Forget The Real World or the abundance of trendy so-called reality shows that have been saturating the airwaves and actually don’t broadcast any sense of reality whatsoever, but rather embark the viewer into a world of fantasy and illusion. The hip settings of Real Word residences and picturesque scenery of exotic islands on Survivor or Temptation Island look like perfect-world paradises compared to the raw, no-holds-barred making of One Big Trip, a homegrown, grassroots-produced film by five friends (two girls and three guys) who decided to set out across the country and film the adventure with 4 cameras, a spur of impetus and…five ounces of weed.
“When you’re growing up watching The Real World, watching Heather B fight with that guy from the grind,” explains Jason Goldwach, the director, in a Yellow Rat Bastard magazine interview, “eventually you’re like, this isn’t real. Who are these people? Where are all the drugs, where are all the sluts, guns and condom wrappers? What about LSD, beer bellies, infinity and God?”
Financed by money from past jobs and allowances, the film was shot on MiniDV and Super 8mm film in the winter of 1999/2000. It may represent a spiritual post-adolescent experience as five young Americans search for enlightenment in a media-directed, agenda-setting world. Whilst ingesting a massive amount of drugs-from hash and shrooms to red rock opium and ecstasy-the group reflect on what it’s like living in the modern age in the U.S. and encounter a sundry array of people in different cities all over the country, including Las Vegas, New Orleans, Miami, and areas in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee and California.
“I wanted to do a Road Rules, but without the rules and influence of MTV,” says Goldwach. “Plus, it had just turned to the year 2000. We wanted to make our own myths, or at least discuss what our generation really does in a world of disposable myths and ‘popstars.'”
Throughout the trip, the movie captures the diversity of American people as well as the volatility and precarious situations of many, and how the American Dream has wavered too often. The filmmakers come across interesting people, such as a worm-eating alligator wrestler in Florida, a good-old-American deer hunter in Virginia, a black mime in New Orleans painted in silver glitter, a guy in Las Vegas who claims he’s the black Elvis, and gold-toothed, rhyme-spitting kids from the ghetto in Miami, each offering their thoughts on the millennium and the state of the country. Notably, one of the most gripping events is when the crew tries to buy weed from some dealer, who ends up selling them paper and then breaks down crying in front of the camera as he confesses that he needed the money to get more heroin.
The DVD, now available in most stores, comes packaged with a bumping hip hop soundtrack, with guest performances by Jurassic 5, Dan the Automator, Dilated Peoples, Del tha Funky Homosapien, Swollen Members and others. The movie may now be the closest you can get to “real” TV and significantly documents important aspects of the current America, all the while trying to answer spiritual questions about life (though some of the lingering monologues may wear you off).
“The moment is now,” says Goldwach. “We’re just little balding monkeys, on some tiny round melting rock at the far end of some little solar system. Relax and enjoy its splendor over a joint and some magic purple mushrooms.”
Goldwach is a veteran hip hop director, having made videos for Kool Keith (“Plastic World”), Common feat. Sadat X (“1999”) and Dilated Peoples (“No retreat”), and he is already in the pre-production process for their next big trip, a hip-hopumentary, which is scheduled to stop in Thailand, South Africa, Amsterdam, Brazil and Egypt, and is titled Customs. Check out www.onebigtrip.com for more info.
Omar Sommereyns can be reached at SOASIS@aol.com