Courtney Fathom Sell

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Courtney Fathom Sell
Sell in New York City. April 2011.
Born Courtney Fathom Sell
(1985-01-28) January 28, 1985 (age 29)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Nationality American
Occupation filmmaker, musician, composer, writer, video artist, film producer
Known for No Place Like Home, The Hole, Master of the Bump, ASS Studios

Courtney Fathom Sell (born in Boston, Massachusetts January 28, 1985) is an American underground filmmaker, musician, composer, writer and video artist primarily recognized for his prolific no-budget filmmaking career.[1] He has shot a majority of his work on a Hi8 video camera and other lo-fi equipment.[2] He has contributed numerous articles to several publications including Filmmaker Magazine and indieWIRE regarding the difficulties of no-budget filmmaking.[3][4] With ex-girlfriend Reverend Jen Miller, Sell co-found ASS Studios.[5]Much of his video work has been archived at Anthology Film Archives.[6]

He commonly composes and records the soundtrack scores to many of his films, and an album of many of those scores was released under the title "Themes for Films" in 2011.[7] In 2009, four of his short documentaries, My Dying Day, No Place Like Home, Long Way Back to Paradise and White Clover were released in a DVD compilation set.[8][9] In 2010, Sell co-directed and produced the award-winning short documentary "The Hole".[10]

In addition, Sell has directed music videos for various bands including Xiu Xiu, notably their controversial 2008 official video Master of the Bump from their album Women as Lovers.[11] He has made cameo appearances in numerous projects including HBO's Treme and a commercial for Stella Artois during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.[12]

Personal Life & Documentaries[edit]

In an interview with The Village Voice, Sell explained how after running away from home to live in New York at eighteen years old, he lived in Washington Square Park for a period of time without telling any of his friends. He eventually found residence in a Lower East Side residence with other artists whom he frequently collaborated with including Jac Currie, founder of 'Defend New Orleans' who produced his debut film No Place Like Home (Dogme# 267)[13] regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast.[14][15]

Frequently using close friends and family members as subjects for his work, many of Sell's films are personal and unflinching such as his documentary My Dying Day, which centered upon his cancer-suffering father's final days. The project has been supported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.[16] He has also worked beside poet Walt Curtis, Author of Mala Noche on a video portrait entitled "An Afternoon with Walt", as well as many music based documentaries. His short "Under the Bridge" focused on a homeless population in Providence, Rhode Island while his piece "White Clover" dealt with issues of violence and drugs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.[17] His unconventional production tactics and little regard for mainstream values while creating his work have been a focal point in much of his writing.[18]

Sell has been very open regarding his struggles with depression, alcohol and other substance abuse issues in many of his essays on his career and life. In early 2014, he announced that he has quit making films. However, in recent months he has continued to direct and produce work.[19][20]

ASS Studios[edit]

Along with Reverend Jen, Sell co-founded the independent film production studio ASS Studios (Art Star Scene Studios) in 2011.[21][22] Films produced by the studio, all of which were directed by Sell, were often made with little to no budget and incorporate guerrilla style D.I.Y. tactics upon shooting. Many of the films take place on the Lower East Side and feature various Art Stars such as Janeane Garofalo & Robert Prichard. In January 2013 writer Jonathan Ames signed on as Executive Producer for their first feature-length film Satan, Hold My Hand. The film premiered at Anthology Film Archives in September 2013 & was released on DVD soon afterward.[23][24]

The studio held a yearly film festival entitled the Assdance Film Festival, which showcased films that have been previously rejected by other festivals.[25][26] The festival also issued awards for short films in categories such as "Best Overacting by a Female Lead".[27] ASS Studios has received some controversy over their name when online merchant refused to sell the studio's films, stating to concerns that the content violated their terms of service. The DVDs were later re-added to the Amazon catalogue.[28]

In 2014, Sell announced on his official website that his participation with ASS Studios has come to an end.[29][30]


  • Themes for Films (2011)


  • No Place Like Home (2006)[31]
  • White Clover (2007)
  • Long Way Back to Paradise (2008)
  • Under the Bridge (2008)[32]
  • My Dying Day (2008)
  • Xiu Xiu – You Can't Hear Me (2009)
  • In the Golden Blood of the Sunlight (2009)
  • An Afternoon with Walt Curtis (2010)
  • The Hole (2010)[33]
  • Elf Workout! (2011)
  • Killer Unicorn (2011)
  • The Bitches of Bowery (2011)
  • The Sinful Bitches (2011)
  • Waltz of the Bitches (2013)
  • Pretty Pretty Pretty (2013)
  • Orgy Whiplash (2013)
  • Art Star (2013)
  • Down Orchard Street (2012)
  • Satan, Hold My Hand (2013)
  • Living Like a King (2013)
  • Werewolf Bitches From Outer Space (2013)
  • Bizarre (2013)
  • Kick it! Screams from New Orleans (2014)
  • Diary of Echoes (2014)
  • Bloodstained Butterfly in a Steel Cage (2014)
  • House on the Edge of Hell (2014)
  • Ghosts of Shashone (2014)


  1. ^ "COURTNEY FATHOM SELL: SO YOU WANNA BE AN UNDERGROUND FILMMAKER?". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ "COURTNEY FATHOM SELL'S HI-8 HIGH LIFE". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Loomis, Daryl. "Hi-8: The Short Documentaries of Courtney Fathom Sell". DVD Verdict. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Dahlke, Kurt. "Hi-8: The Short Documentaries of Courtney Fathom Sell (review)". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "DVD Review: Xiu Xiu "You Can’t Hear Me"". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  12. ^
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  14. ^
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  16. ^ "FACES OF PROSTATE CANCER: MY DYING DAY". Prostate Cancer Foundation. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Just Do Art!". The Villager. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space Benefit Par-Tay". TimeOut. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Behold the Film Festival of the Future". MovieLine. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  26. ^ "ASSdance Film Festival Presents: A Night of Live Rock ‘N’ Roll". Cake Shop. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  27. ^ "What Constitutes Overacting? Janeane Garofalo Breaks It Down For You!". Village Voice. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Acronyms Can Kill: Amazon Refuses to Stock ASS Studios' '4 Short Films' DVD". IndieWire. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "NO PLACE LIKE HOME (DVD)". Film Threat. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Hope city". Providence Phoenix. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  33. ^ Asch, Mark. "The Hole: Where the Bodies Are Buried, Cowboys Roam the Streets, and Cabbies Nap". The L Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 

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