Discuss your new film, Wyatt Earp and the Holy Grail: The Tale of the Three Gates.
EJ: Wyatt Earp and the Holy Grail: The Tale of the Three Gates (WEATHG: TTOTTG) is a look at humankind's relationship to the elements which surround them. Oftentimes, these elements encroach on them in a way that is not normal. WEATHG: TTOTTG attempts to explore this as well as study how a man who is lost ultimately finds himself. It's a big story, which is why there are two more films coming, which will bring the total length of the series to 3 hours.
JN: Yes, yes. However, it's also a study in circular lineage. As I'm sure you can tell after viewing the film, at least 1/2 of the story is noir rooted but there is also an ode as to what makes a human being, in fact, a human being. Wyatt is lost, true, but the emphasis for the viewer shouldn't be the typical tonal dissection of "who?", "what?", "when?", "where?", "why?" and "how?" but instead, it should take a more "if?", "or?", "but?" and "will?" direction.
I've watched the film twice now and while I'm obviously not in a position to actually review it (and I wouldn't even know where to begin if I tried to review it), one of the things that I really liked about the film was the beautiful visuals. What specific effects in the editing of the film did you use?
JN: I can’t really speak for the equipment that was used; the cameras, the film, the dollies, the cranes, the boom mics or the editing system. That’s not really what I am about as a film maker and, for that matter, a man. What I will say is not a lot of people have the mental capacity to make movies. That is why only a select few of us ever soar. The only advice I can give to young, aspiring film makers is follow your dreams.
EJ: The film was shot on a KODAK Zi8 camera as well as on multiple camera phones. It was processed using the effects of FINAL CUT X and then edited in FINAL CUT 7, which both Joe and myself were more comfortable with. We consulted Walter Murch's legendary book In the Blink of An Eye so we wouldn't be constrained.
Discuss the film's sound editing. What specific effects did you use for that?
EJ: The goal was to create a mood, an atmosphere, and I think we have achieved that. We wanted people to not only get in touch with this character but also with themselves. In this way, they could see how they were constrained. However, it is eventually these constraints which allow us to be free.
JN: For me, the most important derivative of the whole scope is the tonal alchemy. Evan has really come into his own as a true soundman in the essence of the craft. To me, Joe Nelson, Wyatt is Evan's greatest work when it comes to the dialect of rations and pitch layering. It grabs you from the get go sonically and one hour later, you’re thirsting for more. Audiophillicly speaking, of course.
In what ways does the first and original draft of the screenplay differ from the completed film?
EJ: I will just say this - Joe's original draft was more linear. Wyatt was called Shaw, Arthur was called Max and the script actually took place in present day Las Vegas. I told Joe that to truly tell this story, he would have to abandon the constraints of narrative, plot and other such devices and just allow the story to breathe. Since he was playing Wyatt, he gladly complied.
JN: Originally, the film was called Wyatt Earp and the Holy Grail – Perditions Window. However, the main character was, indeed, named Shaw, and Wyatt was more of an underlying idea throughout the film. When you view the film, you can see why we changed it to The Three Gates, but you will still feel "Perditions Window" subtly shifting within the context of the body. However, Evan is 100% correct when saying that the story followed more of a linear arc, too much actually. His recommendation to take a more obtuse path is what got us to where we are today. Once we went off the grid, so to speak, it was desperately necessary for the Shaw character to be cut from the story completely and what I refer to as the "Wyatt Idea" to become the major focus of the journey.
Why exactly is the character of The Outlaw an outlaw? Or is he, in fact, an outlaw?
EJ: The Outlaw is a man who rules a realm known as the sound. He is trained in the art of audio and he treats it that way. Wyatt has obviously done something to offend that sensibility and that is how he ends up 3 dimensions from the rest of us.
JN: To side step a little, I am currently working on a feature length 3 minute cartoon short film based 100% on The Outlaw’s life circa 18 years of age. Can you imagine an 18 year old Outlaw, carefree and loose upon the world? Well, the world he currently occupies, that is? Or does he? HA HA HA... you’ll actually have to watch the film to get what I mean by that little inside joke but boy is it true and, dare I say, relevant for this age that we live in socially, politically and spiritually. Mankind’s peripherales are what hold him back, you realize. The Outlaw knows this. Does Wyatt? Okay okay, I am giving away too much of the film. Next question please?
How did Isaac Golub (singer/frontman for A Chorus Of Disapproval and A18/Amendment 18) become involved in the film?
EJ: Isaac, not many people know, is classically trained in the classics. He doesn't talk about it much but he and I are friends, so he told me about this. I told him that I wanted to stretch his persona. In X CHORUS X, he was one thing and in A18, he was something else but he was always Isaac. In Wyatt, he plays a man who knows no boundaries within himself.
JN: I was originally against having Isaac involved but after I saw his screen tests, well, let’s just say not only was I hooked, I became a fan of the man. I became a fan of his words. I became a fan of his charisma. I even became a student on the compository make up to the very grassroots of Isaac’s soul. In fact, Evan and I were so moved by his audition that we both felt his screen tests were just too strong as is. Therefore, his scenes in the film are the screen tests themselves, as is, uncut and verbatim.
What direction, if any, did you give to Jay Cee, who wrote and composed the original music score for the film?
JN: Evan knows Jay Cee better than I do. This was actually my first encounter with the man. Skeptical? Yes. Due diligence? Forever, and a day.
EJ: Jay has scored a bunch of my other films. Basically, I give him a copy of the film without the audio and he does a bunch of scratch recordings. Then he comes to the studio (a.k.a. THE LAB) and we go from there. Music is his department and he actually has final say in regards to music cues.
How much of an influence, if any, was the work of actor/writer/director Vincent Gallo on the film?
EJ: I am sure it is in there somewhere. Joe is a big Terrence Malick fan and I have always admired Stan Brakhage. We merged those two worlds.
JN: We actually met, Evan and I that is, at the Orange County Terrence Malick Fans Of Stan Brakhage Films Fan Club, back in 1992. We became immediate pen pals, and from those letters grew a friendship, and from that friendship sprouted Wyatt. It was almost as if God's hand led us to be.
How much of a challenge to understand and/or appreciate will this film be for fans of each of your previous music and film works?
JN: This is the first real work of art that I have been a part of. I am 41 years old now and for 10 years, I have worked feverishly on nothing but this film. I’ve spent every last penny I have on it and if somebody handed me more pennies, I would gladly, and without prejudice or hesitation, give them to Wyatt.
EJ: I think people will see it and be able to appreciate it for what it is. I like being able to bounce between writing movies for people like Kevin Sorbo to making very personal films like ORANGE COUNTY HARDCORE SCENESTER to making a movie like WEATHG: TTOTTG, which is made for the pure pleasure of getting together with creative people and making a movie. Alex Cox would be proud.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Wyatt Earp and the Holy Grail films?
EJ: Well, we are going to go bigger production value wise and we are currently locking down locations. However, before we even start thinking about that, Jacobs/Nelson will be making a horror film that is heavy inspired by APOCALYPSE NOW titled NIGHT OF THE JAKE 2000. It is going to be a sequel to a short film that Joe made in 1989 titled NIGHT OF THE JAKE.
JN: I don't want to give too much away for what is coming in the next Wyatt installment. However, as you will tell after completing the first undertaking, the space is wide open and the air is ablaze.