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Badass Film Tour – Day 37: Austin screening

 August 19, 2010

The Austin Chronicle’s Marc Savlov caught up with us in S.F and wrote up a nice li’l article on the Tour:

Hell on Wheels … and Weed

Bob Ray takes the show on the road

By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 13, 2010

Chad Holt in <i>Total Badass</i>, Bob Ray's documentary portrait of the infamous Austin wild man

Chad Holt in Total Badass, Bob Ray’s documentary portrait of the infamous Austin wild man

It’s just after noon on a sunny summer day in Berkeley, Calif., and Bob Ray, fresh and rested after the previous night’s four-hour drive down from Chico, is admiring his host’s breeze-rippled backyard field of legally cultivated marijuana.

“It’s overgrowing everywhere,” says Ray. “It’s awesome.”

And all too fitting for the director of the legendary stonercore, ’99 Austin snapshot Rock Opera and the ferociously entertaining Roller Derby doc Hell on Wheels. At the moment, though, Ray is midway through the West Coast leg of the 22-city Down & Dirty Austin Film Tour, screening both Hell and his newest River City cinematic provocation, Total Badass, which chronicles the life and times of infamous Austinite Chad Holt, publisher of and profane mouthpiece for local music rag Whoopsy!, onetime South by Southwest swindler (he was busted for counterfeit wristbands), and – as Ray’s online tour diary succinctly details – “wild man-about-town, social deviant, musical/stunt performer, sex addict, Guinea pig enthusiast, writer-publisher, father, weed dealing felon and local maniac.”

Microbudgeted indie film distribution is going through a flux-y kind of hit-or-miss stage right now, with video-on-demand, Netflix, and the perpetual uncertainty of a festival pickup or random encounter with the ever-mysterious Gods of Chance Distro – Ray mentions Will Ferrell’s championing of Jody Hill’s microindie The Foot Fist Way as an example of the latter – all attracting and/or recoiling from scads of fresh indie product like boozed-up hipsters at a way-afterhours Vice magazine soiree. The bottom line being, barring Sundance glory or improbable YouTube/Vimeo megahits, it’s a helluva time to get your cash-poor, narrative-rich labor of cinematic love seen, much less released.

Ray’s solution? Punk-rock it, dude. Old school. City to city, prebooked, utilizing past contacts and far-flung ex-Austinite friends (cf “Field of Weed” guy). And so far, it’s working.

“It’s been pretty damn fun so far,” says Ray. “Attendance has been hit-or-miss, depending on the press. One thing I’m finding out is that a lot of papers don’t have film writers anymore. They just use wire services, which pretty much sucks ass because how do we get the advance coverage we need? It’s not like the old days, when I did essentially the same thing nine years ago with Rock Opera. It’s a little trickier now.”

Audience numbers may be holding double-digit-steady, but as a seat-of-the-pants film tour like this goes, Ray’s remarkably upbeat. And it’s not just because he’s standing in the middle of an urban cannabis plantation at the moment.

“The reaction to Total Badass has been really good, with the exception of some old people who somehow wandered into a film called Total Badass and were offended by it. That was in Victoria [British Columbia], and the Victoria National Film Festival helped promote us, so I guess this older couple were just on the mailing list and failed to read the fine print: ‘This movie is filled with drugs, pornographic material, and obnoxious humor.’

“When we screen it for the crowd that it’s meant for – Seattle is a perfect example – it goes over great. Seattle was just busting up laughing, in from the get-go, even to the point where they were rolling in the aisles during the CrashToons we screened beforehand.”

There’s something delectably Kerouac about two guys on the road to everywhere, jammed in a small car, blitzkrieging town after town with 90-minute, 24 frames-per-second hell-lights of purebred Austin indie-liciousness. Everything could go right. Anything could go wrong. Shit happens, daily.

“I had to leave Chad behind in Portland when I went into Canada,” recalls Ray, “because, you know, he’s a convicted felon. We could’ve got him in, but we’d have to leave the border guys a $450 ‘deposit,’ which you don’t get back. Everywhere else on the planet they call that a ‘bribe,’ not a ‘deposit.’ But not in Canada.”

Despite the tour’s “Down & Dirty” dubbing, Ray and Holt are actually green-speeding their way through purple mountains’ majesty. In a Prius.

“Yeah, I bought it off of Craigslist, and it gets 45 miles to the gallon,” laughs Ray, “so in terms of breaking even, that’s good. It’s surely not helping my street cred, but it’s a solid ride, and, you know, we’ve got weed in there, Chad is blazingly doing crimes across the country, and the number one goal on this tour is to not go to jail. And Priuses totally do not attract cops. Knock on wood.”

Or weed. Or whatever. Pass go, collect $200, do not go to jail. It’s the microbudget indie filmmaker mantra in the age of self-distribution. And Ray’s got it nailed. (Holt, chiming in, admits: “Honestly, I’ve been so fucked up I can’t remember a single question from any of our Q&As. But I have gotten nailed a few times.” Wink, wink.)

“The tour’s making $65 to $100 at every screening, and so we’re basically in the black,” says Ray. “I bought 1,000 DVDs, which is the minimum you can get, and we’re selling a few of those at every gig. I think, at this point, the tour’s really building momentum. I guess the pinnacle will be Los Angeles in about another week. We’ve got three screenings there. One’s at USC in the George Lucas building, one’s at the Steven Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, and the other is at the Echo Park Film Center.”

Maybe, if they’re lucky, Lucas or Spielberg will swing by, fall for the onscreen antics of the ultracharismatic hell-monkey that is Chad Holt, and pull a Foot Fist Way-style renegade pickup on Total Badass.

Or maybe they’ll just make it back home in one piece with no jail time. Either way, they win.

Bob Ray’s Down & Dirty Austin Film Tour continues through the month, ending Aug. 19 in Austin with a screening of Total Badass at 7pm at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Bob Ray and Chad Holt will be in attendance. 

We didn’t write a tour journal for today.  We probably should, and we actually might.  Who knows?  But here are some vids and pics:



Badass Film Tour – Day 36: Austin

August 18, 2010

7:10 AM

Got to Austin at about 6:00 AM.  Dropped Chad off.  Drove home.  Tomorrow we screen in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse.  It’s gonna rock.

11:44 PM

Sleep.  Fuck.  Sleep. Fuck.  Sleep.  Fuck.  Sleep.

Badass Film Tour – Day 9: Boise to Seattle and the Chad dump

July 22, 2010 

10:35 AM

A big thanks to Kat of The Treasure Valley Rollergirls and her family for letting us stay with them here in Boise. When we got up this morning, the dog was watching television. Seriously… The TV was on animal planet and the dog was totally fucking watching it, freaking out on other dogs. I got it on video, see:

11:12 AM

Not that any of this topped a dog watching television, but I did spend about three hours walking around downtown Boise, and it fucking rules.  The nightlife was pretty happening last night, too.  Here are some videos of the state capitol building, and then I filmed an Idaho State Police car.  It was probably the coolest police car I’ve ever seen…And I’ve seen a lot of them.

12:12 PM

Double-up on the ditto Chad done said, and a big thanks to Kat and her fam for the sweet, sweet hospitality.  The triptych of couches served us well.  Even when the pooches needed a snuggle.  We hit the road for another 8+ hour drive.  Despite the declaration of no more getting lost, we got lost on step one right off Kat’s porch.  But we managed to overcome and found the interstate.

Rest stop: (see big blue piss box on the right)

3:01 PM

We saw several burnt-up patches of grass and a few tires.  The second vid was cool as we drove right through the smoke at 8Omph.  But the battery died before we got there, so just take a huge bong hit, blow out a puff of smoke and run through it at top speed and you’ll get the proper effect.

5:14 PM

These 8+ hour drives are getting routine at this point.  Except this time we’re cruising through the Washington mountains and we’re about to run out of gas. No shit.  In a Prius and about to run out of gas.  Nice, huh?  Let’s see how it panned out:





6:41 PM

More driving.





7:53 PM

Originally, I was going to ride into Seattle today with Bob and then take a bus down to Portland so I can wait for him there while he does the Canada shows, seeing as how I’m not allowed into Canada. Well, it occurred to me that this might be the only chance I ever have to see Seattle, but I really don’t have anywhere to stay here. I got on the phone with friends down in Austin in a panic and asked them if they know anyone here whose house I could crash at for a couple days while I checked out the city. I was referred to a girl, Heidi, who might let me stay at her place. I say “might” as though I don’t know yet, because I’m pretending to have typed this days ago when actually I have already been in Seattle and Portland both, partying for over a week, and yes I stayed at Heidi’s house for about five fucking days, thank you very much, dear. Oh yeah, we went completely apeshit, too and here’s some video from my first night in Seattle:

I spent most of my Seattle nightlife up north in Ballard, where Heidi owns a bar and frequents about twenty others. They have a badass strip of bars up here, and I’ve met a lot of nice people and seen a bunch of shows. The above clip was Kaleb Hagan-Kerr doing an improvised little ditty in the back of Hattie’s Hat.

2:21 AM

Okay, we got lost a few more times, minor affairs.  Before landing in my Seattle destination, I dumped Chad off.  He found a gal to crash on.  Or a couch.  I’m not sure which.  I’m not usually one to brag, but fuck it: what I am sure of is that I did get laid before Chad did on this tour.  So suck on that!

Okay, so don’t flip.  Everything’s cool.  I didn’t ditch Chad.  The thought crossed my mind.  Chad and I had to part ways cuz the fucker ain’t allowed into Canada on account of him being a convicted felon and shit.  And, there are a handful of Hell on Wheels only screenings coming up: Bellingham, Tacoma & Port Orchard and one more double header in the forbidden land of Victoria, Canada.  But we’ll meet back up when we screen in Portland on the 29th and be a two-headed bastard again through the rest of the tour.

Despite his rep and a few annoying habits, Chad’s a dam-fine travel companion.  I mean, except the part where he has a suspended license and can’t drive so he’s effectively dead weight half of the time.  But he means well and leaves very little damage in his wake, so it’s mostly pleasant or maybe tolerable.

Here’s a vid from inside Seattle.  I think I’ve played a race car video game where I drove through these:

Total Badass screening in Austin May 19 and 26 and Houston May 22 at Alamo Drafthouse

An insanely funny and wickedly debaucherous new documentary about crime, sex, art, drugs, music and life in the Austin underground.

Bob Ray and Chad Holt will be at all the screenings for post-screening Q&As.

TOTAL BADASS is the Texas tale of a hilarious, crazy-ass writer/publisher/singer/weed-dealer/sex addict/Guinea pig enthusiast/dad/pirate radio host/raconteur and general man-about-town as he rides out the last six months of felony probation and, ultimately, must change his ways when a financial crisis befalls his estranged family.

May 19 & 26 in Austin at 9:30pm
Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
320 E 6th Street
Austin, TX

This will SELL OUT! so get em’ while you can!

Pre-screening gathering at Jackalope at 8pm for drinks and 2-for-1 burgers!!!

After-party with filmmakers and pals with a FREE KEG! Come to the screening to find out where (within walking distance of the Alamo Ritz).

May 22 in Houston at 10:00pm
Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks
West Oaks Mall #429
North Houston, TX

get tix now: