1) What experience convinced you to become a subcultural documentarian/artist?
“PUNK ROCK!!!!!” My first cultural experience (beyond skateboarding and building tree houses) was going to shows at Raul’s Club in Austin. Punk was my introduction into the world of ideas, and was my first documentation project.
2) Your film covers train travel through many states, what was your favorite location?
I love the Sacramento River valley crawly up out of the dusty central valley in California and up into the mountains next to Mt. Shasta. There’s all these sweet places to camp on the side of the river–it’s straight out the classic song (Big Rock Candy Mountain”. My. Shasta has a couple of nice appearances in the film.
3) What did you think you were making when you started this project?
This thing went through a lot of identity crises in the 16 years it took to finish. It started out as a 10 minute super-8 film. At one point I thought the film would be more like a real folklore studies film. But it turned out too rough to be considered a ‘real’ film.
4) If you could have made one film, what would it be?
I love all of Les Blank’s early films, I would have loved to have been there for Always for Pleasure.
5) I was struck by the way the editing mimicked the jerky motion of a train. How much does the aesthetic matter to you when making documentaries?
Oh yeah, rail roads and cinema are essential cousins. The mechanical and formal relationships between sprockets/frames and wheels and cars are incredible. Cinema and Rail roads were invented and developed
around the same time. They both had profound effects on our space/time. And trains are wonderfully photogenic and cinematic. They love to be photographed.
6) What are the last 3 films you’ve seen?
I can’t remember. I hardly watch films at all anymore. I keep trying to remember seeing a film but all I can remember seeing is 2500 miles of recent highway. The road is the only movie in my head.
7) Which artist turned your world upside down as a teenager?
Ted Nugent and Jacques Cousteau.