Work in Progress

Concentrating the essence of movie excitement

For a touring performance piece, filmmaker Jimmy Joe Roche distills the elements of action into an avant-garde, abstract extract

January 20, 2008|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun reporter

Baltimore-based filmmaker Jimmy Joe Roche packs explosive combinations of colors, shapes and textures into his work.

A Wham City arts collective member and graduate student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Roche is on a national tour, performing the surrealist video art and live music presentation Ultimate Reality. Roche is sharing a van with Avant-garde composer/performer Dan Deacon and five other Wham City members for the next week or so until he's due back in school.

While on the road, Roche and Deacon began fleshing out an idea for a new film and video performance piece called Take It to the Max. They plan to enlist several other Wham City groups and tour Europe in July. Take It to the Max should see its U.S. debut at Whartscape, the Wham City arts festival that runs in conjunction with Artscape. Here, Roche discusses the piece:

THE NEW PROJECT --Me and [Deacon] had already been talking about doing a new piece, and we said, `What if we combine everything together and make this whole package -- Baltimore goes to Europe and Baltimore bands and this video collaboration -- all the elements of Ultimate Reality but even more intense?' Total maximalism, but orchestral and bold and exciting. So we started working on this piece.

The people who are booking the tour are pitching it to festivals right now as a Baltimore mini-festival that just shows up in Dublin or wherever and just kicks [butt]. It won't just be these bands are from Baltimore, but a peek into what's happening in Baltimore. We want it to have an aesthetic cohesiveness.

ON COLLABORATING --We've been sitting next to each other starting to hash out this piece while we're driving across the country, which, to me, is blowing my mind. I can't wrap my head around it. ... It's totally crazy. We're crammed in sideways covered in weird filth. You try to position your arms in weird ways so you don't get cramps and just work. I have to set the laptops in weird positions because you just get uncomfortable.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS --I like to work with a lot of footage at first and boil it down to less and less and less until I strip everything away. I'm a real editor in that sense. I like to not have to make immediate choices -- just play around and let accidents happen and see where that takes me.

THE GOAL --I'm trying to boil down the essence of what we get pleasure from, what feeds us in movies -- especially huge budget massive action films. Especially the films that have been coming out recently, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, these huge giant films that everyone in America sees. What is the essential language of those films in motion and color and movement. What is it about that that feeds us? Is it a lineage that's older than America itself? Is it a language? Can we write with it?

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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