Friday, June 17, 2011

Tony Ladesich: storyteller

Tony Ladesich tells stories with his films and songs. He makes films. He’s an auteur in that he conceives the narratives and renders them with his skills as musician, writer, cinematographer, director, guitar player, singer, and editor. It works because he works very hard to make it work.

While he creates in what we categorize as two distinct art forms, music and film, for him the two art forms blend. His songs feel like films and his films feel like songs. His core art form is storytelling which may not be a unique conclusion for someone to express, but it helps to come to that conclusion. It gets down to realizing one’s core, one’s passion. And when one can channel their passion into a life’s work, practice it daily and sustain their life, life is beautiful.

Yet, Tony’s real gift is his passion for sharing with others. He may have stories but the beauty lies in his desire to share them and tell them in an interesting way. He takes time with his projects, his narratives, taking the time to complete them. Write the song. Make the film. Share them and take the results to market. It sounds linear, this process of story creation, but he’d tell you it’s rather circuitous, circular, and undefined.

He has an eye for things, an ability to observe and relate, write, practice, edit, splice and perform. His films come from the heart of a songwriter. His songs are informed by the eyes of a film maker. How can an artist practice this passionate process and sustain themselves, and others, in the process? There’s never one way, I’m learning. And that diversification of approaches is what I learned from Tony.

Tony’s film making skills allow him to operate in just about all types of visual film and video art. He directs, operates the camera, edits, writes, produces (he understands the business), and sells. He works as a collaborator using one or two of his roles and he single-handedly creates. Most instances, as film is a collaborative art form, you’ll find him in the mix, and often leading it. He gets it and gives it. I get it as well.

Shift if you will, because Tony does often, to the art form of music. Transpose his film skills to the music scene and you’ll encounter the very same Tony, comfortable holding a guitar instead of a camera. At home with lyrics and melody, collaborating as a band member, often singing solo.

Grill him on the business of all of this and he’ll dodge the detailed questions, and hesitate to give guidance. Tony embodies the word humility. Yet observe and follow if you’re swift of creative foot and you’ll get to know an artist who scatters in a very positive way, all his creative energy in a myriad of places and projects: commercials, documentaries, editing gigs, songwriting, performing, writing, directing, marketing, selling, and telling stories. Others may encourage focus and Tony would agree with that. After all he knows focus in a literal lens sense.

But from a sustainment perspective, and I’m hinting a bit to the business aspect of art while asking you consider the word “sustainment” in a broader sense (from soul to checkbook), there’s something about finding a way to orchestrate your many talents in multiple directions while staying true to your “sweet center”, your core. Variety spices life and tacos. Diversification makes for healthy investment portfolios. Scattering apple seeds creates orchards.

Consider your core…Tony’s is storytelling…pause and take stock of your skills and talents that can sustain that core. Consider your projects. Make them come to life. Sing them and show them. When you find time, when you can get out of your studio, meet with other artists, like Tony. He’ll show you how to build a very delicious diversified taco at El Camino Real in KCK…meet him for lunch. I’m hooked on Tony’s art, Tony, and those tacos.


Tony was born and bred in the Kansas City area. He graduated from Center Senior High School in 1991 and from UMKC in 2000 where he designed his own film studies program before there was a program. He is the owner of Mile Deep Films and Television in Kansas City. You can also find him on musical stages around town singing his songs and telling he does.

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