Back in the 50s it was a family ritual. Kids would put on pajamas and instead of going to bed would head out to the family car. After a ride, the clan would arrive at a venue with a large white structure that the vehicles would park facing. Images would appear on the screen touting the delicacies available at the snack bar and then a cartoon would come on. It was expected that les enfants would be asleep by the time the first run feature started.
Later, after attaining a license, young adults would proceed to the drive-in and often not merely for the movie. A not insignificant number of conceptions took place in the parked conveyances.
Alas, the glory days of the drive-in are in the past. One by one, the screens darkened and the grounds decayed. The places serve little purpose as anything of value is looted.
Only the real estate is of economic worth depending on the location. What purpose can they serve now?
Well, if you are John Hartman, it would be the spot to do some filming. After all, what other place could conjure up ghosts like somewhere that had been the locus of hundreds of little pods (i.e. cars) of folks and is now derelict. The loneliness of it all is haunting in and of itself.
Hartman is an experimental moviemaker of the guerrilla school. As his budgets easily exceed tens of dollars, this is a necessary skill. He is also known as an advocate of German Expressionism.
John has made a number of movies locally that we have reported on. His best known work, Ghost Bridge, is the story of a knight whose quest transcends time and space.
Full disclosure, I’ve been part of a few of John’s films. It’s always interesting and unique. That said, I am usually the visitor from another dimension. If you took a picture on set and asked which one is different and didn’t pick moi, an eye exam would be in order.
So what were we doing at the ghost drive-in? We were working on Planet Dystopia.
According to John,
Planet Dystopia is an on going skit for upcoming RETRO TUBE episodes. The challenge of Planet Dystopia is in finding suitable post-apocalyptic settings and people willing to enter the arena with little or no outline as to what shall go down on the set. A few lines are jotted down on the ride to the location, and Much of the story writes itself via improvisation, and/or periodic inspiration when the cast is in the moment, on set and in character.
Planet Dystopia delves DEEP into the CHEESE FACTOR UNIVERSE of 1980’s soap opera TV. This is the campiest stuff RETRO TUBE has, thus far…a little bit of Planet Diva mixed in with that brilliant British Internet show, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace .
All John says is true, I think.
The company of actors at the shoot consisted of Natasha Quesno-Theno and Roger Gifford as post-apocalyptic survivors, Evelle Xastur as Diva Evelle, Corrie Clements as an Indigo Virgin Child, and Mark Leonard as Metal Head. Also present were Trevor Hart as the Dark Prophet and Joe Cabral as a corporate monster.
Anyway, there are places to find out more about John and his work. You can like on facebook or go to the official Reel Groovy Films website. There is a lot to explore there.
To watch episode one of Retro Tube click here.
John Hartman and other co-conspirators talk at a Gothenstein shoot.