Courtney Fathom Sell
|Courtney Fathom Sell|
Sell arriving at Outfest. Park City. 2012
|Born||Courtney Lange Sell
January 28, 1985
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Other names||Claudio D'Sargento|
|Occupation||filmmaker, musician, composer, writer, video artist, film producer|
|Known for||The Hole, Don't Let the Devil in, Tracking Issues, My Dying Day, No Place Like Home, Art Star Scene Studios, Satan, Hold My Hand|
Courtney Fathom Sell (born Courtney Lange Sell in Boston, Massachusetts January 28, 1985) is an American filmmaker, musician, soundtrack composer, writer and video artist primarily recognized for his prolific independent filmmaking career. He has shot a majority of his work on a Hi8 video camera and other lo-fi equipment. He has contributed numerous articles to several publications including Filmmaker Magazine and indieWIRE regarding D.I.Y. filmmaking. indieWIRE has referred to Sell as "like a reincarnation of the young John Waters." Much of his video work has been archived at Anthology Film Archives. A proponent for online distribution, Sell has self-released many of his films and much of his music for free on his official website.
Sell is recognized for his D.I.Y. filmmaking strategies including the development and creation of his own CGI effects and video filters. 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. In 2009, four of his short documentaries, My Dying Day, Under the Bridge, Long Way Back to Paradise and White Clover were released in a DVD compilation set. In 2010, Sell co-directed and produced the award-winning short documentary The Hole.
In addition, Sell has directed music videos for various bands including Xiu Xiu, notably their 2008 official video Master of the Bump from their album Women as Lovers. He has made cameo appearances in numerous projects including HBO's Treme and a commercial for Stella Artois during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
In November 2016, Sell's anticipated horror film Don't Let the Devil in was selected to be the official Film in Residency through Facets distribution label. On November 8, 2016 Election Day Sell's independent record label Crude Records released the debut album of Pukwudgie, a collaboration between Sell & Matthew McAuley of ARE Weapons. The album was made available for free download.
Personal Life & Documentaries
In an interview with The Village Voice, Sell explained that after leaving Pratt Institute, he began traveling and even at one point lived in Washington Square Park for a period of time without telling any of his friends. He eventually found residence in an East Village apartment 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) regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast. Traveling throughout most of the United States by age 20, he once lived for a while in a graveyard in Northern California.
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. 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. Sell believes that his personal approach to documentary filmmaking can be therapeutic for both his subjects as well as for himself. Regarding this claim, he has stated that his once turbulent relationship with his Father was cured during the course of making My Dying Day. His unconventional production tactics and little regard for mainstream values while creating his work have been a focal point in much of his writing. His Documentary Down Orchard Street captures the gentrification, business closings and raised rents in the historic Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City. Produced by Sell, the project was pieced together by Business Owners undergoing eviction whom Sell had given disposable cameras too in order to document their experiences in the most personal manner. Additionally, Sell has trained under and worked beside Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker Ondi Timoner on many of her recent projects including Brand: A Second Coming regarding Russell Brand.
He dedicated his 2014 film Diary of Echoes to underground filmmaker Mike Kuchar and cites him as a source of inspiration for much of his recent work. In 2015, Sell founded Show Video Productions, an outlet to release his own work. Through the company, Sell completed a feature-length documentary entitled Tracking Issues regarding how childhood friends began making horror movies in their backyards as kids. Shot over the course of over 23 years, the project follows them throughout the course of their lives and was filmed entirely on disposable cameras. The film was released on March 1, 2017and has gained positive reactions and reviews.
In early May of 2017, Sell released a short documentary entitled The Fright based around how an entire generation was traumatized by the 1985 children's film The Peanut Butter Solution. The film features interviews with individuals affected by the film.
Sell is an avid long distance runner and kayaker. In 2009, he began pre-production on a never-completed documentary entitled Riding the Current which would follow him as he kayaked the entire Mississippi River. The project was put on hiatus however when Sell attended Culinary School in 2010 in New York City. While in training for the documentary, Sell kayaked up to five miles a day as well as ran at least four miles each night. Being an asthmatic all his life, Sell credits the vigorous training for helping him learn how to control the symptoms of his asthma. Sell ran his first race when he was only nine years old with his Father.
In October 2016, Sell completed a feature length horror film entitled Don't Let the Devil In which deals with Satanic themes & takes place in the Appalachian Mountains. According to Sell, the film is an homage to various exploitation films of the 70's and 80's as well as Giallo films. He coined the term "Appalachiasploitation" regarding the films style. The film is notable as it is Sell's first budgeted feature film and features legendary actor Conrad Brooks, known for his work in numerous Ed Wood movies in his first dramatic role. With his company Show Video Productions, Sell played multiple roles in the production including Directing, Co-Producing, Writing, Editing and Composing the original soundtrack. On November 1, 2016, Don't Let the Devil in was selected to be the Film in Residency through Facets distribution label. The film was released theatrically in late 2016.
Don't Let the Devil in has gained comparisons to the early works of horror filmmakers Dario Argento and Wes Craven. Sell, who scored the entire 48 track soundtrack during the three day writing stages of production, has been compared to the themes of John Carpenter. Self-financed by Sell and lead actor and co-producer Marc Slanger, Don't Let the Devil in was filmed on location in Frostburg Maryland, New York City, Mattapoisett Massachusetts, Marion Massachusetts and West Virginia during the winter of 2016. Inspired by numerous films of the giallo genre, Sell has also cited Dellamorte Dellamore, Race with the Devil, Duel and All the Colors of the Dark as inspirations. Lead actress Jordan Lewis, who Sell had previously known from New York, was cast two weeks before principle photography and was her first role in a feature. Describing the atmosphere on set, Sell claimed conditions were "Tense. Very, very tense. Really only lighthearted when we called wrap for the day or night and found ourselves at the local bars." Frequent arguments and intense outbursts between Sell and Lewis were common both on set in front of the rest of the cast and crew as well as in private. However, the two remain close friends. Sell explained the situation in an interview stating
I think it had to do something with me being a first time director and her being a first time actress, so we didn’t really know how to meet in the middle. But it is what it is and after the screaming and yelling and tantrums ended, we were back to normal, laughing and joking. She’s very familiar with my tantrums as she’s known me throughout my chef career, so it really wasn’t anything too new or frightening. Probably just more of a spectacle than anything.
For a large portion of the past few years, he has concentrated heavily on music composition and other sound design work. These tracks have been made available for free by Sell for soundtrack use in films and videos. Many of the songs are dedications to friends as well as tracks from the official soundtrack for Don't Let the Devil in, which Sell composed and recorded himself. In 2010, his album Themes for Films was released through Emphasis Entertainment. On Tuesday, November 8, Election day Sell's label "Crude Records" released the debut album for "Pukwudgie", a collaboration between Sell and Matthew McAuley of ARE Weapons. It was made available for free download.
In April 2015, Sell collaborated with Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce on an essay regarding the Artists' controversial career for his official retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. The piece details various turbulent reactions in which LaBruces' work has stirred up upon screenings and art openings among protestors including bomb threats, police raids and even physical harm to the Artist himself.
Over the years, Sell has penned essays for numerous publications including Filmmaker Magazine, indieWIRE, New Machine and Moviejawn Magazine. Beginning as a freelance Journalist, Sell has interviewed many Filmmakers, Artists and Celebrity Chefs including Andrew Zimmern and documentary filmmaker Les Blank among many others. His essays regarding his own filmmaking career are usually extremely personal & outline the struggles he has faced while creating his work.
In 2016, Sell began publishing numerous short stories and abstract novels under his own publishing company. His first Anthology of essays entitled "Exorcism Pharmacy" was released in October 2016 and includes both published as well as various unpublished works as well as a forward by Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce.
Art Star Scene Studios
In 2011, Sell co-founded the independent film production studio "ASS Studios" an acronym for Art Star Scene Studios with Writer Reverend Jen. An outlet for Sell and Miller to create short exploitation & camp films, 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. 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. The studio held a yearly film festival entitled the Assdance Film Festival, which showcased films that have been previously rejected by other festivals.
- Reflections of life on film (2017) Re-Issue
- Keep Going! - The New Orleans Journals (2016)
- Exorcism Pharmacy (2016)
- The Rumor Mill (2016)
- The Sun is Burning the Clouds! (2016)
- Unsolved Mysteries Hair (2016)
- Aiwass (2016)
- Pukwudgie (2016)
- Themes for Films (2011)
- No Place Like Home (2006)
- White Clover (2007)
- Long Way Back to Paradise (2008)
- Under the Bridge (2008)
- 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)
- Baby, You Have No Idea (2010)
- New Orleans Ghosts (2010)
- San Francisco Mosaic (2010)
- The Hole (2010)
- Art Star (2013)
- Down Orchard Street (2012)
- Living Like a King (2013)
- Bizarre (2013)
- Kick it! Screams from New Orleans (2014)
- Diary of Echoes (2014)
- Ghosts of Shashone (2014)
- Tracking Issues (2015) 
- Amongst the Waves (2015)
- Scenes From a Lost Weekend (2015)
- The Last Day Dream (2015)
- Electric Equations #1 (2015)
- Dissection of the Artist (2016)
- The Fright (2017)
Art Star Scene Studios
- 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)
- Satan, Hold My Hand (2013)
- Werewolf Bitches From Outer Space (2013)
- Two Knives in a Harvest Moon (2015) as Claudio D'Sargento
- Bloodstained Butterfly in a Steel Cage (2014) as Claudio D'Sargento
- House on the Edge of Hell (2014)
- DoomTown (2000-2015)
- Space Doll (2017) Co-Directed with Heather Taddy
- Narragansett Beer - Mascot Mischief (2009)
- Simon & Schuster - Elf Girl Book Promo (2010)
- Diamondsnake - Lost (2010)
- The Gentlemen Losers - The Man Who Caught The Weather (2010)
- Xiu Xiu - Master of the Bump (2008)
- 3epkano - Towers Open Fire (2008)
- Carl Simmons - If I, Honeysuckle Tendrils' (2008)
- Brand: A Second Coming (2015)
- A Total Disruption (2014)
- BYOD - Bring Your Own Docs (2013)
- "COURTNEY FATHOM SELL: SO YOU WANNA BE AN UNDERGROUND FILMMAKER?". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- "COURTNEY FATHOM SELL'S HI-8 HIGH LIFE". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- "Courtney Fathom Sell Official". Vimeo. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- "Attention Filmmakers: This Filmmaker is Giving You Free Music for Your Soundtrack". Indiewire. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
- Loomis, Daryl. "Hi-8: The Short Documentaries of Courtney Fathom Sell". DVD Verdict. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- Dahlke, Kurt. "Hi-8: The Short Documentaries of Courtney Fathom Sell (review)". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- "DVD Review: Xiu Xiu "You Can't Hear Me"". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "FACES OF PROSTATE CANCER: MY DYING DAY". Prostate Cancer Foundation. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- http://www.thelodownny.com/.../new-film-documents-orchard-street-leather-shop- merchants.html
- http://www.boweryboogie.com/.../courtney-sells-film-endangered-orchard-street- leather-vendors-screening-tonight/
- "Just Do Art!". The Villager. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space Benefit Par-Tay". TimeOut. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "Behold the Film Festival of the Future". MovieLine. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "ASSdance Film Festival Presents: A Night of Live Rock 'N' Roll". Cake Shop. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "NO PLACE LIKE HOME (DVD)". Film Threat. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- "Hope city". Providence Phoenix. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- Asch, Mark. "The Hole: Where the Bodies Are Buried, Cowboys Roam the Streets, and Cabbies Nap". The L Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2013.