The Trylon microcinema
3258 Minnehaha Avenue South
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 @ 7:30 p.m.
(2011, Michael Johnson, DVD, 93m) Director Michael Johnson and Producer Marc Percansky will be on hand for Q & A! French for 'scissoring,' this experimental film matches allegory with wit and symbolically portrays real images of the band engaged in everyday activities as representations of enigmatic lyrics. Go on the road as the band travels to four gigs in Eastern Wisconsin, August 2010.
NO COVER! FREE! But $5 donations will be accepted, if that makes you feel better about witnessing such a one-of-a-kind event.
DOORS - 7:10pm, SHOWTIME - 7:30pm, after brief introduction by Producer Marc Percansky. After the show, stick around for Q&A with Marc and Director Michael Johnson.
Starring in alphabetical order: Terry Eason, Mike Leonard, Paul McFarland, Gretchen Seichrist, and Tommy Tousey!
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 1:32:52.
Shot and edited in the cinema verite style of filmmaking, Detourage - On Tour With Patches & Gretchen, reveals the truth (as I saw it) about a band at the height of its prowess. For four days in August of last year, 2010, I came along for the ride, as it were, as the band traveled to dates in eastern Wisconsin. With a few tricks up my sleeve, my informal plan was to capture as much of the behind-the-scenes disputes and arguments as the band would allow and hopefully edit it into a reality type he said/she said type production. Make it a really cheesy over-the-top cornball production to contrast with live shots of the band rocking out to unknown crowds. But this idea had flown out the window by the first night of shooting. It was then that I began to find myself in a somewhat different role pertaining to the band than just that of filmmaker. For now I was the mediator. Painfully, from a filmmaker's point of view, I had to not just listen and film, but participate as a mediator of sorts, in band arguments and discussions. And this precluded me from even secretly taping what literally would have been "gold" moments, revealing the participants in all their shameless glory.
On to plan B.
As is often the case with the cinema verite approach, plans for shooting can go off in many different directions and the filmmaker has to be ready and willing to follow the muse, as it were. Gladly, this situation is ideally suited to Patches & Gretchen, if not their one operating principle. Anything goes, it might not always be rosy, but lots of fun is usually to be had. So with camera and wireless mic in hand, always making sure to recharge batteries, etc., the new plan was just to get anything and everything as I went with the band doing various things throughout the day, leading up to the shows at night. This made for many opportunities to capture candid moments as well as a sizable troth of supporting shots, literally whatever caught my eye whether I had a notion of how it would help the film or not. And again, working with the cast and crew of Patches & Gretchen, including producer Marc Percansky, in a "laissez-faire" style, if you will, was the perfect approach for documenting this life on the road, this tour. For example, walking around the towns, just looking at the new environs, Gretchen was always saying ooh, look at that, get this, get that. It didn't seem to make sense at the time, but once I got in the edit booth I was grateful for Gretchen's intuitive sense on how certain images would help support her lyrics. But these were not always used the way she or I or anyone had originally thought.
Editing a cinema verite type film is the most challenging, but ultimately the most rewarding part of the process. This is because, literally, the film starts to tell its own story. Shots and situations start to mutate and take on new dimensions. What seemed like a throwaway shot, an accident where I thought I had paused the camera but didn't (just a hypothetical), becomes the cornerstone of an entire segment. And this is what I found as I began to chip away at this very rare block of granite. As a sculptor trying to find what lay inside the precious stone I cautiously began unlocking the secrets digitally encoded on magnetic tape, the pieces of the puzzle which would cohere into what is the goal of all successful filmmaking - telling a good story.
The word "Detourage" is French for 'scissoring.' However, this simple fact was unknown to me when I came up with the name for the movie. I had thought I was making up a new word just as a way to shorten the working title of the film at that time from, "Detour, the la di da de tour, the tour within a tour, On Tour With Patches & Gretchen." But when I learned from Marc, the meaning and origin of the word, this bit of synchronicity was so compelling it made it all seem like it was meant to be. That is because I had added the "age" on "detour" after editing a part of the movie featuring shots of a salon in Sheboygan named, "Entourage." It just seemed like a clever way to get the point across of the tour movie being like going on one long detour (not necessarily a bad thing!) And the fact that 'detourage' meant 'scissoring' fit with a subtheme of getting one's haircut, both literally and figuratively, not to mention the arduous task of 'cutting' up the over 9 hours of footage, with which I was then engaged.