Film reel to real artists

Rusty Harden (left) a Tipp City artist worked with Peter Tompkins of Cleveland on a documentary looking at what drives Dayton area artists. CONTRIBUTED

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Rusty Harden (left) a Tipp City artist worked with Peter Tompkins of Cleveland on a documentary looking at what drives Dayton area artists. CONTRIBUTED

Documentary gives down to earth view of local scene.

TIPP CITY — Peter Tompkins wanted to give an insiders’ view to what it’s like to be an artist.

To bring his project to life, the Cleveland author, musician, photographer and now film director/producer came to the Dayton area, where he teamed with longtime friend Logan Rogers.

A Tipp City artist, Rogers and Tompkins met while students and fraternity brothers at Ohio University.

Rogers, in turn, introduced Tompkins to another Tipp City artist, Rusty Harden, who worked on the project and helped link Tompkins with artists at Dayton’s Front Street Artist’ Studios and Gallery.

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The result was “The Artist — A Documentary,” which can be found beginning May 15 online at theartistadocumentary.com. Trailers for the movie can be found on Facebook.

Filming began in the fall including at a Tipp City Area Arts Council Plein Air event at Indian Creek Distillery, where Rogers was one of the artists. All filming for the project took place in the Dayton area.

Harden said, “I think Peter, through his documentary, has really represented a lot of good things about Tipp City. Then, to reach out to Miami Valley artists and Front Street in Dayton gave a nice broad view of the area arts.”

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Peter Tompkins (left) of Cleveland included college friend and Tipp City artist Logan Roger in his documentary on artists in the Dayton area. CONTRIBUTED

Peter Tompkins (left) of Cleveland included college friend and Tipp City artist Logan Roger in his documentary on artists in the Dayton area. CONTRIBUTED

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Peter Tompkins (left) of Cleveland included college friend and Tipp City artist Logan Roger in his documentary on artists in the Dayton area. CONTRIBUTED

As he researched his topic, Tompkins said he searched for movies that told the behind the scenes story of being a “regular” artist, pursuing one’s passion in today’s world.

He found movies about famous people but none like he envisioned.

“I wanted to give a down to earth, insider’s view to be an artist. How much it costs, how hard it is to make a living at it. I found some people make a living at it, but most of us either have a spouse they are relying on or a day job. I think it is very hard to sell enough inventory on a regular basis to live a decent life,” Tompkins said.

Among his questions for artists was what was their Plan B if their pursuit fell through. Across the board, there was no Plan B, he said.

He not only wrote and filmed the documentary but also was its editor, cutting and reviewing and bringing its message into a shorter, viewable format.

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Richard Loundin, property manager for Front Street, praised Tompkins telling of the artists’ stories.

“When Peter came to Front Street, I don’t think he knew the depth of our stories, of discoveries previously untold. Dayton is home to so many accomplished artists and artisans, and Front Street is home to many of them,” Loundin said.

“The artists here have created a living, thriving community, with both tangible and intangible results. Tangible is what you see on film, intangible is the feeling you get when you walk through working art studios, watching creative juices flow, bringing art alive before your very eyes,” he said. “Through this project, Peter has done an outstanding job telling the artist’s stories.”

Tompkins said the more than 85-minute documentary did more than tell the story of artists. “It also says if you wanted to be an artist and gave up on it, it is never too late,” he said. " I try to give some message of hope, that you can go back and do it at any age.”

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