Dave Weewee and Jeff Justice are on more than a cross-country road trip -- from their matching red jump suits on down, it's a mission. Weewee's independent feature film Cause 'n' Defect is newly available on video, and lacking big-name stars and a big advertising budget, they're getting the word out as best they can: In person.
The Cause 'n' Defect excursion -- 44 states, 200 cities -- hit Pittsburgh Dec. 16, some five weeks into a four-month itinerary that began in Tucson. Traveling in their black military Blazer, stocked with a generator, subzero sleeping bags, 3,000 DVDs, 300 VHS tapes, and a couple of cases of Ramen noodles, the pair camp out when they have to ("We almost died in Montana," says Weewee) and accept hospitality when they can.
Hospitality won out here, where after a day of peddling their movie in independent video stores, bars and other establishments (they use a laptop computer to show a preview trailer) they were taken in by a nurse who lives on the South Side. They made another convert, too: James Kostishack, of Mount Washington, spied the pair in their jumpsuits, bought a DVD, liked it, then took three days off work to not only put them up but also guide them around town. He even got to don his own jumpsuit. "The jumpsuits are killer," says Weewee, 32. "Everybody loves the jumpsuits."
Weewee (yes, that's his real name) actually completed Cause 'n' Defect in 1998, as his senior thesis project at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The 95-minute film -- a comedy about a naïve college kid mixed up with drug dealers -- screened at several festivals and in a few commercial theaters, then lay dormant while Weewee, working TV-industry jobs, saved money for a DVD transfer.
Admittedly, Cause 'n' Defect (www.causendefect.com) was a phenomenally expensive student project, costing $250,000, most of that funded by Weewee's CPA dad. While their effort to earn it back has gotten some press coverage -- one Chicago TV station invited them to camp on its lawn -- their best street sales so far were in Pittsburgh. In forays to neighborhoods including the South Side and Dormont, and stores including Eides Entertainment, Weewee said, in their first couple of days here they sold $250 worth of videos at $15 a piece.
"You get the door slammed in your face all the time. But you just keep positive and keep going," says Weewee, who's 32. "It's kind of a spiritual trip in a way," he adds. "More than ever, people are so caught up in [the] corporate environment that we live in ... I just feel this is something that has true heart and true passion."
And if their journey sounds like a movie itself -- well, it might be. Weewee and Justice are capturing their experiences on video for a planned documentary on their adventures.