Filmmaker Spotlight: Greg Timmons & Nikolas Diener

Who: Meet The Filmmakers: Diemo Productions
What: Short Film Screening(s) & Director Talk
When: Saturday February 25th, 7-11p
Where: The Parliament Art Gallery, 116 E King St, Downtown York, Pa
Important Info: $5 Cover, BYOB

It’s been nearly 25 years since Greg Timmons and Nik Diener were new boys together in the first grade. Their moms and dads met at a parent teacher conference and arranged a play date because both families had just moved here.

It would turn out to be an incredible success, so far as arranged friendships are concerned.

Not only was Nik Greg’s first friend in York, he would turn out to be unlike every other friend Greg would have – starting with the fact that he could barely speak English, yet knew German and Japanese.

“It all just felt very different,” Greg said. “I wanted to know what (Nik’s family members) were saying and I wanted to be able to speak it myself.”

The friendship inspired Greg’s a lifelong curiosity about German, and the two boys influenced each other as they grew older. They still, as so often happens, drifted apart after high school.

Greg had too many interests and not enough lifetimes to choose all of his possible career options. He bought a one-way ticket to Germany and was living there and working as an automobile mechanic when the economic recession hit.

“At that time, in my mind, that was where I was going to live the rest of my life,” Greg said. “I was obsessed with the idea of learning about different cultures, assimilation, and I wanted to know if I could assimilate into a new culture, if I had it in me to live my life speaking a second language daily. It was kind of like a personal test to see what I was capable of.”

Around the time he finally learned to speak fluent German, he was told he couldn’t reapply for his work visa and his job was being given to a native German.

He was devastated, but, looking back, he feels he passed the test he’d set for himself.

And it’s perhaps difficult to scorn a trip home that resulted in his reuniting with an old friend in the truly universal language of art.

In 2009, Nik was studying film at Temple. Greg, newly stateside, was majoring in International Studies in German at Millersville.

The two started hanging out again and decided to go halves on the joint purchase of a Canon digital SLR camera with video. The idea was for Greg to take stills and Nik to shoot video.

They named their endeavor “Diemo,” a blend word of their two last names, and the production company got its start with small-paying photography gigs and short film video projects.

The little side job became too successful.

“I fell in love with film,” Greg said. “It was like this whole new endeavor, this more complicated version of photography. I had never considered doing it, and Nik’s interest in it made me realize how much fun figuring it out could actually be.”

That’s the story of why Gregory Timmons is still one semester away from a four-year degree, and it’s the truth of how this business was launched about eight years ago.

Now Greg’s 29 and Nik’s 30. About five years ago, they moved their operation out of Greg’s old high school bedroom in his parents’ house and into the attic at The Parliament.

If Diemo were to make a video about themselves, if the cameras were flipped around, the audience would see them sitting up in their third-floor studio in the dark with their machines, backs facing the top of the stairs leading to their space. Two man-shaped shadows sitting alongside each other, backlit by the soft glow of computers in front of them, spending hours and hours pushing things around on a computer with their fingertips.

Diemo would probably time-lapse this meta exercise to demonstrate the tedium. Sometimes the process of their work feels as slow as the tiny blades of grass emerging from dirty hulls in the next room, an experiment embarked as part of a lawn lime commercial they were shooting.

But the result of their attention to this macro level is artful, evocative videos that tell stories through beautiful imagery, employing rhythms and methodology the typical viewer doesn’t even recognize.

The men behind Diemo say this invisible artistry is a key to their success. They pride themselves on getting better at what the viewer doesn’t see.