Very likely not coming any time soon, if ever, to a theater near you is a locally produced work-in-progress of guerilla moviemaking that might just qualify as the biggest farce and most extravagantly produced anti-event since Geraldo Rivera cracked open Al Capone’s vault to a big fart of dust.
Tectonic Jelly’s initial installment, now available online, is a singularly odd cinematic venture: a two-minute movie trailer for an unfinished 15-minute short film that, in turn, is nothing but the bombastic menu screen for a live concert DVD that proves more low-budget and artistically flawed than the trailer promoting it.
This is one of those things so borderline stupid it’s sort of brilliant, a bit of subversive nonsense that, like bad sex or bunk weed, is all promise and no payoff — which, of course, is exactly the point. Means and ends meet in one big hoax, though the spirit of this ongoing project is teasing and rambunctious instead of cynical and mean.
Tectonic Jelly, the concept, is the brainchild of Eugene graphic artist Aaron Sullivan, whose work is regularly featured in galleries around town. Tectonic Jelly, the movie, is a collaborative effort between Sullivan and budding auteur Dylan Keim. A local dishwasher who reads Nietzsche in his spare time, Keim is that rare breed of creative slacker, the guy who actually, eventually, follows through on his off-kilter ideas.
Keim, a chronic project hound, directed the new trailer — officially titled Aaron Sullivan’s Tectonic Jelly — posted just last week on the internet. It’s a difficult film to categorize, much less explain, though I can say it features a questing, post-apocalyptic epic hero (Sullivan) who wages a grisly Mesozoic battle with a hypertrophied iguana that looks like something out of Land of the Lost.
“I think it looks good,” Keim says of the Tectonic trailer, which was shot at locations around town (including my backyard) this past summer using a digital camera and then edited on a laptop with new-fangled software. “That was part of the plan, too,” Keim continues, pointing out “the joke of having this high-production DVD menu for a video that’s more amateur-looking and sounding. I’m inspired by the accessibility of the tools. It’s a great medium and a terrific way to punish yourself.”
Keim says he found the filmmaking process to be somewhat Promethean. “On the one hand, godly transcendence,” he jokes. “On the other, brutal and regular mutilation.”
As for the practical side of making movies from scratch, Keim says “the setbacks to doing something this grassroots” — lack of funds, experience, equipment, “you name it” — are balanced out by complete artistic control. “We didn’t have to answer to anybody,” he explains. “We had total freedom and final cut. That was the trade.”
So what, exactly, is the deal with Tectonic Jelly? Originally, Keim explains, it was a term Sullivan used for his various art projects, and since Sullivan is the lead actor, the title just made sense. “Sully loves fame and I hate it,” he says.
“It’s tough,” Keim says, “because in a way, the whole thing is sort of an inside joke that takes a whole spiel to set up. So it might be easier to just say: ‘Fuck you, it’s an art movie.’
“Huge farce is probably the best way to describe it,” he adds.
Tectonic Jelly, the trailer, can be viewed at tectonicjelly.com