A couple of years ago, Brock Enright got to be kinda famous kidnapping people, a service called Video Games. The victims paid him to orchestrate their thieving for some inverted thrill of the chase. He'd film these kidnappings, hiring Jody Lee Lipes for his elegant camerawork. The two have stayed collaborators and friends, and a few years ago, when Enright went west to make a completely bizarre and actually kind of fucked up art film, Lipes trailed along with him and his wife Kirsten filming the making of their film. So a lot of filming. And a lot of uncomfortable family times, as they stayed with Kirsten's brother in the California woods, and Enright did a lot of shit naked covered in cakey powder or with his wife in a mouse mask or literally while shitting and occasionally got really drunk and yelled about how shit was really meaningful. Seriously, it's a fucking mess. But it's also extremely pure and important, a righteous display of the power of a singular vision and how a foggy idea can subsume a man and with that everyone around him. Like a wild politician, Enright is excitedly magnetizing, and Lipes is so intimate a part of that momentum that we are unsure we've ever seen the highs and lows so transparently and with so much frightening closeness. The resulting film, Good Times Will Never Be the Same is startling and wonderful (and is now out on DVD). In the following interview with Enright and Lipes, they make reference to Hearts of Darkness, the brutal film shot by Eleanor Coppola about her husband completely losing his mind while filming Apocalypse Now, is a hugely apt touchstone. Lipes points out that everyone Francis does on that set is now codified as part of a movie making weirdness because the end result is so beloved. Well, plenty of people thought Apocalypse Now was gonna suck. Didn't change big fat Coppola from being nuts and, regardless, he's someone to watch. See what we mean?
What's striking about Good Times is how intensely intimate it is, despite the fact that Jody is not actually in it. How close were you guys were before filming?
Jody: Kirsten [Brock's wife] once said to me that everyone thinks that Brock is their best friend. I feel very close to Brock, but I think he has a lot of really close friends. I just saw the Joan Rivers documentary. It's great. After I watched it I thought to myself, "This is really good because of the kind of person she is. She's totally willing to let anybody see anything. All her insecurities, everything behind the scenes." Without that it would have been not so special of a movie, even though she's a very special person. And I think it's the same thing here, because Brock and Kirsten let us have that access. Because they were both so open about it, it made it unique. It's like, in that movie you get to see behind the scenes of show business in a way that I'd never seen it before, and I feel like this is similar. I've never seen behind the scenes of art this way before, and I think it's all because of how much he let me in.
Brock: Yeah, and I think Jody had an advantage because I'm so familiar with him being around in so many different ways—either watching something, helping out, or shooting something that I was doing, so that's where Jody's there, he's in the room. It's like when you're working with people and everyone does their parts so you don't have to pay attention to each person, you just do your thing. So that's why you got that intimate stuff that you did.
Even separate from the art stuff...on a drive up to California you guys get into a fight in a hotel. I remember watching that an just being like, "Holy shit." But then being like, "Holy shit, wait—someone is filming this." Later in the film, you're walking around naked with white powder all over yourself, and you're taking a shower and Jody is right there with you. I don't know who that's scarier for.
Jody: I think it was the second night I was shooting. We were on the road and we were in a hotel room and there was this argument where Kirsten's laying down on the bed, face down, and Brock is standing there in his yellow rain jacket and they're arguing, and I just remember standing there and thinking, "I can't believe they're having this conversation in front of me, like the second day of shooting." That was when I knew that I had gotten something special--that the movie was going to be interesting to someone other than me.
How did the idea for the movie come about?
Brock: Through many years ago, we knew of each other through similar friends...we dated the same girl. And then, I always heard really good things about him, as a filmmaker and as a person, and I always felt like he was someone I'd like to get to know, and then I did get to know him.
Jody: He lured me in. He was very insistent that we get together, and then he was very insistent that I work with him, which I really wanted to do and I was really exited about. I mean, because at the time it was like, Videogames was in Rolling Stone, and to me, I was in college, and this was this totally famous guy, and it's like, I'm Ricky Lake, and it was jut this crazy project that was exiting for me to be a part of. And then actually doing was even more exiting—to see how intelligently it was all planned, and like, let run wild. It was just a bunch of people doing this crazy project that... you can't even really explain it to people. I was part of one that I think was a really exceptional one maybe, I'm not sure about that, I only did a couple of them, but the client was just fucking horrified. Horrified. For days. I didn't even sleep that much while I was there, because I was just interested in watching what was going on. So that's how our working relationship started.
Brock: And then he rejected me. He rejected me on this one project. I said, "Hey, I've got this show. I want to make a movie in the woods. I need someone to shoot. Hey, you'd be great, let's do it." And he was like, "Sounds cool but, how about I just film you doing what you do."
So Jody, you were actually supposed to just be filming the art film.
Brock: This was like months before I proposed it, and then he rejected me like months before I went into it. So he was prepared to shoot his own movie, and I was like, "All right, let's do it. Go for it."
Did you guys have fun?
Brock: It's funny, I always think about fun, like, what does that mean? And I always think that F-U-N was something that needed to do hard work, and, yeah, whenever you dive into what you're doing and just get lost is great, but at the same time, it can be so scary. It's like, that's what's fun, danger. Being dangerous can be fun. I guess it's fun in that way, but now I kind of think about my reckless behavior. Breaking bones a lot.
Are there any things that looking back make you cringe?
Brock: What makes me cringe is the social aspect of the movie. Whenever I do something I throw it out into the world and what makes me cringe sometimes is the reactions that I totally didn't realize that people would either miss, or people didn't get or they were angry, and I'm just like "Woah." There's a whole line of history that's supporting everything that I'm doing so it's not like, too strange. GG Allen's worse than anything I could have ever done. I'm now pulling things together and really trying to to put things in a ring carefully, with this idea of recklessness, or something.
Jody: And I think that a lot of the press has been very negative towards Brock, and that is very upsetting to me, because I feel like they all don't totally get him, and I think the people are very willing to be judgmental about someone feeling very open about how they feel. I think that if a lot of people were in that situation they wouldn't act how they normally do. So that's been frustrating for me and I think you too.
But it's a different medium. I mean, I saw your movie at BAM. So there may be a history for what you're doing, but not for the audience that's always seeing it. Is it the reaction from friends, from ordinary people or from critics that you don't like?
Brock: Now you made me put my foot in my mouth here but, who cares. It's the self-indulgent aspect of it, or the me me me me. Muhammad Ali had to be "me me me" to win a fight. If you've got a vision, you have to focus on the tools that are going to make that thing happen. And if I was a vessel in my own movie, in my own projects, if I am a tool, I have to get in there and focus on myself, focus on this person, on that thing... So it's interesting how people saw it like, "This dude is totally self-indulgent, has no clue what the rest of the world is like, he wants to make this fucking stupid movie in the woods, and what a weirdo." It's easy to bash me in that way but, try to make something, you'll be thinking about yourself and the project every single day if you put yourself fully into one project.
Jody: In he documentary about Apocalypse Now, Coppola acts like a total crazy person and he's very, very embarrassed about the way he's depicted in that film, which his wife shot and recorded. But it's different because the product that he's making is considered one of the best films of all time. It made a lot of money, it's in a sort of normal format. But because the product that you're making is not something that a lot of people accept as a product in general, it's different. People aren't as willing to accept the behavior that goes along with making it.
The people who were in the film, Kirsten and her family, what has been their reaction when you've shown them the movie?
Brock: Oh, my family was fine. They don't get it, their just like, "Oh, that's Brock." Kirsten doesn't want her family to see it.
They haven't seen it?
Jody: But her brother saw it.
Brock: Her mom's really curious.