Featured Artist: Archibald Turner

by Nick Pini

NP: What got you into film?

AT: Boredom. Also, I like writing things, and decided to start filming the things that I wrote because just writing is boring. Anybody can sit in their house and write a fan-fiction of Twilight that becomes a billion-dollar franchise but only filmmakers can sit in their house, write a three-hundred-page script and become Australia’s premiere filmmaker.

On a more serious note, when you write something, your relationship to it is very different from when you film it and edit it. When you write something, you only get to know it as a series of events or a logical progression, but when you’re filming it, you almost get to live it. You get to experience it as it’s happening. In film, you get to experience what you wrote in a real way; You understand it a lot more than you would if you just wrote it.

NP: Do you have any passion projects?

AT: Not of my own, but I’m working on producing one with Chris Weingart. The way I usually explain it to people is that it’s the Babadook but with Jesus instead of the Babadook. It’s about the unhealthy side of fear of God, and how if you focus too much on the fact that God’s judging you and forget that he has mercy, you can begin to think of him as this big monster and lose a lot of parts of being religious.

NP: Are you working on any senior projects this year? Are you planning on doing a senior project for yourself?

AT: Yes, I worked on three of them. I worked with Brother Dominic on his documentary about a Mexican orphanage and with Brigitta and Paul on their documentary about heroin. I was also on “Playing Ourselves” for a short time.

I am, in fact, planning on pitching my own senior project. It’s about a guy who’s an atheist and he finds Satan. He’s a TV personality and his show is that he finds places where there is supposedly supernatural religious stuff going on and debunks them. He makes a documentary about a Satanic cult in Southern California, and he tries to find the magic tricks behind it, but later finds out it’s actually real. An actual demon shows up, and he tries to escape it, his producer yells at him, and that’s the movie. Oh, and there’s a five page monologue about a carrot in it.

NP: How do you think you Impact Culture for Christ through your films?

AT: So, my whole relationship to storytelling and writing scripts, or whatever pretentious label you want to put on it, is sort of my coping mechanism for things that I want to process and learn more about. I write about things that I have questions about, like, “Where do you draw the line between a priest as a man, and a priest as someone inhabiting a holy office?” These are the things that I want to explore and that I want to find answers to– the things that motivate me to write.

The way I see it, I’m asking really important questions, like the one I just mentioned. Regardless of whether or not other people are asking those questions, I am. So, I’m going to find the answers, hopefully, and then maybe people will praise Jesus; and when I die, maybe God will look past all of the terrible jokes I make and say, “Hey, like 25 people looked at your movies– because that’s how many will see them when they come out– and they came to a non-heretical conclusion about something. Good job, now go spend a thousand years in purgatory”.

NP: What film genres do you enjoy?

AT: Not American movies. I like British and French comedies, low-budget comedies in general, as well as documentaries and war movies. I also like A24, because that’s a genre, right?

NP: What do you personally enjoy about filmmaking?

AT: You know how when the Greeks built the Parthenon, they thought, “This is the greatest thing ever and it’s going to last forever”, and they poured all of their blood, sweat, and tears into it, but a few millennia later, most of it is still standing and the people that made it probably didn’t get to see it finished. With filmmaking, you can create several of them in your life and rest in the fact that it’s going to be around 2500 years later and people will like them because of my personality.

I also like that it gives me something to complain about with the people that I’m making the movie with.

I used to go insane reading books, imagining them as movies, and then seeing them made into movies and being nothing like I had imagined. It made me sad because nobody made the types of movies that I imagined, and the movies I had in my head were better than the real-life ones. I said to myself, “I need to make these movies so that I can watch them and then be happy that this now exists.” I always tell people I’m an egomaniac, and they never believe me until I tell them why I make movies.

NP: Why the name change?

AT: Boredom with the name that my parents gave me. When I was born, my parents didn’t know what to name me. They were debating between naming me Jacob and Isaiah, and I wish they had named me Isaiah because it’s a much more bad-ass name.

About my last name, I had a great-great-uncle in Mexico, and his pen name was Jacobo Dale Vuelta, which translates literally to “Jacob goes around in circles”. He had a son who was also a writer, whose pen name was Jacobito Dale Vuelta, which means “little Jacob goes around in circles.” So, I adopted that as my pen name also, but I later Americanized it to Jacob Turner, and then I started using Archibald as my first name just for fun. I use Archibald Turner as my pen name, my stage name, my alias when I’m committing tax fraud on a scale hitherto undreamed of, et cetera.

NP: You seem to like shock humor and making statements that appear to cross the line on occasion. Can you say a few words about that?

AT: I make jokes about things I don’t really understand because it’s more fun than just regurgitating things that I’ve read. People will get offended when you say anything, because most of the time anything that disrupts the status quo of their lovely little world upsets them. Sometimes, people have legitimate reasons for taking offense. It’s just that I don’t know what things I say are going to push those buttons and what things are sensitive topics to particular people.

NP: Tell us about your hair.

AT: It’s glorious, end of story.