Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recent Distractions: Heavy Metal Picnic

So, I've been slow on the updates lately, partially because I've been trying to get out of the house and get a little more active.

As part of this effort, last night I trucked on our to Silver Spring, MD to attend the premier of Jeff Krulik's "Heavy Metal Picnic" at the American Film Institute.

For those who don't know, Jeff Krulik is the co-creator of the cult masterpiece, "Heavy Metal Parking Lot". On top of being a pop culture touchstone, Krulik is a guy I've gotten to know fairly well in the past seven or eight years, and someone I consider a heck of a nice person. As such, it was kind of important to me to show up and support him.

Little did I know that much of the metro D.C. area had the same idea; it was a packed house, and easily the best attended (and most enthusiastically-attended) event I've ever seen Jeff participate in). More on that later....

Despite the fact that "Heavy Metal Picnic" follows much the same style as "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" (roaming cameraman captures extremely drunk early 80s redneck kids partying outdoors in an an unsupervised location), "Heavy Metal Picnic" wasn't actually shot by Krulik. In fact, it was shot by one of the partygoers, a big lug names Rudy Childs, who had the forethought to bring his novel-at-the-time camcorder to The Full Moon Jamboree, a massively oversold field party in ultra-posh Potomac, Maryland. In an odd moment of serendipity, Childs just happened to shoot a hell of a lot of the same kinds of kids doing the same kinds of things that Krulik would capture a year later in the parking lot of the Capital Centre before a summertime Judas Priest concert.

Krulik did, however, direct the film. And with the help of editor, Greg DeLiso, he packaged it into a far more complete (though occasionally bumpy) document.

In fact, "Heavy Metal Picnic" is a real extension of its cousin film. Krulik had little trouble tracking down the various partygoers, organizers and bands that played the Full Moon Jamboree, and gave generous amounts of time to many of them. And by incorporating the perspectives of the 40-and50-something versions of the wasted youth captured in the footage from 1985, it sends a message about the circle of friendship...about how important those seemingly fleeting moments of youth are -- especially the ones that you're so quick to dismiss as stuff you used to do when you were a dumb kid.

Part of what impresses me about Krulick's style, is that when interviewing the party-goers as adults he treats them all with a respect for their dignity and a sincere curiosity about their opinions and memories. At no point do you get the sense that he's mocking them - despite the fact that a certain kind of mean-spirited snobbery is exactly what draws so many viewers to Krulik's signature film.

That's not to say that Jeff coddles his subjects. He absolutely recognizes when a subject has drunkenly talked himself into a pile of mud, and he knows that this often means comedy gold.

As I mentioned before, the place was packed. Not only were most of the major subjects of the film in attendance, but so was a large swath of the D.C. independent filmmaker/documentarian community, a handful of musicians, some friends and fans of Krulik's, and damn near every single 1980s redneck who was in attendance at the Full Moon Jamboree -- all of whom provided a steady rotation of Bronx cheers and comments from the peanut gallery throughout the film.

(Among them was this one fucking aging hipster goofball tool that I run into at least once a year, usually with his loudmouthed wife. I have never been introduced to this nutsack, but I seem to run into him at shows, in bars, at Fort Reno, and even once at a Nationals game. Aside from just being kind of annoying and loud, I have no idea why he sets me off to the extent that he does, but I have to tell you, every single time I see this guy I want to kick him in the nuts, then go to church and pray that I don't morph into him at the age of 45).

But that doesn't matter. What matters is that Jeff Krulik has made another film that brings back memories of a forgotten time. As I look around Washington and see it changing faster than ever, I have no doubt in my mind that there may be nothing more important to the preservation of a scene (or a mini- or micro-scene, such as my own moments on 14th street in the mid-to-late-90's), than dedicated archivists......your photographers and zine writers and the like.

In an era of flip cams, digital cameras and blogs, it is now easier than ever to capture these moments in time....and that's seriously important. But it also should serve as a reminder than guys like Jeff Krulik (and Rudy Childs) were doing something equally or even arguably more important back in 85-86, when few others were doing so.

So, take a moment and check out Jeff's site if you get a chance. He's done a hell of a lot more than Heavy Metal Parking Lot and Heavy Metal Picnic, and I think he deserves a lot more credit than he tends to get.

("I Created Lancelot Link" has always been my personal favorite).

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