Eric Cheevers shares at least one thing with you: "I've watched a lot of really crappy movies." But Cheevers, a Washington, D.C.-based technical writer, did something about that experience -- or maybe to it.
He parlayed his filmmaking chops into the underground-festival hits "Las Historias Mas Sexy Del Mundo," parts one and two. They're 15-minute "anthologies" that suggest 1970s Swedish soft porn dubbed (badly) into Spanish, and salted with inexplicable arthouse pretensions.
There's artless lighting, yes, and unmotivated closeups, short-skirted hitchhikers, and a doctor who prescribes sex. But in one episode -- as always, cut short before there's any action, or even nudity -- Death on horseback turns up. In another, the girl in the go-go dress talks quantum physics.
Add cameos by Cheevers' rock 'n' roll pals, like The Raveonettes and The Scene Creamers, and it's the recipe for an award-winner at D.C.'s Rosebud Film & Video Festival (in 2004) and sold-out shows at this year's Slamdance.
Both "Historias" screen at the Tue., May 13, installment of the Film Kitchen series. Cheevers will attend with producer Scott Mueller.
The "Historias" grew partly from Cheevers' crew work on indie features, and his experience directing MTV-rotation videos for bands like Dead Meadows. But primarily, they're a product of his love affair with film -- the old-fashioned, celluloid stuff most indie types have abandoned for video.
Cheevers shoots film whenever possible. To create the dead-on parody look of the "Historias," he says, "The secret is shooting on 16 mm film and making a work print and editing on the work print." Those scratchy images are genuine: Cheevers spliced the shots on the big flatbed editing machine in his little apartment.
Still, if you're making crazy movies, it also helps to have crazy friends. For instance, a star of one "Historia" is Matthew Lesko, the guy in the question-mark-covered suit hawking "free government money!" in those late-night TV commercials. "I met him at a magician's party," says Cheevers. "He actually showed up in character like that. He has 18 question-mark suits."
Necessity begat invention for Brad Grimm, a Robert Morris University television-and-video student. Interning last summer with a Los Angeles post-production company, he shot much of "Destroy Jonah Hill," the short that became his senior project, and which premieres at the May 13 Film Kitchen. The comedy was conceived by L.A.-based RMU alums Steven Sims and Mike Roach, inspired by Sims' uncanny resemblance to Superbad star Hill. Back in Pittsburgh, though, after script revisions by Grimm's friend Sam Lawther, Grimm realized that standard reshoots were impossible: His actors were all 3,000 miles away.
Hence the film's extensive use of Grimm's animation, adding cartoonish fervor to the already raucous half-hour comedy. Thus did a logistical limitation spur creativity, says Grimm, 23. "I thought, 'Maybe we could use that [limitation] to our advantage.'"
Film Kitchen 8 p.m. Tue., May 13. Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., N. Oakland. $4. 412-681-5449
- The doctor is in: Eric Cheevers' "Las Historias Mas Sexy Del Mundo"