Alexis Boling and his wife, Alex, live together in “the closest thing to a hippie art business commune” in Brooklyn, NY. Their walls are filled with artsy shots of traffic cones instead of smiling family photos.
Alexis, a freelance cinematographer, started Harmonium Films and Music and shot and directed the first-ever music video for Vampire Weekend. Alex, a freelance video editor and producer – and an amateur metalsmither, as her Tumblr reveals – has worked on videos for a slew of corporate clients and websites, including ConsumerReports.com and RollingStone.com.
Below, the film-savvy couple discusses their favorite movie snack, the difficulties of working in the same industry, and the confusing nature of their names (remember, Alexis is the husband; Alex, which is short for Alexander, is his wife).
Age: Alexis, 32; Alex, 28
Graduated from: Alexis, University of Georgia, B.A. in English; Alex, Barnard College, B.A. in English
Salary: Everything is negotiable on a sliding scale; starting rate as a production assistant is typically $200/day
How did you get started in film?
Alexis: I was involved in theater in high school, but never thought of starting my own business. Then I worked on a small art film in college, and was officially bitten by the film bug.
Alex: I wanted to act, but didn’t want to be waiting tables for years while auditioning. So I interned at various production companies, where I found out about an opening for an office manager. I got the job and started three days after graduation.
How did you build your credibility?
Alexis: I put a really nice video camera on my credit card, took over my parents’ garage for a year, and shot anything and everything I could. That was the beginning of Harmonium Films and Music, which I eventually moved to New York City.
Alex: After working at my first job for two years in a one-room office, I began freelancing for HBO and PBS. In the past year, I’ve shifted from production coordinating to editing.
Alexis shot and directed Vampire Weekend’s first music video, “Mansard Roof.” Alex produced and edited it.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Alexis: Stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told, voices that deserve to be elevated.
Alexis: For seven years, I’ve been working on a documentary called “French Monster Trucks,” about a family in France that used to run a small traveling circus and now runs a monster truck show. They bought these huge trucks and taught themselves stunts. It’s incredible to watch them bring the trucks down tiny European streets.
Seven years!? I hope to finish it this year. You need a lot of patience in this job.
Does working in the same industry put a strain on your marriage?
Alex: We’ve learned what dynamics don’t work, like when I’m producing and Alexis is directing. We would fight about money and bring the arguments home with us. But when he shoots and I edit, or when he directs and I act – that’s easy.
What’s the hardest part about working for yourself?
Alexis: You’ll never work harder than when you work for yourself. But people get very tied up in job security and think freelancing is too unstable. I don’t buy that at all. One job from one single employer is the least secure option; that one company can shut you down. Freelancers survive by a wave of relationships.
Alex: Unemployment between projects is hard. You should always have stuff in the pipelines for when you have downtime, but it can be difficult to understand that downtime will end.
Watch Alex’s acting reel:
Alexis: Buffalo ’66.
Alex: Children of Men.
Favorite movie snack?
Simultaneously: Cherry Coke.
Movie theater or Netflix?
Alexis: Rachel Maddow and HBO.
Alex: HBO on Demand. Or going to plays — I really enjoy theater.
What decorates the walls of your apartment?
Alexis: Our 1870s brownstone in Bed-Stuy [Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn] is as close as you can get to a hippie art business commune. We have lots of photography from our family — not of our family. [Laughs.] Instead of smiling happy family pictures, we have art photos of traffic cones.
Something people don’t know about you?
Alex: My uncle invented stove top stuffing. He pioneered the idea of selling stale bread to people.
Alexis is typically a female name, and Alex can be a male one. Do people get confused?
Alex: Yes, definitely. Alex is my middle name — my first name is Bodine, but that doesn’t make things easier. People think we did the Alex-and-Alexis thing on purpose.
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