James Kreul, Filmmaker - American Bandito - Season 3 Episode 3
Hi, I just wanted to mention something before, the show if you've been to the website you may see that I post my blog as a comic well if you've ever wondered where it all began how it all started, or just wanted to check it out from the beginning or the fact that it's, not necessarily, the easiest way, to look. At it if you want to see more of them so I set up an email subscription. Where you can just sign up and it will send, you a comic each day from the very beginning go to American, Bandito comm, slash, book I couldn't think of a better name to. Put books seemed easy to one word each day I will just send you a page, from the daily blog when you go to that page you'll see the very first one that I did when. The whole thing started when we found out that my wife had breast cancer and the whole story kind of leads up to what became this podcast, what became what I'm doing today it's free if it's not for you you can just unsubscribe I mean there's no obligation no. Salesman, will visit your door sorry that seemed natural to go into that so if you want to check it out go to American, bandy TOCOM, slash book. Now, here's the show I'm. Tom Rea and this is American band Dido. Alright, so last summer my wife and I and a few friends went. To an underground, film screening, that we had heard about it was happening in the new Coney Island studios over on at what Avenue the. Films playing were a collection. Of independently. Made films the the kind that you need an old projector, for like the kind they used in classrooms back in the 1900s, and it, sputtered, in the background while we watched these short, films hi, I'm James Krell I'm, freelance. Film, critic and freelance. Film, programmer, here in town my website. Is the Madison Film Forum at. Matt films org now, he was the one that found these films and brought them to Madison, to show to people the, whole thing was really cool my wife knew him from back when she used to manage the Orpheum, and Sundance and when, I was contacting, people this season for the show I knew, he was a person I wanted to talk with. He. Was on the north side of town and it was finally, a nice day in the spring so we decided to go sit outside at Warner Park and, I, wanted to talk to him about his deep connection, with film in Madison where were you from here or yeah born and raised raised on the near west side through the West Moreland neighborhood, went, to West. High School and then, did my undergrad here, at the UW in the comm arts Department guess, it took maybe a year off year and a half off went to grad school also. In film sort, of a film a critical. Study side of film. Studies so I had, been has an undergrad very active in film. Production and was active with a group that did open, shows where we'd have you. Know anyone who had a recent, video like, bring it in will show it most of it was fellow. Students. In the production classes but you know it was really open to anyone as I, transit, transition, to the studies I did a little bit of production, while.
I Was in grad. School and, actually. Taught some of the approach classes, but my. Studies. Move towards, the, critical studies history side, of side of film studies why they move that way that's sort of the focus of the department, at, the graduate level so. If. You if I were to make, sure that was a debate I had with myself whether I would pursue. Production. Advanced, degree like an MFA, yeah and really that would mean going somewhere else or. Whether, I wanted to sort. Of focus on the history of experimental. Filmmaking that's sort of where it ended up going in terms of the research and the dissertation you know there were great, professors here a lot of great resources here so, you. Know I eventually, just sort of wandered in that direction, well what led up to you even going to school for, it altogether like were you making movies you were just interested actually that goes back to high school at, West there were two really cool elective, classes one, was a film, study class that, was taught by Bill Keyes a very popular, teacher. Madison, West in that period, so that. Got me thinking about you. Know how films, were made at, the time I going. Into it I didn't think I was a very good writer and I. Liked the expressiveness. Of certain, films that maybe there'd be a way to if. I could learn more about that instead, of you. Know being hindered. By the writing stuff I could you know be expressed, myself visually, but. What was great about that class was, it really, improved my writing, mr.. Keyes was a great writing, teacher that's. Where I've met my friend Jay Anton II he and I are sort of lifelong friends and we were both very interested, in film and that sort of bonded, us we, made some you know films, and videos together in high school, both taking and having, taken that film, study class but also there was a mass. Media class where he actually produced films. And I mean excuse me video, you're, saying like actual production of it not just like I have a video, recorder yeah yeah there were there. Wasn't much in terms of equipment but at that point you know camcorders. Are getting cheaper or portable, cameras and for one project we did yeah I sort of lugged this. You. Know the deck along. With the camera to all the locations and actually. We we still had to sort edit it in camera if you know what I mean like yeah you know the the, next shot would have to be set up we'd record and then we'd have to you know if the, locations, changed, then don't, don't, move the tape just uh just keep, it to keep it to keep it in the machine because we got a gonna have to repress, record into it in a few hours when we're on the next occasion. I. Made. On my own a short, sort. Of experimental, piece that. Ended up winning a prize at the student film, and video festival on campus what was it it was called survival, supplies I was working at a sort of mom-and-pop drugstore. That had this garbage. Can that actually, was a repurposed, old like, a survival, supplies, civil. Defense can okay, and, it had this you know these instructions, on how to use what. Was originally, in the can in the event of a you know catastrophe, and so, that, was the text that I read in various voices as, different images were appearing, there so that. Experience. Led me to meet, a lot of other people who were older, than myself who, were. Active. In film and video sort, of like sort of juniors, and seniors that, were in this group called, independent. Film and video collaborative. I got, involved with you, know helping out on productions, for, classes. That I wasn't eligible, to be and yet you know so, but they needed like here, could you hold the boom or. You know yeah, as an undergrad then I got more involved in that group. Would. Always try, to make something new for these open film and video shows that we have every semester so even. If I didn't think it was great I was like oh there's. The target date that's when we're gonna show something so I would try to make something for or for that that. Show what. Would you say your style was to key, moments. Were at. A meeting of this experimental. Accepting. The independent, film and video collaborative, I saw two films that really sort of blew my mind one. Is the, end by, Christopher. MacLaine I kind, of like the really playful funny. Experimental. Stuff and so, the. End while, it the worldview is very dark it's about the last day in the lives of five different people as they you know as basically, the earth is about to go kaput yeah. Yeah very but there's. This deadpan, humor to, it and a visually. Extremely, playful and. Well and then on the river side sometimes there's long, passages. Of just a black screen while, he's talking in this sort of monotone voice, and then, the, filmmaker George Kuchar, who, started. Making films in the 60s.
With His twin brother mic he, ended up being a huge influence on John Waters and also, on Warhol and some other folks again. Very playful, very, quirky, funny films. Humor. Would be one part, of what almost all my films had some element of humor you, know just, like I liked, editing a lot so there was another, film. That was sort. Of advanced. Actually was a directed, study project. Was a found footage film I made it, was called autobiography. T one. Afternoon. I got a call from, a friend saying hey did you see. That pile of film that was over at. Such-and-such corner, someone, who used to run a local, production. Company like a commercial company was, just throwing, out all really left a reel of sixteen millimeter films you, know and who, knows what was on them so yeah I just sort of drove. Over there and put as many boxes in the back of my car and yeah. And, from that I just sort of slowly went through and some was negative footage some of it was positive, footage, and who knows it was like a lot of car dealership, ads from like John Lancaster, from the 70s, you never know you can get Winnebago, Man yeah yeah yeah exactly yeah, and it was all like just a very little bit add, sound. It was all just sort of the image tracks okay, so I. Pieced. That together, in, a way that again, sort of had a goofy. Voice-over, accompaniment. That also won a prize at the student, film and video festival that the Wisconsin Union directed put on every year when was this this was let's see that. First, one. Would. Have been autobiography. T would be 91. Or 92 and, then that, survived. Supplies would have been like 89. Yeah so that, was sort of my undergrad, window there. You're. Like involved in tons, of stuff so I'm also curious like how, are you part of all this all the experience. With the production group has mana grant and Wisconsin. Union Directorate sort of gave me some of the fundamentals. Of how to makes. Things happen I mean you know in both. Cases the resources, were already there in terms of existing. Programs and and having. A venue and the. Projection, equipment and all that kind of stuff yeah, just showing up at Wisconsin. Unity Directorate meetings and learning, how to, deal with the distributors, and and. What's, involved in renting films and things like that you know I got together with some like-minded, grads, who were sort of disappointed, in the. Lack of certain types of films that were coming into town, so, we created another group called Madison Film Forum which. Brought, in, mostly. Experimental but, also some documentaries, and then things like a big. Transitional. Film for us was. Amir. Costa Rica's underground, which had won the Palme d'Or and. Yeah, there was just a string of films that like, really. Should have played Madison, but just were not playing and we're not coming so, we sort of shifted our gears to like, what are these films that really, should. Have some. Kind of Madison screening but just, aren't, getting there, you. Know certainly some art films would come to the Majestic but, certain. Films unless it was sort of a built-in audience like. Just. Weren't coming in fact, one key transition. In terms of how films were covered in town was, back, in the day if you go back and look at an old isthmus from you know before this period yeah anything any, film, on campus, wouldn't, be in the main movie listings it, would be in a separate section on campus, and then, a subdivision film, okay you know at. The time a lot of restrictions, on, campus. Rentals, in terms of where you could or could not advertise, what, they called the non. Theatrical, market. So. Wisconsin, union director would bring in films that had already played the theatrical market you know the local theaters they'd, be able to get access to the print but, I sort of on the condition that they would just advertise, them locally, on campus, there's also another market specifically, geared to like. Campuses. And such which is basically. The. Idea is you're not seven-day-a-week, theater you'd be like a weekend, rather than a full daily. Program and. You. Actually deal with a different distributor. There's sort of a company, there's a couple companies one's called Swank and what, is called I think it was criterion, different from the criterion label not. The DVD company, but, they. Would get the right their rights to, rent. The films to campuses. When we're doing the, Madison. Film Forum we, helped transition. Out of that, sort of campus. Ghetto. Coverage, for the four films because we started bringing the strategy, was what. Could we bring in that if, say, isthmus wants to say we, are resource for what's going on in film in town they can't not cover, us. So.
That Was actually one of the motivations for bringing in underground, because. You know if that plays in town like someone's gotta cover it so I started learning about different distributors as well like the experimental, side. Of things there are two main distributors. Called, the, filmmakers co-op in New York and then Canyon Cinema in San. Francisco, yeah a lot of the 16-millimeter. Prints, that. Are circulating now, with. Historical. Avant-garde. Films a lot of those are still. To this day available through those those two resources. Another. Current, sort. Of gap in what's. Going on in Madison, now is there's, not a lot of experimental. Programming, going, on there. Was a subcommittee, Atwood. Wisconsin. Union directed called starlight. Cinema and, around the time I was an undergrad that sort of you. Used to be sort of internet or international, art film and that transit trends muted, into into, sort of more underground, and experimental, stuff so that's how I also, got exposed, to a lot more stuff not just historical, stuff like filmmakers. Like Richard Kern actually, came to town yeah, yeah. Kind of interesting guy to meet. As. An interesting sensibility but. Currently. There's. Not a regular. Experimental. Screening. Going on right now when I started, at least I had access. Or exposure. To some stuff which led me to ask, more questions and, then oh how do I find out about this and and how do I get them we're at the starting point right now is a little more difficult. Even though I think everyone thinks oh because of the internet oh we have access to everything but. There's. Some stuff that yeah, because they're. Only available on 16 millimeter you, can make you can find bootlegs and stuff like that but it's it's hard. To know how to how, to start especially, a more historical, avant-garde, series, let alone even knowing how to run a projector, and get hold of one yeah, that's well that's the other thing cuz you're gonna break that film if you don't know yeah yeah that's, another, issue is just access, to equipment if, you, don't have access to a 16, millimeter. Projector then. You. Know what do you do I can't. Even go to like a local school anymore cuz I don't have them sold those off ages, ago around the sides around the time I found that big pile of film you, know that guy who ever was was, maybe still in business but, he was probably moving on to video for, making, commercials on video so Madison. Film Forum started. Bringing in some of the stuff that should have been brought in then, around that time a. New, project emerged Leah Jacobs, a professor. In the comics Department secured funding for, a new series and, that was called the Cinematheque yeah, so, that said she envisioned it as envisioned. It as sort of a coalition, of, departments. Who, wanted to do you, know different types of film programming, so a lot of it would be initiated, by the comm arts department, but also like. The German Department always had these sort of touring German, films that they. Had, an opportunity to get but you, know where would they show them it was just sort of the idea was sort of unify, all those sort of disparate projects, under one umbrella and, like, streamline, the publicity and then, everyone knows on, Friday, and Saturday there's something cool. At. The Cinematheque yeah because, it was it's, this new entity though there was a new position a project assistantship, was assigned, to, help, run. Things so I was the first project assistant for the Cinematheque as it yeah. So that's how that started just happen to be there at the right time right it was a combination of she knew what, I was working on with the Madison, Film Forum and seeing like I was doing a lot of the stuff that like, it acquired, a lot of the skills that would be needed for this job right. Around that time then, the Wisconsin, Film Office was. Thinking. About this crazy idea of doing a what. They wanted to call the great Wisconsin, Film Festival, right. And then they had their idea which was gonna be downtown like. At the Orpheum and majestic, and so forth another, organization, on campus called the Arts Institute emerged. UW. Art Institute that, was the time of the early stages of the overture foundation, yes, right so, lots. Of money a big, idea central. You know whatever, it was going to be it was going to be big and it was gonna be you know sort of take over that block where.
The Overture Center is now the, first head of the Arts Institute was Tino Balio who. Was. At, the time the chair of the carts department he got. Involved in talking with the the film. Office folks trying to get a role for, the, campus to be a part of this, larger, great. Wisconsin, Film Festival so. The plan as, a certain. Point was the. The. Downtown screenings. Would be handled by the Wisconsin. Film Office and then, there'd, be a campus component, which would be run by all, the people who do the Cinematheque and then that, was me I mean, with, everyone else but you know I would, be involved in that and then, Wisconsin, Union Directorate there was a very active student. At Wisconsin. Union directed named Wendy wagger who. Was. At the time head of starlight. Cinema Wendy, had just been at Sundance. And Slamdance like you know the Slamdance. Film Festival. Sort of embedded in the middle of the. Sundance Film Festival so, we were gonna do the funky stuff and really, just basically do what we were doing already just more of it for one week, then, Tino gets a. Memo. From. The, film office saying oh well we have to cancel so. Here's, a draft of our. Cancellation. Announcement. And actually I still have this to this day a photocopy. Of like his, notes. On how, he wants, to like handle. Like this not he doesn't want to handle it the way they, did which was they wanted to say just outright it's cancelled in. Big letters it just said it's cancelled, I think, well you, know I'd have to take a look at it exactly. But it basically was, oh. The. Campus, folks won't mind they. Could still do their stuff but we're not gonna call this the Wisconsin film you know we'll save this for when. We have all the, pieces together and can sort of pull it off right but, then. Because, of that then the first festival, was just. What we had planned what was supposed to be just a campus component, ended up being the first festival. The. Last thing I did myself making something was, at, the KU colores Film Festival in North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina where, I lived one. Year they did the 10 by 10 screening, which was 10. Filmmakers. Teamed, up with 10 local bands, and then. You make 10 music videos and you. Had. A week and you, didn't know until like the, week before it. Was due everyone, put their names in a hat and then you, know you just pulled. Out you know here's a filmmaker. One here's band one go I was sort of a late, participant. In it and ended up the band that I got picked with had no time so I just made this sort of goofy but fun I just use their music yeah yeah they, just gave me their music that wasn't the original idea of the you know the. The original idea for the for the event was you know definitely work with the filmmaker turned. Out yet they just didn't have any time so they're, like don't worry about it just go ahead and do your thing were they too popular or they were just too lazy no I wouldn't say too lazy you know just well you know like any working musician, they you know they they have their day jobs and all this kind of stuff yeah, and in life, you know and I think that would be a good way you know crossover. Networking. And, too much of Madison's art scene is very isolated. And yeah you know not enough communication between maybe. All the film folks know all the film stuff going on but they don't know what band, is playing wherever, and same, with you talk to people who are very into, say, the theater scene here they, don't know what this thing is showing here be nice to have certain, types of events that encourage people, to sort of, cross. Over and just at the most basic level bands, are always looking for somebody to do a video for them and people, who make movies are always looking for music to put into their movies yeah, you know you think we'd all be talking to each other about all sorts of stuff. And. I told you the story off, you, know there what what the name of it. Either, way I was gonna tell you the whole story just. Cuz I know doesn't, mean anybody else though you know okay then I'll just move on oh it, will be called Mills folly micro, cinema I didn't. Want a filmy, name, you, know like. Sprockets, or something. Like that I wanted. A name, that had a story. Sort. Of built in because, inspired. By in New, York there was for. A long time the Robert Beck memorial, cinema and. Of course you hear that it's like well who's Robert Beck this.
Robert Beck they, found, in a, clipping, from teens. Or the 20s, a, gentleman. Who was a, World, War 1 veteran, who. Had, lost his sight but, he regained, his sight in. The. Middle of a movie screening so, the power of cinema restored, his sight now, who knows how true this I got two questions right there what. Was he doing there and then why, did he get his sight back anyway it's a good example of whatever the truth is print the legend like, it's a great story so they, named their, series the Robert Beck memorial, cinemas I mean it was true enough to make the paper I've seen the color knowing. That the series was going to be sort of in the Atwood area I was like trying, to look for like. Either a geographical. Reference, or you. Know something that would be tied to the neighborhood, but. Not like, so, tied to the neighborhood that if I, end up moving. Moving. The location somewhere else I wouldn't be in the next version of Broome Street Theatre, on Willy Street you. Know or something like that so I found in. Historic. Madison what, was first called Elm side the, mansion, over on summers, Avenue that, I know, it has a more current name it was built by Simeon. Mills back. In 1860. I want to say 62, somewhere. There at. That point that. Was so far east. That. All the townspeople called, it Mills folly because, no one would want to do the commute from, all the way out there to downtown, what's now downtown Madison, right so, Mills. Folios like that's I like. That hey. I like the ring of it Mills filing micro-sim would also you. Know he was on the fringe and we're. Gonna try to be on the fringe as well with our programming, so and also you, know just the word folly it's, it is sort of sheer folly to do this kind of work in a way like it's sort of like running against the windmill alike there's all these images, that are being thrown at us all the time to, sort of respond to it with more images. Seems like why would you bother doing this when there's we have access to all these images but it's actually it is worth it because there's. You. Know there's stuff out there that we should be seeing and hearing that, unless. Someone. Goes. Out and gets it and sort of collects, people together to watch it it's not gonna happen so I thought it would have been vaudevillian. Because that seems like Jim's follies or whatever it also has that association which I like which is showmanship. Kind of quality. To it so I liked all those associations, so how can people get involved in that it's very early stages I'd say I'm in the slow process, of like setting up a Twitter page, and most, of the information will be on my website which is, Madison. Film form which is matte film org. There's. Definitely, one day that's set which is the kickoff which, will be the. 26th. In July, at. The arts and literature lab on Winnebago, Street the, details haven't been figured out I don't know exactly what I'm showing and I'm not exactly sure how it's gonna go, but it'll be a combination screening. And just sort of gathering, for networking for, people who might want to do something like, participate, in the open, show in December. I. Wanted. To mention that he also hosted, the rooftop, cinema series at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, this summer but, that film series ended before this episode came out and we. Did get out a couple of times to some of the showings and it was pretty entertaining so I would imagine the Mills Fowley micro cinema series that he mentioned at the arts and literature laboratory. Will be just as good I recommend checking it out if you get a chance and. Also. Speaking of the arts and literature lab I recently met with them because I saw in their site that they were looking for someone to help with audio, production, and, after meeting with them they. Have a monthly, poetry, reading series that they do so I'm going to help turn each one of those readings into a podcast episode so, that's that's pretty cool I, know. Last time that I mentioned, that the person I was going to speak to this week did. Embroidery, and I kind of bumped one of the interviews up in its place so, that episode will be next time on the show, you. Can subscribe to the show at American, Bandido comm, slash subscribe, until, then so. Long.