Monday, March 10, 2014

An interview with Daniel Franzese

On Friday I shot with actor Daniel Franzese again. After discovering a mutual love for the city's endless collection of street art on our last shoot, we decided to venture into Williamsburg see more. I don't ever really hang out in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood, so Daniel took the reins and showed me all of the best spots it had to offer. Williamsburg is rich with different expressions of art, from the big murals that cover entire buildings to small stencil pieces painted on the curb. 

I was grateful to have a tour guide who was able to show me tons of great work but I wasn't surprised that Daniel knew exactly where to go. His Instagram is an excellent mixture of fun nights in New York City (including his adventure at the SNL after party with Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift this past Saturday) and an amazing collection of different pieces of street art he finds. 

After our shoot I sent over a couple of questions to see how this love of art started. 

When did you first realize you were obsessed with Street art?

I first started noticing street art in the early 00's in NYC and Brooklyn
it made me laugh and think and sometime even moved me. NY is great for culture and these years were major years for street art. I made a game of collecting stickers and took tons of photos before my cell phone even had a camera. 

What is it about street art that you like?
 I like the idea about taking something from" The Man" and making it belong to the people again. When you see a great piece everyone else who sees it shares that feeling with you. That's the same thing I love about NY street performers, clubs and theater. We share that. It's ours. 

Do you have a favorite artist?
I think Banksy is eternally the king but my favorite will always be Shepard Fairey of Obey/Giant if I wasn't an actor I would probably have full tatted arm sleeves of his work. Other artists I go crazy for are Annie Preece, Buffmonster, Anthony Lister, The Seventh Letter collective and theres a new crop of LA dudes who are doing some really fun stuff with giveaway art and hidden Street art hunts.

Do you have a favorite piece?  
Two things that sold me on forever being a Shepard Fairey fan are from my sticker collecting days. I used to collect any sticker even non graffitti stickers. airport stickers, fruit stickers the whole concept behind Obey is this Orwelllian like 1984 "Big Brother Is watching you" thing. I was going into a Starbucks and noticed a tiny sliver unremovable sticker by the door handle like looked just like your standard " this place is under surveillance"  sticker. but it wasn't that. It was OBEY " You are being watched" I felt so special and so clued in to notice that. That was art put there for me or whoever was in touch enough to discover it. That was the best. Another time in LA there was an bad logo of a woman's bra on this Korean lingerie store in K-Town i always loved it cause it was kitschy and weird. i saw a small sticker by it one day and looked closely and it say " This did not go unnoticed-OBEY" I died laughing.  I mean…what's not to love about that?

Did you see any interesting street art while filming your documentary in Detroit? 
That is an understatement. Detroit is such a rad place and the people are so soulful but never in my life have I seen such incredible street art everywhere. ALL the greats are up. Its worth the trip to The D just to drive around and "hunt" with your camera. Major things are happening there. it's probably the best street art in North America right now. You would have to go to Brazil or some shit to see what you get to see in Detroit. Allee willis and I loved it. 

Tell me a little bit about your documentary. Why is it important to you? 
It's called Allee Willis Loves Detroit. Allee Willis is a dear friend of mine and is one of the most accomplished, inspiring and interesting people I have ever met. She's' Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Webby award winning and nominated song writer, artist, producer, director, painter, collector and party thrower! She 's done it all and now she wrote a song called The D for her hometown of Detrpoit with Andrae Alexander and we shot in over 50 locations famous and funky all over the city with thousands of people singing it including Motown legends like Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson and other Detroit greats like Lily Tomlin. Everyone should know about Allee and everyone should see the spirit of the people of Detroit through her eyes. I'm proud to help Allee execute this incredible endeavor. You can see a sneak peek on YouTube by searching Allee Willis Loves Detroit

Any other upcoming projects for you?

I am doing a film this spring, an Off Broadway play in June and I'm a lead in a new Broadway musical called FOUND…which I cannot wait for people to see. It's by Hunter Bell (Title of show) co-written by our director Lee Overtree (Story Pirates) with music by the incredible Eli Bolin (Sesame Street) its the story of FOUND Magazine. We have done two workshops and they are working out the details of the next phase but it's going to happen very soon!  I can't think of anything I would rather be doing then working with that team and cast on that show. I can't wait. 

Daniel Franzese can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat @whatsupdanny and on YouTube at MyMyMyTube. Besides street art he wants people to know he also loves cookies and pizza.