Where in the World is John Waters? The Legendary Filmmaker Hitchhikes from Baltimore to San Francisco
On a mission to find inspiration for his new book, tentatively titled "Carsick," John Waters recently embarked on a solo hitchhiking adventure across America . His goal for the trip was to experience what life could be like when he was able to escape his "over-scheduled" existence. As a young man, Waters would often hitchhike, so this experience was not entirely foreign to him. Now at sixty-six years of age, Waters found himself hitching rides from complete strangers once again.
|John Waters (left) with bassist Jen Turner (right) from the indie rock band Here We Go Magic. Photo credit: Michael Bloch.|
His journey began on May 14th, shortly after the conclusion of the 2012 Maryland Film Festival. While standing outside of a Burger King on Route 17, Waters met his first travel companion of the trip. He was picked up by Brett Bidle, a twenty-year-old councilman from Maryland, who at the time was driving to Missouri to lend a hand with rebuilding the town of Joplin after a devastating tornado. The two men spent four hours together until Bidle dropped the director off in Ohio. Before parting ways, Waters told Bidle that he planned to stop in Denver at some point during his trip. Bidle decided that he would make an effort to find Waters again in Colorado.
The next group of people that stopped to pick up Waters was the indie rock band Here We Go Magic from Brooklyn. Waters was standing near an exit on Interstate 70 when the band drove passed him. The members of the band debated whether or not they had just seen the legendary filmmaker standing on the side of the road. After failing to reach a consensus, the band decided to turn around and find out the truth. After seeing that it was in fact John Waters, the band welcomed him into their van for the next segment of his quest. Members of Here We Go Magic said that Waters was very enjoyable to travel with, even though at one point he compared the band to the Manson family. Michael Bloch, a guitarist in the band, commented on Waters' desire to give up his control over situations to realize a new kind of creative stimulation. "Just giving himself up to the winds is something that he really wants every once in a while, we all found that really inspiring and really eye-opening." Waters' time with Here We Go Magic came to a close when the band dropped him off in Indiana.
|Brett Bidle and John Waters |
Eventually, Waters came to Denver, Colorado where he came across a familiar face. Brett Bidle, who gave Waters his first ride of the trip, had by chance made a reservation at the same hotel that Waters was staying in. After finding out that John planned to travel to Denver, Bidle decided that he was "on a mission to find John Waters again." The pair drove from Denver to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Reno, Nevada. The two became good friends during their time together, even though they did not always see eye to eye on political and social matters. "We are polar opposites when it comes to our politics and religious beliefs. But that's what I loved about the whole trip. It was two people able to agree to disagree and still move on and have a great time. I think that's what America's all about." Bidle had hoped to drive Waters all the way to the end of his journey in San Francisco.
Waters, however, decided that he needed to find as much inspiration as possible and insisted that he find a new driver for the final leg of his cross-country voyage. Waters chose to show his appreciation to Bidle by giving him a key to his apartment in San Francisco. When Waters eventually arrived in San Francisco, he took Bidle on a tour of the city to thank him for his support.
In total, John Waters' expedition from Baltimore to San Francisco took him eight days. He spent time throughout the passage in fifteen different cars, meeting a variety of people from different backgrounds. Waters stated that he enjoyed the company of everyone he met along his journey. "Pot smokers, cops, I got everybody. And everybody was lovely." For more details about John Waters' trip, be sure to read "Carsick" when it is published!
Click here for coverage of John Waters' hitchhiking exploits in The New York Times.
|MFF Alums Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing launch Kickstarter for their film, DETROPIA!
|Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing's 2012 MFF title, DETROPIA |
In 2009, Rachel Grady
, Maryland Film Festival board member and owner of LOKI films, collaborated once again with fellow director Heidi Ewing
to make DETROPIA, the award-winning documentary about Detroit which played at this year's festival.
Grady and Ewing gained widespread recognition in 2007 when their documentary JESUS CAMP received an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature. Now, after almost three years of production, the final cut of DETROPIA has received praise from audiences at numerous films festivals, winning the award for best editing at the Sundance Film Festival and the grand jury prize at the IFF Boston Film Festival.
|Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, directors of DETROPIA |
DETROPIA studies the economic and social decline currently taking place in the city of Detroit. This city, which was once at the forefront of industrial innovation, now suffers from deterioration and creative destruction. The film contains powerful images that portray this unsettling reality from all over the city. Abandoned, rundown buildings are all too common to find throughout Detroit. For more information on the film, click here.
Grady and Ewing have recently decided to distribute this film independently with the hopes that it will allow many more people to see this potent social commentary. With the help of donations from the public, the directors hope to release DETROPIA in at least twenty five American cities. They also plan on screening the film at numerous educational institutions across the country in order to spark discussion and debate amongst the country's youth. This is not possible, however, without donations.
Click here to donate to the Kickstarter Fund for distribution of DETROPIA!