Photo of Brad Heck looking at the camera and holding a small dog.

I’m Brad and I am a filmmaker, cinematographer, and educator. I live in Southern Vermont with my filmmaking and life partner, Willow, and my pup, Ruben. I began my filmmaking career as a cinematographer, working chiefly on narrative and commercial productions and have transitioned over the last decade to directing and producing documentary films. I taught film at Marlboro College and was the Director of the MFA in Film Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently I teach film production at Central Connecticut State University.

My most recent film, Artifacts of the Present, is a powerfully moving, and poignant documentary portrait of an artist facing mortality. Diagnosed with terminal leukemia, printmaking artist Brian D. Cohen reflects on his life, work, and relationships. This film immerses the viewer in Brian’s home and workshop in Maine, where you’ll see his model airplanes and trains, wall-to-wall books, and a printing press, along with a vintage MG, in his garage. Artifacts of the Present will also immerse you in Brian’s work, as he uses copper plates and engraving tools, mixes ink and wipes plates, and works on his plates and prints from them. Artifacts of the Present tells the story of Brian’s hands and what it means to him to have spent a life working on metal.

Willow and I first met Brian 15 years ago as students in Brian’s printmaking class. We were honored to be included in this opportunity to spend more time with Brian, our friend, and explore themes of craft and death.

Brian’s approach to printmaking is a constant shift to find the balance between meticulous control and acceptance of the uncontrollable. He is extremely practiced and measured in the crafting of his plates, and spends hours on the smallest of details. At the same time, he understands that the printing of his plates is unpredictable and still he approaches the process with a calm acquiescence, while reacting and adapting to each consecutive run through the press. What I find fascinating is how Brian has incorporated these two seemingly disparate paradigms (control and acceptance) into his response to his terminal diagnosis. In his words, he cannot know or control “when he dies” or “how he dies” but he does have influence over “how he lives.” Artifacts of the Present is the study of printmaking through the lens of a dying artist, and an exploration of dying through the lens of a printmaker.

I invite you to watch the trailers and learn more about Artifacts of the Present.

Remote video URL
Opens in new window