In his newest documentary short, Nothing to Something, Michael Artiles turns his lens on New York fashion photographer Keith Major. Interestingly, Major is as compelling a subject, if not more so, than any of his models.
For those who are not acquainted with Keith Major’s work, just leaf through Cosmopolitan at any one time, and you’re sure to see his by-line. The 30-year-veteran of extraordinarily lit glamor and experimental editorial work is also well published in the advertising and music industries, so it seems Major’s surname suits him well.
But what’s most endearing about Keith Major is the sincerity and modesty he exudes, and the fact that Major never forgets the very ordinary roots of his younger life. In Nothing to Something, Major describes himself as an ordinary man with nothing to lose. And like many in his predicament, Major dared to dream boundlessly—and in his case, the pay off was immense.
I have to admit that I had my doubts that a 12-minute documentary would impact me as much as it did. Much of this is due to Artiles’ uncanny ability to make perfect use of the time allotted, and not only hone in on the words and work of his subject, but on Major as a character-in-a-movie. Particularly notable is the interplay of the ordinary documentary-fare of Major speaking about his life with footage of Major’s animated-pensiveness, shot through a small round table mirror, the type a woman might use when applying makeup. This Hitchcockian-technique of viewer voyeurism (think of Strangers on a Train, when Bruno murders Miriam while we watch her reflection through her eyeglasses), compels us to pay critical attention to the screen, should we miss something important.
Needless to say, I strongly recommend Nothing to Something as a short documentary that’s not short on strength.
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