Radiohead stole John Yost’s thunder. This fall, when the young Glens Falls filmmaker decided to distribute his new feature film, Every Good Thing to Rust, as a free download on the Internet, he was one-upped by the indie rock band’s decision to distribute their new album in the same format. “Hey, I was going to do that!” he recalls thinking when he saw the media splash the band made. “They stole my idea.”
The film, an “apocalyptic buddy picture,” according to the director, is not, he admits, the kind of picture people are going to “rush to multiplexes” or even film festivals to see. “It’s a specific pace, a thinking film,” he said. “It requires things of people.” Distributing on the Internet allows for the kind of intimate viewership the work needs, he says, as well as immediate accessibility. “I want people to see it,” he declares. “That’s all I want.”
Every Good Thing to Rust centers on three friends and their attempt to stay together in the wake of a world-changing catastrophe. The dark story was inspired in part by Yost’s own friendships with fellow Rochester Institute of Technology film alumni Randall Meehl and Holland Kemp, who collaborated with him on the scripting and star in the movie. Yost said he has wanted to make this story for some time and was finally able to coordinate schedules and resources last year. The filming took place in upstate New York over the course of 22 days in October 2006, January 2007, and May 2007, with a crew of four to five people and a budget of $4,000.
There is no traditional screenplay; instead, Yost said he worked with the actors to piece together the dialogue “on the fly.” For this reason, the film has been likened to “mumblecore,” an emerging film genre that features nonprofessional actors and improvised lines. Other mumblecore films include Four-Eyed Monster and the highly successful The Puffy Chair.
Mumblecore may be the latest wave in the Independent film genre but, these days, the label “independent” doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s become, Yost observes, “a catchphrase for a thoughtful movie: Oh, you mean I’m going to be engaged with the characters, and the story is going to take me somewhere? Great, must be an independent film.” The label is meaningless, he insists, when even little films cost $10 million and feature Oscar-winning casts.
Yost’s goal for his film is modest: “I just want people to see it.” He’s posted the work with the express desire that people download it for free and pass it around. “I didn’t make a movie to make money,” he says. “I made a movie for people to pirate.” Every Good Thing to Rust will have several regional screenings to benefit the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society, including one at 8pm on December 15 at the Saratoga Film Forum. A complete schedule—and the film—is at www.everygoodthingtorust.com.