On this visit to The Film
Lounge, an astronaut confronts an awful truth
inside a worm hole. A documentary uncovers
vibrant art in small towns. A performance artist
paints a surreal picture on film. A Pulitzer-nominated
critic explains how to watch movies. A filmmaker observes art
in action at a ballet studio. And a musician uses film
to capture the joy of performance. So settle in for the joy
of cinema here at The Film Lounge. Funding for The Film
Lounge has been provided by Produce Iowa,
state office of media production, building a
statewide network of support for the film
community in Iowa. More information on
how you can connect is available at
produceiowa.com. And The Iowa Arts Council,
powering Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant
communities by cultivating creativity, learning and
participation in the arts. Learn more at
iowaculture.gov. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Tarrell Christie: So, I bought
my first camera in 2007 for my birthday and I just
started making really bad movies in my
grandma’s back yard. And then from there I just
kept training and training and especially in high
school once I could actually take video
classes that gave me structure to actually have
to put out something every few weeks that really
helped me learn a lot and really grow as
a filmmaker. And ever since then I’ve
just been slowly growing in Cedar Falls, just
trying to reach out with new actors and other
people that also really love filmmaking and just
keep going from there. Tarrell Christie: So The
Spaceman was inspired by movies like 2001 or
Interstellar and that’s just because these movies
kind of ask the question of what exactly
exists out there. And so I kind of also
wanted to give my opinion, I guess my own creativity,
creative approach to what exactly is out there. And so that’s something I
really wanted to explore in The Spaceman. This was the most visual
effects heavy project I’ve ever done so a lot of
preproduction was done to make sure a lot of the
things I wanted to do could actually be pulled
off and especially making a spaceship because that’s
kind of essential if you’re trying to send
someone to space. And so we spent a lot of
time building sets, trying out green screen
work and what not. Most things didn’t work
and so I had to adjust a lot. But we still managed to
figure out everything and we pretty much shot
most of the movie in my basement and hopefully it
doesn’t look like it was all shot in my basement. But that’s the
reality of it. Tarrell Christie: The
thing about film that really captivates me and
makes me want to make it is just the fact that you
can take people on this journey through something
that’s completely built in your mind, like a world
that you yourself have completely built. I think the opportunity to
express myself like that and let others form their
opinions good or bad I think is something
incredible that anybody I feel like should want to
have, just being able to tell your story. And especially watching
it with an audience, just kind of feeling in the
room or hearing how people react, it’s incredible
just that something that I just thought up on day,
wrote down, actually went out and made can actually
have some sort of impression on someone is
just incredible and that’s something hat for me I
can only do with film. (birds chirping) ♪♪ Engines are up and
burning. Five. ♪♪ Four. ♪♪ Three. ♪♪ Two. ♪♪ One. ♪♪ Liftoff. We have liftoff. ♪♪ This is
ground control. Worm hole is
approaching soon. ♪♪ Are you starting
to miss Earth yet? I don’t know. Hmm. No family or anything? ♪♪ No it’s — (explosion) Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! Korey, do you copy? Are you okay? Doing great. You’re going to
figure this out. (spaceship shaking) ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ (eject warning
sounding) ♪♪ (heavy breathing) (heavy breathing) ♪♪ (applause and
cheering) Your first expedition into the
worm hole was a major success. A job well done
wouldn’t you say? Of course, of course. Tragic for the
boy, obviously. Well, we needed to send
a monkey before we could send a man! (laughter) (applause
and cheering) ♪♪ (lights click on) (heaving breathing) I hope you know that I’m proud
of what you’re doing. But if I can get you to
stay I just want you to know that you could do so
much more for your people here. You could go into
business, politics or whatever. You’re too smart to be
thrown into a worm hole as a lab rat for them. Why does everyone always
tell me what somebody like me should be doing? I’m choosing to go. I want to leave. What if they’re just
going to laugh at you? You can’t hear sound in
space, Lucille, so that shouldn’t matter. (birds chirping) ♪♪ ♪♪ Lucille! Can’t you see me? It’s not real! ♪♪ I can’t
breathe, help me! ♪♪ (birds chirping) ♪♪ ♪♪ Stay here, Korey! Don’t go! Don’t leave! ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Jack Sarcone: The
Art of Living is a short documentary that follows
three small town Iowa artists. And they use art as a
platform in their small towns to make their small
town community better. This documentary is aimed
towards the social media generation. There is a stigma that
kids need to get out of their small towns and go
to the bigger cities to be successful. Jack Sarcone: We started
with Cody Weber, a photographer out
of Keokuk, Iowa. He is the photography
project called Forgotten Iowa where he was taking
pictures of abandoned buildings in all
947 cities in Iowa. We found Rose Frantzen who
is an amazing oil painter and she has an amazing
project called Portrait of Maquoketa where she
painted portraits of everyone in Maquoketa. In that experience of
painting those people she was able to learn
everyone’s stories and really connect with the
people of her small town. Gene is a metal
worker in Dubuque. He makes sculptures. And his goal is to use
sculpture as a way to build community as well. Jack Sarcone: What
appealed to us about each artist was that they were
doing something different and they were doing it in
their small town and they were able to make an
impact on their small town with their medium. People don’t really
realize the importance of art and what it does to
a community, how it can bring people together,
how it can strengthen everything about
a small town even. The role of an artist in
a community is vital I think. It’s their job to tell the
story of their community and to use it as a way to
communicate to the rest of the world of their
community and their small town. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Rose Frantzen: It is a great life. It is a great life
to be a maker. It is a great life
to be an artist. ♪♪ Frantzen: What
is it to live truly? How do I serve? That made me
move to New York. And then I moved back
in order to paint my community. ♪♪ Cody Weber:
I feel like they are representative of the
community itself because they might be worn down
a little bit but they persevere. And why shouldn’t we be
proud of those things? ♪♪ (door creaking) Weber: I just find these buildings fascinating
and I’m so interested in history and walking into
history is just something that I feel like people in
these small towns take for granted and no one really,
really looks into things. People look at things
but it’s really hard for people to look into things
and maybe that’s what a lot of it represents. ♪♪ Gene Tully: Art is, in
my estimation, the visible soul of a community. It could be judged, liked
by some, not liked by others, but art and
culture is the vibration that people are
looking for. ♪♪ Gene: What’s
really special about my hometown of Dubuque is
probably the hills, the ridges, the valleys, the
river, the environment is really, really
appealing to me. I think it’s one of the
most beautiful cities in Iowa. ♪♪ ♪♪ Gene: My medium is metal. It’s got the power and the
message that I want to get across. ♪♪ Gene: After
working in a medium for so long you start to
interpret the world through your medium. Ah, I’d like to
videotape that. I’d like to paint that. I’d like to sculpt this. Interpreting the world
through metal I’m aware, I see the beauty. I want to be able to
capture somehow that beauty and I’m inspired
to do so through my metal work. ♪♪ Gene: I don’t have
an industrial background but I guess I really must
love it because I spend a lot of time down here by
myself and really I think a lot of artists
experience that. It sometimes gets very
lonely but when you get in the pocket and you’re
driving forth with the inspiration time
eviscerates. (window banging) Weber: I
lived in New Orleans, I lived in Michigan,
I lived in Chicago. All of it was a wash. I could have not done any
of that and it wouldn’t have made a difference in
my mind because to me the only stuff that matters is
the stuff that you share with other people. ♪♪ ♪♪ Weber: I
actually started Forgotten Iowa in Kalamazoo,
Michigan. So I went up there and I
didn’t know anybody and at the time I was really
focused on my photography. And I thought that my
blind spot was like structural stuff,
architectural photos, stuff like that. I was primarily a
portrait photographer. And I thought well, if I
have this big blind spot I should explore it. Then I moved back to Iowa. I decided to go to this
town called Croton, Iowa, which is only about 45
minutes away but I had never heard of
it in my life. And when I was there I was
taking photos of the town and the buildings, trying
to work on that blind spot, and I had this
thought that if I didn’t have this specific purpose
to come here I never would have done it. I would have never
come to this town. I got this thought that
I wonder how many other towns are in Lee County. So I did all the
ones in Lee County. And then I’m like okay
well that was fun. Why don’t I go
up a county? And then I started
Forgotten Iowa. ♪♪ Frantzen: I like
to make work in series and I’ve done a lot of
different series. Portrait of Maquoketa is
probably the most known. It was shown at the
Smithsonian and at the Figge, parts of it were
shown in Chicago and Cedar Rapids and we showed
it in Maquoketa. ♪♪ Frantzen: That was
one form of exploring a community and the artist. Frantzen: How do I take
all the stuff that I’ve been learning about being
an artist in the world who is hoping to be a human
being in the world, how do I take that and bring
it to my community? How do you give them that
quality, that experience, when you’re sitting across
from your model and you both know you’ve met
another person, right, and in a way you’ve performed
this service of witnessing another person’s life. That’s when I realized I
could actually paint my neighbors. That was how I got my
big, huge idea to paint Maquoketans. ♪♪ Frantzen: It was
like putting this idea of who and what can an artist
give to their community, putting that up on the
easel and letting the artist understand and
explore it, the artist in me understand
and explore it. Frantzen: I often say
Maquoketa is a really great place to work,
especially if you’re a maker, a creator. It’s off the grid enough
for you to discover yourself but close enough
to the big cities for you to go in and get a little
taste of what you might need for a spark here or a
spark there and then come home and have a lot
of space in a really beautiful place
to make something. ♪♪ Frantzen: Because
you have access to this wider world through your
computer, through your phone, through the thing,
you can actually make a small town amazing. But we lose too many of
our young people to the cities. Maybe everybody should go
for a little bit but don’t forget to come back and
see if you can actually make your real dreams
for yourself come true. Younger people’s energy in
a small town is absolutely invaluable, absolutely
invaluable. But what I fear for them,
the young people, the social media generation,
is not having that space, that physical space
like I have, right. Sometimes you need to
learn who you are in a quiet way. And I feel like without
that, that social media, that world, that computer
world, that phone world, will actually suck the
life out of a lot of us. So how do you find
that balance, right? It’s the new
generation question. ♪♪ ♪♪ Gene: We humans
have an essential need to create whether it’s to
create a family or a home or a shelter. Being able to make
something is accessible to anybody and I think it’s
something that really we as humans need to explore
more deeply is what can we create other than just our
own wealth and big, fat carbon footprint? ♪♪ Gene: We all have
it, regardless if it’s good, bad, New York
or Dubuque, Iowa. Everybody — practice
their skills and express with the world. ♪♪ Gene: When I see
the younger generations with this longing to get
out and to experience the bigger world I say go, do,
get out there, get a job and bring your influences
back here, bring your talents back here, invest
in your hometown because there’s always
that yearning. ♪♪ Weber: A lot of
people that are here that are my age feel like they
failed because they didn’t get out. I’m not in Keokuk because
I failed elsewhere. Even though in some
ways I probably did fail elsewhere it
doesn’t matter. I’m here because this is
where I feel like I’m supposed to be. Why does it
matter where I am? And why does it mean that
I failed or anybody else failed because
they’re here? It doesn’t. ♪♪ Frantzen: You’re
supposed to move to the city to make your work,
right, you’re supposed to do stuff in big important
places before you’re considered a real artist? That has been a cultural
thing for a long, long time, right? You’ve got to leave the
rubes and go to the city and this moving back from
that is like you have to dispel the myth
that it’s a failure. ♪♪ Frantzen: I knew
that being with the community was actually
a real piece of art actually. ♪♪ Frantzen: You
never forget that kind of being touched by a
community experience like Portrait of Maquoketa. It was interesting because
that really required my humanity too. And that was actually
quite beautiful. Not that all of these
other ones don’t, but it was so obvious when you’re
working with another person and being in front
of another person that you need to be a
feeling human being. (footsteps) Gene: Each of
us has this opportunity to share and to build. Equally we have the
opportunity to tear down and to denigrate. I think it’s incumbent
upon each of us to get out there and live in a
community to make it as rich and as vibrant and as
interconnected as we can. This is it, this is our
turf, this is our land, this is our life. It’s going on and
it’s going by. People say I spend time on
art, I say I spend my life on art. I spend my life
building community. It’s something
I’ve always done. I build community. Being a consumer isn’t
going to solve the problems that we have in
the world, neither is building a piece
of art mind you. But when people come
around and talk about that art they’re not talking
about hurting each other, they’re talking about what
is in common with them in the universal
language of art. You don’t have to build
some marvelous whatever or paint something that’s
going to be a masterpiece. A community member who
wants to make a more beautiful community can
help somebody out, can say hello to somebody, they
can be kind to somebody. This is what we do, it’s
an art of living, it’s an artful life, it’s
a presentation. It’s how you
keep your yard. It’s so many aspects of
everyday life that’s accessible to every
member of a community. And come and share and do
and let’s make this place great and beautiful
together. ♪♪ Frantzen: I hope
her story inspires a few of the best and brightest
among you to see what you might do in your
own hometowns. New York, Chicago and LA
don’t really need you that much but you’d be quite
welcome in a place like Maquoketa. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Jeffery Byrd: I’m a performance
artist and that means that most of the time I think
about art in terms of live events that
people can watch. And as with a lot of
visual arts you think about the live action in
some sort of meaningful or symbolic way. Proving Ground was created
in the salt flats in Utah. And this is obviously a
place that not a lot of people would
have access to. And the reason that I
decided it worked best as a video and especially as
a video projection was that you could transport
people to that location in a way that they wouldn’t
have experience firsthand. The scale of the
projection can be very large. The sound can
be amplified. And especially when you
put the video on a loop so that it plays again and
again and again the audience can experience
the image in a sort of meditative way. It really transforms
what happens. Jeffery Byrd: As an
artist I’ve been really fascinated with the
way we use clothing to communicate parts of our
identity and especially the way that clothing
signifies certain kinds of power relationships. And Proving Ground also
deals with that to a certain degree because the
character or the persona that I’m taking on is
wearing a football uniform. And for many people that
also signifies a certain kind of power. But in the image that you
see it is presented in a kind of surreal way, a
sort of dreamlike way. Jeffery Byrd: When I think
about the meaning of the work I like that it is
open-ended and obviously symbolic but not
symbolically obvious so that when a viewer looks
at this it’s almost like looking at a dream or
thinking about a dream that you’ve had. And I may have a very
specific meaning but I like that it’s very
open-ended and that you can pick it apart however
you like as well. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ The critic is a mediator between the filmmaker and
the audience to help put the film in proper context
and to add historical context and some
interpretive context. ♪♪ One misconception
is that we tell you what to see and I don’t think
any of us really think of our job that way. I think our job is to
sort of be helpful in the process of audiences
discovering films that they may not otherwise
know about and also helpful in preparing
people to have an aesthetic experience. We have a four star system
at the Washington Post and for me any star or
permutation of a star is positive. It means that there’s
something of value in that film. So if I give your movie
two stars you’re doing good. That’s not a bad review. I know everyone
wants four. Not everything can be a
four or even a three. But a two star movie
really denotes for me, in my opinion, a film that is
pretty good and it may not be setting the world on
fire but it did what it set out to do. (typewriter sounds) My
dear friend gave me some really great advice before
I wrote my first reviews. And he said, just every
review should really answer three questions. What was the artist
trying to achieve? Did they achieve it? And was it worth doing? And honestly I think
that’s really what I’ve been trying to do for the
last 25 years of writing film criticism is to kind
of meet the movie halfway and to judge the movie on
its own merits rather than any kind of preconceptions
or biases that I am bringing to it. (typewriter sounds) This
is a sort of singular category of filmmaking and
it’s not necessarily, even though there are narrative
shorts, they may not have that kind of traditional
three act arch that we’re used to or take their time
that we’re used to with a feature film. So I guess those three
questions, what is the artist trying to achieve
and did they achieve it are even more germane
in that instance. The shortest films have
the longest impact often and let yourself
experience that too. Don’t watch them while
you’re standing in the kitchen eating something
out of the fridge. Really give it some time
to sink in and kind of get under your skin the
way you would a poem. (typewriter sounds) Growing up here has made me a little more attuned
to how the Midwest and central areas of the
country are portrayed. Maybe I might be a little
bit more sensitive to patronizing or simplistic
portrayals of the Midwest. It’s so gratifying when
people can really get it right, get the region
right and get the rhythms right and the weather
right and all of that. ♪♪ I think it was
Paul Schrader recently said, it has never been
easier to make a movie in terms of the means
of production. It’s in the hands of
everybody now, this technology, and I think
with generations growing up just saturated in
visual culture they’re probably pretty savvy
about visual storytelling in a way that maybe I
would not have been. People still like to go to
movies and I think there’s kind of a misunderstanding
that young people don’t go but they do. That’s the best way to
get out of a house still. It’s still relatively
affordable and safe. That just seems
to be a constant. I don’t think that impulse
is going to be going away. So I really do think
it’s about understanding audiences and that
gets into issues of representation. I think that’s one of the
strands of what we’re talking about when we
say we need to see more filmmakers of color,
we need to see female filmmakers because there
are lots of audiences out there that feel
underserved or have felt underserved for decades. If filmmakers and
film distributors and professionals who are
smarter about their audiences and serving
those audiences, they are still viable. ♪♪ Jack Meggers: I
applied for the Artist in Residence program at
Ballet Des Moines and was accepted and so included
in this residency was six weeks of all access
granted as an artist to the dancers in their
rehearsal space to make basically whatever kind
of art that I wanted to. Me being a filmmaker I
embedded myself with the company and just shot
footage of them going through the paces of their
rehearsal process from inception to the
completion of the finished works. The second movement is the
one that we’ll see in the program and that is
making ready for the day. They go through a class,
they do their stretching, they do their movements
and by the end of the class they’re dancing
and they’re doing quite complicated
choreographed movements. For the most part I was
able to just kind of move my way around the room
as a fly on the wall and shoot everything
that they were doing. These dancers were moving
constantly so it was really a task for me to
be able to learn how they moved, where they were
going to go because they could be here one moment
and then gone the next and I really had to be able to
anticipate what they were going to do. But that also included
some really more honest moments of them eating
their lunches and tending to their injuries and
things that you don’t necessarily think of when
you think of a ballet dancer because they like
to, their art form is so presentational, but they
were really open with me and allowed me
into their world. Jack Meggers: The best
thing that I learned from this process is that
during the rehearsal process and during the
warmups they’re creating art and that for me
was why I chose these subjects, the making ready
of the art, because it’s like a rough draft or a
sketch of the eventual thing that you present to
the public but there’s all kinds of art happening
in these rehearsal halls beforehand. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ River Glen
Breitbach: As Above, So Below is a video I created
particularly for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Competition. So I wanted to capture,
like many artists, some high quality footage of
a live performance so I could share that
with the world. The recital hall at Voxman
Music Building at the University of Iowa has a
very lush red wall, it’s just a beautiful space to
be in and so that came to mind for setting and James
Edel captured the sound. He works with the
university, did a just fantastic job and Joshua
De Lenoit, another participant in Film Lounge
this session, did the videography for it. And so we set up a live
performance in which Joshua was able to move in
between the performers and really capture the joy
that is performing with my band. Collaboration between
filmmakers and musicians provides an opportunity
for the face of a musician to be accessible to their
fans in a way that when you perform live there
is an obvious distance factor. You can only get so
close to the stage. You have everyone around
you and by putting it to video it is now intimately
accessible how the musician looks, the other
part of the experience, not just the sonic part,
but visually the story they’re telling and how
that deepens the impact of the art that is being
consumed to me as I was writing it. And I think of songwriting
is a lot like fishing. We might not really be
sure what we have on the end of our line as we
start a song and you kind of discover that as you’re
fleshing it out, as you’re finishing out the song. And it became apparent to
me that I was writing a song that is loosely
inspired by the concept of the hero’s journey. It’s a song of redemption. And I can remember having
a lot of emotion as I began writing it and once
I discovered that’s the kind of song I was writing
I was able to step back and have a less personal
approach with the song in an attempt to finish the
arch to have created this, again, an example of the
hero’s journey, of the cycle of redemption
and return. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪I set up
a mountain, the highest♪♪ ♪♪pious mountain in my mind.♪♪ ♪♪I set off up the mountain,
my inner demons doubting♪♪ ♪♪I’d finish the climb.♪♪ ♪♪My devils took council,
cursing me by the♪♪ ♪♪mouthful, knowing
what I’d find.♪♪ ♪♪They cried and they
shouted in rhythm by the♪♪ ♪♪thousand, a symphony
of hounds howling.♪♪ ♪♪That I only got up putting
weight on other people’s♪♪ ♪♪shoulders.♪♪ ♪♪That I only got ahead
stepping on other people’s♪♪ ♪♪toes.♪♪ ♪♪And that they cannot wait
to kick me when I come♪♪ ♪♪back around.♪♪ ♪♪So I just flew off and
I gave my body to the♪♪ ♪♪ground.♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪I carved out a
canyon, the most lowliest♪♪ ♪♪of loneliness in my mind.♪♪ ♪♪I went down in the canyon,
every one of my companions♪♪ ♪♪left behind.♪♪ ♪♪Saying my reckless
abandon was just too damn♪♪ ♪♪demanding to be benign.♪♪ ♪♪So the silence surrounded,
its wisdom confounded, for♪♪ ♪♪it was my voice
making white noise.♪♪ ♪♪Every time I spoke up
when someone was already♪♪ ♪♪talking.♪♪ ♪♪All the times I took
credit for something that♪♪ ♪♪someone else said.♪♪ ♪♪Suddenly I felt, felt so
naked in front of a crowd.♪♪ ♪♪So I stood up, I put up,
and I shut my mouth.♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪This helped me
remember my time spent in♪♪ ♪♪the dessert.♪♪ ♪♪A trip I’d begun under the
sobering sun and it dried♪♪ ♪♪me out down to my bones.♪♪ ♪♪When I was out in the
ocean, that same thirst♪♪ ♪♪left me broken.♪♪ ♪♪My ship rocked by
all that motion.♪♪ ♪♪My intent so insignificant
against the whole of the♪♪ ♪♪greater notion.♪♪ ♪♪As above, so below.♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Funding for The Film Lounge has
been provided by Produce Iowa, state office of
media production, building a statewide network of
support for the film community in Iowa. More information on
how you can connect is available at
produceiowa.com. And The Iowa Arts Council,
powering Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant
communities by cultivating creativity, learning and
participation in the arts. Learn more at
iowaculture.gov.