“Ball so hard, this shit crazy”
It was a money-draining party and I had a blast.
Heart Of Douche-ness or “The Imperialism Of Young Assholes”
Take up the White Mans Burden, Hipsters. Conquer the middle class with your bougie contempt and self-loathing fashion. But don’t complain when you’re branded the enemy.
EULA, Life Size Maps & More at Shea Stadium
Five great bands at a Friday show in Shea Stadium.
Silent Barn Public Meeting Tomorrow
Panelists gather to discuss All Ages venues, with some necessary rocking out.
alt-J at Glasslands
Lead singer Joe Newman asked us to sweat with him and we did.
Fantasy, Food Fights, PB&J: The Brian Goodwin Interview
Two summers ago, I drank rum from Barbados on a grassy slope somewhere in New Jersey. I had seen the sun rise over the Manhattan skyline as the van carrying actors, extras and equipment drove through the humid early morning. Now, after a day’s shooting, the sun was setting and some of the cast and I celebrated with cocktails aka swigging directly from the bottle of international booze. The film was PB&J, a slapstick short directed by Brian Goodwin. Brian worked with Sets and Effects, a woodshop in Bushwick, Brooklyn which expertly manufactured sets for commercial and fashion film. And though the industry they built up was perhaps tinged with glamour, the workshop itself was rugged and real, filled with sawdust and loud music, beer cans and comraderie. Certainly it was more human than the cold commercial world.
That day, I had been on hand with my younger brother—a filmmaker dedicated both to creating sets and the Goodwin’s creative vision—and our father, proud to act in one of his son’s projects but mostly slumped on the sidelines tiredly reading the book he’d brought with him. The energy was high as the day grew sunny and bright, perfect for the food fight scene we all knew we would capture. Energetic, carefree, guileless was the energy that day and returning to the thrumming activity of the summer city later that night was a drag.
PB&J, both the experience of shooting the film and the final cut itself expertly capture a sense of playfulness and whimsy. When Petey, the owner of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich factory who has been out of work for months get a last minute order for millions of sandwiches, he jumps at the chance. Yet, in a wild scramble to get the ingredients right, hilarious disaster ensues involving a rival lemonade stand and mountains of mushy sandwiches. From friendly project to film festival hit, PB&J has a delicious, not so serious, but equally important message: it’s okay to have fun and to imagine.
I sat down over beers with director Brian Goodwin and lead actor Dave Jones—who recorded and video tapped our interview—to discuss the inspiration for PB&J, cartoonish violence, acting out fantasies and why we shouldn’t take our work too seriously.
HOLY DIVER What’s the film about? Where did the idea come from?
BRIAN GOODWIN PB&J is from a child’s heart. It was very much riffing on this 3,000 square foot woodshop Sets and Effects out in Brooklyn. One winter, there was a lull in work and one evening into the late hours, we joked about if everything failed, we could always sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Not on the street, but you’d have a completely complicated, intricate factory that would produce peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In the world we actually work in, set fabrication, commercial, fashion film the demands are high and sometimes ridiculous. That joke told itself. That was our story, mixed in with personal aesthetics.
HD In the film we have this business owner who has not had work for awhile. When he gets an order he can’t turn down, hilarious disaster ensues. Does this reflect a personal lull for you?
BG It wasn’t an emotional strain. It’s very playful. It’s about the waves that hit us all and when you’re in the middle of it, there’s no light, there’s no end to it. But we were playing with those seasonal themes.
HD Let’s talk more about childishness and playfulness.
BG The best review is my three year-old nephew who wanted to watch it again immediately.
HD What do you think he was responding to?
BG Probably colors and light. We tried to keep it pretty PG. We tried to keep the violence to playful violence. There’s always a cartoonish stamped on top of it. All the costumes we tried to keep in the light of a Saturday morning cartoon. Everything was from that Acme youth we all sort of had. You hope everyone has that experience of imagining an interesting world.
HD I also think in a lot of ways it’s a very adult film. I got a sense of whimsy. So much of the film is adults acting out fantasies they don’t really know they have and how fantastic that can be. Food fights and that basic urge to smash someone in the face with food.
BG We were very willing to play up slapstick, but the dialogue is nuanced. Very rarely to we get to sling the food. Things bubble up, we all butt heads and we’re friends in the end. Everyone is under heightened pressure, but in the end we’re all looking for the same thing. I liked that in PB&J, it gets really messy before there’s a resolve.
HD Is PB&J a comment on how essentially unserious work can be at the end of the day? We have a tendency to take ourselves so seriously.
BG Every job, there are reminders that it’s an illusion. You’re under the veil that this is important. And to some degree it is, to get paid and to survive is absolutely important. But for product to get pushed, at no point should anybody’s health or safety be sacrificed. I’m not out there with a picket sign, saying “This is not important!” But there’s certainly a wink that all these things are under pretense.
HD There’s been a great journey from a neighborhood film to a festival film.
BG There was absolutely a magic to this film. It is very much a neighborhood film. It was weird to get done with it, say what now and it not fitting the mold for festivals. It doesn’t have any name actors, it doesn’t deeply explore the human condition. I don’t think it’s revolutionary in most ways. But for the people involved, that’s debatable.
HD I feel like PB&J benefits so much from this sense of community, all the people behind it.
BG PB&J could be a little clunky, a little Michel Gondry-ish, but we broke the threshold. We were so close to making it look good, so we thought let’s make it look good! The motivation wasn’t fame or success, I just want to do it again and again and again.
PB&J has shown at Anthology Film Archives and in the Brooklyn Short Film Festival. For upcoming screenings, behind the scenes and more www.PBJshortfilm.com