constantly in a state of creation. Wether it be a video, photo or poem.
|Dante Luna (left) interviewing JayPix (right)|
I sat down with Mr. Luna and asked him some questions about his career. It was truly my pleasure; by far one of my favorite interviews. Enjoy!
What do you consider yourself? A film maker? Documentarian? etc.
"I guess the scholar in me says I’m a historian. I preserve my culture every time I go to work. I also love learning about how people experience life on earth, so my filmmaking life draws me into creating documentaries. So within the context of spawning visual material I gravitate towards real life, which I guess makes me a documentarian."
Most of your work is based on YouTube. Explain how that came about and why?
"Youtube allows me to create art and make it available to the world on a platform that is visited by over 130 million people a month. When I opened my youtube account I was traveling back and forth between Boston and Miami so the easiest way for me to showcase my work without hassle was the internet. I can hop off a plane and have a conversation with someone in the airport terminal, and be able to send them right to my work with no roadblocks. I loved the idea of my work being made available on on-demand, so I stuck with it."
How many videos have you put out total & do you have a favorite?
"I’ve put out about 400 different productions. My favorite so far is my interview with Jason David Frank, about him reflecting on playing Tommy Oliver (the Green Ranger) on the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."
What do you film & how do you choose what to film next?
"I film music videos, live events, behind the scenes coverage, documentaries, interviews, short films and there are some (creative ventures) I don’t categorize. Like an author who takes time to do creative writing versus having an article or book published. In terms of choosing what to film next, my work life is split into two parts. The first part is the freelance part where I get hired to help other people build their brands, I see those ideas out until completion, no matter what. The second part is what I create out of feeling… my emotions might put me in a position to just create on any given day. I cant say it’s a conscious decision when I decide what ideas I’m going to work on next."
Where do you see your career in 5 years?
"In 5 years I want to be fully funding my own ideas and no longer available to be hired for work. I just want to be something to look at. Pure art. I want to eliminate the idea of being a freelance creative for other people and hire my body to work completely for my own mind."
What projects are you currently working on?
"At the moment I have 2 full length documentaries that are both in the editing phase. One for Strategic Edge Concepts, which is a demonstration documentary that I filmed in Manhattan and the Bronx for the first 6 months of 2013. And the 2nd is a documentary ive been filming for almost a year with lady creative, Chardas Freeman. Other then those two, I have a lot of short documentaries I’m completing week in and week out. I’m also working on a few music videos. Some are finished with filming and others are still in preproduction. And I’m also documenting the campaign of Felix Arroyo who’s running for Mayor of the City of Boston."
Name a few pros and cons of this business?
"The biggest pro is that I get paid for my imagination. The truth is, I’ve had 30+ jobs in my life. That’s 30 different times that I was on payroll for another company. And I’ve been fired or quit from EVERY single last one of those jobs. I’ve always hated repetition in the job field. My mind is always racing, so going to work for someone else is like letting them borrow my mind for most of my day and it messes with me. I just CAN’T do the same thing everyday. I don’t know if I’m strong enough physically, mentally or emotionally. I can't. My creative life loves me back like nothing else so I’m always trying my best to protect the conditions of my lifestyle. The biggest con is working with people you don’t like. I’ve learned in this business that in order to be successful you have to maintain a neutral voice, and my personality sometimes is a bad voice for my own brand. I know I can create art that people will love more than they love me. I guess I’m fine with that."
Have you ever felt like giving up? (If yes, why? and why didn't you?)
"I’ve never felt like giving up on my art. I’ve thought about giving up on myself personally. Emotionally I haven’t always been as secure as I would like to be, so I’ve doubted myself as a human being, but never as a creator (of art). My daughter gives me a lot of strength. I know I could never leave her alone or hungry on this planet so I don’t even entertain the idea of not completing my living existence until the last natural second."
What or who inspires you the most in life?
"Other than my daughter? I don’t think I have too many people I’m aggressively inspired by. But I am inspired by love and life. Without going to deep, I really love "love". For me, finding true love is like, spotting Big Foot or being abducted by aliens (laughs out loud). It only has to happen once for you to be like 'WOW! WHAT WAS THAT?' I love what I’ve learned from being in love.. it inspires (the hell out of) me."
What is a major goal you have yet to accomplish?
"I want to hike the Appalachian Mountain trail. 2200 miles. From Maine to Georgia."
Based on your filming career, what's your favorite memory?
"I don't know…. that's an easy one but hard to talk about."