I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for the Sky Mall catalogue. It hits me in a weird, atavistic place that was clearly born and bred in my mundane, Reagan-polluted, suburban adolescence. In what can only be described as a materialistic blackout, I’ll flip through page after page, convincing myself that I can’t live without that canine genealogy kit or the pith helmet with the built-in fan or any of the other trinkets that are essentially 21st century pet rocks. With some distance (once the flight has landed), I come to the embarrassing realization that it’s all worthless. Actually, let’s be honest, it’s shit. It’s the excrement of a culture deadened by spectacle and removed from any semblance of true human need. Yes, this was the high-minded inspiration that beget the general theme of a movie about a man who mysteriously vomits objects out of thin air: From the Gut, a short film I’m currently taking into post-production.
A mock documentary, From the Gut profiles Gerald Lindsay, an average American guy who possesses the aforementioned, possibly metaphysical ability. Throughout the narrative, the people in Gerald’s life are interviewed and, while an attempt to shape a likeness of the soft-spoken man of mystery is undertaken, all that ultimately results is more obfuscation. It’s a satire, something that the mockumenary—not a genre I’m particularly fond of—is perfectly suited for.
We shot the practical photography several weekends ago at Arts + Labor in Austin, Texas with Clay Liford, a brilliant filmmaker in his own right, taking on the responsibility of shooting the green screen footage. Playing the contingent of unique characters are some of the best actors in the state: Byron Brown, Chris Doubek, Bill Wise, Kelli Bland, and Jennymarie Jemison (from the Foo Fighters video I directed two years ago) to name a few.
Some would say that the reason for the green screen is because I insist on making every project that I tackle as difficult as possible, and that could very well be. But more than anything, it has to do with that godforsaken Sky Mall catalogue and the sour, falling-off-the-wagon resentment it fills me with. For me, the visual representation of resentment and anger has always fit into a comfortable groove right alongside the music of my angry, disaffected youth… youth, of course, being a relative term: that of my old punk vinyl. For me, the opening guitar salvo and Johnny Rotten’s malevolent cackle at the beginning of Anarchy in the U.K. were accompanied perfectly by the cut and paste anarchy of Sex Pistols graphic designer Jamie Reid. And those Dead Kennedys records wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact without the surreal photo juxtapositions of Winston Smith. All the background plates in From the Gut will be created from scratch in Photoshop and After Effects to resemble those X-acto knife collages or photomontages that were an integral part of the aesthetics of early punk rock… and the Situationists before them.
It will undeniably be a challenging task, and that’s why I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to try and raise some funds for post-production. Stock footage is almost laughably expensive but it’s going to be integral to the film’s theme of détournement. The campaign will launch next Tuesday, July 16th, and any contribution, no matter how small, will be hugely appreciated. A post will be forthcoming with more details.