(scroll to the bottom for the latest updates)
So far Jen Talbert and I have had the pleasure of conducting interviews with Lane co-conspirators Craig Nutt, Jim Willett, Igor Alford, and Anne LeBaron. I have had some great phone conversations with Tim Reed (aka Fred Lane himself) and Mitchell Cashion, both of whom I will eventually interview, as well as Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith, and a few others (whose names I will not mention now because I have not yet approached them). The characters are spread out all over the country, but one at a time, I plan to interview them all until I’m done. I have been working on this project little by little since 1999 and have no idea when it will be finished, due to my busy schedule keeping me from being able to devote the time needed to finish it quickly (not to mention the fact that I am self-financing the entire production).
Well, I'm happy to report that I was able to accomplish more on this film in the past month than I have in the past four years. J.R. Fritsch and I spent several days traveling around Alabama and Tennessee shooting interviews. We really enjoyed meeting and interviewing Roger Hagerty, LaDonna Smith, Jim Reed, Mitchell Cashion, and Doug & Candy Newby, and I was overjoyed to be granted the opportunity to spend an entire day with T.R. Reed (aka Rev. Fred Lane himself!) and Jeanie Holland. Everyone has been very open and welcoming, and the more I find out about the subject matter, the more interested I become. My funding (aka my nest egg) is a little smaller now, but J.R. and I shot so many hours of footage that, combined with the footage I shot four years ago, I now have enough to start working on cutting together a trailer and work-in-progress even though I still have more interviews to shoot.
August & September 2005:
In August, I made a road trip to Chicago for the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and while in town, I was able to shoot an interview with Fletcher Paul Hayes. Filmmaker and Movieside Film Festival director, Rusty Nails, worked the camera, while Cashiers Du Cinemart editor, Mike White, assisted. In September, while attending Birmingham, Alabama's Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, I made another attempt to interview Davey Williams (the fourth attempt in five years), and was delighted to finally meet Davey in person. The interview was well worth the wait, and to make it even more special, Lucia Small (MY FATHER THE GENIUS) lent her very nice camera, and Peter Gilbert (HOOP DREAMS) shot the interview for me. Later that night, Jen and I got to spend more time with Davey at one of Birmingham's more interesting drinking establishments, The Garage. The previous night, we ran into Jim Willett, who we had not seen since interviewing him back in 2001. The three of us ended up at a film festival party on a gutted floor of a highrise. Meanwhile, Ted Bowen recently started an online message board for the doc, which you can find here:
October & November 2006:
In October, Jen and I flew back down to Alabama to attend the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, just outside of Tuscaloosa. T.R. Reed and Jeanie Holland were both selling their art there, and to our surprise, so was Fred McGann (who I've been meaning to interview in Richmond for several years now). The festival was wonderful. It takes place outdoors, in a wooded park. We bought some art and saw musical acts like Dan Hicks & Hot Licks, The Pine Hill Haints, The Avett Brothers, and Peter Case. We met T.R.'s sister, Barbara, who I should've asked to interview while I had the chance, but I wasn't thinking. We also caught up with Bill & Leah Alford, Roger & Bonnie Hagerty, and met Johnny Williams. We went to Johnny's house to see the "Raudelunas Museum" and then he took us to a bar in the middle of nowhere, where the specialty is catfish, and we were all the guests of honor. It was a great trip, and gave me a chance to try out my new camera (it's so new, it arrived a couple days before the trip and I spent the flight to Alabama reading the owner's manual). Now I wish I could go back and reshoot everything with the new camera.
Fred McGann clued me in to a November arts festival in Richmond, Virginia that T.R. and Jeanie would be at, and told me about a radio DJ who is a big Fred Lane fan who might interview T.R./Lane. Naturally, I'd want to be there for that, plus I've been meaning to go to Richmond anyway to interview Fred McGann and his wife Cathy, and Charlie Ogden and his wife Helen (Cathy's sister). It turns out the radio DJ is Chris Bopst (of WCLM's The Bopst Show), who I hung out with for about a month during the summer of 1982 in Ocean City, Maryland, as it seemed like we were the only punk rockers either of us could find in that town at the time. Small world. So the weekend before Thanksgiving, with barely any planning (because MicroCineFest had me tied up for the previous several weeks) I drove to Richmond, interviewed Charlie Ogden (Helen wasn't home), interviewed Fred & Cathy McGann, shot some footage of T.R. and Jeanie at the arts show, and had a wonderful dinner at Mom's Siam with T.R., Jeanie, Fred, Cathy, and their friend Cathy. At one point during the dinner, someone asked a question about the Pataphysical Revue, and everyone turned and looked at me as if I were the expert (remember, three of the people at the table were AT the Pataphysical Revue, while I was 9 at the time). I feel so honored to be so welcomed into such a great group of people, and I'm thankful for them giving up their time to speak with me on and off camera, and for sharing their pasts with me.
I have a career working for film festivals, which frequently takes up more than 40 hours a week, especially during the times when I have hundreds of entries that need to be watched and critiqued. That's what has taken up most of what would have been my "free time" for the past couple of months, and will continue to do so for awhile. As I watch entry after entry, I realize that a lot of filmmakers tend to have a new film every year, yet I've been working on the same film since 1999. That's kind of embarrassing, so I'm determined to hunker down and get this thing finished. I made a deal with myself, which I've been living by for the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so. At first, the deal was if I watched two hours of film festival entries, then I would spend one hour working on my doc. I then changed the deal - if I'm home for the evening, regardless of what I've been doing all night, at 10 PM I will work on the film for at least an hour, maybe two, before going to bed. This has worked out nicely. I've been working on transcribing all the interviews in order to make editing easier and more organized. I still have more interviews to shoot, but in the meantime, at least I'm getting SOMETHING done. Transcribing is a time-consuming task. Each interview might take me one or two nights to complete, and those nights are spread out over the nights I'm actually home (the Davey Williams interview took four nights over the course of one week - but it's so worth it!). Revisiting each interview, word-for-word, has triggered all sorts of new questions I'd love to go back and ask each interview subject, but it's also gotten me very excited about editing. I keep hearing lines that make me think, "Oh, that HAS to go in there somewhere!"
July 2007I have most of the interviews transcribed and I'm trying to schedule some time to shoot the remaining interviews needed. In the meantime, here's some interesting links I've found recently:
- Peter Bilderback has posted an amazing Fred Lane story on the Flowering Toilet blog.
- There's now a Fred Lane MySpace page. I don't know who's behind it, but as far as I can tell, it's nobody associated with Raudelunas, and it's not me, despite some of my images from this page having been lifted and used. Abdul benCamel is a friend.
September & October 2007:
In September, I finally finished transcribing all the interviews I had shot so far. Minutes after backing them all up on a Flash drive, my computer died. Yep, I lost a bunch of important files, but luckily I don’t have to re-transcribe anything. I was able to start reading through all the interviews, making notes that should help during editing. The new, replacement laptop arrived just hours before heading to the airport to start my Fall traveling season. First stop, Birmingham, Alabama for the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. I had hoped to meet up with some pertinent people to the film while in town, but I stayed pretty busy at the festival. I knew I’d be back in a couple weeks. Next stop, the BendFilm Festival in Bend, Oregon. The Oregon trip didn’t have much to do with the documentary except that I stressed to get ready for a big project at work before rushing off to the airport, instead of preparing for an upcoming 9-day trip to work on the doc. A day after getting home from Bend, I took off again, this time on wheels and armed with equipment.
DAY ONE: Six hours to Durham, North Carolina, where I interviewed filmmaker Jim Haverkamp, a Fred Lane fan who made a Lane-centric public access TV show back in the late-90s. Another six hours to Atlanta, where I crashed with my friend Blake.
DAYS TWO and THREE: I had earmarked the next two days to go to Miami to interview Kramer, who ran ShimmyDisc Records, the label responsible for most Fred Lane fans hearing Fred Lane in the first place. Some communication mix-ups meant that I didn’t get the interview, and didn’t really accomplish anything on the film for those two days, but I got a lot of driving done and got to see some of Florida. Those two days were essentially a long, out-of-the-way route to Birmingham, Alabama, where I crashed with my friend Kelly.
DAY FOUR: The next day I met up with Lee Shook, who is working on a documentary about Davey Williams. He is a Fred Lane fan who has an interesting perspective on the whole Raudelunas scene, so I interviewed him. Later, he took me to meet & interview Mark Lanter, who played drums in the Raudelunas group. From there, I picked up Jen at the airport, and we went to re-interview Jim Willett. Jim was one of the early interviews in this whole production, but that first shoot was cursed with some very harsh sunlight, so we re-shot.
DAYS FIVE and SIX: Jen and I spent the weekend at the Kentuck Arts Festival outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where we ran into T.R. Reed & Jeanie Holland, Tim’s sister Barbara, Craig & Linda Nutt, Bill Alford, Bill’s friend Larry, Lee Shook, and Gary Taylor. I shot lots of footage and interviewed Gary. Craig gave me a disc full of Doug Newby’s photos from the Pataphysical Review and From The One That Cut You live shows, plus a lot of miscellaneous images. Saturday and Sunday nights were spent at Dogwood Lodge Gazebo, where Bill let us scan tons of photos from his collection.
DAY SEVEN: Monday morning I dropped Jen off at the Birmingham airport, and then headed to Eutaw, Alabama, to revisit Johnny Williams. I interviewed Johnny, and spent hours scanning a large chunk of his collection of Raudelunas artifacts, including copies of Fred Lane’s newsletters (Liquid Basketball, Naked Women Overthrow The Government Quarterly, and The Good Deeds of a Five Dollar Bill). From there, I drove through the rains & winds that were destroying Alabama homes (this, after having survived a weekend centered around some football game that kept us from getting a hotel room closer than 35 minutes from Tuscaloosa). I rolled into Atlanta and crashed with my friends, Genevieve & Scott.
DAY EIGHT: All this driving has taken a toll on my van, so I spent the next day in a Honda service center waiting room watching CNN coverage of the fires in California. 7 hours and $1900 later, I was off to shoot the final interview for this trip. The legendary Col. Bruce Hampton is both a Fred Lane fan and a big inspiration to the Raudelunas gang, plus he’s a really nice guy. I interviewed him at a Whole Foods (!) during a really horrific downpour. That night I got to hang out with a bunch of my favorite people at one of my favorite places (Trader Vics!).
DAY NINE: A 12-hour drive home to Baltimore from Atlanta, through some of the worst rain storms I’ve ever driven through.
Nearly 3100 miles; 5 more hours of footage including 7 more interviews shot; approx. 500 images collected. This trip was a success, and especially significant! Up until now, regardless of all the footage and interviews I have shot, I did not yet feel like I had enough to make a film. Now, I can visualize the structure of the film, and with all the images collected on this trip, I’m ready, anxious, and confident enough to start putting this whole thing together (even though I still have some more interviews to shoot). I have some concerns though. Jim Haverkamp had told me that a big part of the fun of being a Fred Lane fan is all the mystery and mis-information surrounding the records, and that he’ll be sort of sad when this documentary answers all the questions. I have to agree with him, but at this point, I have to finish this thing – but I’m going to take that feeling into consideration. I’m also a little concerned about the perhaps unwanted attention this doc might bring T.R. Reed. He’s a busy artist who already graciously gives up enough of his time at arts festivals to talk to Fred Lane fans when he really needs to be selling his art. I worry that kind of attention will get worse, and that fans might buy up his art, not because they like it, but because it was made by the guy who was/is Fred Lane. And I worry about killing that unique camaraderie among Lane fans. Whenever I meet anyone who knows who Fred Lane is, there is a certain connection, like we know we’re in the company of like-minded cultural outcasts who have devoted our lives to seeking the coolest of the obscure, and we appreciate it for similar reasons. Fred Lane feels like our own fun little secret, and I’m about to let that cat out of the box. I have talked to people who consider themselves experts on Daniel Johnston and Jandek just because they’ve watched documentaries about both, though have never bought or listened to records by either. I will hate having had a hand in creating those kind of “fans” for Fred Lane, but I guess that comes with the territory.
December 2007, January & July 2008:
It's been awhile since I've updated this production diary, and a lot of that is, as usual, because my film festival career keeps me too busy for the first half of the year that I can barely think about this project. So let's start with December. I wasn't able to get back down to Birmingham, Alabama to interview Janice Hathaway during her brief annual visit home for the holidays. Lee Shook graciously stepped in and shot a wonderful interview with Jan for me. Janice currently lives in Hawaii, which if I'd known that two years ago when I was in Hawaii, I would've loved to have interviewed her there - what a change in scenery that would have added to the film!
A few weeks later in January, I was out in Park City, Utah serving on the jury at the Slamdance Film Festival, and also working as a projectionist. While there, I got to project the World Premiere of Kim Shively & Chris Bagley's documentary, WESLEY WILLIS'S JOYRIDES. After the screening, I got into a cool-obscure-music conversation with Kim and Chris and some of their friends that were hanging around. One of the group, Skinny Jim Compton from Denver, Colorado, mentioned that he is a huge Fred Lane fanatic, so I arranged to interview him while he was in town. Thanks to Kim and Chris for hooking me up with a camera, a blank tape, and a camera operator (Jon Firestone).
Fast forward several months to July. I took a week off from work, cooped myself up at home, and transcribed all the interviews from last October, December, and January. I'm, once again, caught up until I shoot more interviews.
September & October 2008:
In early September, I attended the Toronto International Film Festival, and while in town, I finally got to meet, in person, Stewart Russell. You'll recall from earlier in this whole story, it was Stewart's website that got the ball rolling on this production in the first place, so it was great to finally meet him and be able to include him in this project.
A couple weeks later, I took another roadtrip north, this time accompanied by Joe Tropea and J.R. Fritsch. Earlier this year, I signed on to help Joe make a documentary about the Catonsville Nine, so we were Boston-bound to interview Noam Chomsky and Howard Zine for that doc. I took the opportunity to multi-task for both docs. First we headed to Albany, NY to interview David Greenberger, of The Duplex Planet and Men & Volts fame, and also the man responsible for the series of Lyrics By Ernest Noyes Brookings compilation albums, the first of which features Fred Lane's "Shoelaces." David graciously allowed us to show up late at his house the night of his anniversary, gave us a great interview, and sent us on our way armed with plenty of reading & listening material for in the van. That night, we drove across Massachusetts, headed towards the Boston area. Here's some advice: if you ever drive from Albany, NY to Boston, MA at night, and you don't want to be hungy during the drive, be sure to eat before you leave or pack plenty of snacks. It's a long drive, and if you can find a restaurant anywhere along the way, chances are it closed before sundown.
The next morning, we interviewed Charles Roberts and Jeffu Warmouth at Jeffu's house in Fitchburg, right outside of Boston. They are both big Fred Lane fans, and by coincidence, I have programmed Jeffu's films at MicroCineFest, and Charles used to give me Final Cut Pro advice on the 2Pop boards many years ago. It was a lively interview. I wish we would've had more time to hang out with these guys, but we had to rush off to interview Noam Chomsky, which was both an honor and a delight. Howard Zinn had to re-schedule for a few weeks later, so we headed home. It was a LONG drive back to Baltimore. It should have only taken about 8 hours, but it took more like 11 hours because of construction on I-95. I got home around 3 AM, and I had to be out of bed at 8 AM because the bed was about to be literally removed from under me by the delivery guys bringing our new bed. Then I had only 2 hours to get ready for my flight to Birmingham, Alabama for my annual trip to the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, where I caught up briefly with Jim Reed and Lee Shook ( and I badly sprained my ankle the first night I was there).
In October, I had hoped to return to the Kentuck Arts Festival, but scheduling and finances killed that hope. Instead, I did whatever work I could do on the film from home. I finished transcribing all of the recent interviews. I logged all the recent footage and captured it all to harddrive. Once again, I'm caught up until I shoot more interviews. In the meantime, I'm doing some editing, but I don't want to fully dive into the editing until I'm able to give it my full attention.
Last year I bought a new external harddrive to keep this whole project on. It turns out, I should have ordered a bigger harddrive. 500 gigs isn't enough. Now I have a terabyte to work with, which should be plenty of memory, though it's not as portable as I would prefer.
You know how I'm always complaining about my job keeping me too busy to work on this film? Well guess what? I quit my job! I've given up being a full-time, year-round film festival employee and am now a freelancer, which means I can make my own schedule (and worry about money more than I've had to in years). Since July 1, I've been devoting most of my time to editing this film, and have been able to really devote my attention to it in ways I've wanted to for years. I can't tell you how cool it is to finally, after all these years, be able to watch parts of this film come together. I'm currently trying to have a concise 10-minute trailer/work-in-progress ready by the end of the month so that I can include it with a grant application. I'm going to really need that grant money because this film is going to require a ton of color correction and sound mixing, and I think it'd be better to call in some pros to handle those tasks rather than try to handle it myself.
In sad news, this past December 16, Doug Newby passed away from kidney failure after a sudden illness. J.R. Fritsch and I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug and his wife Candy at their home in Alabama back in June of 2005. I can honestly say that had Doug not taken so many great photos of Fred Lane live on stage back in the 70s, this documentary would not look the same. I wish he could've seen the finished work.
Happy New Year! It's been a year and a half since my last post, and I have a few things to tell you about. At the time of that last post, I was working on a 10-minute trailer to submit with a grant application. I got the grant! Thank you, Maryland State Arts Council! It wasn't a super HUGE grant, but it covered my health insurance bill for two months, so I'm not complaining. Meanwhile, I have shown the trailer publicly several times: last May at a works-in-progress screening during the Maryland Film Festival; to film students at University of Minnesota Moorhead last February during my stint as a visiting artist; and during my featured participation in WYPR's Maryland Morning Screen Test this past September. I have been getting some great responses from it. Before anyone asks me if they can see the trailer online, the answer is no. I only made it for fundraising, and do NOT want to put it online because it contains too many spoilers. It really is the whole film condensed to just ten minutes. When I get a chance, I will cut together a version with the spoilers removed, running a lot shorter, and THAT will get posted online.
In other news, what I've been referring to as "the as-yet-untitled Fred Lane documentary" finally has a title. I had been considering a particular title for awhile, and then I ran my idea by the good Reverend himself, and he approved of it. The name of the documentary is (drum roll, dramatic pause), ICEPICK TO THE MOON. All you hardcore Lane fans out there should get the reference. Everyone else, I hope, will just think it sounds interesting enough to make you want to watch the movie.
I'm very sad to report that Dick Foote has left the building. We lost Roger Hagerty to a heart attack on November 8, 2010, the day after his 59th birthday. Even though the extent of my relationship with Roger consisted of a few phone calls, countless emails, a day at his home, a couple weekends at Kentuck, and some online social network friendships, the warmth I felt from him made him seem like a close friend for life. Based on the many comments posted online by his many friends since his passing, I must be correct in thinking of Roger as one of the nicest, friendliest, funniest, helpful people you could meet. My condolences to Roger's wife, Bonnie, son Galen, and to the whole Raudelunas family who, I'm sure, are missing a great man.
December 2010 marked the release of Oxford American Magazine's Southern Music Issue. In it, Lee Shook contributes an informative article about Rev. Fred Lane. The article includes some rare photos, and HEY, I got a "from the collection of Skizz Cyzyk" photo credit for supplying them (even though most of my "collection" came from Craig Nutt, Doug Newby, and Bill Alford). The magazine comes with a 27 song compilation CD, which includes Fred Lane's Rubber Room.
There's now a "Fred Lane Fans" page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9073025545).
Last but not least, I suppose I should update my answer to that nagging question of why it is taking me so long to make this documentary? The answer is usually the same: work gets in the way. Yes, I left my film festival programming job a year and a half ago, with hopes of being able to devote more time to my own filmmaking, and that is exactly what happened. Filmmaking has become my work. In 2009, I was hired to make a documentary about the band, Alice Donut, and how they have managed to navigate the world of underground rock for a quarter century. The film is called FREAKS IN LOVE, and it should start making the festival rounds sometime this year. For more info, go to www.freaksinlove.com. Meanwhile, as I reported perviously, in 2007 I started helping my buddy and frequent bandmate, Joe Tropea, make a documentary about antiwar activists who raided draft boards in the late 60s. At some point during the production, I signed on as a co-director, as well as DP and editor. That project secured some funding, and as such, is now paying me a small salary to get the whole film edited by this coming fall. The film is called HIT & STAY, and you can read more about it here: www.hitandstay.com. I also completed a mostly-animated music video for The Jennifers, which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwLtnJhLMCQ
Hopefully by this time next year, I will be as engrossed in editing ICEPICK TO THE MOON, as I am with HIT & STAY right now, and was with FREAKS IN LOVE this time last year.
Well so much for that plan! Completion of HIT & STAY went over schedule by more than a year, so I'm just now getting around to editing ICEPICK TO THE MOON. Finally!!! And I'm not done shooting yet. Lee Shook has been hard at work setting up the Raudelunas Exposition 2013, a sort of reunion and retrospective. After years of hard work and planning on Lee's part, it is finally happening this coming January and February, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I will be there for the closing weekend (Feb. 2) to document as much of it as I can, and then use that footage in ICEPICK. I will also be showing the ten-minute trailer, a slideshow, and a rough edit of a scene from the documentary which is what I've been editing lately. The scene is about the Raudelunas Marching Vegetable Band. Fletcher Paul Hayes found the long-thought-to-be-lost Super8 footage he shot of the first parade, had it converted to video, and is allowing me to use it. Janice Hathaway has found some negatives of photos from other parades, and is in the process of getting those digitized. I can't wait to see them!
In other news, I've made a Facebook page for the film: https://www.facebook.com/IcepickToTheMoon Please "like" it.
I hate to make any predictions, since so many of the ones I've already made on this page haven't stuck with the schedule, but I really hope that I can get ICEPICK TO THE MOON edited in 2013, and on the film festival circuit in 2014. I know 2013 will be a busy year for me, with HIT & STAY on the film festival circuit, and my search for employment so that I can pay the bills, but you wouldn't believe how excited I am to finally get to give ICEPICK my attention.
January 2013 - September 2014:
Since I started the Facebook page for this film, I have been neglecting to update this website. So here’s a long overdue update. First, obviously my plan of having the film finished and on the festival circuit in 2014 didn't happen. A lot of other stuff, though, did.
At the end of January 2013, Jen and I drove from Baltimore to Tuscaloosa to attend the Raudleunas’ Exposition 2013, armed with all my equipment, and a bunch more I borrowed from David Morley at Zinnia Films. This was the big event Lee Shook had been talking about setting up for as long as I’ve known him, so it was great to see it finally coming together. Leading up to the event, Lee had Davey Williams and Ladonna Smith appear on his Birmingham Mountain Radio show, The Audiovore, to talk about the event. I had my friend, Arik Sokol, go to the station to shoot the interview, while I was listening in Baltimore via the internet. The Exposition included a gallery show, plus the ‘Pataphysical Redux in the Ferguson Center, on the same stage where the ‘Pataphysical Revue took place in 1975. It included many of the same people and acts that appear on the Raudlunas ‘Pataphysical Revue album. Along with my friends Arik Sokol, Sam Frazier and Sam McDavid, we shot the whole event with 7 cameras. Holland Hopson and his crew recorded the audio for me to edit the 7 camera angles to. This event was important not just because it was a long awaited reunion for many of the Raudelunas, but because -SURPRISE!- the man himself, Rev. Fred Lane, appeared in public for the first time in 35 years. Not only that, he performed!!! Two of my dreams came true that night: to see Fred Lane perform, and to perform with him. I got to sit in, playing ukulele, on From The One That Cut You. I am now glad I didn’t finish this film years ago, like I wanted to, because if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to include all the great footage from the 2013 Exposition. Not only that, but I got to reconnect with a lot of people, and finally meet a lot of people I had heard a lot about but had never met before: Everett Grayson (AKA Juba, AKA Larno), Galen Hagerty (son of Foote), Adrian Dye (AKA Omar Bagdada), etc.
While in Alabama, we also visited Bottletree in Birmingham, to see Paul Cordes Wilm’s beautiful Fred Lane portrait, which hangs above the mens room door. While there, I interviewed Bottletree’s Brian Teasley about the Lane portrait. I knew Brian was also a member of Man Or Astro Man and Polyphonic Spree, but it wasn’t until I looked him up on Wikipedia that I realized just how many other great music acts he’s been involved with.
From Alabama, we then caravanned with Tim & Jeanie to their home in Tennessee, for a couple more productive days. I shot more interviews with Tim, and he and I sat down with his archives, scanning & digitizing a lot of items. Even though I was concerned with making the most of the time in terms of the film, which I did, the best part was just having a little time to sit and relax and talk with Tim and Jeanie.
What a great trip! It left me with maxed-out credit cards and a greater need to find gainful employment, but at least I have a lot of really wonderful things to show for it.
A couple weeks later, Jen and I drove to Virginia to interview Everett Grayson. We also got to meet his rooster and peacock. From there we visited Janice Hathaway, to re-interview her. Lee Shook had interviewed her for me years ago when she was visiting Birmingham for the holidays. Now she lives a lot closer than Hawaii. Janice has been digitizing a lot of her negatives and sharing them with me. Many of them were on display at the Exposition. Her artful photography is really going to add an element of class to this documentary.
That March, the documentary I made with Joe Tropea, HIT & STAY, premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (we won the Audience Award!). While Joe and I were in Chicago, we took the opportunity to visit Fletcher Paul Hayes, and re-interview him.
On April Fools Day, Charlie Ogden drove up from Richmond to record some voice-overs for me, and I, of course, took the opportunity to re-interview him, as I have been doing a lot lately now that I have a nice HD camera. Charlie was the emcee at the ‘Pataphysical Revue in 1975, introducing Fred Lane for the very first time. He reprised his role at the ‘Pataphysical Redux. He has a great announcers voice, so I figured he would be good for doing voice-overs. One of the voice-overs I had him do was the narration for an animated segment in the documentary, explaining ‘Pataphysics, and its creator, Alfred Jarry. Several weeks earlier, I had been contacted by my friend, Talia Alberts, asking if I would be interested in making a short video as part of an Artist-In-Residence project for a filmmaking collective in New York. I hate turning down good opportunities, but I really just wanted to concentrate on ICEPICK TO THE MOON, and not take on another project. Jen suggested I use the opportunity to make part of ICEPICK TO THE MOON. Good idea. So work began on a short film, called ALFRED JARRY & ‘PATAPHYSICS, meant to eventually be part of ICEPICK. The first thing I did was have Charlie record the voice-over narration, and then I got busy doing all the pre-production for the animation. You would be surprised at just how much pre-production is involved in making a 2-minute animated short film.
Later that April, I was on the documentary jury at the Nashville Film Festival. While in Nashville, I took the opportunity to re-interview Craig Nutt at his nearby studio. I was assisted by my good friend and Indie Memphis Film Festival executive director Erik Jambor, his wife Robin Salant, and their newborn daughter Simone. Craig was one of the first interviews I shot for this film, way back in 2001, so it was great to do a follow-up interview with him 12 years later. Afterwards, we all went out for Mexican food. It was Record Store Day, and while I didn’t even know where the cool Nashville record stores were, thanks to Craig I came home with my own copy of the very rare Say Day Bew vinyl release of Nolan Hatcher & Craig Nutt’s Dinosaur Time.
I started shooting the animated ALFRED JARRY & ‘PATAPHYSICS short in June, and wrapped it by the end of August. Besides Charlie Ogden’s narration, the film also stars Fred Lane’s Shimmy Disc labelmates, The Tinklers (Charles Brohawn and Chris Mason), along with poet/musician/cool-used-books-and-records-store owner Rupert Wondolowski, and musician/cool-used-records-store owner/record label president Jason Willett. You can read more about it HERE. I finished the short in time to take it on the two-week West Coast Analogue Resurgence Tour that Russ Forster and I went on that September. Since then, the film has been showing at film festivals all over the world, spreading the concept of Jarry and ‘Pataphysics far and wide, and raising interest in ICEPICK.
Now the sorta “bittersweet” news. As this diary has made clear, the reason it is taking me so long to finish this film is because I’m self-financing it, and therefore it keeps getting put on the back burner in favor of work that pays the bills. As I said earlier, my trip to shoot the Raudleunas’ Exposition 2013 is what finally maxed out my credit cards, and I found myself in financial dire straits. I wasn’t finding enough freelance work to pay the bills, much less pay off any debt, and forget about being able to put any more money into ICEPICK. As such, a lot of time in 2013 and 2014 that I had hoped to spend editing ICEPICK was instead spent looking for work and filling out job applications. In April of 2014 I was offered a salaried Video Producer position working for a financial newsletter service. I accepted the job. The good news is I was able to pay off all my debt within a few months, and when I could finally afford to buy anything, the first thing I bought (besides DEVO tickets) was a couple 4 TB harddrives so that I could put everything from ICEPICK together on a single harddrive (the other drive is for backing up the first drive). Not that long ago I thought all I needed was a 1 TB harddrive, but that was when this project was SD. Switching to HD has changed so many things. The other good news is I now have access to a brand new video studio, and a lot of great equipment (certainly better than my own), and I've been convinced to make the switch from Final Cut Pro to Premiere. So now I’m back in that familiar rut of holding down a fulltime job while trying to finish a self-produced documentary feature. I’m making the most of the situation. I am getting work done on the film, so some progress is being made, but it would be nice to be able to completely focus on the project for extended periods of time, and not just for a few hours every so many days. Just know that I am getting work done on it, and I appreciate everyone’s patience.
October 2014 – January 2016
Once again, it has been awhile since I have posted a production update for this film. I had been giving myself a deadline to finish the first rough cut by the end of 2015. Well, as tends to be the case every time I set a deadline for this film, I missed it. The good news, however, is that I am close. I have put A LOT of work into editing this film since the last update. At my job, I have been learning After Effects, which has allowed me to create a lot of cool animations for this film. Sadly, every now and then I might go a month or two where I just don’t have any time to work on it, but then I’ll get a burst of energy and time and I’ll get a lot done all at once. I spent a month working on the same 2 minutes, and then didn’t touch it for a month, and then when I came back to it, I managed to accomplish more than I had in months. What news do I have since the last update?
The Alfred Jarry & ‘Pataphysics animated excerpt went on to screen all over the world, including screenings at film festivals in Oxford, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; Milan, Italy; Buenors Aires, Argentina; London, England; Memphis, Tennessee; Wiesbaden, Germany; Wilmington, North Carolina; Queretaro, Mexico; Austin, Texas; Victoria, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Tokyo, Japan; and two of the world’s largest and most important animation festivals: The Annecy International Animation Festival in Annecy, France, and The Ottawa International Animation Festival in Ottawa, Canada. I attended many of the screenings and had a blast.
In January 2015, Mitchell Cashion sadly passed away (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tuscaloosa/obituary.aspx?pid=173944741). I quickly put together this little video to remember him by (http://youtu.be/4a90ZIpIwWI). In October, his ashes were poured in Ireland, in the shape of a “herptogrypgh” (a symbol that frequented Mitchell’s artwork). His estate was auctioned off in November (http://www.estatesales.net/AL/Tuscaloosa/35404/1025958). He was truly a unique character. Besides several unforgettable phone calls, I only got to meet him in person once, and that was the day J.R. Fritsch and I interviewed him in his Tuscaloosa, Alabama home. We’re all very sad to see him go.
In February, while on my way to the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, Mississippi, I spent some extra time in Memphis, Tennessee just so I could go to the wonderful Goner Records and shoot an interview with proprietor Eric Friedl, from The Oblivians, The Royal Pendletons, The Reatards, etc. He had told me an interesting story about the Fred Lane records he keeps behind the counter at Goner, and I knew I had to get that story for the film. Erik, Robin and Simone put me up. Filmmaker and Memphis friend Laura Jean Hocking helped me shoot the interview.
My efforts to revisit many of the film’s interview subjects and interview them again, this time in HD, continued in August 2015 during my annual visit to the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, Alabama. This time it was William “Igor” Alford, who was one of the very first interviews shot for this project, way back in 2001. To my delight, he brought along Adrian Dye (AKA Omar Bagdada), who had previously not wanted to be interviewed, but this time agreed to be on camera with Igor. I’m so glad. The two of them together were so funny and informative, and they filled in some missing information I needed for sections of the film that were already edited.
Just before Christmas I applied for a contest where filmmakers are lent a Digital Bolex D16 camera to make a film with. Selected films are then packaged as a shorts program that screens at film festivals, starting at Slamdance, where I work each January as a projectionist. I was overjoyed when the camera arrived just before Christmas, but that meant I had to hurry up and make a short film. I choose to make a short documentary about my friend, David Fair, who Fred Lane fans will probably recognize as a co-founder of the band Half Japanese. Since the Digital Bolex can shoot HD video that has a similar look to film, archival film in particular, I figured that while I had the camera I should try to shoot any phony archival footage I might need for ICEPICK. So even though DAVID FAIR IS KING took my attention away from working on ICEPICK TO THE MOON, it also enabled me to get something done on it while adding yet another interesting look to the film. I ended up shooting a reenactment of the “From The One That Cut You” origin story. DAVID FAIR IS KING isn’t the only film project that has distracted me from ICEPICK in the past year. I also got involved in two feature-length documentaries. The first is the latest project by my HIT & STAY co-director, Joe Tropea. He’s making a documentary about film censorship and how Maryland was the last state with a censor board. I’m a producer and D.P. on the film. Joe is also producing a documentary for French filmmaker, Sabrina Bouarour, about how the Baltimore riots and uprising in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death have impacted the arts community. I have been shooting a lot of the interviews and b-roll for that project.
So now it is January 2016. I’m almost done the first rough cut. I just replaced my MacBook Pro with a newer model that should make editing go a little smoother, and that should really speed up my editing process. Working on this project gets me really excited, and I try to work on it whenever I can. It is really coming together nicely, and I can’t wait to be able to share it with everyone.-Skizz Cyzyk