His name is Julien McArdle, but I kept calling him Justin. I called him Justin so many times during the HOPE conference this past weekend that I figured he’d just punch me out, but I guess he’s a gentler soul than that. Don’t ask me why I kept doing this, but I kept calling him Justin the whole time, maybe because there’s another filmmaker I know of named Justin McArdle and the name just stuck with me, but I feel really bad about it, because he was such a sweet kid.
He called me a few months ago and asked if I would co-present on a presentation at HOPE about documentaries. I agreed quickly, and appreciated such an opportunity. How kind of him!
He turned 21 at the conference, to my 35 (and aging). I felt pretty old, realizing that I’d been using BBSes for 4 years, had played multiple text adventures, and was in high school when Julien was born. And while I’ve got a single work under my belt, he’s already on his second documentary, having filmed his first, EYNTO, using a mobile phone. Take that, establishment!
The new documentary is called “On Piracy” and has information about it at its official website, piracydocumentary.com. But not only can you read about it, you can download his version 0.8 of the documentary, give feedback, and assist him in making finalized edits. That’s bravery; few directors would ever do such a thing and be so open to the outside world when working on a project. Obviously, he’s not in this for the mad sacks of fat cash.
Our presentation, “Underground Documentaries”, followed Jello Biafra, who tantalizingly got up into the perfect cutoff point, 5 minutes before the end of his segment, but who got derailed by an idiot demanding to know why Jello hadn’t covered 9/11 theories (this is a valid argument) and who then started interrupting Jello to correct him or make more demands (this is not a valid argument). Note to questioners: if you ask a question and don’t like the answer, let the answerer finish the whole thought before jumping back in again like a spastic raccoon. People might hesitate before stuffing you into the Nut File.
In the presentation itself, it went very well, although I had to work very hard to not fall into the trap of completely dominating the proceeding. Given the right venue, I just can’t stop talking. It’s a major problem; while there’s a subset of people/fans who really enjoy hearing me speak, there’s others who see there’s this nice kid with glasses next to me and maybe, just maybe, he’d like to occasionally get a word in edgewise. The estimate from my friends in the crowd was that it was 75% Jason, 25% Julien, which is pretty poor but better than a total wipeout, I guess. I recall a number of years ago at a wonderful con named Rubi-Con, where an impromptu panel made the fatal error of asking me to weigh in, and one hour later, I finished off a torrent of trivia, history and tangentality to the detriment of everyone else who sat next to me up there. I still feel bad about that.
It’s the reading, you see. It’s all the words inside me that I pick up from my constantly reading everything around me, scanning the files I’m incorporating, finding all sorts of tangents and links and the unexpected stories buried in the texts. And nowadays, it’s also that in the four years of the documentary, you just happen to learn a lot about people. It’s all part of the show of being alive, and so I end up being able to go off for hours on stuff, one thing after another, until the whole room is strewn with bodies.
As an extra bonus, my dad was in the audience, having taken the subway over to check it out. I had an extra admission I’d bought and got him in without pulling “favors”, and he quietly played Sudoko off to the side while I dropped the F bomb like clockwork. People who’ve bought the documentary through the bbsdocumentary.com website get to see my dad and a story about him thinking I’d shot for a pretty weird way to spend my time. Rest assured, he gets it now.
Julien held up his allotted space perfectly, telling people about his own stories with the Piracy documentary, and jumping in with the profanity and jokes as I went into that direction. What I’m saying is, he kept up, and this was his first large-scale public speaking engagement, compared to my having lost count (I think I’m past the 30 mark). Good deal.
Now if I can just call him Julien, the next time we (inevitably) hang out together.
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