The Humble but Powerful Wizard

This past Saturday at Peoples Bank Theatre's Colony Short Film Fest, my partner Andy Hall gave a preview of his feature film Arcadia to the cast, crew, and community in Marietta who helped it come to life. It's hard to describe just what a feat that is, how amazing it was, and how proud I am, but I'll try.

When we met 10 years ago, Andy was a film buff with a childhood dream of making movies, but he didn't own a good camera until 5 years later. He taught himself how to do everything through YouTube videos, online forums, and chatting with professionals in the field. Two years after buying his first camera, Andy released a stop-motion film called The Stone, which was quickly picked up for distribution by ShortsHD TV. He made it all by himself in our basement over the course of a year.

Soon after The Stone was complete, he started working on what he thought would be his first short film. It turned into his first feature, ArcadiaArcadia took about two years to complete from concept to first viewing. It happened on a shoestring crowdfunded budget with two years' worth of Andy's evenings and weekends and thousands of hours donated by volunteers.

To illustrate the impact that Andy has had on me as a person and an artist as I watched him make this movie, I want to tell you about The Fool and The Magician.

Andy and I both enjoy the art and symbolism of tarot cards. We don't really buy into the divination that some people use them for, but we have several decks in the house with different styles of art that we enjoy, and we like learning and talking about their meanings. The cards are like a deconstructed story, and we're drawn to certain cards like we're drawn to certain characters or themes in stories. Andy's favorite card has always been The Fool, which represents spontaneity, humor, starting new adventures, and taking the "foolish" path of following your dreams and doing things that initially seem impossible. (Not surprisingly, the card shows up in different ways in Arcadia.) My favorite card is The Magician, which represents taking action, contentiousness, focus, concentration, and power. Each card neatly summarizes our individual approaches to our art and our life. 

As I've watched Arcadia and other pieces of Andy's work come to life, I've learned that Andy's philosophy of The Fool affords him a kind of power that The Magician can never have. The focus and concentration of The Magician often causes her to miss the powerful and beautiful options outside of her scope of vision. Inspired by Andy, I've been learning to let The Fool's philosophy guide my work and life more so that I can remain open to experiences outside my scope of knowledge, connect with other artists, and have a lot more fun. 

Andy's philosophy as The Fool is just a mask for his power as The Magician. He prefers to work his magic when no one's paying attention so his viewers get to experience the sensation that The Fool loves so much: surprise. So, when Executive Producer Zane Lazer called Andy "the humble but powerful wizard," on Saturday night, I couldn't help grinning from ear to ear. Truer words could not have been spoken, and the proof was in the stunning beauty of what was on the screen. Here are just a few stills:

Here's the rest of Zane's introduction from Saturday, which was absolutely perfect:

I’m Dr. Zane Lazer, a local ophthalmologist and the executive producer of Arcadia. I am very excited to introduce this film and very honored to be invited to help bankroll this concourse of phantasmagoric light and shadows as imagined by the humble but powerful wizard, Andy Hall. You are about to experience a candlelit kaleidoscope containing the hidden talents and secret spaces of Marietta.

For those of you who are planning to make your own movie and don’t know Marietta well, we have many mysterious locations, we have many quaint antique shops for props, and we have a underground community of artists that is enthusiastic and growing every year (and in this film, the community is literally underground).

My wife and I moved to Marietta over 15 years ago from the Upper East Side of Manhattan and friends thought that we would be starving in the cultural wilderness... Far from it. I can honestly say that Marietta’s cultural community has gotten better bigger stronger every year. In a small town, you can be a doctor or lawyer or small businessman and have a profound impact on your community through supporting the arts. I wouldn’t have had that sort of opportunity in NYC. I would encourage my colleagues in the professional and business world of Marietta to get more involved in funding the arts in Marietta.

This film is the product of a group of newcomers to the art and business of filmmaking. They learned how to raise funds through crowdfunding, they learned new techniques as they shot the film. The film started as a figment of Andy’s imagination sparked by the news that the Colony Theatre was being renovated. Andy realized that the decrepit and spooky old building presented a spectacular location for a movie... and he had to hurry, because the construction crew was on the way. He used the eerie low light conditions of the unrestored theatre and underground locations throughout the town and used new high tech HD cameras that can shoot in extremely low light conditions. What began as a guerrilla short film shot in extremely tough conditions became a feature length movie which engulfed a year of Andy Hall’s life and inspired the entire art community of Marietta.

You will be guided on this tour of Andy’s Stygian Fantasia by Marietta’s artists and performers and the tour will include vivid unearthly imagery, a compelling adventure in Marietta’s secret spaces, and a tour of the deepest recesses of the labyrinthine mind of Andy Hall.
— Zane Lazer

I'm so happy that I was able to give time and energy to Arcadia between my own projects, and it was an honor to be a part of this wonderful work with this wonderful man.

P.S. - I want to thank Andy for never, ever...not even once...asking me to take time or energy away from my music and my career to help him with his project. He genuinely loves that he has a partner who has her own art and career, and he refuses to sap my resources away from my work. I am filled with gratitude for having him as a partner.

P.S.S. - If you missed the community preview, there will be other showings at other times. Follow the Arcadia page on Facebook to get updates on festivals, showings, and distribution.