In Conversation with Dan Culbert:


Dan Culbert

Dan Culbert is an Irish Filmmaker and video artist who has been putting images to film from a very young age. He enjoys exploring many different formats such as VHS, 8mm film as well as digital formats, and has a particular fascination with dark human themes and subject matter. He has had work displayed at the Cannes film festival and other festivals in London and Dublin.


Interviewed By Jiaming Zhao, 18/02/2023
JZ: Why do you prefer using VHS videos to express your idea rather than to use a digital medium? Do you have any special affinity on types of the camera or styles of videos?

DC: VHS is a hybrid format that sits somewhere between digital and analogue, it has neither the versatility and ease of access of digital, nor the rich texture of film. This gives the format and the images it creates an idiosyncratic quality which resonates with me and perfectly compliments my style of filmmaking. Many modern filmmakers have nostalgia for the format, because like myself, they remember being children of the 1990’s when this technology was in use and making their first home movies. People often attempt to capture the unique aesthetic of VHS by shooting on digital and using post-processing filters, but I feel that using the original technology is the only way to truly capture the aesthetic.

JZ: Do you think your video narrative style is more emotional or more story driven? Did you want to take a satirical approach or the perspective of a bystander due to the rats' unique place in urban society?

DC: I often take an emotional approach to filmmaking, and I think the narrative often forms naturally by taking this approach. I took the perspective of a Rat due to their unique perspective of the urban jungle due to their physical stature. They are considered amongst the lowliest of creatures but also see the world from below in a very literal sense, often thriving in the places, and taking nourishment from the food abandoned by humans.

JZ: Has your identity and experience influenced you to choose a less dominant perspective? What did you learn about capitalism and society from this perspective?

DC: I think anyone can relate to the Rat if they have ever experienced poverty, or ostracization of any kind. Only by observing/experiencing or relating to the lives of the lowest creatures can we know what it means to be humble. The experience of making this film has made me feel more empathy and made me aware of the staggering magnitude of society's capacity to waste things.

JZ: What is the ideal relationship between human society and nature in your mind? Does life in the rural town you grew up in or the urban landscape of London give you any different inspiration on your creations?

DC: The tendency of humans is to look upon nature as something to overcome as a kind of obstacle. This is not unlike the way a rat will make it’s nest in the walls of a man made house. The rat doesn’t do so with any malice or intention to destroy, yet they will change their surroundings to fit their needs. In a way, the life of a rat is a microcosm of human society and the two have a sort of harmony.

The inspiration for this film would not have come about if I didn’t move from a quiet rural town to a large urban city.