When Kansas City artists Cody Critcheloe, Jaimie Warren and Peggy Noland got a $4,000 Rocket Grant for an art project, they immediately decided it would go into the making of a music video.
That wouldn’t be too hard for the trio, who were in the habit of defying the rules of art and fashion.
Critcheloe has made videos for his punk rock band Ssion. Noland designs wild costumes for videos and performance art pieces. Warren dresses up as a popcorn and hosts “Whoop Dee Doo,” a local live show that involves lots of improvisation and fun for kids.
Shooting a music video would be too easy and normal, they thought, so they decided a 20-minute film would be better.
“We thought it might just look like one of the projects we usually do, so we decided to step out from what we usually do and work with someone new,” said Warren.
The new people were Casey Spooner and Adam Dugas, both from New York and with a wealth of experience making movies.
Spooner works on solo projects and also has a band, which has toured with Critcheloe and Ssion. Noland has designed clothes for both.
In the process the 20-minute project evolved to 70, and on Thursday the movie will make its local debut at the Tivoli Cinemas in Westport.
“We spent a month developing the movie and then shot it in three days. It was crazy,” said Dugas, who directed the film with Spooner.
“Dust” is about a family facing a sort of crisis. Three siblings, Lynn (Warren), Baker (Critcheloe) and Margaret Marie (Noland) are confronted with the reality of an elder brother, Coke (Dugas), who is planning to move back into the family house with his new wife.
That is troubling enough for the three siblings and their myopic outlook on life. It doesn’t help that they can’t stand Patty (Katie Rayle of Los Angeles), their sister-in-law.
Discerning viewers might recognize an echo of Anton Chekhov’s famous play “Three Sisters.”
However, the producers say “the style is informed by independent cinema, particularly the Warhol/Morrissey films, early John Waters, Lars von Trier, Pedro Almodovar and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.”
The filmmakers just finished editing this month and have no firm plans to test the festival circuit, but they hope to have a DVD in distribution in the fall.
Warren said she has opted not to watch the film before the public screening. She wants to feel that rush of excitement with the rest of the cast and crew.
The film was mostly shot at the large Northeast area house she shares with four other artists. The crew converted every room into a set. More than 30 area artists worked on the project, including lighting, costume and set designers and videographers. Warren discovered that acting for film wasn’t too far removed from the improvisational style of “Whoop Dee Doo,” but she’s not sure if the effect is the same.
“To me the experience was very surreal, because we didn’t know what we were getting into,” Warren said. “It was hard for me. I had never acted before and I don’t even know whether I did a good job.”
Locals can see and judge for themselves.
John Ngirachu is an Alfred Friendly Fellow from the Daily Nation in Nairobi, Kenya. To reach him, call 816-234-4366 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.