#3 Jonathan Weinstein

Interview | 2008.11.07 00:13


Time:   November 2, 2008 (2~4pm)

Place:  Jonathan's place in Roosevelt Island

Equipment: Nikon D80, Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 Lens

Photographs and Interview by Goseong Choi  and Lu Dong

Who are you?

I'm just a guy who really likes contrast. In black and white photography, I'm all about the black and the white, and always try to get rid of the grey completely. Everyone has their reasons to do things, to feel things. The adult way of seeing the world, I'm told, it's to understand that "everything is just shades of grey". I guess in that sense, I'm stuck at being a child. I see honesty in the real colors, in either good or bad. I don't believe something or someone can stand in the middle, unable to make up their mind. A flower isn't grey, it's either colorful and alive or just dead. People will do good things or they won't. The grey is almost a way to avoid taking a stance on something, to avoid being true to yourself because you're afraid of what others will say of you. Will they think you're too nice, or that you have no heart. I think you just be honest about things, and you will gain your respect that way. Photography is really what forced me to think about all this. While many people around me kept trying to find the right balance of colors, I just wanted things to explode on the page. Things had to be bright, or dark. It's a childish notion, that everything can be determined so simply, but it works.

Do you consider yourself as a New Yorker?

New York is everything at once. I both love this city and I can't stand it at the same time. New York is one giant port town. Everyone comes from somewhere and everyone is going somewhere else, we all just happen to end up getting stuck here for a while. I can't stand its noise, and yet I can't sleep without it, it's become just a hum in the background, something I used to hearing, almost something I need to be listening to. I haven't been in a lot of places physically, though I'm pretty sure I've seen and experienced a good chunk of the world here. The subway itself is like a Zoo for humans.

If I'm a New Yorker? I don't believe there is such a thing as a New Yorker. You ask anyone here, where they come from, and they'll tell you some other city, some other country. Nobody is from
New York, and nobody stays. And even if they are, and they do, they don't belong to New York, they belong to their own neighborhood, their tiny society within the confines of this greater montage of ethnicity and cultures that form this place. There's a reason why you can cross the street here and feel like you're in a completely different world.

What do you do recently?

I'm currently interning for KPI, a production company that mostly works on documentaries. Being just that, an intern, means that I get to see and do a lot of things, and not everything is exciting fun. I do get to look at scripts, watch shows, and work my magic on the time coding, nothing terribly major, but it did teach me that in order to get forty minutes of good footage, there's a ridiculous amount of work to be done. And most of it is tedious work. It taught me that if there's anything you should strive to be in life, it's the boss. That way you just have to tell people what to do.

I keep a blog, mostly centered around the gaming industry. Television and games are the way I learned English when I first arrived in
New York, and games stuck with me. I also work on screenplays, something I learned to do a few years back and found to absolutely love doing. It's like writing a book, only much more visual. And I'm a visual person, so it helps.


Do you have the short stories you have written?

I published two pieces in
Baruch College's publication, one article and one screenplay. The article in Dollars & Sense related to my experience back in Paris, discussing the way I felt as a child about the whole religion thing, being Jewish and growing up in a Jewish and Muslim neighborhood. I was getting frustrated to see all these stories in the papers talking about cultures they didn't understand and trying to victimize one group over the other, or claiming that these different religions did not allow us to get along. So I wanted to write a piece on how that was a lie, and I got along with people who followed the doctrines of Islam just fine, and religion didn't stop people from being friends, only stupidity and ignorance.

In Encounters, I published my first screenplay. It was a project I started just for fun, almost spite against the other students. Everyone was doing something so serious, about life, death, pregnancy and their own bellybutton. So I opted to make almost a mockery out of it, and told the story of an assassin, on a job, fighting with his mother and sister over the phone. It ended up being much funnier than I meant it to be, not very dark. I liked the story so much that I later decided to build upon the character and write a collection of short stories about that character. The best ideas really come up when you least expect them.


About your family members.

I suppose you could say that I come from a family of would be artists. My brothers are both into classical art, drawing and painting, and into movie making. My mother has always been the writer of the family, and my father was the photographer. I took up photography, and writing. Storytelling has been on my mother's side for generation, although not written, her brothers are great at making stuff up. My father's father is a photographer as well, who created his own development studio in upstate
New York.

My father had a cat before he lived in France, and as every great relationship, his marriage with my mother started by having to get rid of the cat. So for his birthday two years ago, we finally got two kittens, Luna and Zorro. There names would have been much more extravagant, but our mother just didn't approve (it was hard enough to have Zorro come through). So now, the cats fall to us, and we're caring for them as well as we can, without getting scratched too much.

Carl David Weinstein (Jonathan's Father) Photography

As I stated before, my father was the photographer of the family. I believe he had more skill and talent than a lot of photographers out there, because he just didn't even try. And since everyone gifted has to have a disadvantage, my father wasn't the most, shall we say, open person. It was difficult to talk to him, get to really know him. Not that he was distant, he always cherished this fantasy of the family that you see in the movies. He took my brothers and I to the museum and the garden back in
Paris every weekend, and really didn't understand how, as we grew up, we preferred to spend the time not with our friends, alone with a computer or video games. The youth will always go misunderstood by the older generations!

Jonathan lost his father this summer

Creating has been part of the family, and it's something we all do. So if either of us decides to become a full fledge, so called artist, no one's going to stop us and tell us about how it's such a bad idea and we should really stick to getting a job and having a house etc. Fortune is not something neither my brother nor I look forward to, we grew up alright without money, and got to do the things we love anyway, and our parents have stopped trying to turn us into lawyers or doctors many years ago.

My philosophy, and I'm sure I owe all of it to my parents, as always been to do what I thought was right, even if to others it's all wrong. Creation is a big part of what I want to do, and I know it's not the path to riches. But it's the only way to really be happy, and seeing as how we don't get an unlimited amount of time to that, might as well start right away. The way of thinking that suggest to "save now" and "work hard for the future" is something I just can't bring myself to understand. You never know what will happen, so there's no excuse to push back your goals and aspiration for a more practical time. I sound like a bad D list movie when I say that, but really, the present is the only good time. Planning's great up to a certain extent, but planning is just that, it's the formula to make things, but it doesn't make things. So if I have to go and fail making things a few times before I finally get it right, I'd rather do that than wait until I find the right way, because who knows if I'll ever do.


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by|고성 Goseong Choi