Encinitas man’s film highlights a local artist
There is a beautiful symmetry between the filmmaking process and the subject matter in Encinitas resident Brian Mahoney’s new documentary “26th and Logan.” And the end result has earned Mahoney acceptance into four film festivals so far and a pair of awards, winning at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards and, most recently, an Award of Merit at the Best Short Film Festival.
But just as important to Mahoney as the awards and festivals, is allowing people to see his film, which chronicles local artist Josh Hunter as he creates a piece from scratch with no prior planning and only five days to finish. Less than two years after finishing his official training — an inclusive year-long accelerated program through the UC San Diego Digital Arts Center, Mahoney, 43, was talented enough to figure out a way to make a compelling film about the creative process.
The subject of “26th and Logan” — which can be seen for free at www.vaxonfilms.com — is Hunter, 39, creating a piece from scratch in the empty room of a refurbished building in a period of only five days. At the ensuing show, the artwork of Hunter and many other artists in other rooms served as a way to showcase the property.
“I just love to tell stories and the reason I really love documentaries is there is no script that I’ve given anybody,” Mahoney said. “They are just doing what they do and I’m following them around. Then I come home with all of this film and it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle and I have to decide ‘what’s the story I’m going to tell.’ ”
Hunter added: “After the first day, I didn’t even really notice he was there. We are good friends and we hang out a lot, so he wasn’t really in my way and I never really felt like the spotlight was being put on me. That was really important.
“I didn’t know where he was going with it. The whole thing was really about running out of time, feeling lost, unsure about what was going to happen … and yet still making something out of that pressure. And he really captured that.”
Mahoney was born and raised in Las Vegas and worked in the family business — casinos — until moving to Encinitas in 2007. He lives with his wife Shannon and three kids, 6-year-old Paxton, 5-year-old Van and daughter Lennon (one and a half), who are actually responsible for Mahoney finding his newest passion.
“I started doing a lot of video work just filming my children. I started editing the videos together and the more I started doing it, I really enjoyed it,” Mahoney said. “I went to UCSD … and graduated last September and then created my own company, Vaxon Films, where I do a lot of promotional videos for people, music videos, live events etc.
“I do that other work, but documentary films are really what I love to do and where my passion is. I love telling these local stories about people doing interesting things.”
Mahoney was living on Beach Street in Encinitas in 2011, when Hunter moved to the city and settled there as well. As neighbors for the next three years (Hunter moved to Mission Hills in 2014), the two struck up a friendship that eventually resulted in collaborating for “26th and Logan.”
“We’d always talked about doing something together, just because he is in that art form and I am in the art form of making film and we just knew at some point we would be able to come together,” Mahoney said. “When that opportunity popped up for him … we didn’t really have any idea what it was going to be. Once I started following him around … the more I thought it could be something bigger.”
The film community seems to agree, as Mahoney’s documentary has been accepted to the 2016 Miami Independent Film Festival and Los Angeles CineFest, among others.
Though a relative newcomer to the circuit, “26th and Logan” isn’t Mahoney’s first film to earn accolades, as “Down and Out: The story of Forrest Lang” — a short documentary sharing the story of a tattoo artist and the struggles he has gone through in his life — has won three awards, including at the 2016 San Diego Film Festival, and “Kids for Peace” was an official selection of the 2016 Love International Film Festival.
Hunter is no stranger to artistic success either, including co-creating and doing the illustrations for “The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll,” which took silver at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Award for Popular Culture.
From Atlanta, Hunter moved to Colorado to go to business school before realizing art was his calling. He worked on the book project after getting an art degree from The Art Institute of Chicago.
Married to his wife Ginny, who is featured in the piece he completes in “26th and Logan,” Hunter works as an artist for himself — check out his work at www.joshhunterart.com — and has a company called Helicon Creative, an independent company that does marketing, digital and branding work for companies.
Recently, he’s been working on creating a new body of work as he steps out of the traditional gallery space and looks more toward working on social media and digital platforms.
“That particular project (depicted in “26th and Logan)” has really pushed me to grow quite a bit,” Hunter said.