No, Im happy that it happened. When I went to the Cannes Film Festival, I knew that that was going to be the place where people would be like, Whats next? Whats next? Whats next ? So I started fantasizing about talking about something, or pretending to talk about something that actually, the more I thought about, the more of a reality it became. It started off as a way to kind of coax people with the idea that I had something else to do, but now its really become a reality. And the other thing I want to do is, believe it or not, a sequel or an equal to Tarnation, which Im going to be doing in the next year. Its going to be called Buddy. I dont want to give it away, what its about. All I can say is that its going to be creatively utilizing the rest of the 160 hours of footage that Ive acquired from my life and augmenting it into something really unexpected.
When you originally cut Tarnation it was 2 ½ hours and you got it down to 88 minutes?
I got it down to 88 minutes. The reason it was 2 ½ hours was that I sort of maniacally put it together. The reason I did it so quickly, I did it in like three weeks, I met an intern from the MIX Film Festival who said, Well, whatever this is that you are working on I sort of accidentally showed it to him and he said, Whatever this is that you are working on, you should finish it because theres a deadline for our film festival coming up in the next three weeks. Thats when I went on this sort of editing rampage and got it down to my 2 ½ hour cut, which was a much different film at the time. The stipulation for showing it at MIX was that they couldnt show a 2 ½ hour cut, so I cut it down to 2 hours. Then after that they wanted it at 88 minutes for Sundance. Thats when I had to revisit everything and crunch everything down. I inevitably changed the ending, which was more of an art imitating life type of thing.
Was it more difficult to get it to the 2 ½ hour original cut or down to the final 88 minute cut?
Definitely the most challenging aspect about piecing this film together was crunching it down to the 88 minutes because theres so much that was left out. There could be conceivably three different films that were left out. I think, ultimately, thats why I ended up cutting it out. There would be other subject matter and subplots that did exist that I realized at the end would be much more appropriate for an additional film, perhaps one day.
A lot of kids pick up video cameras but not everyone chronicles this much of their life.
Did you have any inkling as a kid that someday this is what you were going to be doing with your life?
Always. Always. (Laughing) I can even get you the number to my first camp counselor. Hes known me since I was 5 years old and all I used to talk about was wanting to be a filmmaker. Its been in my blood. I always had a love for film and knew I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I would go to movie theaters with my grandfather in the pre-VCR days and with a tape recorder, I would record all the audio. I was really fascinated, even down to everything like the sound pops and the reel changes, every aspect of it. After the movie we would go to our local drugstore and I would pick up about four or five stacks of typing paper or loose drawing paper. I would, with markers, I would go through and draw the movies frame by frame, basically. Or at least every other millisecond of the movie, to the audio of the movie I would record when I went to the theater with my grandfather. So its always been there somehow, someway.
You used your camera to get to the truth about your life and your family. Im wondering if you could have just put the camera down and talked to lets say your grandfather, or did everything always have to be through the camera to distance yourself?
It would depend a lot on the subject matter. I was always using the camera as some sort of quasi-defense mechanism or a weapon of some kind to ultimately make sense of everything, just a lot of the stuff that I was being subjected to. And it was just a way to validate things. It was more of a confirmation. Is this really happening? Pinch me if this is really happening. Or, This is so spooky and Im alone in this situation. If I document it maybe I can look back on it and piece things together. Because you know documenting things sometimes can enable you to hold onto memories, which Im really into. I love the idea of holding onto moments.