In the months following prime time television’s shooting season, workers from the Hawaii chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) union catch up on sleep, remodel homes, collect unemployment, and generally get some well deserved rest from the rigorous sixteen hour days they’ve pulled for the last six to eight months. Sometimes after being suitably renewed, they’ll help out on a colleague’s side project; they may even spearhead one of their own. After all, most of them are in the entertainment industry because they love what they make.
Veteran grip and music documentarian Bill Draheim is a lifelong fan of film and music. This is the story of how he and I wrote, produced and shot our own short here in Hawaii: a project we called John E. Dirt.
Hawaii is both tiny and global at the same time. The upshot of this is that everything you find on the continent can be found here, albeit on a smaller, more concentrated level. The independent film scene is no exception and is a bit like a high school drama club with world class talent. While in LA every last person in town – from the pizza delivery guy to the barista who serves you your soy latte – is a
producer scrabbling to make a name for themselves, in Hawaii the film community is much more collegial. There is little of the dog-eat-dog intensity that characterizes “the game” on the other side of the ocean. As I was introduced to the local players, I soon realized how supportive it could be.
One night, about a year ago, Bill and I were hanging out, tossing around ideas for movies over beers. Bill began to describe an image he had had of a man trapped in a room, forced to watch footage of deafening industrial music on an old tube television. His captors by turns cajole and threaten him in an effort to get him to play the music he is subjected to, but every time he picks up his guitar – the only luxury afforded him – he reinterprets the sonic barrage in a mellow, bluesy style. Of course, his noncompliance comes with consequences and there is hell to pay….
I liked it. It was a great idea for a number of reasons. For starters you’ve got your typical exegesis on the eternal conflict of the artist (to sell out or not to sell out, that is the question). But, even better, the premise reflected more timely social issues. Recent events at Guantanamo Bay have cast something of a pall over our smug belief that torture is what other countries do. And the fact that heavy metal music was used as a method of torture on the detainees… well, that sort of symmetry doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Of course, there was a bit of irony in that John E. Dirt the detainee is tortured by his own music.
We wanted to make it a dark film. As we were going to finance everything ourselves, we wouldn’t have to deal with restrictions from outside agencies – if we had the chance to make another movie in the future, we would have to get funding; and that might mean making something more accessible. I had always wanted to try my hand at a movie script, so I told Bill I would take a crack at it.
But the biggest benefit of the premise was a practical one: we would only have to find one room to shoot in.
End of Part 1
Reference Trailer #1
Reference Trailer #2
As a documentary film director I enjoy creating films that do not rely on voice narration. Cinema Verite (Louis Malle) and Direct Cinema (D.A. Pennebaker) are two non-narration techniques that involve using only the most unobtrusive means to gather information. They can be the hardest to create, but the most enjoyable and rewarding for both the filmmaker and viewer.
An example of these styles is my disturbing film Trashfest 2000. I had originally planned to do interviews and the standard fare of a typical doc but as the tragedy was unfolding before me in that Minneapolis night club, it became clear that adding interviews and narrative would take away from the pure gold presenting itself.
In the same vein, Laurie House and Colin Powers' hard-to-swallow "Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy" gives the viewers a glimpse into an adolescent skateboarding world without narration. The pace of the film is what I would call "controlled barbaric" with a fair amount of unusual camera angles and well-timed editing. The soundtrack drives an extra uneasy feeling adding an element of chaos, with live performances by Duane Peters' Die' Hunns and an assortment of unusual vaudeville acts.
Aside from skateboarding heroes like Tony Hawk and Dave Reul, the subjects themselves are not really of interest except for the ring leader Brewce Martin. His rule over the sausage fest debauchery is like witnessing a drunk high school student babysitting a group of stoned 5 year olds. The viewer is left wondering how Brewce will survive and scheme his way through the next day since destruction is the only accomplishment achieved at a time when building his dream skate park is the supposed goal.
"Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy" portrays one of those rare instances where anarchy is in fact chaos.
If you have ever studied art you obviously know the name Renoir. If you haven't then here is a brief synopsis.
If your interests lie in film, you may recognize the name Jean Renoir.
Jean Renoir (1894-1979) is the son of Pierre-Auguste Renoir whose work in the film industry include Grand Illusion, The Rules of the Game, and The Southerner.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Renoir's were drinking some pure well water.
The 2013 French film Renoir does it's best to live up to the standards of what the Renoir's would expect. Director Gilles Bourdos depiction of Renoir is eloquently intertwined with the brilliant cinematographer Ping Bin Lee. The two pair up to create a film encompassing shooting techniques obviously designed to look both like a Renoir painting and a Renoir film. But I am not going to bother you with technical aspects like dolly moves, key lighting and continuity. I will save that for a later time.
I want to talk to you about what the film meant to me.
Having lost my father a year and a half ago I was drawn to this films depiction of men. Baby's growing to young boy's, young boy's becoming men, and men growing old and dying. and the relationships or lack thereof towards each other. The men are all broken, scarred and dying, all but one. The only male that is relevant in this film who does not show outward signs of disfigurement is "Coco." Coco (Thomas Doret) longed for his fathers attention but to no avail. Now I do not know the relationship between Pierre and his father, but I get the feeling when I watch this that Coco is being portrayed as a young Pierre. The only thing that Pierre and Coco have in common is the asthitic knowledge of beauty in the womens form, and the self pity as a child. Cocos only affliction is that constant sorrow of being consistently bothered by the hormonal imbalance with only the nudes his father paints as an outlet. That and his naivety by confusing his fathers tough love with indifference.
Little Blue Nude
Pierre-Auguste Renoirs (Michel Bouquets) crippled hands deliver the subtleness needed to transpose, the beauty seen, to canvas. Always quick to offer up a life lesson that maybe he himself doesn't believe. But it is the silence between the words that is intended for the viewers. The pain, sorrow, guilt are so believable that you often ache with the emotions in your body. His love for his children are second to the women in his life, and third to his art, and it's obvious because only the loss of a women can cause that much suffering.
Jean Renoir (Vincent Rottiers) , on the other hand is the protical son who goes out to defend his country, becomes injured and returnees home to find love. Typical romance fodder right. No. We do not get the typical hollywood moment when Mr. X loves Mrs. X and the sound track gets loud and everything becomes fuzzy. It's all very calm and quit French in the approach to the romance. Whats fun about this film is that it doesent take itself to seriously. We do not see any sex, but we see the beauty of the nudes quit frequently as Auguste turns them into masterpieces.
We never get to involved with the women except for Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret) who is the beautiful muse which Pierre uses for "Blonde a la Rose" and "The Bathers". Like all the women is this film, she is not portrayed by a disfigurement, but eloquent, and full of understanding what men want. It could be interpreted that the women in this film are subordinate, but let me reassure you that they are strong and supportive. Their love for the men in the Renoir family goes without saying. And say they little.
If you have nothing to do one rainy day, call your dad, son or brother and check out Renoir. It's a educated film about educated men.