Michael Rousselet: Making Messes

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Michael Rousselet. Besides being awesome and hilarious, Michael is best known as the director of Dude Bro Party Massacre III, one of the co-founders of 5secondfilms.com, and the guy who discovered Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece, The Room. But what many people don't know is that Mike is also a painter on top of all that. So I had a chance to sit down and have an extended chat about his work.

MT: When did you begin painting?

MR: I began painting when I was young because I would draw a lot and doodle...I was very disruptive in class, I was the class clown and always goofing off and they discovered one of the ways I would shut up and behave was by drawing and doodling. But what I was drawing was really kind of morbid- Hellraiser, Clive Barker, Alien... So my grandma gave me books by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Salvador Dali and I loved it because it was all so surreal and colorful and I was like 'I want paint...I want to play with paint' and that was pretty much how it started.

MT: I can definitely see an impressionistic influence in your work.

MR:  Oh yeah! I love the impressionists: Monet, Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte...Impressionism is one of my favorite things. And also I guess kind of a Pollock-y messy...I like making messes. I like how sometimes I don't know what I'm going to paint. I just let it come out so, I guess it's constantly making mistakes until I find something I like and then I focus on that. There are a lot of faces in my paintings. It's like my own Rorschach. I see something and I say 'Okay, let me add more details' and I try to pull out whatever I see there.

MT:  How would you say painting fits into your identity as a creator, being a writer and a filmmaker and this awesome multi-talented individual?

MR:  I don't feel like I'm an artist...It's fun. It's not like writing where you really need to think about it and focus and plot and plan. And it's also not like filmmaking where it's a communal experience, where it's you against the elements.  This is just you against the canvas and it's very freeing. I can be alone and just do this. I can turn off my brain and go. It's an escape. And also like filmmaking it's about control. I think that's what I like about painting and filmmaking: you're trying to take all these elements out of your control and control them.

MT: What was the first thing that went through your mind the first time you sold a painting?

MR: I was like 'Omigod! I can't believe I just broke even!'...It was amazing. Somebody liked my mess enough that they wanted to buy and keep it all for themselves. It was the greatest compliment ever. It's funny. My whole life I've been writing and trying to sell a screenplay -I even went to school for it- but I've had a much better track record with painting.

Mike and I examine one of his paintings in-depth. 

MT: How did you start using incorporating paper towels into the painting process? 

MR: I put paint thinner in spray bottles and I would spray it on the canvas and it would drip and then I'd have all these paper towels to catch the drippings so I wouldn't make a mess all over the place. And then at one point I just kind of like- it was probably during a manic moment when I was just like 'ugh I hate this painting' and I grabbed it and I just twisted it and I was like 'oh, a spiral, that's really cool'. It actually started with the typewriter painting, that whole green background is made with paper towels. 

MT:  What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

MR:  My advice to aspiring artists is to just do it. Don't wait for permission. If you want to be a writer then write. If you want to be a painter then paint. Be fearless, don't worry about making mistakes, learn from them. A lot of aspiring artists are too hesitant to create something because they are afraid of criticism or failure. Fuck that. Who cares, you are your own worst critic. Embrace your mistakes and move on to the next project. It's called learning. Eventually mistakes get called style. Make it for yourself, make it because you want to. The real failure is not even trying.

Mike goes deep on how he made "Sea Change" using paper towels.