By Katie Tandy
While "meta" is a decidedly slippery term -- chock-full of misuse and at times, purposely enigmatic -- Ashley Rodholm and Joe Picard, creators of a new short film, 3020 Laguna Street in Exitum, have created a self-referential requiem sans the typical esoteric bullshit.
But meta it is.
Tracing the evolution of a now-demolished, 150-year-old home from private residence to a site-specific art gallery, 3020 Laguna Street creates a delightful dreamscape that celebrates the life-arc of the house and the artists who became possessed by its past, both imagined and real.
Last January, Highlight Gallery founder Amir Mortazavi co-curated his gallery's first-ever "project space" with David Kasprzak within 3020 Laguna Street, gathering together nine artists tasked with the creation of work solely sourced from the house itself.
Slated for demolition due to structural instability, 3020 Laguna became a bastardized Giving Tree, lending its walls, floors, lights, and windows to a reimagining of history, identity, and the ever-loaded dialogue between creation and "the cathartic act of destruction."
Rodholm and Picard -- a film editor and cinematographer, respectively -- had a chance to attend the tail-end of the art show, just weeks before the condemned house was to become rubble. They immediately recognized an amazing, but rapidly fleeting opportunity to capture the home's final chapter.
In just four days, combining two consecutive weekends, the longtime collaborators drew on every industry contact -- as well as their credit cards -- to film the soon-to-be 8-minute movie.
"I went to UC Berkeley and studied film, but was also very interested in art, modern installation art in particular. Architecture is part of that interest, but I'm focused on how artists approach creating. That's always been a fascination of mine."
Picard complements this aesthetic exploration; his interests revolve around "a general interest in decay and the evolution of dying homes. All the furniture [in 3020 Laguna] had been moved out -- it felt like a dissection of the house in a lot of ways. Curiosity was the theme among the pieces, exposing the hidden layers of the history."
One of the filmmakers' final tasks, and perhaps most salient, is finding the right composer and music to serve as the ideal auditory component, something both eerie and ethereal.
"In our rough cut, we have music that has the right tone and pace and maybe even the right instrumentation, but it's not one cohesive piece; there are eight or 10 different sounds layered with sound effects. It should be dark, but not dismal. It's about the different phases you go through when dealing with death."
Comprised of artists' interactions with their work, the house, and the occasional actor, "to add drama," 3020 Laguna is poised to be released this coming March.
But don't expect it on YouTube.
The friends plan on a "theatric distribution," submitting their short to film festivals, art institutions, or having it serve as an opening for a feature that might be similar in some way.
Picard and Rodholm happily struggle with describing what they've created. "There's a lot going on," laughs Rodholm. "It's a meditation on the passing of that space." Picard nods. "It's not a documentary, but it's not a narrative film either," he says. "It's somehow in between. It's not only a documentation, but also a contribution to it."
For more, visit their Kickstarter campaign.