WHO IS JERRY JOSEPH?
a film by cutter hodierne
INSPIRATION FOR FORMAT
The melding of fiction & documentary to tell true stories is an emerging filmmaking method in the zeitgeist, and I think for good reason. We can employ the best storytelling method at any given point and pick from any cinematic pallet to express a particular narrative idea, without any restraint from genre. It’s freedom and in my opinion, pure filmmaking. There are so many groundbreaking versions of this style, but I am particularly inspired by the use of this aesthetic in I, TONYA and the new series from Errol Morris called WORMWOOD.
The story of Jerry Joseph is true. And as a film, it works incredibly well to stick to the ‘truth’, and visualize the absolutely bizarre and conflicting ‘truths’ surrounding the identity of a man called Jerry Joseph, also known as Guerdwich Montimere. The true story is stranger than fiction, and so I want to adhere to that bizarre truth as closely as possible.
Recently, I went down to Texas with Andrew Hevia, and spent a few days with the real life Jerry Joseph, the main character of the screenplay. It was a fascinating experience, and one during which I had a vivid epiphany: we must absolutely work with the real life Jerry Joseph on making this film.
There was something profoundly magnetic about Jerry Joseph. He looked me in the eyes and told me he was ‘a great actor’ and he’s right. He is. I believed every lie he told me. There was something so special about sitting there face to face, and really feeling him tell me his version of events. He was so convincing. So engaging. So clever with his smoke and mirrors, misdirections and diversions. We recorded a four hour audio interview with Jerry, but I knew I needed to come back with cameras and work with Jerry to tell his version of the story on camera, and that it would merge somehow with the movie we are making.
So that’s exactly what I’m doing.
We will go down to Texas and film an interview with Jerry Joseph, and four other real life characters that I am depicting in the movie. Then, those interviews will be transcribed, and used to inform the next draft of the screenplay. Then, select parts of the interviews will be performed by the cast of the film, and the ‘interview’ aesthetic will be utilized as a storytelling device in the movie.
The new perspective we gain from these real life characters will be enormously beneficial to the next phase of our writing process, and the documentary footage we capture will also be used as part of an interactive digital experience we create to lead up to the film’s release. We will have chunks of video online that users can click their way through, piecing together a narrative that excites and informs the audience. Think Soderbergh’s new interactive piece MOSAIC.
I cannot wait to call action on this one. Filming these interviews are a critical part of my process in telling this story, and this shoot is going to be incredibly revealing, one that will most assuredly change the course of our film. I am chomping at the bit.