Here is a relatively short biography, written as if you really care - I'll spare you most of the gory details and change some names, to protect the innocent of course...
D.O.B. - November 22, 1963 Place: Temple, TX., USA
Born the day JFK was killed to Charlie and Marion, I'm a Scorpio/Sag cusper, yikes. I began my 'art life' at eighteen months of age when Mom says I started dragging out her tupperware to beat out a toddler version of 'Wipe Out'. My first real set of drums came along at age 5 after I had demolished several of the tin-and-paper toy variety (usually within the first few minutes - ouch!). My poor parents (as well as the neighbors) suffered the drumming until my mid-teens when the kit started living in my car or at rehearsal spaces of all types. I was to be a Drummer.
I became interested in other things as well; drawing, painting. My Dad is an architect so I was always interested in designing spaces as my attempts to re-model various parts of the house demonstrated. Dad was also a theater buff and I became involved in many aspects of our community theater both onstage and off. Bikes, girls and climbing stuff rounded things out.
At fifteen I was playing in bands with dangerous people twice my age and upon graduating from high school I moved with a group of them to Dallas, TX where I engaged in a wannabe rock star lifestyle. At 25 I got hitched and was playing in a band that opened shows for David Bowie, the Dixie Chicks and the Reverend Horton Heat. By 27 I was divorced, out of the bands and very disillusioned (and I smelled like burning!). I went to work full time learning the finer points of woodworking (an extension of the more basic carpentry I was doing on occasion to survive the ups and downs of the music business). Along the way I began contracting jobs, doing construction drafting and budgeting for the shops I worked for, skills that serve me well to this day.
With a little family help I entered community college, did well for two years earning a scholarship to Southern Methodist University. I studied painting with some incredible artists including Barnaby Fitzgerald, Tracy Hicks, Bill Komodore and Steve Wilder. While at SMU I worked in the Theater department scenery shop. This led to courses in scenic art and a renewed interest in live theater. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (emphasis in painting) it was time to re-enter the workforce. A conversation with one of the Theater Dept. professors raised a suggestion that was to change my life. He suggested I contact the Wolf Company, home of renowned theater designer Peter Wolf.
I interviewed with the Wolf Company just at a time when they really needed some new blood. One of their senior designers, Bob Lavallee and I hit it off and he made a strong case for me. For three years I worked and learned about designing for the stage and screen. Peter Wolf is a man of unparalleled talent and grace and was more than generous with his knowledge of all things aesthetic, philosophical and spiritual. While there I was the set designer for a wide variety of projects including a half-million dollar build for a Japanese production of 'Annie' and an enire re-do of all of the sets for 'BARNEY' which had grown from a garage production to a billion dollar juggernaut. With Bob Lavallee as Production Designer, I oversaw the construction of the sets, built by The Wolf Comapny's shop - run by the groovy Johnny Wolf - and Acme Sets - run by the VERY groovy Roy Metcalf. This was my first large scale experience with filmed entertainment and I knew that I wanted to do that only. I applied to the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television and was accepted. I prepared to move to L.A. to begin graduate school as a Theater Design major in fall of '97.
Los Angeles was everything I expected and my first year of graduate school went well. However, I was frustrated by the lack of actual building of shows (which happened mostly in one's third year) and I spent a lot of time building sets for the film and television departments, for free and no credit. I decided to leave the program and re-launch my professional career.
My first break came at the hands of David Wasco (P.D. on 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Pulp Fiction', 'Bottle Rocket', 'Rushmore', 'Jackie Brown','The Royal Tennenbaums', just to name a few) who I met through the aforementioned Roy Metcalf (who art directed 'Bottle Rocket' in Dallas). David passed me a script for a low-budget movie called 'Smut' and I landed my first feature film as Production Designer (see the film section). Thanks again David. 'Thirteen Moons' was my first union movie, becoming a member of the Art Director's Guild was a big goal of mine, happy to have achieved that.
The rest of my career can be tracked on the pages of this website but needless to say, for every job I list on my resumé, there are ten or more crappy little jobs I have suffered through to make ends meet; videos for bands you will never hear of, pay-per-view shows that would send my grandmothers to the grave and low-totem-pole work that even robots shouldn't have to suffer through. Throughout it all I have believed in myself, and in filmed entertainment. The competetion is strong and disappointment comes too often, but I have been fortunate.
After seven years in Los Angeles I have returned to my home state of Texas to get married and own a house, an architectural gem which at my hands has undergone some serious restoration and addition. The film community here is vibrant and knowledgable, and I love the politics (Travis county, blue to the core, home of DA Ronnie Earle!). It's the most beautiful part of the state.
I still travel to L.A. for work but my heart is here in Austin. I share my life with my wife Cindy and her two amazing children Sam, 8 and Hannah, 10. My music continues to flow as does my painting and I have outlets for both here. It may get hot during the long summer but overall it's a big 'ol piece of cake.
Chuck Voelter, October 2005.