Interview: Adam Carpenter

Editor John Barrios, Interview, February 24th, 2014

I found myself screaming, “This is soooo Metal!!!”

adam carpenter instagram dance video nailed magazine

This interview was conducted via email by NAILED’s John Barrios, in conversation with Adam Carpenter.


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I love Instagram. It has essentially taken over my time-suck time from Facebook. I love photography, so much photography. Then a friend showed me a video. And another. And another. And another. It took all of 90 seconds for me to be hooked. I am hooked on dance. I am hooked on 15 second dance videos by Adam Carpenter. I dare you to not watch these dance videos for at least 20 minutes. You can’t do it. They remind me of a modern day Dick Van Dyke trapped in 15 second chunks of hilarious, inspirational dance routines available almost exclusively on your phone, and a new one comes out every single day. The man behind the dance, Adam Carpenter, was kind enough to answer some questions for NAILED.
NAILED MAGAZINE: What was your initial inspiration for your daily dances on Instagram?
ADAM CARPENTER: I wanted to find a wife.

NAILED: How long, on average, does it take to make a video and how much help do you typically need? For example, how long did it take to make the one where you are “flying” in a little red plane?

CARPENTER: On average, it takes TOO LONG to make a video. The plane video necessitated an amazing thrift store find (ie. the airplane costume) then a 30-minute drive to the Santa Monica Airport then a public change of pants and 40 minutes of jumping along a 200-foot imagined path in 6-inch increments while hoping to god that I had hit “record” on my tripod-mounted iPhone then riding my motorcycle home and spending another two hours editing in iMovie while my calves began to cramp. Even the simplest of videos normally bleed three to four hours from my day. I am a solo act 90% of the time. I come up with the concept, find the location (or the green screen photo), buy the costume, set up the shot, and attempt to realize my thoroughly incomplete vision.
NAILED: Do you do one video a day or do you stockpile them?
CARPENTER: If I’m lucky I can wrench two videos out of a successful collaboration dance, but most of my shoots are one-offs. I did create a dance spreadsheet so I can Excel at efficiently creating more dances in less time. It hasn’t worked yet.

NAILED: The idea seems to keep expanding. Some days you are simply doing a goofy dance, others seem to have taken a lot of time and coordination. I like when you took on the funny silent films with the one where you switched hats with a passerby. You can really do a lot in such a small amount of time. Can you talk about where you want to take this concept?
CARPENTER: I love the container that is Instagram. There are a maximum of 15 seconds to tell the story – it’s like a video haiku where I don’t have to worry about reinventing the form just filling the container. I make a concerted effort to keep challenging myself. Sometimes that manifests in flailing attempts at more complicated choreography. Other times, I play with more technical elements to mask my dance mediocrity. And as a last resort, I make a small story and hope no one minds that I am not dancing. My only goal with these videos is to bring a smile to the viewer. I won’t rule out any avenue if it brightens someone’s day.

I would like to dance across the world and meet everyone who wants to dance through their days. I am thinking of creating a mobile Coping With Rhythm dance clinic where I give people simple and fun dance moves that allow them to let go and waggle their hips without self-loathing. It would be part Richard Simmons and part momma bird pushing babies out of the nest.

NAILED: Have you thought about doing a weekly story line, like how the daily funnies in the newspapers used to tell a story over the course of a week?
CARPENTER: I am going to do a series of Urban Olympics coinciding with the last few days of the Winter Olympics but a series of videos connected by a narrative is the next level. I see it in the distance and hope with the help of my magical dance spreadsheet and some true inspiration I can summit that bitch.
NAILED: When was the last time you NAILED it?
CARPENTER: I feel I “NAILED It” last week while shooting the Bewitched Metal video. My friend and collaborator Thom was holding a massive sword over his head and the light turned perfect and I found myself screaming, “This is soooo Metal!!!” It was so Metal and the shot made my day and the video.


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adam carpenter instagram dance nailed magazineAdam Carpenter is an actor, writer, dancer, and director. He is very adept at picking out clothes for himself and gyrating on or near a beat. Adam, in his spare time, reads urban planning tomes and attempts to create novel traffic solutions for the 21st century. You can find him on Instagram at @adamscarpenters.


John Barrios

John Barrios is a poet and musician. He has been part of the band Curious Hands for eight years. He graduated from Buffalo State College and chased his dreams in the Bay Area for a decade before landing on his literary feet in Portland, OR. Barrios was part of the original team at NAILED, and was a Contributing Editor until May 2014.