We had a chance to catch up with multi-talented LA based filmmaker Wes O'Connor. They were featured in Dr. Martens' Filmmaker Series and showcased how "queer music has always been anchored by a community of artists who forsake societal boundaries."
Photos by: Asha Moné
Interview w/ Wes O'Connor
1) How did you get your start in filmmaking/photography?
I first realized I enjoyed taking photos when I got a flip phone in middle school that had a camera. The quality was terrible but there was something about having a camera on hand at all times that I loved. That progressed to getting a DSLR in high school to working as a photographer for my university while in college to collaborating on documentary and narrative short films with fellow students to finally moving to LA and getting involved in the film world here. I didn’t move here to do this professionally - I was actually running a food business at the time - but it happened naturally and here I am now, almost seven years later, a genuine LA multi-hyphenate (photographer, videographer, director, editor, etc).
2) What is your favorite part of the collaboration between music and film?
There’s so much to be said about how music and film complement each other aesthetically but on a personal level I’ve always been deeply invested in music, and despite my best efforts (including trombone, tuba, trumpet, guitar, and ukulele) I never had a true talent for it. So when I shoot and edit to music and get into the rhythm of it, it’s really rewarding to feel like I’m not only participating in the music itself but also adding to it by creating the visual component.
3) How is the music/film scene in LA?
I’ve had an amazing experience in the music/film scene in LA, and I don’t separate those fields intentionally because the circle that I’m surrounded by overlaps so much between the two. It’s a scene that feels, for the most part, really open and collaborative and surprisingly small - everyone I know seems to be connected in one way or another. I think that has a lot to do with the scene I’m involved in being mostly queer.
4) How was working with Dr. Martens?
Working with Dr. Martens was great. They came to me with the prompt of telling the story of a music scene in LA but gave me a lot of creative control to decide what that scene would be, which artists to highlight, and how I was going to shoot it. This is a film I would have always loved to make but Dr. Martens made it possible, and I’m so happy that our creative visions aligned.
5) Fave Dr. Martens shoe?
I tend to keep my style pretty simple and utilitarian so I think it’s got to be the classic 1460 Lace Up Boots. You can’t really go wrong with those no matter what you’re wearing.
6) In an industry that often takes advantage of folks, how do you be sure to recharge/ set boundaries for a healthy work/life balance?
This can be a tough one. Over the years I’ve learned to trust in work coming to me at the right times. For me this means that I often have cycles where I’m really busy for a short period of time, and in those moments I don’t have much of a work/life balance because I’m so heavily into the work. But then the other part of the cycle is a fallow period where I’ve had to learn to let myself relax and not get caught up into the 9-5 idea of daily productivity because that’s just not how my life functions as a creative freelancer. Also, it took me a long time to feel that I could say no to jobs, but it’s really freeing to say no to things that don’t excite you if you have the ability to do so.
7) If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead) from the queer music/film scene who would it be and why?
Honestly, I know this is a boring answer but my friends! I’ve been really cautious during the pandemic about being around larger groups unmasked so if I could just have a big dinner party with all my film/music friends in LA that would be a dream. I used to see everyone spontaneously at shows all the time and I miss that collective feeling.
8) What do you hope audiences get out of your work?
Out of this work in particular, I hope audiences leave with a deeper understanding of the roots of our queer music scene and the beautiful community that can be fostered by virtue of queerness. In general, I think much of my work hopes to leave the audience with a greater curiosity and appreciation for the world by viewing subjects through an intimate, empathetic lens.