Many artists flocked to Cuba since the doors were opened for experimentation on the Caribbean island. One such creative individual is one of our own–award-winning photographer and filmmaker Brian Deutzman. Originally from South Florida, he is best known for his photographs of nightclubs, urban scenes, and natural beauty in Miami. He traveled to Havana in 2016 to scout locations for a sci-fi film and ended up drafting a script for another film altogether about the Cuban underworld. While planning the film, he also documented Havana’s streets with a pocket camera, paying special attention to the city’s array of classic American cars.
Here are some of his compelling images from his street photography collection:
Now, back to the unexpected second film about the Cuban underworld. Deutzman explained: “It arose from reality, with the main action being a conversation between a black market cigar broker and a shady Miami businessman. The original conversation concerned the businessman’s dissatisfaction with the quality of the black market cigars he’d purchased. Rather than simply demand a refund, the businessman opened with a filibuster about his net worth and ‘connections in Miami’ –a phrase which, spoken in this man’s voice, left just enough room at the end for the listener to summon images of a man in cheap aviators and a Hawaiian shirt dismembering a bookie somewhere under the Julia Tuttle. He then offered the broker a job there. When the broker accepted, the other man offered one proviso – the broker would only have the job if he lowered his price on bulk orders of cigars. The broker began to get wise, insisting he was selling at a fair price and defending his suppliers’ prices all down the chain. The other man was insistent: find a way to lower the prices, or the offer was off the table. The broker relented, started making phone calls to squeeze his suppliers. While this was happening, the businessman dropped the tough guy act and began playing with the broker’s two young kids, chasing them around the restaurant, playing cops-and-robbers, pretending to drop dead. He’s having the time of his life; meanwhile, a bunch of workers busting their asses to survive are getting nickel and dimed over the phone by their partner, who’s just been schooled in how to do business Miami style.”
Explore some of the stills from the film:
Deutzman is “currently in NYC logging hours of footage to be condensed into a 15-20 minute film that, like the cars, will hopefully reconcile a batch of disparate ideas about Miami and Havana. Coincidentally, it happens to take place in the months immediately following the death of Castro and the rise of Trump.” I am definitely looking forward to seeing this short film set during a significant historical period from this talented South Florida-raised photographer and filmmaker.
Brian Deutzman is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker. A native South Floridian, his images underscore the contrast between the region’s natural beauty and its urban excess – sports cars, nightclubs, and jumbled skylines collide with serene ocean vistas and wildlife. Each subject is composed in a way that borders on abstraction, allowing the viewer to impose their own narratives on images that, like the region itself, exist on the threshold of reality and dreams.
Deutzman graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BFA in Film Production and currently works in the film industry. Cinematic techniques learned on set and in the editing room are central to his artistic practice, allowing otherwise inaccessible locations to be photographed and manipulated with a high degree of technical sophistication. He specializes in underwater and urban nightlife photography, using modified lenses and improvised tools to take advantage of these environments’ unusual light characteristics. Each photo is printed on cutting-edge fine art media that ensures each printed image is just as vibrant as a projected movie.
In 2013, his photos of classic cars won the Award for Photographic Excellence at the Salisbury House Concours d’Elegance. The next year, he received a Borscht Corporation filmmaking grant, creating an experimental film featuring historical Miami buildings and a documentary about a local hip-hop group’s relationship to their city. These films went on to screen at the 2014 Borscht Film Festival and, in 2015, at the Satellite Art Fair during Art Basel Miami Beach.
In 2016, he was selected as a South Florida “Ambassador Artist” for that year’s Miami Home Design and Remodeling Show, where his work was presented alongside that of the region’s top architects and interior designers.