Last month, I had the opportunity to work with Dutch filmmaker mZiah. A music artist and producer in his youth, mZiah released his first record on one of the leading European electronic music labels, Music Man, at age 18. “This was an excellent start for somebody who couldn’t wait to be old enough to be a real artist,” mZiah told me when I asked him about his emerging career.
After projects with SONY (Germany),Universal (U.K.),EMI(Worldwide) and BMG (Europe), mZIAH decided to try the independent route. He moved to the US and focused on his visual talents.
Experience in acting, directing commercials and fashion photography gave him the skills and freedom to develop a very unique style.
In 2009, he founded the avant-garde music, film, and fashion label Cyberstate of Consciousness.
A huge fan of Asian cinema, I spoke to mZiah about his career, upcoming projects and how Asian film has influenced his work:
ASIANCE: I am impressed by how esoteric your work is. I’ve actually never seen anything like it. Who has been a major influence in your career?
mZiah: I’m very much into abstract, surreal and experimental work. For each art form, I like ones that push the limits. I’ve been influenced by people such as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Salvador Dali, David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, David Bowie, Prince, James Brown, Andy Warhol, Jimi Hendrix, Shinya Tsukamoto, Wong Kar Wai, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Miles Davis.
ASIANCE: You were initially a music artist/producer. What made you decide to become a filmmaker?
mZiah: I got tired of the music industry. It’s very limited. With film I could deliver sound AND visuals. It also allows me to stay diverse. With music, you always have to stick to your style/genre. With film, I can play a different role in a different genre with different looks, different people, different music and sounds…..it is the ultimate thing for any artist !
ASIANCE: You came to the US from Holland; why did you choose to pursue a film career in the States? Did you speak English before coming here?
mZiah: The U.S. was logical because I speak the language, know the culture and love the fact that everything an artist needs is within reach. It was either New York or Los Angeles. I chose L.A. because of the weather.
ASIANCE: Were there any special challenges you had to overcome, being a foreigner in the US?
mZiah: There were and still are many special challenges, but I think that’s what life is about. That’s what keeps it interesting. When you travel, there are always cultural and social differences that you have to adapt to in a positive and negative way. Even in Holland I’m somewhat of a foreigner, because I’m half Melanesian.
ASIANCE: You are a big fan of Asian cinema. Which films stand out in your mind and which directors have influenced your work?
mZiah: Yes, I’m a huge fan of Asian Cinema! A few movies I can’t live without: Snake of June, Rampo Noir, Audition, Ichi the Killer, Graveyard of Honor, Old Boy, 2046, Happy Together, The Killer, Bullet in the Head, Tetsuo 1+ 2, Dead or Alive Trilogy, Fallen Angels, Dolls, Dreams, Stray Dog.
And my favorite Asian directors are: Takashi Miike, Shinya Tsukamoto, Wong Kar Wai, Akira Kurosawa, Chan-wook Park, Takeshi Kitano and John Woo.
ASIANCE: You also work in fashion and have a line of couture clothing. Have Asian designers influenced your fashion sensibilities?
mZiah: My all time favorite label is the Japanese Comme des Garçons. Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto and Tao Kurihara are in my top 10 of favorite fashion designers (of the moment).
ASIANCE: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you are currently working on?
mZiah: Currently I’m working on a film starring myself and Japanese actress Io Nakamura. This one is interesting because it’s going to be in the Japanese, Dutch and English languages. I’m also preparing some music releases for September 2010 and an artistic film concept I’ve wanted to do for years starring Candace Kita. I’m extra excited about this, because I’m very picky and almost gave up on finding the right person for it until she blew me away during a test shoot for something else.
ASIANCE: How can people learn more about you? (website, social networking sites, etc)
mZiah: I have MySpace, twitter and facebook for mZiah and 0010×0010. My websites are www.mziah.com www.cyberstateofconsciousness.com.
ASIANCE: Is there anything you would like to say to young, aspiring filmmakers who are reading this article?
mZiah: Develop your own unique style! Hollywood is pumping out nothing but remakes, clichés and stereotypes, so it’s time for something new and creative…the 21st Century Renaissance !