What He Does: Founder of the production company Shoot, Edit, Sleep, Alex "Pr!mo" Luster is a documentary filmmaker, four-time Emmy award-winning television producer/editor and the creator/director of a number of short films and projects in digital media.
Luster's reach touches everything from subculture, musicians and artists, to scenes of life in the shadows of Houston's streets.
"Houston has an untold story," Luster says. "Houston is an untold story, and I want to tell it."
His most recent work, Stick 'Em Up!, is a documentary that takes an in-depth look at the world of wheat pasting in Houston and a day in the life of an underground street artist.
Starting out in the newsrooms of Telemundo 48 as a teenager, Luster moved on to KTRK-ABC 13 and then to KRIV-FOX 26 and KTXH-my20 as a creative services editor, winning the international Promax Silver Muse Award in 2001 for his work on the Simpsons A.E.W. promotion that aired on FOX 26.
What Inspires Him: Luster reached a turning point in his career while working for FOX 26 when he decided to film artist GONZO247's collaboration on a mural of Barack Obama at his Houston campaign headquarters in 2008.
Shooting the whole painting as a time lapse, Luster began to realize the potential of capturing a piece of history, he says. In it, he discovered his potential for interviewing and for creating documentary films, developing his own distinctive style in a piece for FOX 26.
"Everyone has a story, and my goal is to find those untold ones, to give people a voice, but to give all of us something different to look at instead of the mindless structure of movies that come out...what I'm trying to do is trying to break that formula," he says.
Why He Likes It: Luster enjoys the process of filmmaking itself, exploring his creativity and trying new things every day to bring those untold stories to life.
Just keeping things honest and organic, he says, spending time with those guys and letting the action happen so the viewer feels as if they are there; if the pictures and the person can tell their own story, that's what's real. That's what's lasting.
"Editing is where I have fun because I'm able to challenge myself to bring all these things together to tell a story in my own style...to give people a window into unique individuals' lives," he says.
If Not This, Then What: At the age of 21, Luster says, he contemplated quitting television altogether and moving on to something else, and asks himself every day where he would be now if he did.
"I don't know," he says. "But that's the one thing with me. I'm still searching, I'm not done, 'Hey, I'm a documentary filmmaker and this is where I'm going to stay,' no...I really don't know where I'm going from here, I'm in it for the ride, and I'm enjoying every minute of it."
What's Next: Working to get a distribution deal for Stick 'Em Up!, one of Luster's goals is to premier the film worldwide, but another is focusing on getting back into mini-documentaries.
Luster is currently working with Culture Pilot on a project called HouArts to build a database of Houston arts videos. The aim, he says, is to document events and artists from the big to the small, going forward and backward -- showing the roots and the future of Houston arts -- from visual, performance and literary arts to the culinary world; the project is challenging local filmmakers to go out and capture the culture of Houston.
"What it will do in the end is help promote Houston's rich art scene, but also give those artists, including those documenting it, an outlet for their work...the music of local musicians, the video by local filmmakers, the photography by local photographers, and the artists and venues we document, all local -- it's an effort to build a community and bring Houston arts full circle," Luster says.
What bothers Luster is when he hears other artists say that "Houston sucks," because there's no support.
Well, there is -- it's like a buddy system -- if you want support you've got to go out and give it, Luster says, and if you don't love where you live, leave.
"My way of showing that I'm proud of where I live is going out and documenting the culture and showing off what I'm around everyday, building those relationships and showing the rest of the world that hey, this person is doing something and they happen to be coming out of Houston."
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