Art & Life with Evan Morton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Evan Morton.

Evan, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I started filming my own skateboarding videos with a mini DV JVC camera in 2006. In 2007 I won a Guinness World Record for the most consecutive double kickflips at the X-Games (XIII) in Los Angeles and was sponsored by a few companies. In 2008 I took my first filmmaking class at Taft High School and realized how much I loved the art of filmmaking when my 5-minute short ended up being 12 minutes long and my teacher kept the class after school to finish watching my film. If you end up putting extra time into a project, way beyond the requirements, then you’ve found your true passion in life.

I ended up leaving LA between 2012-2014 to study filmmaking at Northern California. While getting my filmmaking degree I wrote a feature film, “The Last Hit,” when I was just 19 years old. With no money, a Canon 5D MkII (the first DSRL camera to have 1080p HD), and some amazing friends, I was able to start filming in 2013. I think it’s pretty cool to look back and realize I was starting my first feature film before I could even get into a bar. After earning my degree and finishing filming “The Last Hit,” I moved back home to the San Fernando Valley.

Jump forward a few years, and I’ve shot several films, commercials, and music videos. I have pushed through a lot and it paid off.

Last year, I got to travel to Alaska and work for a few TV shows for National Geographic. Spending most of my life in the San Fernando Valley, you can imagine what an adventure it was to go past the Arctic Circle, surrounded by snow and ice, with a camera in your hand filming people living in below zero temperatures, and getting a taste of a completely different culture.

I want to thank my father, Peter Morton, for pushing me in everything I did. Whether it was skateboarding, karate, baseball, basketball, or filmmaking. 

Can you give our readers some background on your work?
I’m a multi-talented filmmaker that specializes in directing and cinematography. I work on films, tv shows, commercials, and music videos.

I fell in love with the art of cinema when my dad started showing me classic films as a kid such as The Godfather, The Sting, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001 Space Odyssey, The Abyss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Fly, The Thing, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rocky, The Wizard of Oz, Shawshank Redemption, Manhattan, Papillion, The Magnificent Seven, Unforgiven, Schindler’s List, Raging Bull, Psycho, Goodwill Hunting, Jaws.

At an early age I found myself drawn to the original Star Trek series and The Twilight Zone. I loved the idea of “not knowing” what will happen next. A lot of those classic sci-fi shows revolved more around a unique premise that often had to do with a moral dilemma, rather than solely on the cliché “save the world” premise we often see in today’s films.

Spielberg, Roddenberry, Rod Serling, and JJ Abrams are masters at putting an audience on the edge of their seat and ending with a bang that leaves an imprint on the viewers.

People are at their best when creating something that’s never been done before. It’s contagious because it inspires others to pursue their endeavors as well. I want my films to show our flaws as humans, which creates conflict for multi-dimensional characters we can relate to.

Do you relate more to Chris Evans as Captain America or to Robin Williams in Goodwill Hunting? Well, for me, Robin Williams’ character in Goodwill Hunting has endured so much (loss, pain, love, anger), yet he wants to help Matt Damon’s character, who in turn seems to help himself along the way. Whereas Captain America has super powers and is (nearly) invincible.

I don’t want to simply entertain people; I want to engage them into thinking about what they see and for it to resonate with them.

I look at film similar to fishing. You start with a big hook, then you reel them in, and by the end you rip them out of the water.

I think this analogy really works with several of my films, but in particular to the short film “Love at the End of Earth,” which was a romance/sci-fi film airing on AMC’s “Shorts TV” later this year.

I want people to walk out thinking about what they saw and questioning it. I want you to know a surprise is coming in my films, but not the one that you expect.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I think it’s hard to stand out as an artist these days because there are so many. Don’t look at what the person is doing next to you, if you want to stand out be yourself, just focus on your own craft and why you fell in love with it in the first place.

You will fail, but how you respond to your failure will be a big part of your success.

I see failures as opportunities to learn and grow as an artist. Don’t get down about your failures. Do you think Kobe got down on himself for missing a shot? No, he took another, then another, and that’s how you improve. You won’t wake up one day and be a legend, it takes persistence, pain, sacrifice, and self-drive.

I see every failure as one closer to my greatest success. Most people are sprinting as artists, and you get tired. What you want to do is jog like it’s a marathon, keep a good pace, stay consistent, and you will continue to move forward rather than burning yourself out.

Culturally I see a lot of people who want to be famous. If you’re doing art simply to be rich or famous, you are doing yourself a disservice, because you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You should be doing art because you are passionate about it. Rather than see other filmmakers as competitors, see them as potential collaborators you can team up with.

A great film is made by a cast and crew, a well-knit team, not just a big name.

Life has become harder for artists that try and be something they’re not or try to do too much in a short amount of time. It’s a brick by brick industry. Don’t rush it, just stay consistent, continue to grow, and it will become easier.

I know the Madrid Theatre recently had a  battle of the bands, which encouraged musicians in the valley to perform. I’d like to see something similar in the San Fernando Valley for local filmmakers. Maybe we screen local films at the park, at a theatre, or on a local station. This would be a great way for the community to show support for filmmakers, as well as help them network with one another.

The battle of the bands winner, Illunis (a phenomenal local band, check them out @illunismusic), won a cash prize plus the opening slot for the 4th of July show at Warner Center Park. Why not have a short film fest at the Madrid theatre and have the best shorts play at Warner Center Park as part of their Movies on the Green?

Just a thought, but it would be great to have local films up on a big screen as an opening before showing hit classics such as Jurassic Park.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can check out some of my work on my Instagram page, @evanprophot

You can support my work by following me on Instagram, as well as my facebook pages.

We have some big announcements coming such as the TV debut of “Love at the End of Earth,” the highly anticipated release for our feature film “The Last Hit,” the release for the sci-fi thriller “RESQ,” and the official launch of a new production company.

All of this exciting news will be on my Instagram, my Facebook page, and my website.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Evan Morton