The title, you must admit, provokes discussion: “It’s ‘Have You Seen Clem,'” Erich Lyttle, the film’s director confirms. “We want people saying, ‘Have you seen, ‘Have You Seen Clem?'”
What “Clem” is, is part road trip narrative, part homeless documentary with music by homeless street musicians, and an all-snowboarder-made movie. Without the snowboarding.
“That’s why it’s taken two years-we all had to keep our real jobs,” jokes “Clem’s” star, pro snowboarder turned ESPN commentator Kris Jamieson. The “real jobs” in question for these guys, are making those snowboard TV shows that pepper the cable channels. While they all love to ride and circle the globe with the contest circuit, “Clem” remains their labor of love. An effort to build an entertaining, thought-provoking, and original movie-going experience. A “real movie,” in other words.
“We own everything, it’s kind of like a rock band,” the very tall and affable Jamieson says. “This is co-operative filmmaking. Totally separate from the snowboard gig.”
The project began in the usual snowboard way: A road trip with friends, albeit in an RV crammed with 16mm film equipment that crossed 33 states-from Oregon through California, Nevada, into Mexico, through the South, and back to Portland, where Lyttle’s Legacy Films is based. There was no script, they say, just a fifteen-page outline and the core idea to “Clem” people, where a strange character named Weredail dresses up as a homeless man and they film the ensuing social interaction. The film’s soundtrack was recorded along the way, by homeless street musicians.
The whole effort, Erich says, was geared around interviewing real homeless people and illuminating their issues. When the crew returned home, Erich, Jamieson, cinematographer Ethan Shiels, producer Dan Wilkins, and soundman Austin Storms then worked to build a narrative around their bounty of footage on Legacy’s home editing system-one previously used to make snowboarding shows.
“Filmed exclusively in Jaymovision-as opposed to Panavision,” Jamieson laughs. His character, he says, “Is me, just totally lost and bitter.” Rendered homeless himself in the first reel when he’s kicked out of his house by his girlfriend, Jamieson meets Weredail. The two form an unlikely partnership with Weredail as the dress-up homeless man and Jamieson as the filmmaker following him around with a digital camera.
It’s Spike Jonze’s “Jackass” meets a homeless exposé with skateboarding action sequences. “Clem” is equally divided between the narrative, shot on 16mm film, and the interviews and spy camera footage shot on low-budget digital video. Besides providing a unique cinematic look, Jaymovision allowed the crew to cut costs and bring a feature in for under a million. The money was supplied by the “angel” investor group American Happenings, and the finished product is blown up to 35mm and coming soon, as they say, to a theater near you. Erich says they’re considering a multi-state tour where they collect cans and blankets for local homeless shelters in exchange for a ticket.
Erich’s involvement in snowboarding is a familiar story. Having worked for years on traditional sports television like football and basketball, he was taught to ride by his friend, King Of The Hill Steve Klassen, and decided to center his skills on snowboarding. Since then, he’s put together innumerable contest shows as well as the Fox series “Board Wild” and USA’s “Core Culture.”
On the set of one of their final shots at a Hawthorne coffee house, you can see the group’s chemistry as they hustle through a scene without a script. At first, Jamieson’s character plays it cocky and sarcastic, but after a few run-throughs, Erich asks Jamieson if he really thinks his character would sound so bitter. Jamieson agrees and the next take he ad-libs it totally different. Instead of being cynical about his adventure among the homeless, Jamieson delivers an affirmation to skating sideways on a board, and the story comes full circle.
As producer Wilkins puts it, they knew going in that the plight of the homeless is too big for one movie to help much. But what they do hope “Clem” does, besides put butts in Regal Cinema seats, is remind people, “To not judge by exterior. What we can do for the homeless is look them in the eye, ask their name, and say it back to them three times. People like hearing their name and they (the homeless) hear it least of all. It leaves them with a sense of dignity that’s more important than money.”
To check out more about the film please visit the “Have you seen Clem” website at: http://www.haveyouseenclem.com