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Crispin Rosenkranz Aims for Laughs

August 5, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Susan Du

Photo by Kaitlin Till-Landry

When Crispin Rosenkranz was a kid, his filmmaker father cast him as a respectable child reporter hosting public-access TV episodes on videogame arcades and children’s museums. It was Rosenkranz’s first stint with acting, but he wouldn’t know until many years later that it would be one of his those significant child memories one brings up in interviews about the making of a filmmaker.

In fact, Rosenkranz wasn’t even sure he wanted to be a filmmaker until his late teens, when he collaborated with a friend to broadcast a public-access show with lofty ideals about the freedom of speech. It was called “An Evening with Pootyhumps,” and featured skits filled with pranks, roasts, dirty words, and other questionable content. It made the network administrators livid, but it also convinced Rosenkranz his life’s mission was to both make art and parody it through video.

Now, Rosenkranz is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Film, Video, New Media and Animation department, where he said old-fashioned art history training and his professors’ brutal honesty sobered him up some. However, his more recent projects have still maintained the same element of general goofing off that featured so prominently in “Pootyhumps.”

“Now I’m learning more about what I’m trying to say artistically,” Rosenkranz said. “But when I’m not making people laugh, I’m not happy. I love being the star of things.”

A self-professed narcissist, whose signature style of filmmaking is characterized by “self-indulgent, self-conscious, comedic” rambling, Rosenkranz often directs and stars in his own productions.

Some of his recent video projects include “Ahhh Chupacabra”, a short exposé of a day in the life of a chupacabra, mythical South American monster that sucks the blood of goats. There were no costumes and no plot, but reenactments from “Nosferatu” aplenty.

Jeremy Pettilon in "Ahhh Chupacabra"

Another piece titled “The Last 30 Days of my 30’s” is comprised of a series of monologues about the passage of time. But since Rosenkranz only partially followed through with his commitment to film all 30 days before he turned 40 in 2010, it also became a statement on failure.

One element that connects these two distinct projects is that Rosenkranz edited them to include his own commentary on intent, whether or not he eventually achieved his ultimate goals. In “Ahhh Chupacabra,” he included his off-screen directions in the final cut, and in “The Last 30 Days of my 30’s,” he included his original plan to monologue all 30 days even when that plan fell through.

From "The Last 30 Days of My 30s"

It’s the case with many of Rosenkranz’s ultra self-aware pieces that he often emphasizes the actual process of filmmaking more than the film itself. In a “medium as the message” bid for comedic effect above all, Rosenkranz said he ultimately doesn’t like to make work that’s too “heavy.”

“I just want audience members to laugh and have a good time,” he said. “I’ve actually been accused of the social aspects of my art making up too much of the work, that it maybe looks too much like people hanging out, flirting or wasting time. But I’m not afraid to make myself look bad.”

After finishing his graduate studies at SAIC, Rosenkranz said he’s excited about upcoming projects, which includes getting another shot at “The Last 30 Days of my 30’s” with the production of “The Last 40 Days of Being 40,” which will be showcased at Lion VS Gorilla concept gallery on Aug. 20 as part of the Fulton Street Collective.

He also expects to begin acting in SAIC Professor Jim Trainor’s “The Pink Egg” as a dancing insect sometime in August.

Rosenkranz said, “I’ve been making video for 20-plus years, and now I feel like it’s all starting to come together.”

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