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Q&A with Jim Sampas: Film, next frontier for Jack Kerouac

Q&A with Jim Sampas: Film, next frontier for Jack Kerouac (photo)

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Last month I wrote about the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur,” a trip through the places, physical and otherwise that inspired Kerouac’s 1962 novel, Big Sur. It features a soundtrack by Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jay Farrar (Son Volt). Check that and a trailer out here.

[The original Dharma Bum, Jack Kerouac]

I recently had a Q&A with the film’s producer Jim Sampas, whose Uncle happens to have been Jack Kerouac. Sampas encouraged me to throw the ipod out the window. I like his style. Dig that below and check your local listings for the film here!

Aside from “One Fast Move or I’m Gone,” you’ve got “Dharma Bums” and “Big Sur” feature films in the pipe. What’s behind this Kerouac salvo, or is it finally just time?

Isn’t it amazing that Kerouac is now considered to be in the canon of great American letters, taught in universities throughout the world? The next frontier for Kerouac will be film.

How did Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard come to be involved in the soundtrack for “One Fast Move or I’m Gone.”

I’d been listening to a great deal of Americana and alt country music, much of which, as with Kerouac’s work, is grounded in tales of the American heartland. Given the cadence, rhythm and intimacy of the prose of ‘Big Sur’ I thought this particular novel would lend itself to song with the right collaborator. I’d met one of the pioneers of alt country, Jay Farrar, from his work on a tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska I had produced years ago. I had read that Jay had been influenced by Kerouac’s ‘spontaneous prose,’ that he used a similar method in songwriting. Ben is one of his generation’s best lyricists, his playful enunciation and unique singing style drew me toward him. While Ben and Jay’s music differ in style, I just guessed that these two could create a fascinating blend of music.

What do you hope the film achieves?

‘Big Sur’ is Jack’s most personal and confessional novel. I am blown away by his courage in writing about his own spiral downward with such honesty and depth. My goal is that this film we’ve created influences a younger generation to embrace this work. And if people who see this film are inspired by Jack no holds barred honesty, wouldn’t that be incredible?

You’ve been involved in a heap of projects focusing on cultural figures and icons. They’re all very musically inclined, and your taste shows in the music supervising you’ve done (a glance at the soundtrack for “Condo painting” is impressive). How does music and film come together for you?

The thing I find so fascinating about producing and music supervision is the happy accidents that occur throughout the process. I experiment with many different styles of music against images, cutting and pasting things together arbitrarily. Somehow you find the right mixture.

What are you listening to lately?

Headlights, The Owls, Ane Brun, William Fitzsimmons

I’m worried that “Dharma Bums” is going to make me want to drop out of society. What can you tell me about it?

If you do I bet Jack would tell you ‘you’ll be okay’ – that the search for Dharma or ‘truth’ will not fail you. Kerouac’s dream was for his work to be made into film and I believe that moment has arrived. With technology and a hyper reality being dialed into us at a frenetic pace, our natural instinct is to seek meaning beyond manufactured possessions or feelings. Maybe we should take your lead, throw the television, ipods, xboxes, out the window, and all become ‘Dharma Bums.’

Which of your legendary Uncle’s books is your favorite?

That would be Doctor Sax, his only work that merges real life experiences with fantasy. An eleven year old Jacky watches as vampires, gnomes, and “werewolves of the soul” descend upon his hometown as Doctor Sax a mysterious, William Burroughs-like character attempts to ward off the “great world evil.” I can’t get enough of this one, and can read it over and over again, it’s sorrowful beauty bringing something new each time.

“One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur” opens in NYC on October 16th and in LA on October 20th. A limited release in top 40 markets follows.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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