I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I remember seeing a storyteller as a child at our local community center, and being enchanted. The spell he put us under using just his words was sheer magic, and I wanted to be able to do the same. The problem, though, is that I’ve never been particularly good at talking. My mind tends to wander as I speak, especially when I look into the eyes of the person I am conversing with. If being an oral storyteller was not my path, I’d have to find another way.
I discovered in high school that it was easier for me to tell stories through writing, though I rarely had the opportunity to write anything other than analytical papers. Luckily, I found an outlet for my creativity in the art room. I spent every free period I had working on my paintings, and started to realize that I could communicate well without words. These paintings got bigger and bigger, filling whole walls. I started writing on them, trying to breakthrough and discover my way of telling stories.
In tenth grade, I saw David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, and it changed my perspective on what a film could be. I always loved movies, but this one was different- more like a dream that you couldn’t quite decipher: frightening, funny, and powerful. It inspired me to save up for a year and buy my own video camera. My school had no video program, so I cobbled together 2 VCR’s and figured out how to “crash edit” my films together. Even before I got the acceptance letter back from NYU film school, I knew that filmmaking would be a big part of my journey on this planet.
I loved my time at NYU, learning about the nuts and bolts of making movies, and being challenged by my fellow students. After graduating, I lived in New York for a year and worked as an editor at a large stock footage house, while finishing my senior thesis fictional film. My company sold some beautiful time-lapse shots of nature, but I had no connection to actually making them myself. My creativity was withering, and I was feeling unsettled. I convinced my fiancee (and high school sweetheart), Holly, to return to the Philadelphia area where we could take root and start a family.
We moved to Media, PA in 1997, where my wife got a job as a first grade teacher at Media Providence Friends School. I was struck by how friendly and down to earth everyone was; such a contrast to the streets and egos of New York. With very few job opportunities in film, I wasn’t sure if I would ever find work. But we couldn’t leave- this was my home, here were my stories! Over time, people started to ask me to make little videos for them. I did whatever knocked- weddings, bar-mitzvah’s, anniversary parties, music videos. At the same time, I continued to pursue my own work, experimenting with different techniques in pursuit of my own language.
My one-man show became Coyopa Productions, which is a Mayan word for the energy that shamans use for healing. In my best work, I hope that viewers experience a healing of their spirit, whether it be through laughter, tears, or the sublime. I enjoy collaborating with small and large crews and a cast of dozens, or working independently with clients. In 2009, I co-founded Spring Garden Pictures, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating media that fosters personal connections to the natural world. If my work moves you, please be in touch.
~ Richard Power Hoffmann
a.k.a. Rich, Richie, Chie, RPH