Jeff Guay - 2010, 15:00, Video, Portland
Many years in the future, what is called “Widespread Psychological Fallout” has decimated life as we know it; and those left in a disparate population are without jobs, mostly because there “is no civilization.” Mr Roboto, a former underwear model, must navigate a new landscape of hopelessness, unemployment, an ominous puppet driving a Buick, and the possibility that he may in fact drifting into psychosis
Jeff Guay currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His short films, including Don't Worry, it's a New Century, have screened at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, the Portland International Film Festival, the PDX Film Festival and elsewhere. He is currently spending summers in Butte, Montana, building a log cabin and working slowly on a documentary about the American dream.
ATA: Many of Principia's settings are no-places: a dumpster in an empty lot, a highway barrier, a living room set on a hilltop. What motivated these choices, and did you spend a lot of time looking for these settings?
JG: I guess I put a lot of thought into the locations of Principia. Maybe even too much. Even before I had really developed the story, I was riding my bike around Portland, finding the locations and thinking about how I wanted to shoot it. Some of the settings, like the dumpster, or a creek in the forest, were kind of where it all started for me. I wanted the locations to sort of reflect the inner mindset of the main character, and vice-versa. So I guess it makes sense to start there. The piece is sort of a send up of post-apocalyptic cinema, so I was also looking for places that felt like they had been grown over (not hard to find in Portland) or abandoned or otherwise crazy feeling.
ATA: Who is the ideal audience for Principia?
JG: I really have no idea who would be an ideal viewer. I'm excited to show it in San Francisco, because I think that I owe a bit to the Kuchar brothers in some ways. I guess it probably wouldn't do well with people that don't like subtitles. I have a lot of friends that won't watch films with subtitles, so I guess they are out. Everyone has a different style though. ATA is really the first pubic venue for Principia so I don't really have a gauge yet of how people are going to react to it.
ATA: Were the Spanish voiceovers planned, or did the decision to do them come after filming?
JG: This short was always going to be in Spanish with subtitles, for sure. That was kind of like, the original concept; a post-apocalyptic kind of thing in Spanish. I thought it would make room for lots of subtle humor. It also allowed for a lot of freedom during production, because I didn't need a crew for the most part. It was just the actors and I, no sound guy or anything. And I knew that the sound design of the piece was going to be pretty much the most important thing, so it made sense to dub all the lines in afterward because it allowed me to create a soundscape completely from scratch.
Interview by Liz Wing of ATA