Listening to Larry Forte’s Limited Perspective podcast while furiously cleaning and scrubbing out one of our cars—a long procrastinated task, I was pulled into a murky memory. The show’s guests were the director and producers of The Georgia Guidestones movie. The Guidestones, a combination of outsider concept art and roadside attraction plunked down in Elberton, Georgia, is a mystery that needed this movie to explain it. During the podcast, the director Mike Reser, described his experience screening the film in Portland. His name was familiar—the same name as a childhood friend. The description of the screening felt like a comedy of errors. Then I realized, I had been there.
Listening back to the podcast in preparing this post, the story was as amusing as when I first heard it. A reference to hipsters was an added bonus. The odd thing—I had no recollection of the film maker attending the event. Sorry Mike! We’re talking something that happened in 2013, or was it 2012? The podcast gave me insight on what it took to make the documentary. It made up for my spacing out on that question and answer session. I appreciate a good fish out of water Portland story so I’m going to let Mike take it from here.
Larry Forte: How did they receive it in Portland when you screened it out there?
Mike Reser: Okay, well, it was received well and the people at the theater liked it but it didn’t get a big crowd out there like it would, you know–Charleston, Athens, Elberton, the southeast—a good draw. It went really well in the south but the people there (in Portland) really enjoyed it. It was good. There was some technical difficulties. There was a yellow spot. I mean it was good in the theater but there was this yellow spot on the screen and it wasn’t on my DVD or Blu-ray or whatever it was. Then maybe three quarters through the movie it stalled out, so there were some technical difficulties that I didn’t really experience anywhere else. But the Q and A there was good just like it was everywhere and some of the people who were there—I think they enjoyed it. There was a review—it was the review—
Christy Sinksen: The regular movie reviewer didn’t review the movie. The food critic was pitch hitting and reviewed the movie.
LF: So that might be kind of a diss by the regular movie reviewer?
MR: Well, here’s the thing this was an extremely low budget, D.I.Y. It was the Clinton Street Theater in Portland and I mean it’s not–it’s a great theater, it really is, but it’s not—
MR: Yeah, so yeah, the regular movie critic, I don’t even remember the newspaper in Portland that did this—that was my first experience of something negative in Portland. So anyway this food critic that did review the film just tore it up.
CS: Didn’t they fixate on really technical details like sound quality?
MR: Yeah it was like I was, I was, I don’t know.
CS: It’s like dude, it’s a cheap camera.
MR: It’s not like I’m Herzog or fucking Coen brothers.
CS: They called him out on technical details.
MR: You know and it’s just like this is a low budget, do it yourself. And then also like the people ramble on you should cut out a lot of stuff and I’m like: This is southern storytelling.
LF: They’re supposed to be rambling on.
MR: So maybe you don’t understand that in hipster Portland. (Everybody laughs.) No, I actually, I like hipsters but going to Portland and doing that I was like whoa, so when you’re in the south and people talk about hipsters, (it’s like) I don’t know I think hipsters are all right. Then you go to a place like Portland, yeah these are insufferable.
LF: Really? Because, I don’t know, the term hipster kind of escapes me because I thought—I didn’t put negative connotations on it.
MR: I never did either until I went to Portland and screened a movie.
LF: So a little sidebar then, what is hipster? What does that mean?
MR: I’m not sure. I don’t know. Someone once called me a hipster trapped in a redneck body. (Everybody laughs.)
MR: I didn’t mean to get off on that.
LF: No, that speaks for me too. That’s something that’s been in my head.
MR: Overall the screening in Portland went well but if there was any negative I ever received from it, it was from a critic in Portland.
Paul Floyd: But it’s the food critic.
MR: I know but it bothered me. It bothered me at the time.
LF: Food critics watch movies. They have opinions.
MR: That’s true it bothered me at the time and now when I look back at it as like—
CS: It’s like one review compared to many glowing reviews.
MR: Yeah and I look at that now and it’s like that’s part of it.
CS: Not everyone is going to like it.
LF: You can look at it both ways because that’s what’s so impressive to me is you did it for like, I don’t know, at best, I know it cost more than two thousand and sixty dollars and if you had paid your people it would’ve been a million dollars.
MR: You know y’all are still waiting on the check. (Laughs)
LF: Let’s assume you did it for two thousand, sixty bucks. You don’t just make a movie like for that little money. For what you did with the resources you had, it’s impressive.
MR: I wished that’s what they had understood because they did review it as like I was a legit indie film maker.
LF: Yeah, like you flew in from New York.
MR: Like, Sundance or something like that, it’s not who I am at all.
LF: Not yet.
The funny thing about the technical difficulties at the screening was how much I’d learned to grin and bear it. It wasn’t a big deal. The Clinton Theater was a bit run down at the time but it made up for that by always offering other worldly cultural experiences, The George Guidestone movie being the type of thing that probably no other theater in town would have screened. One of the owners apologized profusely as we were leaving and gave us tickets for a future show.
I’ve tried in vain to track down that review but have a feeling the food/movie critic was a reporter recruited to host a political candidate forum I worked on during my days at Clark Vancouver Television. (I’ve since been proved wrong on this. It’s a different paper and different food critic/movie reviewer.) There was a time when Portland hipster backlash seemed to be raging full force. It’s strange to feel nostalgic about it. Hipsters were trying too hard, wearing tight pants, showcasing facial hair and maybe, donning big glasses. As for the movie, I know I loved it. It motivated me to get out of the house and across town to see it on the big screen. I am, afterall, the absolute niche market—an outsider art loving, amateur film making, conspiracy theory appreciating, aging hipster wannabe.
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Film stills courtesy of the film maker.
Expertly labelled podcast still courtesy of Larry Forte and many thanks to him for permission to use the transcription from his podcast.
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