Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DIY Film: Holdfast

Yep, this is film on a small scale, but don't worry, it's not that artsy fartsy film your friend in film school made during his David Lynch phase.

Believe it or not, this film was made on a budget far, far less than your average film student flick.

And it's probably better too.

First-time director/writer/hacker/ and maniac sailor "Moxie Marlinspike" cut this DIY film about DIY sailing on a single cheap camera and edited and narrated it himself.

Holdfast tells the tale of 4 friends who go out to sea in a boat that's barely sea-worthy and sail the Bahamas. But first we get a brief people's history of sailing, and more, "maniac sailors:" a class of lunatics and hermits who set sail to escape the banality of civilization. These sea-dwelling hermits are the inspiration for Moxie and his crew. Moxie tells us his greatest fear is routine, and the way of the maniac sailor is his escape.

The Pestilence, our worthy vessel, never sinks, but it comes close a few times. Such is the nature of DIY sailing in a derelict boat purchased for $1,000 and put back together with stolen lumber, few tools and no budget by anarchist kids living at the margin of society by skimming off modern corporatism's excesses.

As a story, Holdfast follows a different arch than what we've come to expect from movies. It lacks the climactic pace of modern reality teevee. Instead, it more closely resembles a long Vlog, or podcast, giving us a more honest documentation of the voyage. It doesn't end with a bang, it ends by dissolving into ennui. It seems that eventually, even life at sea becomes a routine for Moxie...

But what I love is the freedom of the thing. We need more of these parables of freedom, the thought that we can just cut loose from the doc and plot our own way through life. Holdfast illustrates this through an extreme, but the mental space it represents: that you can just say "fuck it" and shove off, is an ideal most of us would like to move towards. And in Holdfast, we get that twice over: through the idea that "real people" can just get on a boat and sail, and the perhaps more radical idea that "real people" can create film, can create culture on their own.

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