…by one guy with extremely good taste. Skizz Cykyk was our projectionist at Slamdance (January 2011). He is a prolific filmmaker, musician, and God knows what else. Here is the interview where Skizz mentions ZiELiNSKi.
Freaks in Love: Skizz Cyzyk
By Garrett Cosgrave. Posted on 22 September 2011.
Have you ever driven a car for ten hours in one day? I have, and let me tell you: it sucks. Your legs get numb, your eyes can’t focus, your stomach runs a spin cycle on the fast food and energy drinks that have kept your hands on the wheel all day. It leaves most people dazed and cranky, myself included.
But not Skizz Cyzyk. Nope, after a full day of driving from his home in Baltimore to make it to the POP Montreal premier of Freaks in Love, a film which looks back on the 25-year journey of the cult punk band Alice Donut, Skizz cheerfully granted me an interview last night. Maybe it’s because his long career playing with numerous punk and punk-influenced bands from the Baltimore area — The Jennifers, Mink Stole, Garage Sale, The Go Pills, and Berserk just to list a few — has made long days on the road and late-night chats par for the course. Or maybe it’s the long hours he pulled putting together a decade of the underground film fest MicroCineFest in his own home/theatre, or the times he had to sneak onto college campus’ to finish editing his self-funded 16mm underground films. I don’t know for sure, but Skizz was wide awake and ready to talk about film, freaks, YouTube and sandwiches.
You’ve had a long career with indie/underground film – where have you seen it come from and where do you see it going?
Skizz Cyzyk: These days I’m not really sure. If you’d asked me ten years ago before YouTube… I don’t really know what makes a film underground anymore. It seems like everything is accessible. Undergound used to be a film you wanted to see that was hard to see. And now nothing is hard to see. Between YouTube and BitTorrent, it seems I can see anything I want to see these days. There’s still a lot of underground film festivals, there might even be more now than there were before.
So some kid filming his friends in his backyard with his cellphone and putting it on YouTube isn’t underground film?
SC: To me that’s people making home movies, and then making them public and voyeurs watching them. I don’t see that as film-making, it’s just quick entertainment.
Your latest project, Hit and Stay, is being funded through KickStarter. What do you think of this new prospect of receiving capital from fans and the film faithful?
SC: It solves the problem in a way. Lots of people want to make films but don’t have the funding. It’s a lot easier to get 100 people to pitch ten bucks now than it was years ago. I love the crowd funding movement, though I worry that it’ll get old too soon. I have a lot of friends with KickStarter campaigns for their own projects, but I can’t support them because I am living off a KickStarter fund right now. I think people will start being more choosy, but for the time being it’s working out great.
So let’s hear some about Freaks in Love. What made you want to document the journey of Alice Donut?
SC: Oh, this isn’t going to be the best answer [Laughs]. I got hired to do it. I was approached by my codirecter David with the idea of making this film. And I had been a fan, I had played their first record a lot on college radio in the 80s. In the 90s, I was in a band called Berserk and I played with Alice Donut. David is friends with the band and they said they wanted to make a documentary to celebrate 25 years. So David told me, here’s a film that I already know people will want to see. I’ve never had that with any of my other projects.
What does the term “freak” mean to you, and where does the love come from?
SC: Freak to me is just people that in their natural state that are far from the average person. The love in this case is that, as one of the members says, Alice Donut is a functional family. They actually love each other and get along after 25 years. So it seemed like a good title. We open the film with one of their songs “Love is a Fickle Thing”, which plays into the whole love angle, and the title Freaks in Lovereally describes the band.
You started off working with Super 8 and low budget equipment. Do you prefer to work within harder limitations? Have you graduated to more expensive equipment?
SC: I definitely miss working with film, like the real stuff. I love the process of threading a camera and taking a light meter reading and editing by hand. I don’t miss the limitations, and I don’t miss the cost. I love all the software. I’m in my mid-40’s and keeping up with it is kind of tough. There are people in their 20s learning how to use this stuff in school and I’m just teaching myself. I’m really under-qualified for a lot of the jobs out there[Laughs]. I love what the software is capable of, I wish I had it 20 years ago.
Did you play around with some new software for Freaks in Love?
SC: Not too much. I did everything with Final Cut Pro and part of the soundtrack in Garage Band. I also fixed up some old photos in Photoshop. It’s amazing to me that I had to do it all on a laptop where before I had to sneak onto a college campus to get editing equipment. I was working on the film on an airplane!
Top movie of 2011 for you so far?
SC: It’s not released in theatres yet, still doing the festival rounds, it’s called Prairie Love. I think it premiered at Sundance in January and its been at a few film festivals I’ve been at. There’s also a documentary called Zielinski I saw at the Slamdance Film Festival.
Last question, just for fun – if you had to be a sandwich condiment, what would you be?
SC: Honey mustard. Have you ever read any of my interviews? At the end of every one I ask them what kind of vegetable they’d be.
I’d be asparagus.
SC: That’s a good vegetable.