Chel White

Chel White is an American film director, commercial and music video director, composer, actor, screenwriter, and visual effects supervisor on feature films.

He is co-founder of the international production company Bent Image Lab in Portland, Oregon, along with co-founders Ray Di Carlo and David Daniels.

Known for his first person narratives and stylized use of images, White’s films explore love, obsession, alienation, memories, and dreams. He uses allegory and frequently black humor to paint pictures of the human experience. His narrative films are often told from the perspective of the estranged individual; the outsider looking in. He has made three films based on the work of Peabody Award winning radio personality and writer Joe Frank (Dirt, Soulmate, and Magda), and has directed music videos for Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke, as well as Chrysta Bell and David Lynch.


Featured image credit:


Chel White’s website, Vimeo Page


Select Filmography:


Bucksville (2014)

Bucksville is Portland-based, indie director Chel White’s long awaited, character-driven feature film. A thinking person’s vigilante story, it twists together the timely topics of ethics, capital punishment, and gun control rights. A young man named Presley Alan French (Thomas Stroppel) struggles to accept the reality of being bound for life to the group that was started by his father and uncle twenty years ago. When the group’s agenda becomes increasingly extreme under the control of the wealthy Patron of Justice (Tom Berenger), Presley must decide for himself what is truly right or wrong. With an eerily beautiful tone, Bucksville is at its heart a film about family conflict and the corruption of ideals.


“Tami” official music video for Tom Brosseau (2013)

A music video for folksinger Tom Brosseau, ‘Tami’ uses layered, impressionistic images to paint a picture of a childhood ‘first kiss.’


“Bird of Flames” Chrysta Bell & David Lynch (2012)

Driven by the music of David Lynch and Chrysta Bell, Bird of Flames is a meditation on the enigmatic nature of love. In a small nightclub, a magician (Minh Tran) coaxes a beautiful chanteuse (Chrysta Bell) to perform like a living doll. In the audience, a young man falls in love with her archetypal image of feminine beauty.


“Harrowdown Hill” Thom Yorke (2006)

“A quietly intense call to consciousness in an age of disinformation, preemptive war and unprecedented governmental secrecy, Thom Yorke’s ‘Harrowdown Hill,’ directed by Chel White, offers a visually compelling bird’s eye view of some of the biggest challenges facing our society today, including global warming and petroleum consumption.”


A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process [In Less Than 60 Seconds] (2005)

Dark and humorous, this extremely short film features a stream-of-conscious look at the writing process, told with animated images straight from the subconscious… or somewhere.


Eclipse (2002)

A haunting poem describing a life eclipsed is the basis for this short collage film. Utilizing old NASA and science films inter-woven with original footage. In “Eclipse” enigmatic images trail the path of a poem, exploring one aspect of grief when a life is eclipsed. The often-controversial subject of a woman’s right to choose is depicted from a perspective that is pointedly more personal than political.


Passage (2002)

Haunting underwater portraits of people are juxtaposed with archival films of war and atrocities in this stylized film collage. Passage deals with the poetic and the terrible, with innocence and corruption. Taking its cues from the ethereal music of Gustav Holsts’s “Neptune,” the aqueous portraits allow each person’s vulnerable core to surface, exposing a deep primal innocence. Simultaneously, wars are waged, brutalities committed, and the worst of the human race evolves. But in this sea of humanity, all is not lost to the corruption of the human spirit.


Soulmate (2000)

Eerie, erotic, and touching. Soulmate is a complex study of alienation and sexual obsession. Told from the point-of-view of a 55-year old woman. It explores longing and objectification through the unconventional story of a landlady and her younger male tenant. Soulmate is based on a story by National Public Radio personality Joe Frank, known for his highly original radio plays.


Dirt (1999)

A man’s strange obsession with dirt starts as a childhood game, but eventually manifests itself on a most surreal level. The dark, expressionistic images create an allegory for individuality and self-sufficiency, in this off beat ecological parable. “Dirt” marries Chel White’s filmmaking with the satirical writing of Joe Frank.


Choreography for Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha Cha) (1991)

Humorous and sublime, the ultimate Xerox fetish film. All of the film’s images were created solely by using the photographic capabilities of a photocopying machine to generate sequential pictures of hands, faces, and other body parts.