Michael Curtis Houck is the Creative Producer for A Yellow Beanie Project, a digital collective rooted in collaboration among regional artists with intent to provide a new platform for emerging and established voices within the Cumberland County community. Michael’s produced and published work can be found in print, on stage, and on the screen. Michael lives in Fayetteville, NC, with his significant other and two kids and two dogs and one cat and too many plants, some would argue. To financially support his work, use Cashapp $AYellowBeanieProject and watch for a Patreon account coming soon.
3 Things you can’t live without & why:
Music. The world is a noisy place and often it’s too much to handle and I need to drown it out. I always have background music. Some days I need Nina Simone, some days I need Fugazi.
Kindness. The last few years have uncovered a lot of (not so) hidden ugly in the world. Stop.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. When you really, honestly, truly examine the science of it, it’s the perfect meal.
Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: There’s a local singer-songwriter I really admire and love working with: Ayana Laurene. She’s a hustler and, dang, does she have some pipes. We’ve been collaborating on a concert film/documentary called BOY, YOU AIN’T SHIT. It’ll come out this summer on social media.
What is one of your current artistic experiments? Right now I’m developing a digital series called DOGWOOD, which aims to put a spotlight on some southern themes. This series is coming together sort of like an extended universe set in the fictional town of Dogwood, NC, and it will include eight short films and weekly podcast episodes and live video streams across social media starting in July 2021. It’s a really big experiment and kind of daunting! The Yellow Beanie team and I have been working really hard for a few months building the fictional world of Dogwood, writing all original content including original music, and *fingers crossed* we’ll produce an original theatre piece later this year!
What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? 2020 pushed me from working exclusively in live events, which I had been doing for nearly a decade as a full time job, to just written and filmed works; like the rest of the world, this was due to safety of public gatherings. It was a sudden ‘stop and change what you’re doing’, and I did go through a period of grief. But what this forced me to do is find other outlets and return to my foundations: I went to school for creative writing and film. Coming back to this kind of work that I haven’t done in a decade has been therapeutic for me. In hindsight, I don’t know why I ever walked away from this genre, it is my language.
Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I consider my art to start with what I write: It all begins on the page. I believe in having a farmed yard, so I spend a lot of time outside and I write while gardening: standing up or crawling around in the dirt, talking out loud. I need to feel the space around me and imagine how the characters would contort their bodies or gesticulate when saying something. When I like what I have in my head, I take a break and hop inside to my office and jot it down in one of my many notebooks or turn on a recorder and play out the scene.
How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Most of my work begins with collaboration. I admire a lot of locals, and there are many folx I’ve never had the chance to work with professionally. I really enjoy approaching these people asking, “Want to make something?”
Advice to newer artists in your genre.
For newer writers – workshop those pages! Get with some friends and share your work. Schedule a table read. Trick people into coming over for brunch then slide your manuscript around. They’re trapped. Make them read. It took me a long time to be comfortable having my work read aloud, but what a difference it makes!
For newer filmmakers – you are likely reading this article from a device that has a high powered camera installed on it. What’s stopping you?