After seeing Instagram photos of Jon Moritsugu and his wife, lead actress, and muse Amy Davis scouting locations for Numbskull Revolution in Texas, I went straight to the movie’s indiegogo page to support it. It’s always surreal to hang out with my friends wherever they are, but Marfa actually looks like one of their super-saturated, art-damaged, low-budget, and high-art movie sets. I had to find out more about the movie, and maybe inspire a couple of you out there to get behind it too.
How did you wind up in Marfa?
Marfa… is a sorta mythical little town in West Texas that is stuffed full of “high modern art”—you know, the art we all have made fun of at some point of our lives. Amy and I first visited a few years ago and have been back three times. You love Marfa or hate it. No middle ground. Lotsa peace, not too many choices (food, stores, etc.) but a beautiful place to just chill, sit, and walk around. And you can check out lotsa artwork like Donald Judd’s giant concrete boxes, Flavin’s fluorescent light bulbs, etc. It ties in with the new movie, Numbskull Revolution, because the flick is gonna be about this rarified, strange world of this type of art.
Can you expand on the movie’s general theme?
I wanna deconstruct and satirize the art scene. Amy is playing two characters: an ultra-uptight mega art star and her sleazy and flaky twin sister. It’s gonna be a battle between super ego and id, set in a place that will make Blade Runner seem bland. The movie will be a full-on blitzkrieg of color, glitter, narrative twists, and tragic moments combined with sheer ha-ha funniness and blood-curdling action. This will be my eighth feature and most technically challenging one… We’re shooting a bunch of the scenes in a green-screen studio and will create a movie with an utterly mind-blowing aesthetic.
A lot of your biggest fans are probably part of the art scene you’ll be skewering. Is there a balance of drawing from experience without pissing off supporters?
Yeah, you’ve got to absolutely find that balance. At the same time I’m skewering artists and their scene; I want to delve into the mystery and strangeness of “making art.” After all, I am a creator, too. I transform ideas into movies… and it is awesome, mind-blowing… and also pretentious and an utterly weird way to live a life.
Who are some people you’ll be collaborating with? Any familiar faces?
My wife of 20+ years, super-muse, and leading lady Amy Davis will play the twins. Also appearing will be James Duval (who has appeared in two of my movies and was Frank the Bunny in Donnie Darko). Production design (sets and props) will be handled by Jennifer Gentile, who created the look of my movies Mod Fuck Explosion, Terminal USA, and Fame Whore. And the whole thing will be shot by director of photography extraordinaire, Anne Misawa. Jacques Paisner of Santa Fe is producing it. We’ve got some awesome people at the core of this project and I can’t wait to get started.
Another collaborator of this project is for real art star Tracey Snelling, who is creating all the backdrops and scenics for the movie. Characters will be shot in a green screen studio and popped into these environments.
Your soundtracks are crucial to your movies. Do you have songs in place to propel the movie? Bands in mind?
I have some vague ideas right now, but nothing specific. But I do know that Numbskull Revolution’s soundtrack is gonna be a bricolage of raw rock-n-roll, space rock, synthesizer drones, and some modern classical (I’m totally digging Alan Hovhaness).
Wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to be working on a book?
Yes! I signed a deal with Kaya Press for a book on my life in film, all the ups and downs, and the juicy details. This will be out in later 2018 and as much as it’ll contain words, it’s also gonna be a full-color, full-on art book. I’m working on this right now and I am sure I will have some great new material from the production of Numbskull Revolution.
With the book in the works and career-spanning film retrospectives under your belt, has revisiting your body of work been like an out-of-body experience? Therapy? Has it affected your inspiration and outlook?
Yeah, it’s been totally out-of-body but its been really cool, too. As a filmmaker, it’s really easy to lose track of where you’ve been and just focus on the road ahead, upcoming projects, plans, etc. The retrospective and book have let me slow down a bit and check out what I’ve done. I would suggest this for anyone. Take some time to examine your life and everything you’ve accomplished. It can be overwhelming but also really mind-blowing ’cause not only can you see patterns of behavior and success or failure but it will really give you an appreciation of how time flies by, as well as how intense and crazy life is. It’s allowed me to focus on this new project but to also give myself a break and chill, take a nap, etc.
I’m sure teaching filmmaking has been an out-of-body experience, too. How has teaching the art affected your doing it?
First of all, I love the kids! If I am doing the right amount of teaching and doing it the right way, I leave the school at the end of the day feeling more uplifted and stoked. As much as I try to inspire students, they give me an energy back that is totally kick-ass and helps me to move ahead with my projects. It’s a complete win-win situation. I have met some amazing people through teaching and I have learned so much from the people around me in the school.
How is the crowdsourcing going? Is this democratization of the art patronage tradition just a necessary evil/addition to your job or something kind of fun and interesting?
Indiegogo is rocking! But we do need all of your help out there. I’m a lover of crowdsourcing and think its such a brilliant way of raising dough as well as spreading the word about a project. It’s an important and fun thing to do that really helps me to focus on the movie and feel its impending realness.
Stalk Jon at jonmoritsugu.com. Support Numbskull Revolution at indiegogo.com and get cool stuff like DVDs, art prints by Amy Davis, and more!