Q:Who’s James Broughton, and why should I care?
A:Broughton is the most famous and interesting poet you’ve never heard of. His work is accessible, often funny, and usually surprising. His admonition to “Follow Your Own Weird” is inspiring to many.
Q:When did he live, and why’s he so interesting?
A:He was born in Modesto in 1913, lived in San Francisco most of his life, made 23 wildly different experimental films and wrote 23 books, mostly poetry. He fathered a daughter with film critic Pauline Kael in the 1940’s, received a special award for poetic cinema from Jean Cocteau in the 1950’s, made the quintessential hippie film, “The Bed,” in the 1960’s, and became a bard of Gay Liberation in the 1970’s and 80’s. He died in Port Townsend, Washington, in 1999.
Q:What does “Follow Your Own Weird” mean to you?
A:Broughton knew that the word weird comes from a Celtic root which means fate or destiny. To us, it means staying true to your core, and being on your creative edge at the same time.
Q:Why did you make this film?
A:We feel James Broughton’s work is totally relevant to the 21st century’s embracing of opposites, his freedom of expression, his mastery of images in both words and pictures, are inspiring and liberating. It had to be made.
Q:How long did it take to produce?
A:Four and a half years.
Q:How did you get permission to use Broughton’s films and poetry?
A:We were fortunate that Joel Singer, Broughton’s soulmate, husband for 25 years, and head of the estate, gave us permission to use all his films and poetry in the film.
Q:Why didn’t James Broughton’s daughters want to be interviewed for the film?
A:Broughton’s younger daughter, Serena, told us, “I know James brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, but I was not one of them.” And, “My grandmother told me if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Gina James, the older daughter, said that she would like to see the film, but she is a very private person and did not want to be interviewed (even by her mother’s biographer).
Q:What was the hardest thing about making the film?
A:It was difficult to find quality film of James Broughton speaking. We include one poem he read at a 40’s poetry reunion in 1974, and excerpts from a 1977 interview with Broughton on “The Screening Room.” Fortunately, we had more audio interviews with him. It was also challenging to find a way to tell his complicated story. We tried several approaches, and settled on using his journals (which he kept from age 13 until he died at 85) as the film’s spine.
Q:How can I get a copy of the film, and when will it be released?
A:You can now purchase the DVD from our website, and from Kino Lorber, Amazon, and any number of other outlets. You can also stream the film from our website and many other digital platforms! Keep your eyes on the Big Joy website for announcements about upcoming events and visit our screenings page for a showtime near you!