Up until recently, the wind had done well by Jamie Stuart. At the end of 2010, the New York-based filmmaker rose to fame for trudging out into the terrible blizzard that would come to be known as “snowmageddon” and ultimately sculpted what footage he got into the acclaimed short “Idiot with a Tripod,” which landed on Time Magazine‘s best of list the following year. However, it was when he stayed inside to launch the Kickstarter campaign for his feature debut “To Eradicate” only days after the city’s next bout with horrendous weather during Hurricane Sandy that the tables had turned.
“The whole thing wound up as bad timing,” Stuart says of the happenstance, necessitated by the need to shoot the exteriors for the film in the spring, which led to a soft launch for the project on the crowdsourcing site.
Yet there is still time to chip in on the film, which promises to be something special should it reach its goal by December 8th and would help rectify Stuart’s long history as a casualty of chronology. Coming up as a filmmaker at the same time as many others in the DIY generation embraced realism as an aesthetic goal and the shakycam of mumblecore took rise, Stuart was also doing things for himself, but in a more disciplined manner that still broke free of formal conventions whether in his narrative work such as the 2007 short “12.5 Seconds Later,” the more recent noir “Both Ends” or in his unusual and intimate portraits of other filmmakers for Filmmaker Magazine and the New York Film Festival over the past few years. He didn’t just want to be unlike anybody else, he also didn’t want to fall into things he had been doing up to that point, either, which is how “To Eradicate” was first born in 2006.
“I had a bunch of other scripts, but I didn’t want to repeat myself,” Stuart said of the project six years in the making. “I didn’t want to cannibalize myself, so I just decided that line by line, scene by scene, everything I do is going to be totally original. I can’t use any crutches.”
As a result, “To Eradicate” is a more ambitious first feature than most, one he describes as a “very innovative, very nonlinear thing” about a twentysomething skater who suddenly finds he’s behaving differently in the wake of random violent events happening around him and can’t figure out why he’s drawn towards committing some himself. Originally conceived as a Web series, the film grew out of the desire to avoid the usual trappings of a directorial debut, full of grand special effects and evocative camera movement reminiscent of the early films of the Coen Brothers that would defy the relatively low sum it’s going to be made for.
“I just want to give movies and independent film in particular a swift kick in the ass,” says Stuart, who has already gone so far as to compile a comprehensive book comprised of storyboards, location photos and a screenplay in both linear and nonlinear order.
While it’s dependent upon the crowd to make “To Eradicate” take any shape at all, Stuart is prepared to shoot the film over the course of four weeks in either spring or autumn of 2013 and for potential donors in the filmmaker’s hometown, those who need to be convinced or just want a good time at the cinema have the opportunity to see a showcase of his work next week at the New York Film Society’s Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center on December 4th at 8 p.m. It will be the second time in the past three months, Stuart’s films have been shown on a big screen at Lincoln Center after he unveiled elegant tributes for departing New York Film Festival programming director Richard Peña and to the festival itself on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, though it’s still relatively unknown territory for the filmmaker.
“That was really kind of cool. It’s funny because I’ve been shooting things at film festivals for so long,” Stuart said of seeing his work on the big screen for the first time. “Between the two of those [films], that’s the only time I’ve ever had my work play at a film festival before.”
Hopefully, it’s not the last.