Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do It With Joy

Do it With Joy, made in 1976, is a film about tree planting.

The subjects / planters are 'colorful' and 'interesting'- people pursuing an alternative lifestyle and who have, in the narrator's words, "found a new solution to work."

I have watched the film enough times to be familiar with all of the people in the camp. They seem pretty cool. I would like to hang-out with any of these people, even today. I think we have shared a meaningful formative experience that we could talk about.

In the documentary, they talk, sit around, eat, cook, joke, flirt, play the guitar, plant trees, 'screw around,' push trucks out of mud, and complain a little bit.

There is a scene where they organize a soccer game against a nearby Nisga'a tribe and are beaten 15-0.

My favorite scene is when they build a sweat lodge out of a plastic tarp and everybody climbs in there all naked. Then they run out of the sweat lodge and jump off of a dock into the water. I feel like that scene captures something of the beauty, and freedom of 'the experience,' in a way that makes me think of Ryan McGinley photographs.

The cook is a mime, and walks tightrope.

A musician talks about living a schizophrenic life, being an artist in the city and leaving the city for the bush for three months at a time.

The assistant cook, and cutest girl in camp, talks about planting dreams and then says flattering things to the camera about Dirk Brinkman. In the special features menu of the DVD we learn that she marries Dirk, and becomes a politician. I thought this was interesting because it seems like in most camps I have been in the cutest girl 'gets with' the highest available authority figure. It's darwinistic like that.

The "crew" was two people (shown in picture, smoking, on the inside of the DVD case). They shoot on 16mm, and sometimes it looks shitty because of solar flares, water on the lens, or them using the end of the reel as it spools out, but these 'touches' I feel, do nothing to detract from the overall portrait.

The 30 up section on the special features is 'of particular interest' to me. Somebody finds all of the characters 30 years later and sees how they are doing. Most of them seem okay, or still struggling with whatever they've been struggling with all along. One woman kind of loses it. Another guy gets a little weird. The musician ends up in a successful band making some money. A bunch of planting couples are still together, including Dirk and Joyce Murrray (MLA).

It made me feel good about being a planter. I think it enabled me to see myself from further outside of myself, in a way, and helped me to understand my current career anxiety within a larger context - an entire history of people who did this job. I felt better, in a way, more resigned.

I am surprised it is not more widely known in the planting world. Seems like it should be more of a classic.

*I have uploaded "Do It With Joy" (shorter version) to Franz Otto Ultimate Highballer's facebook page, please become a fan to view