UPCOMING & RECENT SCREENINGS
Coming Soon, Western Hemisphere, Spring 2018 (The Drunkard's Lament)
My new movie The Drunkard's Lament is a mid-length, strange epistolary & revisionist musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights from the perspective of Emily BrontŽís alcoholic, tubercular brother Branwell. Reconstructed from his letters to his friends along with notes, sheet music and damaged film fragments ó this 1898 film originally premiered on the 50th anniversary of the consumption deaths of Branwell and Emily BrontŽ.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about The Drunkardís Lament:
40 minutes? What were you thinking?
It was actually meant to be a feature. I first worked with handmade 16mm emulsion in my movie Chums from Across the Void in 2015. It was only 2 minutes of the movie but it kind of stole the show in a way. I really wanted to work with it on a feature so I thought of an alternative version of Wuthering Heights. I wrote enough songs for a feature and shot plenty of footage but a fair amount of the footage looks terrible. Working with an unstable emulsion where I need a lot of light has been challenging. I also spent all of my grant money. If I was going to stick with a feature, I needed to reshoot some stuff. So I cut a bit more than 20 minutes. I think of it as a little feature that ran short because of problems making art within the capitalist system.
Whatís the deal with the title? I thought this was a Wuthering Heights adaptation of some kind?
Well the working title was The Branwell Wuthering Heights 1898, but that was too annoying and wordy for me. So I changed it closer to the title that Branwell wanted for Wuthering Heights: ďHindley, The Drunkardís LamentĒ. Calling my movie The Drunkardís Lament is an homage to his opioid vision and it references the sickly and alcohol-fueled complaints that fill Branwellís letters.
Who is Branwell and why bring him in on this?
Branwell was the oldest sibling who was early on considered the promising young genius of the BrontŽ family. This is a family that had two actual geniuses in Emily and Charlotte so even though he utterly failed at work, art and life, he must have had some talent. He had collaborated with his sisters in their juvenalia so it seemed likely that he would want to continue their writing collaborations as they got older. I also conflated some of his criticisms with the early bad reviews of Emilyís novel. Whatever he had was gone the last few years of his life because of his alcoholism and opioid addiction. He was so constantly sick for so long that no one even noticed that he was dying and infecting his sisters with tuberculosis.
Many avant-garde filmmakers and video artists make their films more accessible when they get a bigger budget? But not you.
This is my biggest budget film. We had many trials and errors in creating this unique, homemade film emulsion. And unlike my three Communist Trilogy features, I actually paid people. When I made those movies I was either in graduate school or working a series of part-time jobs and was living a different life. Now I have an established career and a good teaching job, so I canít play that game anymore. This film does appear to be my Ishtar or my Heavenís Gate or Dune. All three of those films were big-budget critical and commercial flops made by auteur directors. I am hoping mine is more of a Dune since it has a cult following. Heavenís Gate is actually kind of awesome and is now beloved by some film nerds. Ishtar Iíve never seen it so Iím hoping itís more of a Dune or Heavenís Gate.
Will you ever retire from this strange life of being an obscure experimental musical-comedic filmmaker?
I do have escape fantasies of becoming a full-time Game Master for Dungeons & Dragons type game. But since I donít regularly play those games, it may be possible that Iím just that good at it.
My last film Chums from Across the Void, the third and final video in the Inner Trotsky Child series premiered at the NY Film Festival and went on to screen at Rotterdam and Edinburgh among others. It won the Best Self-Help Film Award at the 2016 Chicago Underground Film Festivalóthe jury wrote, "we recognize a film so totally singular with it's weave of leftist history lessons, new wave and new age-like psychospiritual warfare, the writing, the music, the models all come together to blow away the hybrid category that it creates for itself."