About A Guy: Thomas McDonell
It may have taken Samuel Casebolt only one day to pitch his idea for our UO Creative Grant, but he's been working on the concept for years. Here we speak with the artist about his background in film, his love of the great unknown, and the plot for his winning concept, Hell's Belles, up today on his Kickstarter!
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background!
My name is Samuel Michael Casebolt and I live in Oakland, CA, working in downtown San Francisco as a display artist for Urban Outfitters. I have worked as a production designer for a couple of feature films by Ben Wolfinsohn, one of which, called High School Record, made it into the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. I've also produced and directed four other features, a music video for The Mae Shi, and the short Goodbye Sun, which I released in 2012.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, CA. and got a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art. I worked in many mediums including painting, drawing, and sculpture, and was showing in galleries around L.A. almost once a month for a while.
The new documentary Teenage, which opened this weekend in New York City, takes a look at how different youth subcultures scattered across the world and throughout centuries have helped define teenage culture today. Through beautiful, super-8 archive footage paired with the recreations and narrations of four different teens, Teenage creates a vibrant "living collage" of history in a way that no documentary film has done before. (Check out some of our exclusive .gifs from the movie, posted below.) We talked to Matt Wolf, the director of the film, Jon Savage, who wrote Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, the book that served as the basis of the film, and Executive Producer Jason Schwartzman, about the movie, what they were like as teens, and why adults forget what it feels like to be a rebellious youth. —Hazel
How did you all connect to make this movie?
Matt: I read Jon's book and I thought it was very compelling and that it could be a great film. He had just finished the Joy Division film and I had just finished this movie called Wild Combination about Arthur Russell, so we swapped DVDs and started talking. We thought we could work together so we started a sort of Skype relationship. Eventually I went to Wales with a hard-drive of footage and we started the process of etching out what the film could be.
Jason: I saw Matt's film Wild Combination and I loved it; I remembered watching it many times over the course of a week after it came out. One person I was eager to show it to was this friend of mine, Humberto Leon, who has the store Opening Ceremony. Humberto said that he was friends with Matt Wolf and later [Opening Ceremony] wanted short films for their store opening in Japan, so he hooked Matt and I up and we made one together. It was during the shoot for that that he told me about how he was going to make a movie based on this book by Jon Savage and I was excited about it.
In terms of how you, Matt and Jon, envisioned the film, did you have a clear idea of what the film would look and feel like? Did you two know from the beginning that you would want to use archival footage and take this in a more artistic direction?
Matt: We could have done a multi-part television series with expert historians and talking heads, but early on we knew we didn't want to do that. I had accumulated about 70 or 80 hours of archival footage at some point while we were piecing together the film. I had a residency at an artists' colony, and everyday I edited a compilation mix of archival footage to contemporary music. That was a really important part of the process for me. It made this "living collage" style we were going for.
Jon: Matt and I discussed early on that we didn't want the film to be from the point of view of adults, we wanted young people's own words. So Matt and I developed a narration where we took quotes from the book or wrote quotes that gave the teenage point of view—how it actually feels to be young. In general, the film is pretty much how we wanted it to be from the start.
Who is the audience for Teenage?
Matt: Teenage, to me, is an art film in a sense. The film is also an incredible music experience. I see the film almost like a record, and the narrations are like the lyrics to the record. You can just sort of sit and experience it without looking at it. I hope fans of music are a fan. And the film isn't really about your typical teenager, it's about the exceptional young people, people who think against the grain. I wish I had seen this film when I was a teenager.
Jon: Me too. Because then you realize you're not alone.
Jason: I almost wish they would show this in schools because I think it's exciting. Also, I remember Matt came to my house with a rough compilation and narrated it for me in person, and even when he wasn't talking it was beautiful to watch.
When you were going through all the footage and even watching the film now, was there a certain quote or piece of footage that really stood out to you?
Matt: The thing that was a big break-through for me was the color footage of German swing kids. The story of the German swing kids is the most moving to me because it was the story of how pop culture and politics collide. These young people were smuggling American music and culture as a way of expressing themselves but also as a subversive tactic to resist the Nazi regime. It's so punk. There's also this quote towards the end of the film, from a letter to the editor for Seventeen Magazine, that says, "I love being seventeen. I wish I could stay this age for awhile. Seventeen is that perfect spot between adolescence, which means you're going somewhere, and adulthood which means you're on the downgrade."
Jon: [laughs] I'm totally downgraded! I love the quote, "My world is speedy and they're old." That's from a book called Middletown, which is about this couple who went to a town in the midwest for a year in the 1920s and reported what they found. But, my favorite bit, is the footage of the Chicago swing jamboree in 1938 with 200,000 kids going mental. And it was an integrated audience, which is amazing, because black American music was incredibly important.
Jason: You know what's wild, and it just occurred to me, is that it blows my mind that you [Jon] wrote this book without seeing a lot of this stuff. The book and the movie, they're companion pieces in a way. Jon wrote this book without having seen a lot of it and Matt made that possible.
Matt: We were really rigorous in making sure that everything in the film is based on historical truths and uncovered history. We based the narration on primary source quotes and based our characters off of real people. That rigor is really important to us as filmmakers and historians.
Jason: Another great thing about the film is that it doesn't get into all the stuff you already know. These are the people and the stories that seeped through everything.
There was a line in the press release I was really interested in about activism and rebelliousness, and how you point out that adults today sort of forget what it feels like to be a teen. In your opinion, why do you think there's that separation?
Matt: At the core, I think it's that teenagers represent the future because they're going to live in the next era, and that creates a lot of hope and anxiety for adults. They project their fears onto young people and it leads to a desire to control them. But why do adults forget this need for freedom and self-expression and revert to this need to control? I think it's out of fear.
Jon: And also people get beaten down by life, they really do. People get into habits and raising a family. It also depends on temperament. I've always been a guy who's interested in the present and the future. A lot of my work is in the past but when I was a kid I was into stuff that was really cutting edge, which is why I'm excited about the film. You have the everyman histories, the history of the normal people, but when I was a kid I hated the normal people. I never wanted to be normal EVER. With the book and the film I was interested in the exceptional people who make the change. Because, if there's no change there's just entropy and then everything turns to shit.
Matt: When I was a teen I was a gay activist, and I remember publishing this underground newspaper and dumping it in the middle of my quad and then going to the bathroom and just barfing. I didn't even think about it as brave, it was just this immediate need to express myself. As I get older I think about what people will think of me and I try not to think that way, but with teenagers, they just purely express in a very visceral way.
Jason: I do remember being an adolescent and feeling angry and sad and not knowing why. As you get older, adults need to find a reason for why you feel all these things. I have a daughter now and whenever I meet a parent of an older kid they go, "Just wait 'til she's 13!" And it's like, why the "just wait"?
Jon: It's part of that experience of separating from your parents and joining the world of your peers.
Matt: When you're young, a lot of the time you're oppressed. I think with this film, it's really about a formative period in history in which young people were facing an unprecedented amount of oppression from their parents and the government. They were really just struggling for basic forms of recognition and to endure these struggles and define yourself under judgmental and high-pressure critique from adult society leads towards revolution.
Over the weekend I spontaneously decided to see a documentary called The Punk Singer at Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Originally premiering earlier this year at SXSW, The Punk Singer is a documentary that chronicles the life thus far of singer and songwriter Kathleen Hanna, who came onto the scene with Bikini Kill in the early '90s. The film features the voices and opinions of many strong feminists, including Kathleen herself, Kim Gordon, Tavi Gevinson, Carrie Brownstein, Kathi Wilcox, and so many more.
The Punk Singer is a total must see, and you'll have no choice but to feel inspired after watching it. In it, Kathleen Hanna talks about her career with Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, her new project The Julie Ruin, and essentially why she has ever done everything she has accomplished. It's an excellent glimpse inside where and how the Riot Grrrl movement originated, which is what I loved most. If you're not in Los Angeles this week and can't catch the week long run of the film at Cinefamily, you can also view it in various other theaters across the country up until February, and you can also rent it on iTunes. Go see it and let Kathleen inspire you to let your voice be heard! —Maddie
If there's one thing Wes Anderson's movies are known for, it's their epic "shots from above." In each shot, a brilliant moment is captured with great detail and beauty. It's one of the many tools in his directing that he uses to bring you closer to the characters, and by glimpses of their possessions and surroundings, you find out more and more about them. The shots—some simple, some silly, and some absolutely heartbreaking—are praised by fans and critics alike.
Since we're celebrating Wes Anderson this week, I think it's extremely fitting to share the official trailer for his new film coming out next year. Entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel and set in the 1920s, the film will feature plenty of Anderson regulars (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, and Adrien Brody), but with Ralph Fiennes as the lead this time. It looks like the story is centered around Fiennes' character, his "lobby boy," and the friendship they form. But what would the film be without a little love interest for Lobby Boy, played by the beautiful Saoirse Ronan. It looks like another excellent Wes Anderson adventure, set in a giant pink hotel. Sounds good to me! —Maddie
October has arrived and you're in the mood for horror. You've seen all the American classics and the Japanese stuff is totally overrated. So watch Martyrs, the remorselessly violent, super scary but contemplative French movie from 2008. This the point in a review where I should write something like "Martyrs is the story of..." but this shit is too crazy to even summarize. In the beginning it seems like an ultra-violent revenge story, then it becomes an ultra-violent, what-the-fuck-is-that-scary-monster movie, and then, because it's French, the movie asks us (violently) to ponder the nature of life and death and the limbo that may exist between them. It sounds a bit confusing, but the varying plots ask you to find the connection between them, leading to an ultimately satisfying ending. Being clear: it's a good movie.
Being clear again, Martyrs is hard to watch. But what do we do with unsettling things? Make light of them with screen caps and jokes, obvi. Plus you need to watch it so when that asshole horror buff in your film studies class is getting all pretentious you can be like "Bro, have you seen Martyrs?" and he'll be like "...No. What's that?" and you can be like "LOL bro aren't you up on French horror?" and he'll feel all stupid. Unless he has seen it, then you guys can bond like "Dude isn't it fucked up?" and high five and become lifelong friends. —Angelo
Archival footage, a staple of any good horror film, featuring scary nun with bike.
Great winter style: beanie (I mean toque,) trench and a shotgun.
It's French so the girls are obviously flawless.
This is the still I sent to my horror-buff friend to explain why he should see Martyrs.
Then this scary old lady shows up and stuff starts getting existential, LIKE ANY GOOD FRENCH MOVIE SHOULD.
I'm not going to tell you what's up in this scene but believe me, it's rough.
And it all comes down to this one moment, a whisper spoken from the brink of death, and you're either like "Ohhhhh," or "What???" but either way it makes you want to watch the movie again (in a couple months, after your stomach has settled down).
So, no spoilers, but I saw Gravity last week, and it totally deserves all the hype that it's getting. (And no, I don't have any credentials, but let's just ignore that for now, because on the internet, EVERYONE'S OPINION MATTERS!) At one point, I teared up solely because space is so big and my brain like, rejected its existence and cried out of fear. Space is terrible. We all know that. This movie is not terrible, but if you go see it, you might need something to slow your heart rate back down. So here are some space movies that will make you feel warm and cozy, and not like hiding from the sky in a cave until your bones turn to dust. —Katie
Zoltar! Remember him from the movie Big? He was the fortune telling machine that made Tom Hanks, well... BIG. The real Zoltar machines probably won't turn you into a piano dancing adult, but they're still incredible! While it's fun to come across these any time of the year, it's especially fun to run into these during the spookiest time of the year (NOW!). And now you can even BUY YOUR OWN! They're like, really, really expensive, but still, it's nice knowing the option exists. Kickstarter exists for a reason, people.
Have you run into a Zoltar machine near you? (Hint: There are a few mentioned here!) What did your fortune say? Did you get zapped into a 32-year-old's body? Let us know!
Don't be such a skeeze! Check your iPhone lock screen. Grab a glass of fruit punch! Don't you know what day it is?! IT'S OCTOBER 3RD! THE ICONIC DAY THAT AARON SAMUELS ASKED CADY HERON WHAT DAY IT IS, DUH. In celebration, we rounded up our whole UO BLOG crew to tell you our favorite MEAN GIRLS quotes! So fetch.
Hazel: "I'm sorry that people are so jealous of me, but I can't help it that I'm popular".
Katie: "Shut up! I love that shirt on you."
Maddie: "I can't go out." *cough*cough* "I'm sick."
Angelo: "But you love Lady Smith Black Mambazo!"
Alex: "And they have this book, this burn book, where they write mean things about all the girls in our grade."
This Thursday, September 12, the documentary film The Legend of Cool "Disco" Dan will be screening at The Ritz East in Philadelphia, PA (125 S. 2nd Street). Cool "Disco" Dan is a documentary narrated by Henry Rollins that tells "the story of Washington D.C. in the '80s" from the viewpoint of Cool "Disco" Dan, a prolific D.C.-based graffiti artist. The film promises a comprehensive look at the culture and politics that surrounded D.C. in the '80s. If you aren't in Philly, you can click here to see if the film will be screening near you. To RSVP to this event, email email@example.com. —Katie
If you've seen the trailer for Her (that movie about falling in love with your AI computer!), you might have noticed that it featured part of a song by Karen O. Now the song, titled "The Moon Song," is available on Soundcloud in full. It's a cute, catchy song, and the movie looks just as promising. —Katie
Spoiler alert: The Dreamers is a really creepy movie. But it's about people in the '60s in France, so it's obviously tres chic. (That means stylish right? I mean that this movie is stylish.) The awesome Michael Pitt, awesome-r Eva Green and some other good looking guy basically hang out and talk about pretentious films but also have weird sex for two hours. Oh, and smoking. There's a lot of smoking. Don't smoke. But do dress like the kids in The Dreamers. —Angelo
I hadn't seen The Science of Sleep since my freshman year of college, when I thought I was smart and artsy but didn't get it. Now that I am old and totally smart and artsy I watched it again and... still didn't really get it, but I'm pretty sure the point of the movie is that if you're chic and sexy and French, like Charlotte Gainsbourg, you can basically wear any old drab thrift shop looking thing and still be super chic and sexy and French. Also, in your dreams you can wear whatever crazy shit you want and it's all good. That applies in real life, too, because who cares but also because maybe being awake is actually dreaming and dreaming is the real world!
Anyway... everyone in this film has a general uniform of a few items they wear in different iterations. There's probably some like, thematic, symbolic reason why, but who has time to figure that shit out? All I'm thinking about is how dreaming is tight and can it be fall now? I want to buy sweaters and hang out with Charlotte and smoke cigarettes in France. Can that just happen now? —Angelo
For all you punk rock fans out there, there's a movie coming out about one of the greatest origins of punk rock, music club CBGB. CBGB comes out in October, and features what sounds like a pretty cool cast that will play some of rock's greatest, like Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and of course, The Ramones. The trailer doesn't need much description, except for the fact that Alan Rickman, who literally can play ANY role, plays the club's owner, and is willing to do anything to get these bands off the ground. Oh, and did I mention that Rupert Grint is also in the movie? He plays Cheetah Chrome from the Dead Boys. I'm excited to see what these actors can do! —Maddie
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JERRY GARCIA! You crazy old hippie, you. (Also, RIP. Much respect. Instead of pouring out a 40, I will go shake a weed bush or something. [Sidenote: I just had to Google "does weed grow on a bush," and... I'm still not sure.])
Anyway. There's an awesome, previously unreleased Grateful Dead concert film titled Sunshine Daydream airing at select theaters tonight. The film shows the band's 1972 concert performance in Veneta, OR, which was apparently the stuff of legend. If you're a fan of the Dead, you'll definitely want to check out if this is happening near you. And if you want to dress up like the Deadheads of yore, here's some inspiration for you. We love you, Jerry. <3 —Katie
Get the look:
Ray-Ban Original Aviator Sunglasses
Ecote Patchwork Dress
Flower Crown Headwrap
Alternative 2-Tone Patterned Henley
Globe Dana Pool Short
UO Striped Gym Sock
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Washed Men's High-Top Sneaker
Teva Original Mush Sandal
Nice Daze Pint Glass