Iconic Cleveland-Based Artist DEREK HESS Releases Intimate Award-Winning Documentary ‘Forced Perspective’ Today

Derek Hess - Forced Perspective

Renowned Cleveland-based artist DEREK HESS has tested the waters of both the music and art world for over 20 years. Recognized internationally for his poster work with bands such as Pantera, Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam, as well as being featured brands like MTV, Vh1 and TLC, Hess’ art has been featured everywhere from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the infamous Louvre in Paris.


After enriching the art and music world with his intricate and emotive drawing-based-art for over a decade, Derek Hess has finally translated his medium to film by way of his new documentary, Forced Perspective. This intimate self-portrait was directed by filmmaker Nick Cavalier and has already won awards at the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Beverly Hills Film Festival and many others. Forced Perspective isn’t just your average docu-story or even a biopic, but rather a journey through Hess’ struggle with alcoholism and bipolar disorder and how these demons affect his artwork. This exploration presents a voyeur into Hess’ personal life, revealing his process and philosophy. Forced Perspective showcases the evolution of a celebrated artist and his effect on music and culture while highlighting the link between creativity and mental illness.


Today, Forced Perspective is available for purchase via IndieMerch in DVD and BluRay formats, as well as for download and streaming On Demand via Vimeo. IndieMerch has several physical packages available, including signed limited edition posters, a 125-page Forced Perspectivecompanion book, limited edition silk-screen prints, and more. In addition to the full-length film, the DVD/BluRay includes deleted scenes, a film premiere Q&A, behind-the-scenes footage, teaser vignettes, trailers, and more.


In celebration of today’s release, two exclusive film teaser vignettes are available for viewing now – one via Inked Magazine and another via These particular selections explore the connections between mental health, fine-tuned consciousness and artistic expression.


Derek Hess first drew attention to his art by creating posters to advertise the bands he booked at Cleveland’s Euclid Tavern. Posters for bands such as Helmet, Cop Shoot Cop, Jesus Lizard and Soul Coughing attracted people to the growing underground music scene in Cleveland while gaining Hess notoriety all over the world for his artwork.


In the early 2000’s, Hess began holding concerts in Cleveland named Strhessfest where Hess’ favorite bands would play such as Clutch, Converge, Every Time I Die, Unearth and Stretch Arm Strong. The bands were mostly hardcore and metal bands, both local and national, whose songs had the same subject matter as Hess’ art: dark tones, heartbreak and depression. Strhessfest eventually expanded into Strhess Tour and lasted five years, touring both the US and Europe with bands such as Shadows Fall, As I lay Dying, Thursday, Bleeding Through and Poison The Well.


Forced Perspective offers incredible insight into the life of Clevelander Derek Hess and his struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder. Nick Cavalier’s presentation of the world-renowned artist’s life and his work is visually stunning and engaging – while digging into the complicated issues that many people face.”

– Patrick Shepherd, Cleveland International Film Festival


“I met Derek Hess on the Victory Tour, I believe it was in March of that year. Cold and snowy, the show got moved to his art gallery and it was a great show, made some new friends. He’s had such an important role in music with his art. So many great metal covers and hardcore bands. Designed a shirt for us and every day I walk out of my room and see his painting he gave me a long time ago. Good guy, that Derek Hess – great artist.  This documentary is filmed beautifully and also gave me a dark, emotional feeling. It captures the true Derek we know and appreciate. And how his struggles with addiction and life affected me in my own struggle. I think we all grew up with flyers and shows and he was a big part of that for the Cleveland scene.”

– Eddie Reyes, Taking Back Sunday


“Nick Cavalier’s study on Derek Hess is an affirmation for people stirred by the underdog spirit. You don’t need to be a rarefied art scholar or a street-elite music fan to feel for Hess’ failures and triumphs. The only people who won’t enjoy this film are the ones who prefer their culture served to them on a stick.”

– Jason Pettigrew, Alternative Press Magazine


Forced Perspective is raw. It is emotional. It tells of Derek’s story and struggles, as well as the stories of those who connect with his art. This film has given me a new perspective on Derek’s work. As a person who also struggles with mental illness I am able to connect on a very personal level. As a fellow artist I am empowered to dig deeper into my own psyche to deliver something more. This film boldly tells the story of what it is like for an artist to create, deliver, maintain and continue on despite the darkness and the pressure of fame. As I am sure Derek could affirm, the struggle to be loved can be harder than the struggle to be known. This film will touch many and I look forward to seeing the impact.”

-Amy Bleuel, Project Semi Colon




Official Selection – 2015 SXSW Excellence in title design

World Premier – Local Heroes Award – 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival

Best Cinematography Award – 2015 Beverly Hills Film Festival

Official Selection – 2015 Indy Film Fest

Official Selection – 2015 Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Best Documentary Award – 2015 Kingston Film Festival

Best Feature Film Award – 2015 Reel Indie Film Fest

Best Art Documentary Feature Award – 2015 Atlanta Docufest



Directed & Edited By: Nick Cavalier

Produced By: Martin Geramita

Executive Producers: Chris Rentner, Evan Hareras & Beau Miller

Cinematography By: John Pope & Sergio Salgado

Titles And Color By: Coat Of Arms

Location Sound Mix By: Ben Stockton

Post Sound Mix By: Chuck Bein (See Music)

Original Music By: Matthew Santos, Chihsuan Yang, Joel Coan, Dustin Currier & LT Magnotto

Additional Music By: The Felix Culpa, Thereafter, Chris Zabriskie


Distributed By Gravitas Ventures:


Learn More about Forced Perspective:




Learn More about DEREK HESS:



Forced Perspective – The Story of Artist Derek Hess

Derek Hess - Forced Perspective

As part of WCSB 89.3fm’s 40th anniversary celebration and Graduate Student Appreciation Week, WCSB & the Graduate Student Association present the film and discussion of “Forced Perspective – The Story Of Artist Derek Hess” on Wednesday, April 6 in the MC Auditorium starting at 6pm.

Light refreshments and reception at 6pm in MC Auditorium lobby with film starting at 7 pm and discussion with the director, Nick Cavalier & the artist himself, Derek Hess afterward.


Ghoul Power 2016! Celebrating 45 Years of TV Horror Host The Ghoul

ghoulpowerrrr copy (3)




Scratch Glass! Climb Walls! Stay Sick! Turn Blue!

‘A Separate Reality’ gathers the greatest artists and entertainers in the land to pay tribute to the most explosive, wise cracking, Cheez Whiz smearing, Froggy bashing, movie mocking entertainer of all time, The Ghoul!

He burst out on late-night tv in 1971 on Cleveland’s WKBF-TV 61 with the force of a handful of M-80s and cherry bombs thrown in your face!

Beloved by every bleary eyed kid staying up past midnight throughout Ohio, Michigan and more throughout the ’70s to the 2000’s who couldn’t get enough of his manic frantic high energy hilarious segments interrupting (and greatly improving) low budget bad monster movies!

In syndication, The Ghoul Show was so popular that it regularly beat Johnny Carson!

Stop on by opening night Saturday, March 5th at 6pm ’til the wee hours for what is sure to be the biggest most explosive event in Cleveland history!

A Separate Reality Records & Gallery

2678 West 14th St

Cleveland, Ohio (Tremont)



A gallery full of artistic interpretations of our late-night leader!

LIVE! The Ghoul Girls! A sexy, sensuous and silly burlesque salute to The Ghoul!

IN PERSON! “Mini-Me Ghoul”! A 3′ tall living breathing talking miniature Ghoul!

The largest collection of classic Ghoul memorabilia on display!

NEW Ghoul merchandise for sale!

DJing all the classic Ghoul hits all night long!

JUST ADDED! The Ghoul will set a world BOOM-BOOM record exploding his largest item EVER! He’ll light the fuse to a 7′ tall Ghoul statue filled with 20lbs of fireworks!

What happens next is anyone’s guess!


Ghoul Power is BACK!

Spread the word!


We need your artistic masterpieces for The Art Event of the Century!

We’re BACK!
An Artistic Tribute Celebrating of 45 years of TV Horror Host Legend THE GHOUL!



Check out the Facebook Event @


Saturday, March 5th
A Separate Reality Records & Gallery
2678 West 14th St
Cleveland, Ohio


What are we looking for? Anything Ghoul related! The Ghoul himself! Froggie! Bad Horror Movies!

The best news? The gallery takes no commission! You just cover shipping costs!

Please email your masterpieces to ‘” so I can post ’em before the show!


And to see what we plan to top, here are highlights from our first Ghoul art event!

The Ghoul is Back

Loren Naji

photo 3

When the Loren Naji Gallery was shut down a month ago, Domain Cleveland was on the scene to see the events first hand. Then, just this past weekend, when the fire marshal shut down the gallery for a second time, we knew there was more to the story. Loren Naji was kind enough to break it down for us.

photo 1 photo 2

Douglas: I was at your gallery for the opening that was shut down a few weeks ago. The night is still surreal when I think about how it was all handled and how rude the cops were. This past weekend, when you were shut down again, I was dumbfounded and curious as to the circumstances. How did it all play out?

Loren: Well, again, the police came in that day, looked around and I assured them we weren’t serving any alcohol. The event was to launch the new CAN Journal (Collective Arts Network), which is a great resource for the community, edited by Mike Gill, as well as a closing event for the three artists hanging on the walls. The police said everything was fine, that we wouldn’t see them the rest of the night, and then they left. The event started with no music or alcohol. About an hour into the event the fire marshal came in and said he needed to talk to me privately. He asked if I had an occupancy permit. I explained I am in the process of getting one and that I have been working with Joe Cimperman (Ward Three Councilman) who said everything was fine. The fire marshal said no that’s not true, you do not have the piece of paper that says you have an occupancy permit, so we have to shut you down. So we asked everyone to leave and closed the event.

Doug: Saturday you had another event scheduled at your gallery. Tell us about the event and the change of venue.

Loren: The event was called “Drawn and Quartered”. I reasonably said that if I was going to be shut down for no occupancy on Friday that I’d be shut down again on Saturday, so I suggested to everyone involved a change of venue. We held it at Great Lakes. There was beer and everything was fine, but unfortunately it wasn’t at my gallery.

Doug: So where do things stand now?

Loren: Well, I’m closed. I can’t do any events, right this minute. We have meetings coming up to discuss legalizing beer at galleries. We also have a meeting to change the use of the property. Steven Litt just wrote an excellent article ( about the situation, have you read it yet?

Doug: No, but it seems every time I go on facebook, there is a bit of news, an article, a cartoon, or even the piece I saw today that said you had been flogged by nuns and branded public enemy number one. So, obviously, this is causing an uproar.

Loren: Yes, that was a good one. I’ll send you the article.

Doug: For those outside of the arts community that might not have heard about the 2 events at your gallery over the last month, tell us a bit about how it all got started. I had heard there was one man complaining about code violations on the first go round with the police. Is that true and do you feel it was a personal targeted attack?

Loren: Yes, the man you are speaking of is Henry Senyak. He is a local vigilante that likes to make sure that all ordinances are followed by everyone. He doesn’t like loud music or parties. He lives a mile away, so he’s not even in my neighborhood.

Doug: How did he even get put on your trail from so far away? Why would he care?

Loren: There used to be a bar next to me called Envy that he had taken down. It was sort of a troublesome bar. They even had a shooting there. Henry is very proud and many people like that he got it closed down. An analogy for this guy is he is a robot programmed to kill the bad guys, which he does, but he also kills the good guys in the process. He only sees in black and white. He can’t see that maybe this guy was trying to do something good in the area, all he sees is the guy didn’t have the proper permit, so we need to shut him down.

Doug: For people reading about this story that are as outraged as I am, what would you suggest they do to get involved and help out?

Loren: Letters to councilman are great, letters to the mayor, maybe even letters to the police. Let them know you support me and think maybe they could give me a break, I mean, I’m trying to do the right thing. If I have court dates, come out to the courtroom and support me.

Doug: How do you see this shaking out?

Loren: I don’t know. It depends on what kind of hoops they make me jump through. I do my gallery as a service to the city. I love art and I love artists. I think more art is what the community needs and I want to encourage that growth. That’s my real reason for doing this. I am not making money doing this. Artists go in to communities at their worst and help them grow. It’s happening over in Collinwood right now. My prediction is that in 3 or 4 years you’ll see Collinwood looking lively. It already is much safer than just 6 months ago. There’s lots to do. It looks lively. Art is my focus. I got a place in Collinwood. They gave me a grant to do it. They like my energy over there. A bus that I designed is going to be taking people to art galleries and shows. I’m just trying to create excitement in the community. If they want to shut me down for that it’s sort of like buying someone a gift and they try to punish me for it I’ll just take the gift back to the store. If they don’t want to play ball, I’ll take my ball and go home.

photo 4

Skip to toolbar