The Lost Year

Autobiographical Documentary

80 Minutes

"I lost my marriage, my house, my father, and the friend who said he'd save me. But what I found . . . changed everything."

THE LOST YEAR: Motivated by the birth of his daughters, as well as the death of his father under horrific circumstances, the filmmaker comes clean about his own Dark past in an attempt to uncover the important lessons about love, friendship, and family that will enable him to be the kind of husband and father he desperately wants to become. Set against a high energy backdrop of stock car races and all night raves, The Lost Year delves into the filmmaker’s trove of explicit home movies as a means to understanding his own transformation from meth-addicted rave DJ to responsible father of triplet girls.

Web Cut - 2012

Some random movie notes . . . .

PROJECT HISTORY STUFF: In 2007, I decided to digitize my home movies to see what was worth preserving. I originally set out to make a memento of my days in the rave scene, and also a tribute to my friend Craig, whose tragic death in 2002 bore unsettling similarities to the plot of his favorite movie, Donnie Darko.

Coincidentally, I happened to work for an art school known for its personal documentaries . . . introspective, autobiographical documentaries made from home movies. So, I approached one of the filmmakers there to see if something could be made of my videos. In 2008, I began sitting down with Robb Moss once a month to review footage and learn how to build a personal documentary. We were only a couple of months into our sessions when my father died in a horrific car crash, and I discovered that he had a secret, second family. But nobody in my family was willing to talk to me about his death, the other family, or my long history of difficulties with my father. So, I began to talk to myself about these things . . . in the form of the movie. And, I began to see how all these issues were intertwined . . . my days in the rave scene, the problems with father, my troubled history with girls, my prior drug addiction. So, I set out to do whatever it took to take an honest look at the relationships in my life, both good and bad, and I ended up spending four years working on this movie under Robb’s guidance. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I felt that I had to . . . for myself, for Marcie and our family, for Craig. Before he died, Craig told me that it would someday fall on me to tell our story honestly, and as I worked on the project I felt that I had to honor that promise.

TECHNICAL STUFF: This movie looks like it was filmed by a bunch of kids on drugs! Because it was. The Lost Year was assembled from a variety of home movies . . . VHS, Hi8, DV, and HD (although I ended up uglying-up the few HD shots I took). It was edited using Final Cut on an old eMac that technically didn’t meet the minimum requirements to even run the program. I was a huge fan of the lo-fi/no-fi movement in music (Sentridoh, etc.) and I wanted to make the filmic equivalent. I wanted things raw, ugly, out-of-focus, granulated, distorted . . . I wanted to make the anti-movie. I knew I was never going to make VHS footage from 1999 look like the stunning HD footage we’re accustomed to in documentaries today, so I completely embraced this lo-fi aesthetic, found ways to accentuate the limitations of each particular medium, and even shot the subsequent interviews roughly on the same cheapo camera I’d used for much of the earlier rave footage. Too conceptual? Maybe at times, but if I was ever going to make a movie selfishly, this was the chance.

ARTSY STUFF: On a practical level, The Lost Year was necessary to help me make sense of my situation. However, I didn’t want the movie to exist only as therapy, but also as art. The movie was built on the philosophical architecture of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. The quote from that book that best encapsulates the movie is, “Without contraries is no progression,” but I used instead, “You never know what is enough, unless you know what is more than enough,” because I also wanted to give viewers some kind of warning that excessive, extreme images were about to open the movie. The color was graded to approximate the feeling of a drug experience, and also to mirror the look of Blake’s engravings from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. A dominant theme in the movie is the uneasy blurring of fact and fiction/life and art, as seen through multiple characters who emulate their fictitious heroes.

Primary Influences: The films of Robb Moss, Ross McElwee, Ed Pincus, Alfred Guzzetti, and Jonathan Caouette. Underground dance music, especially Luna-C, as well as the music of Joanna Newsom. "One Art," by Elizabeth Bishop. William Blake. Donnie Darko.

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