Monday, April 18, 2016

An Elvis-Worshipping Poet

New Zealand native David Cranstoun Welch, who now makes his home in New York, had a most colorful starting point for his documentary project The Book of Conrad.

From a Q&A with Kiwi newspaper the Nelson Mail:

“In late 2012, my wife (the filmmaker, Belinda Schmid) and I attended the New Year's Day poetry marathon, at St. Mark's Church, in the Village. A lot of great characters were there, like Jonas Meekas, John Giorno and Taylor Meade. However, there was one character, who stood out above everyone else: C.A. Conrad. He was larger than life; close to 400 pounds, dressed in a large fur hat, with glitter nail polish, and an enormous crystal slung round his neck. His poetry was delivered in a loud, honking tenor that was immediately arresting. It was the work, however, that really grabbed us: stripped down and direct, but filled with brilliantly excessive, Rabelaisian humor..."

"The documentary took us on a journey across America, as we investigated the murder [of a boyfriend] (interviewing the victim's twin, and local authorities) and followed Conrad's personal evolution, from outsider to celebrated writer. Conrad believes in externalizing his emotions by performing unique, and sometimes bizarre rituals - from listening to the song "Blue Velvet" on repeat for several days on end, to performing reiki on meat in his local supermarket. We even filmed him "recharging" his crystals on Elvis' grave (much to the surprise of other visitors at Graceland, who were the "Blue Suede Shoes" variety).”

Welch, who co-directed the film with Schmid, has something of an affinity for unusual leading men. His first feature Park Drive, which he directed at the age of 15, was made with the help of blues musicians finding time in between drinks. And his second film, an “acid Western” shot two years later, High Water Rising, featured a British lead actor who stayed in character the whole time as a trapper.

The Book of Conrad premiered last month at Greece's Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival and is set for another showing next month in Norway. Welch and Schmid are lining up additional screenings and are also at work on a new feature inspired by the life of engineer Phineas Gage.

To learn more about Conrad and his published works, check out his blog.

[Delinquent Films]

No comments:

Post a Comment