J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Giuseppe Makes a Movie: Shooting Indie, Outsider, Micro-Budget Style

Wrap your head around this—Giuseppe Andrews has made more full length features than either Terrence Malick or Quentin Tarantino. Andrews would consider Garbanzo Gas his tenth “proper” feature, but there were ten or so earlier films that just didn’t come together the way he hoped. Of course, Andrews will be the first to admit “proper” is a decidedly subjective term in his case. Adam Rifkin documents Garbanzo’s whirlwind preproduction and two day shooting schedule in Giuseppe Makes a Movie (trailer here), which opens this Thursday at Anthology Film Archives.

Andrews lives in a Ventura trailer park, next to his producer-father, Ed, a former back-up musician with the Bee-Gees. After previous stretches of veritable homelessness, both men feel they have finally put down roots. The experience gives them a clear affinity for their regular cast-members, most of whom are either homeless or living a half step away. Yet, they have made lasting friendships and scored quick pocket money through their work on Andrews’ films.

Based on the behind-the-scenes footage of Garbanzo and the judiciously selected clips of his precious movies, an Andrews joint looks darned near unwatchable. Yet, despite his obvious eccentricities, the micro-budget auteur comes across quite well adjusted and even sort of insightful. Unlike Ed Wood or American Movie’s Mark Borchardt, Andrews harbors no illusions about the level of his artistry. Nor would he argue he just needs some time to hone his craft, like the ambitious filmmaking duo in Journey to Planet X. Instead, Andrews more or less acknowledges he is a Z-grade filmmaker, but he is okay with that, which is cool.

In fact, Andrews is clearly well versed in European auteurs like Fassbinder and Buñuel, has a normal girlfriend, and maintains an obscenely healthy diet. Naturally, lunacy is inescapable on his sets, but his shoots are considerably calmer than you would expect. Frankly, aspiring micro-budget filmmakers should check out his technique, because he must be doing something right, considering how prolific he is. Arguably, he is a real professional, at least by some weird standard. Maybe Martian.

There are plenty of head-shakingly insane moments in GMaM, but for the most part, it is Andrews’ earnestness and energy that propels the film along, as well as the camaraderie of his ensemble players, such as Vietnam Ron, Sir Bigfoot George, Walt Dongo, and “Spit.” It is pretty hilarious watching “the magic” happen, but Andrews’ affection for these outsiders’ outsiders is rather endearing. Recommended for idealistic cineastes and those who appreciate the micro-budget scene, Giuseppe Makes a Movie opens this Thursday (1/15) in New York, at Anthology Film Archives, where they are also screening Andrews’ Garbanzo Gas and In the Garden, so good luck with those if you’re going.

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