The indie train hopper film Cure for the Crash: The Art of Train Hoppin’ screens this Friday (6/24) at 7:00 PM on the Franklin Institute’s IMAX dome with hometown filmmaker Brian Paul in attendance. Cinedelphia sat down with Brian to learn more about his unique fiction/documentary hybrid as well as life on the rails…
Cinedelphia: Why the unique choice in subject matter?
Brian Paul: I wanted to shoot the biggest Picture I could for the smallest amount of money. Living homeless to shoot the Picture and using the trains as my dolly made for a cheap shoot and extra-large Picture. I introduced myself to the hobos in New Orleans. I shadowed them and journalised my experience during that time. A year later, I was hopping trains, living the script out.
C: Where was the film shot?
BP: We shot on freight trains from coast to coast. It was a struggle. I was told by my cohorts I was taking too many risks. I think I may have been harder on my camp at times than they were on me.
C: Judging by the trailer, you take a poetic, seemingly Kerouac-like approach towards the subject. Is there a degree of romanticism to the act of train hopping?
BP: I’d have to look up what romanticism means…but if my Picture The Art of Train Hoppin’ is compared to Kerouac’s approach in any way then hell yeah!
C: The film’s soundtrack contains some interesting musicians. Is this music that train hoppers listen to? Or is it just music that you listen to?
BP: Both…some of the music from artist like Stumps da Clown, Casa De Chihuahua, My Graveyard Jaw, Zyde Punks & The Devil Makes Three are musicians who all began their travels on the trains and/or busking on the streets. So yeah, train hoppers/travelers were pretty much their first audience. In fact, that’s what drew me to making the Picture. I moved from L.A. to New Orleans after film school. I lived in my car for a while near the French Quarter. During the day a lot of crusty kids were playing music on Decature & Royal Street. We became friends and would drink together at night at a place called the SLAB by the tracks. The joy they had playing for each other at night touched me immensely. They played for a big audience during the day, but enjoyed playing for each other more at night over beers. As for the “big rock musicians” that contributed to the soundtrack, Iron & Wine, Bright Eyes and FUGAZI, I have my reasons for including those artists. Most of which suit the scene they are edited in.
C: I’ve met a number of train hoppers in my touring days and found them all to be rather similar: post-high school/early twenty-somethings with no interest in physical possessions or the workaday (sometimes workanyday) world. Young adults who were either searching for something or simply delaying the inevitable. How would you describe the average train hopper?
BP: I wouldn’t describe the average train hopper. I play a character in the movie named Mr. Mes. He was developed loosely from the subculture of train-hoppers, but mostly on my own character flaws and struggles. I let the “average train-hopper” speak for themselves via interviews that are edited in through the story I wrote and shot, thus blurring the line between truth and fiction…
C: Is that what the Louisiana Film and Video Magazine is responding to when they state “Cure for the Crash…[has] a story and style unlike any other recognizable genre”?
BP: We didn’t just shoot the script, we lived it out. The rails, squats, rooftops, woods & streets were our locations. We didn’t shoot and go home for the day. We worked, then camped or popped a squat. I think this comes through in the Picture, thus blurring the line between truth & fiction. I’ve heard the movie described as “Genre Mashing”. I like that.
Brian is currently traveling with the film, screening requests (no venue too small) can be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.