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Jon Moritsugu NUMBSKULL REVOLUTION! interview

 Jon Moritsugu screening his films at RAMIKEN CRUCIBLE gallery in NYC in 2016

From About page at Jon Moritsugu's website:

Writer/director JON MORITSUGU has been making films since 1985. In 1989, Village Voice critic J. Hoberman called Moritsugu’s Brown University thesis short, DER ELVIS, one of the “Top 50 films of the 80’s.”

Since then, his features MOD FUCK EXPLOSIONMY DEGENERATIONFAME WHORESCUMROCKHIPPY PORN and PIG DEATH MACHINE have scorched eyeballs worldwide from Sundance to MOMA to Cannes to the Guggenheim to Berlin to the Whitney to Toronto to name a few. In 1993, James Schamus (former CEO of Focus Features) produced Moritsugu’s television comedy, TERMINAL USA, which aired nationwide on PBS.
 Visit for more on this amazing underground film legend!

Jon Moritsugu's 2012 Grammy nominated video for "no future shock" by TV ON THE RADIO:

Sujewa - Hello Jon, Nice to have you back at the blog.  Tell us all about the new film that you are working on, and the crowdfunding campaign.
Jon - Right on and good to be back!!! My eighth and newest feature is shooting this summer in Santa Fe and Marfa, TX. It's a deconstruction and satire of the high art world and will be a full-on spectacle of eyeball-scorching sets, improbable narrative madness... and my wife of 20+ years and leading lady Amy Davis will be playing twins - a totally uptight mega-artstar and her flakey, fun-loving sister. We've raised a small amount of money from private donations and crowdfunding seems the next logical step in our pre-production. We've got an awesome production team put together and will be shooting for about 2 1/2 weeks.

Sujewa - Is this your first time attempting to use crowdfunding to finance a film?  How do you feel about this new development in the indie filmmaking world?
Jon - For my last movie, PIG DEATH MACHINE, we did crowdfunding to raise money for post-production. It was a totally clean, cool way to complete the movie with the minimal amount of hassle. I love crowdfunding. It's a great way to pitch your vision and project to the masses in a totally democratic way. I really like how crowdfunding makes the project come "alive"... it's like infusing a bunch of ideas with a real spirit and soul. 
Sujewa - What have you been up to since your last film was released?
Jon - I did some traveling in support of PIG DEATH MACHINE and then shot some smaller projects like a fashion lookbook for streetwear company MISHKA. I'm also in the middle of writing a book on filmmaking as it relates to my life and my philosophies.... it'll be out in 2018 and full color too! Amy and I also focused on our band, LOW ON HIGH, and recorded a ton of stuff. 
Sujewa - How did you like taking part in that art show re: your work in NYC last year?
Jon - Yeah, it was Sept. 2016 at RAMIKEN CRUCIBLE. It was a blast! Too much fun! I didn't know how my movies would translate to an "art gallery" situation - so we ended up projecting 7 features at the same time in the huge, cavernous space. It was completely beautiful, overwhelming, loud... and surprisingly easy to watch. You could focus on bits of narrative and editing and then change your entire perspective by looking across the room at a completely different movie. It was disjointed and fluid at the same time, and oddly meditative and relaxing. People were chilling out for hours at a time in the gallery, and I had expected that no one would be able to endure more than 5 minutes.
Sujewa - My view is that this is the best time in history to be an indie filmmaker, due to digital and web.  What are your thoughts?  Is this the best time, or the worst time, or is it both?
Jon - It's a little of both. A great time because of the low cost gear, accessibility of technology and the internet as a distribution system. And it's also a tough time because of the plethora and overwhelming landslide of so much stuff out there! It's harder to get noticed and a lot of the work is derivative because its been influenced by too much other art. Best and worst of times... happening at the same time. Yeah.

Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis are the punk band LOW ON HIGH

Sujewa - Talk a bit about how your wife and creative partner Amy Davis has worked with you on your projects over the years.  What's the upside of having your wife be a main collaborator and what, if any, is the down side?
Jon - It's truly awesome to be married to someone who is your best friend, harshest critic, and strongest supporter. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and Amy is my #1art buddy. Someone I can really trust to help to create and cement the vision. It hasn't always been a smooth ride, though. In the early days I had a hard time listening to someone else, whose ideas were often better than mine... and I had to do a whole lot of growing up in order to be cool with the collaboration. Plus I had to deal with the male vs. female battle. It was like the classic movie, "Adam's Rib." Funny now, but really hard at the time. I am so glad we are where we are right now. She's kept me sane, grounded, and moving forward in life. 

From YouTube - "On March 24, 2017, Gregg Araki, Roddy Bogawa, Marcus Hu, and Jon Moritsugu talked about their careers in film for USC's Visions & Voices:  "Gregg Araki, Roddy Bogawa, Marcus Hu, and Jon Moritsugu—the “bad boys” of Asian American cinema—have exploded notions of identity and identification through a radicalized indie-film aesthetic inspired as much by the anything-goes energy of the underground music scene as by the formalist experimentations of directors like Godard. Join us for a panel discussion and concert exploring how indie cinema has been transformed by their punk-influenced, sexually and artistically transgressive, DIY filmmaking.""
Sujewa - What was it like taking part in the most recent Anarchy in Asian America cinema panel event with Gregg Araki, Roddy Bogawa, Marcus Hu?
Jon - This was almost like a reunion for all of us, as we had met in the late-80's/early-90's. I love these guys and am so happy that everyone is still alive and kicking ass in cinema. So much inspiration at the event and it was really cool to talk about where we came from, what the world was like, and how much its changed for the better. There was a time when the world did not think it was possible for people like us to make art films where the characters spoke English. 
Sujewa - I think, as your career shows, it is now possible to practice filmmaking in a way similar to art making in other mediums - painting, sculpture, etc - with a DIY approach, promoting one's events, building a fan base over the years, and now getting funding from the fan base through crowdfunding.  I think that this is a complete model for a filmmaking career. Something that can be done with or without participation in the main film industry of this country/Hollywood/TV, etc.  What are your thoughts on this new development?
Jon - You know, I think you can trace this type of model back to our old friend, Karl Marx. He said that to be successful, you've got to control every phase of "production." You've got to dream up the product, make it, create the store that will sell or distribute it, and then collect the money. I've always wanted to make movies in this Marxist type of way where I was in control of most phases. And along the way, I noticed other people doing it too, people like NWA, Dischord Records, Steven Soderbergh, etc. As a filmmaker, I firmly believe you've gotta make some cool shit, but you also have to control your shit and you've gotta protect your shit. 
Sujewa - If you could do a Netflix or Amazon show, what would it be about?
Jon - It would be about someone like me... an artist trying to be "Marxist" in a totally non-Marxist world.... someone stumbling and often falling in a totally insignificant or grand way.... someone succeeding too... ultimately someone trying to decipher the world and figure out how they fit into it, but it keeps changing like the Bruce Lee "Hall of Mirrors" scene. And sometimes all that is left from the battle is a blood stain on a shard of glass. 
Thanks Jon!

For more on Jon Moritsugu's work, visit his website.

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