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.
Welcome to the debut of Bill's Illusion, a blog about art, music, photography, film, sculpture, poetry, dance etc. Whatever you think is art, is open for discussion. However, I would like to interact with artists who are passionate about their work. If you share a link to your portfolio I will try to give you an honest assessment as to how it makes me feel. Mind you I am not an expert nor do I claim to be. I am just another guy hustling like you. If you are commenting on a piece, please be as constructive as possible. We live in a world with too much negativity already so stay positive and inspirational. Please visit me on my Facebook page for more information on Bill Draheim and Miehard Video Production LLC. That's about it. Enjoy and have fun.
Peligro "The Sum of Our Surroundings"
Negativity by Peligro