Why do I make films? More honest question: why do we make films? I cannot do this alone; there are always others, a team. It starts with a desire to find new ways of seeing. But this can only happen after I become receptive enough to the Muses call; not "my" Muses (they belong to no one!). I want intimacy with the fertile void, the source of all creation, and its hilarious offspring, the singing womb of the Poetic Imagination.
My films don't fit into any existing cinematic genre; they are marketting nightmares! Most of my movies are veiled autobiographies, oneric docufictions, giving narrative and poetic form to my internal landscape interacting with, and being acted on by, real world events. This process started with the sudden tragic death of my second daughter Zoe in September of 1992. The worst thing that could ever happen to me, happened to me. Great losses sometimes come with gifts and, this unfathomable loss hammered me with the gift of vision; the eyes of my eyes opened. I saw "death" as an illusion, an intellectual symbol for fear, social control, and oppression. I saw through the lies of society. I saw the eternal cycles of Life; people come and go but Life continues. I've seen true Love upstage Death in the Theatre of Life. However I also became overwhelmed by more perceptions of reality than I knew what to do with. That's when I bought my first consumer camcorder.
Waves of grief and epiphany guided the scripting and production of my first feature, THE ORACLE (1993), about a cynical elder patriarch whose granddaughter, Ariadne, appears in his dreams as a guide on his final night on earth. My own cynicism withered after being inspired by my friend Rob Brezsny's ideas of "the drivetime", an interface between dreamtime and daytime realities. Together, we wrote and produced THE DRIVETIME (1995), about a federal time-travelling librarian from the year 2023 returning to 1999 via the dreams of a Seattle video activist shooting police riots. Five years later, I was moved to explore conflicting religious beliefs in TRAGOS (2000), a cyber-noir witch hunt tale about a fundamentalist Christian attourney mistakenly convinced that a blind pagan woman is the leader of a 'satanic suicide cult'.
The racial profiling immediately following the 9/11 attacks outraged the making of HYSTERIA (2002; written with Jakob Bokulich), about a Croatian Catholic soldier who drinks datura tea and mistakes a powerful hallucination for a visitation from the Holy Virgin Mary with catastrophic consequences. On my fiftieth birthday, I felt compelled to explore my Finnish roots in UNDER A SHIPWRECKED MOON (2003), where a Finnish-American family visits their hospitalized, comatose patriarch whose true love beckons him from the great beyond. Highly creative women standing at the crossroads between sacrificing their lives to Art or Motherhood inspired the making of THE GREATER CIRCULATION (2005) where the poet Rainer Maria Rilke transforms his grief over the sudden death of his friend, the artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, into his epic prose lament, "Requiem for a Friend". Meanwhile, three women and two men stage an avante garde performance of Rilke's prose in present time, Berkeley California.
Fear-mongering politics triggered the making of my anxious Christmas comedy, THE MIND IS A LIAR AND A WHORE (2007), about a quirky Berkeley household climbing the slippery slopes between actual and perceived threats during an alleged bioterrorist attack in their city. I returned to my earliest theatrical influence, Antonin Artaud, for THE INVISIBLE FOREST (2008) about an insomniac theatre director (whom I portray) conducting a group paratheatrical experiment in a forest when a series of disturbing dreams forces him to question his sanity. My next film explored the suspicious circumstances surrounding the deathbed signing of proprietal documents between a former mentor, Christopher S. Hyatt and his son in TO DREAM OF FALLING UPWARDS (2011), a zany occult saga about an urban sex magickian who seeks help from a Castaneda-style desert witch to solve a vexing esoteric problem of spirit possession.
My need to work through unresolved liasons with certain women led to FLAMINGOS (2012), an outlaw romance noir about twin sisters in love with a bank-robbing hypnotist junkie. My feminist fable THE BOOK OF JANE (2013) developed from a vision of three generations of women and the overlapping worlds of the nomadic homeless, ivory tower academia, and pre-Hellenic goddess worship.
My ongoing dialogue with the autonomous archetype of the Muses inspired SYLVANI (formerly "Out of the Woods" 2015, recut & retitled in 2021) an uncommon love story of a boy with an imaginary friend who accompanies him through manhood into old age.
After a five year hiatus from filmmaking, the Cinema Muses called me back to work in THE VANISHING FIELD (2020), inspired by the ongoing impact of a spontaneous out of body experience I suffered in my early twenties, reframed for this film within the setting of a Zen monastery with three monks (non-actors) improvising dialogue based on my on-site suggestions; Zen filmmaking. In my next feature, "THE ALCHEMY OF SULPHUR" (2021) I explore a magical realist romance with the power of imagination as a writer of short stories creates crises in her main relationship to spur her artistic process until the story she's writing starts bleeding over into her daily llfe. Production planned for April/May 2021 with a November premiere.
PARATHEATRE. In 1977, I was inspired by Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski's paratheatrical experiments to develop my own "paratheatre" medium which I've documented in two books, "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" (2003) and "State of Emergence" (2020) and numerous videos demonstrating various modalities of this dynamic group ritual process. Many themes and characters of my films have been inspired my personal Paratheatre experiences, especially between 2010 and 2019 when we courted the archetype of the Muses. In late 2015, after nineteen prolific years of music and film production in Berkeley, Sylvi and I relocated to Portland Oregon where we staged five original paratheatrical productions and recorded a series of our own songs as bird&wolf which I made into music videos.
Since 1992, I have been crafting numerous short "videopoems" using text by Blake, Rilke, Neruda, H.D., Rimbaud, Plath, & others, as well as, many experimental works. With the exception of these short works, most of my films and videos have been made in collaboration with many others. I am especially grateful for the support and artistic inspiration of my wife, the multi-talented Sylvi Alli and my skillful editor, Chris Odell (features from 2000-2015). So far, all my movies have been self-funded and/or co-produced with peers. Each movie typically takes four to twelve months from concept to final cut. My work gains promotional support from reviews at filmthreat.com and other film review blogs. All my feature movies and short works are now available for free viewing online at this webpage.
Films Online, Filmography, Bibliography,
Paratheatrical ReSearch, IMDb
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On YouTube and Vimeo - Free of charge
completed works since 1991
Books in print since 1986
Experimental theatre; since 1977
- VENUE HISTORY -
where these films have screened
NORTHWEST FILM FORUM (Seattle), UC IRVINE (Irvine CA), PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE (Berkeley), MILLS COLLEGE CONCERT HALL (Oakland), FINE ARTS CINEMA (Berkeley), RED VIC MOVIEHOUSE (S.F.), PICKFORD CINEMA (Bellingham WA), DIVA CENTER (Eugene OR), CELLspace (S.F.), A.T.A. GALLERY (S.F.), PARKWAY SPEAKEASY THEATRE (Oakland), HOLLYWOOD THEATRE, (Portland), CLINTON ST. THEATER (Portland), GUILD (NW Film Center, Portland), 911 MEDIA ARTS (Seattle), CREST THEATRE (Sacramento), RED POPPY ART HOUSE (S.F.), BERKELEY ART CENTER (Berkeley), ROSE THEATRE (Port Townsend WA), ABUNDANT SUGAR (Los Angeles), 21 GRAND (Oakland), OAKLAND BLACK BOX (Oakland), DANZHAUS (S.F.), THE JAZZHOUSE (Berkeley), LIVE OAK THEATRE (Berkeley), LA PENA (Berkeley), ARTSHIP (Port of Oakland), MAGIC THEATRE (Nevada City), I-GONG (Seoul, S. Korea), FINNISH BROTHERHOOD HALL (Berkeley), MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Santa Monica), VELVET ELVIS ARTS THEATRE (Seattle), COLOURBOX (Seattle), JUPITER CAFE and BLAKE'S (Berkeley), WEATHERED WALL (Seattle), GRACE NORTH CHURCH (Berkeley), ILLUSEUM (Amsterdam, Netherlands), THE HUMANIST HALL (Oakland), ANNO DOMINI GALLERY (San Jose), SUBTERRANEAN ARTHOUSE (Berkeley), THE LOST CHURCH (San Francisco), CLOUD 9 (Berkeley), BERKELEY ARTS FESTIVAL (Berkeley), THE DREAM INSTITUTE (Berkeley), EAST BAY MEDIA CENTER (Berkeley), UNIVERSITY BOOK STORE (Berkeley), SANTA CRUZ INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART (Santa Cruz), PERFORMANCE WORKS NORTHWEST (Portland OR), HEADWATERS THEATRE (Portland OR), PERFORMANCEWORKS NW (Portland), BOLINAS COMMUNITY CENTER (Bolinas)