Photography, The Goonies, Chris Walas & his Gremlins, meeting Steven Spielberg and Lyons, France’s Fred China.

I’m pretty over the moon about this creatives interview series for various reasons. Mainly because it has very little to do with me and very much to do with the intriguing stories of OTHER completely fascinating human beings. It gives me a chance to leave the funky, if not somewhat deep and firework-y depths of my own brain and enter the amazing worlds of others.

As completely COOL as the last interview with Arna Baartz was (and believe me his interview was pretty awesome.) THIS latest artist continues to uphold the high standards of excellence in creativity. Here’s the speedy Scooby Doo flash back as to why this interview with Fred China is so cool, for me.

Photo Credit: Thomas Muselet, Indiana Jones Portrait of Fred

Photo Credit: Thomas Muselet, Indiana Jones Portrait of Fred

I met Fred online through a friend when I was continuing my search for amazing creatives to interview. Voila! Ask and you shall receive Shari. The universe produced Fred China via a mutual friend. I checked out his work and got giddy. (Yes, giddy. I know it’s hard to imagine my stoic face being anything pokerish but it’s true.) His work is amazeballs! Not only does he love The Goonies, Gremlins, and Beetlejuice but he does completely awesome work inspired by these movies as well as other fabulous work. *swoon*

The movies mentioned above just happen to be a handful of my favorites. And there hasn’t been a time when any of them have appeared on TV when I haven’t stopped everything to watch them. My husband usually shakes his head, rolls his eyes and leaves the room while muttering “Oh, looky! The Goonies … again … for the billionth time. Oh the glee.” I made my husband take an unplanned detour to Astoria, Oregon to check out all the filming locations for The Goonies and visit Mikey Walsh’s house. Yes, I was completely giddy… again. So obvs Fred has frequented these same haunts (and likely a lot of secret ones) and gotten to know and work with some other completely amazing creatives along the way. So not only is his work the bomb BUT it all tells (or has) a fantastic story behind it.

*Scooby Doo flash back to the present* So, now that the back story is established and you know all the deets, I’m more than happy to introduce; Fred China. Let’s jump in to the interview …

Ghostbusters, by Fred China

Ghostbusters, by Fred China

shari: WHEN DID YOU get your creative start?
fred: During my childhood.  I have a cousin who is a professional comic illustrator, he was like my idol and he taught me how to draw. In school I was the one who spent his time drawing instead of learning. I unfortunately stopped drawing and I learned graphic design and photography.

shari: WHAT IS YOUR personal philosophy when it comes to art/photography/creativity?

fred: To think outside the box.

Fred Chinashari: DID YOU TRAIN formally with any art/photography classes or did you take a more organic, non academic approach?
fred: I was very bad at school and art schools are very expensive. I only went to an art school for 1 year to learn the “basics” and I paid for a few months courses of graphic and web design. As for photography, I’m completely self taught, and still learning.

shari: IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE what would be your favourite medium? The one you couldn’t live without?
fred: Photography

Fred Chinashari: WHAT CONTINUES TO drive you to create?
fred: It’s an inner need, I can’t explain it any differently.

shari: TELL US ABOUT your creative process. Does it differ from medium to  medium?
fred: It often starts with a dream or an image that suddenly comes to my mind. I draw something in my A5 Moleskine notebook and I make a list of what I would need for this project. For photography I draw the lighting setup and where to place my characters. Once the photoshoot is done, I make a first selection of the best pictures on Lightroom and then I start to edit the final project on Photoshop.

Fred Chinashari: WHO ARE your main creative influences?
fred: I love the work of Erik Johansson, Dave Hill, Annie Leibovitz and Joshua Hoffine. I like them because they create a particular atmosphere !

shari: DID YOU FALL into your personal style or was it developed over time?
fred: Developed over time, and I’m still looking to improve it 🙂

shari: TELL US ABOUT your favourite project to date?
fred: The Halloween photoshoot I did in Vancouver last year. It was a big challenge for me, I learned a lot about compositing and lighting. 

You can see a video (in french) here :

shari: WHO IS the one person (or people) who supported you throughout your journey?
fred: Some very precious close friends, my family and now my girlfriend and my dog, Pitou

shari: YOU MUST have met a lot of cool people through your interests and work. Tell us, who was your favorite and how did you meet them?

Fred China & Steven Spielberg

Fred China & Steven Spielberg

fred: My favorite is Steven Spielberg. I was very, very lucky to have met him with a few friends during a trip to New Haven in 2007. I had been in the city to see the filming of Indiana Jones 4 and to try to meet Harrison Ford. I wore a screen accurate Indiana Jones costume throughout the trip (the people in New Haven frequently asked if I was the stunt man lol). One day, at 6am, we were in the streets, trying to meet Steven and we wound up finding him and part of his crew! To be brief, he saw us and asked us to come over a moment later. We spent maybe 10 minutes with him. It was the most amazing meeting of my life! A dream come true. I knew I wanted to work in the film industry at the time but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Right then I knew wanted to be a still or portrait photographer for the industry )

Fred Chinashari: TELL US A LITTLE (or big) something about yourself that no one knows.
fred: Sometimes I wish I could have been an actor and live the Hollywood life so I could drink coffee with Harrison Ford and stuff like that 🙂

shari: WHAT IS your one dream client and why?
fred: Steven Spielberg, or at least be involved in one of his projects as a still photographer.

shari: IF YOU HAD TO pick another career other than the one you have now what would it be and why?
fred: Acting 😉 I love movies since my childhood and I always wanted to be a part of a movie.. I love the idea to live 1001 different lives and to do a job that is different everyday.

shari: IF YOU COULD collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
fred: Joshua Hoffine. An horror project. I think we would have the same artistic vision and it could be interesting !

Chris Walas, Stripe & Gizmo, by Fred China

Chris Walas, Stripe & Gizmo, by Fred China

shari: HOW DID YOU wind up working with Chris Walas, the creature designer for Gremlins?
fred: A few years back, I had a documentary project about the cult 80s movies, and started to contact a lot of people that worked on those movies. Facebook helped a lot, as many of those people have profiles. Chris was one of them, we started talking and kept in touch over the years.

Last year during my one-year stay in Vancouver, I had the opportunity to plan a couple trips

Chris Walas & Gizmo, by Fred China

Chris Walas & Gizmo, by Fred China

to Astoria, Oregon (being a big Goonies fan, I like to go there as often as I can. I have friends there, and the luck of being able to stay in the Goonies house!!), during the 2nd one I offered Chris Walas, who lives in Portland, to meet for a photoshoot. It was an amazing chance to be able to meet such a nice and talented man and to get to see original props such as the real Gizmo and his box.

It is an unforgettable memory.

*Shari’s jaw is lolling open and there may or may not be drool over how cool this story is*

shari: IF THERE IS ONE thing you’d want people to know about you and/or your work what would it be?
Fred Chinafred: I`m a perfectionist, to the point where I can spend hours on a detail that probably no one would notice.. 🙂

shari: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE you’d like us to know? Your next project?

fred: I’m currently finishing editing a project on which I worked with my girlfriend (you have a preview in this article), this is a series of photographs picturing a plush dino as a real pet. The idea started after I bought the plush, and while I was longing for a pet, before I finally got my puppy !

Fred China, Gizmo and Chris Walas

Chris Walas, Gizmo and Fred China

My next big project, which is still in an early stage of production, is a documentary about Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. I’m working on a teaser to introduce the project which will contain a lot of exclusive material such as never seen before behind the scene pictures and stop motion tests footage which where scanned from 35mm reels.





Thanks again Fred for the great interview! Anyone wishing to view more of Fred’s work, contact him or follow him can do so through the following websites:

(Click any of the links below to take you to instant Fred.)

Fred on Facebook

Fred’s Website

In peace, love and art,

Shari Mallinson

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