Lyle Owerko's Photographs of Giant, Old-School Boomboxes

In The Boombox Project, a short documentary by Paul Stone, photographer Lyle Owerko reflects on his creative process and his fascination with the genesis of hip hop. His photographs of boomboxes have been collected in a book, also called The Boombox Project. The film is one in a series of portraits that Stone has done for his new creative agency, Drop Culture. He discusses his quest to blend art and advertising and what's next for the series in an interview below.

The Atlantic: What was inspired the Drop Culture series?

Paul Stone: Most culture and film related websites aggregate media and do not create original content. I thought, why not create a website where I could be both the creator and curator of the content? I direct TV commercials for a living and was excited by the idea of using Drop Culture as a new showcase of my visual storytelling skills. Since most of my work is with bigger brands, I thought it would be fun to showcase smaller brands and artists that don't necessarily have massive marketing budgets. 

How do you choose people to film?

I have lived in SOHO in New York City for a very long time and the area has always been a breeding ground for art and culture. I have always been curious about what inspires people to create. My original idea was to start with local films about creative people in my neighborhood. The process of choosing who to film up to this point has been very organic. I was an artist, musician, and DJ in my youth, so my circle of friends is mostly creative. I also travel a lot, make new friends and meet people easily and these encounters have led me to new discoveries.  

What are your goals for the project?

At the moment we are trying to attract larger national brands and ad agencies to partner with. What we are creating on Drop Culture is essentially long format, branded, visual content with a strong focus on creativity and less hard sell. We feel what we are doing is a great way to blend art and advertising. We recently partnered with the William Morris/Endeavor Agency, Polaroid, and Lady Gaga to help promote some cool new products. Everyone loved the work and we hope to continue to do more integrated projects of this nature. 

What's next for you?

After shooting seven films in seven months in New York City, we recently expanded and opened an office in Venice Beach, California as well as downtown Chicago. Drop Culture will be launching a new feature called "Anatomy of a Spot," which will profile specific talent and the technique behind some of the best commercials in the industry. We will interview Directors, Editors, VFX artists, Creative Directors, Copy Writers, etc. Our cameras will reveal the collaborative, creative effort that happens behind the scenes and focus on what inspires artists to create. 

Our expansion to Los Angeles gave me the Hollywood film bug. I just shot my first narrative film called The Crisis of Being Dr. Adam Porter starring veteran actors Daniel London (Minority Report), Robert Prescott (Michael Clayton) and newcomer Laine Rettmer. We have submitted the film to all the top festivals, so now it’s a waiting game until the film programs are announced. We are also gearing up to shoot a new Drop Culture film about Hollywood stunt people who do full body burns. Then taking a road trip to Las Vegas to shoot a film on Pete Vallee, the 500-pound Elvis Presley impersonator. 

For more films from Drop Culture, visit

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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