Maybe you missed Bass Ackwards when it screened back in May during the SIFF‘s first week. Maybe you caught a screening but would like to see it again. Maybe you downloaded it from the iTunes shop but want to catch it on the big screen. Whatever your situation, you’re in luck – Bass Ackwards kicks off a five day run at NW Film Forum on Saturday, June 12.
Writer/director Linas Phillips (Great Speeches from a Dying World, Walking to Werner) makes his fictional feature film debut playing an imagined version of himself. Instead of making films, this Linas takes a trip across the US, something the real Linas and cinematographer Sean Porter did in order to film this movie. After being booted from his friends’ apartment and dumped by his girlfriend, the fictional Linas takes a job tending alpacas. Adorable as the alpacas are, Linas still isn’t completely satisfied and so when he discovers a modified VW bus, he decides to head east to his parents’ home in Boston to decide what to do with himself.
Along the way, Linas discovers America in bits and pieces and encounters a variety of characters who offer him both company and opportunity for reflection. Bass Ackwards moves at a slow, contemplative pace. There are no wild rides here; as Linas and his van travel down the road, life happens at a leisurely pace, allowing Linas and his viewers the chance to savor every morsel.
During SIFF, Linas returned to Seattle to talk about Bass Ackwards.
Linas Phillips: I barely even knew I wanted to make a movie but I had these ideas and I wrote a few scenes and we wrote scenes together and I was writing a little bit with the cinematographer. It was very natural, just slow-building.
Did you have the script before you started to film or were you building it as you went?
LP: Kind of as we went. Before we went on the road trip section of it we didn’t have anything written for that. I had a few ideas for when my character got to New York but it changed later. We shot for three weeks here [Seattle] in 2008 and then we got to New York and then we basically took a year off. I was writing new scenes. So a lot of stuff, even that takes place on the road, we just went a couple hours out of New York City and shot it so it was kind of weird, the shooting schedule.
How long did it take to put it all together?
LP: A year and a half – not working on it the whole time.
Are you happy with the way it came out?
LP: Yeah. I’m pretty tough on myself, but yeah.
Was there anything specific that you were trying to accomplish with this story?
LP: World peace. I guess I’m hesitant to say because maybe I’ll sound like a dummy, you know, like “this is my message” but I like art that tries to do that. I’ve always liked the way that Bob Dylan talked about Woody Guthrie when he said, “Those were songs that could teach you how to live.” I liked that idea in general. With this film I had certain ideas – I was thinking about relationship and life isn’t fair. The character I play has the psychological kind of…what goes into that and how someone feels so bad about themselves. I think it’s some kind of message to remind people to love themselves and that things can get better. And you can meet other people and hopefully be open enough to be in the bosom of their glow, their light that they have. You just have to try to be open to that. Often you’re not because you’re depressed, but what’s nice is that I think we show that the character gets to be in a place where he’s not like that.
Obviously every artist puts elements of their selves into their work, but are there autobiographical elements to the character Linas?
LP: Well, you can put yourself into a work so many different ways. You can have some experience of loss in your life and then do a film that’s about loss in a totally different way and put yourself into it in that way. This was putting myself into it in ways that were kind of across the board. Sure, I’d has experiences of loss but I wasn’t feeling that at the time I made the movie. There were things that were still interesting. I did have a relationship that was similar to the one in the movie and so we kind of dramatized it and that’s my real dad and at times in my life I’ve felt that sort of pressure from a very traditional mother/father to…that I would be accepted and loved more if I had a girlfriend. We don’t hit it too hard in the movie but I think that I can relate to that. It’s not the only thing that I think about when it comes to my parents but it’s just one issue that I thought would help for this story.
Bass Ackwards screens at 7:00pm and 9:00 pm daily June 12 – 17 at NW Film Forum.