Daniel Collins has spent more than 20 years directing award-winning documentary films that examine the untold stories of innovative artists, unsung activists, and underground subcultures. He has strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement. He began his filmmaking career at the Delaware-based nonprofit media initiative Hearts and Minds Film in 2001, founded Dan Collins Media in 2014, and launched Fire Team Films, which focuses exclusively on glass-related content, in 2022.
In October, Collins’ latest film Slinger debuted on Amazon and Vimeo on Demand. Aaron Golbert, aka Marble Slinger, embodies the artistic evolution and cultural revolution of the American glass pipe movement. He began making pipes in the 1990s, learning well-kept craft secrets from a few generous mentors, at a time when making “drug paraphernalia” could still land you in jail. Now, 25 years later, he is revered for his unique and ever-changing pipe aesthetics, his bold forays into the world of pop-art (especially his “Assault Girl” designs; Warhol-inspired mashups of the Morton Salt Logo), and perhaps above all for his documentary film, Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2012). This groundbreaking film premiered at the legendary SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed a two-year run as a top-ranked documentary on Netflix, giving audiences around the world the first detailed look into the underground glass pipe subculture.
Says Slinger: “I’ve always seen glass pipe making as an extension of legalization activism, a protest, saying we believe that cannabis is beautiful!”
Slinger studied film at Ithaca College in upstate New York, but when he first glimpsed the mysterious glass pipes that began popping up on Grateful Dead and Phish tour in the mid-90s he was hooked. Devoted to outlaw cannabis culture, and hungry for an alternative to mainstream life, Slinger headed to Seattle to learn the art of pipe making. He has since become an artistic icon in a scene which has turned into a billion-dollar industry. This film tells the story of his life’s journey in a deep, personal way, while following him through a frigid Philadelphia winter as he prepares for a rare solo exhibition in sunny California. Directed by long-time friend and award- winning filmmaker Collins, the film offers a unique glimpse into Slinger’s world, inviting audiences to intimately experience the many challenges an artist faces in the pursuit of passion.
“You don’t need to go to film school, you need to live a life worthy of making a film about:” states Slinger.
Collins is best known in the glass-pipe community for being the editor of Marble Slinger’s opus Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes(2012). He has since gone on to direct three more feature-length glass documentaries: Project 33 (2017): chronicling the work of Oregon Artist Marcel Braun; Art That Gives Back (2023): the story of the Michigan Glass Project, which will release at their event in September 2023; and most recently Slinger (2022): a portrait of the artist who originally introduced Collins to the world of glass art.
Currently in production on two exciting new documentary films about glass, Collins journeyed to the outskirts of Havana to document the nascent studio glass movement in Cuba, and hopes to complete his film, ¡FUEGO! soon.
Find the trailer here: https://youtu.be/UlKsyWLOqkY
Beginning in January 2023, Collins turned his lens on American glass master Paul Stankard, to produce an intimate artist portrait with the help of Stankard’s long-time colleague, David Graeber.
Collins’ work has won many awards, premiered at prestigious festivals, and been distributed internationally. He is also a published poet, recording artist, and faculty member at the traditional-arts nonprofit organization Common Ground on the Hill (McDaniel College, Westminster, MD) where he is the co-founder of the Common Ground Veterans Initiative, a program that promotes healing through the arts for combat veterans.