"Foiblè: The techno/rock junkies from Wisconsin."
In 2009, Dom Ruggeri, Baltimore Krahn, and myself started a "band" called Foiblè. The two of them were and still are accomplished musicians, both being skilled pianists, guitarists, accordionists, vocalists, whatever. I, however, was born without rhythm and cannot carry a tune to save my damn life. I am not blessed with having the music in my bones, and I lack any musical talent whatsoever. That was part of the joke.
We were 15-17ish years old, collectively, and we had a fondness for the mockumentary genre. Ever since Spinal Tap, mockumentary about a fake and bad and dysfunctional band has been fairly low-hanging fruit, and needless to say we grabbed the fruit.
I don't exactly remember but I think Foiblè started a few years earlier as a way to make fun of the other bands in our school. Originally it was myself, Dom, and my other friend Geoff, and we made a pretentious Myspace page for the band. We represented ourselves as a kind of lousy Foghat / Strawberry Alarm Clock / Deep Purple sort of band, and all of our songs were indulgent synth & keyboard heavy bullshit. Eventually it morphed into something a little more pointed when we got Baltimore involved. This Christmas song and music video was the first thing we made, I believe.
The song is about teaching children that Christmas is, in fact, all about the presents. Not friendship, not baby Jesus, not family or community - just presents. The music video ends with both Baltimore and Dom dramatically quitting the band.
We played awful versions of ourselves who despised one another and established a dynamic when we filmed where I was a kind of whiny "better together" kind of guy, Dom was a shameless burnout, and Baltimore was highly combative and always getting slighted by us.
This was hilarious and really fun for me and I wanted to keep going with the concept. I also wanted to try something new. Up until now, my creative output had been limited to my Reubnick Youtube videos. Around now, I was feeling froggy and wanted to branch out and make something longer. I was still a kid, but by this point I had determined making funny videos was my favorite thing and that I would go to film school. However, a full-fledged feature-length film was too ambitious, I suppose, so I thought we could do a short film. It ended up being a three part series on Youtube, but I submitted it to multiple film festivals as a short. I was rejected from every single one.
Foiblè: The Return of Foiblè (Part 1 of 3)
Foiblè: The Return of Foiblè (Part 2 of 3)
Foiblè: The Return of Foiblè (Part 3 of 3)
Despite significant improvements as a filmmaker on my part, the fact remains that we were in high school and filmed most of this inside of a high school, and nobody wants to watch that. I did work really hard on it but it's obvious in many places that I still had hardly any idea what I was doing. Specifically, I am dismayed that I displayed such a lackadaisical attitude towards proper capitalization in my graphics. Unforgivable.
We did get an outsider (somebody named Charlie Bumpers or something) to record a voiceover with a quality mic, however, which was a big get. Despite being limited to MS Paint, I also made some amusing graphics. Dom and Baltimore are effortlessly funny, and we still try to watch the whole series every few years.
I was still figuring out what exactly I was and what I was good at when we made this. I don't exactly stand by the project from a filmmaking standpoint, but I do stand by what I actually wrote. I disown my undisciplined reliance on extended improv sequences of us just arguing, and I these days I no longer subscribe to the belief that conflict equals comedy. I think it's pretty lazy. Three friends is funnier than three enemies.
What I believe now is this: I identify as a writer, as it is what I am best at. I am also pretty good at directing. I never really blossomed as a filmmaker though, because post-production and camera work and lighting and sound are just not my strengths. This series suffered for that reason and all of my attempts to make movies ever since have suffered for the same reasons. I am good at "before the camera" and "in front of the camera" but never "behind the camera."
I was sad at the time to be rejected by every film festival, but this really didn't deserve to be accepted into any of them and I am happy to admit that now.
At the time I didn't take the hint, though. Foiblè was a vehicle for me to hang out and goof around with my friends and, unable to read the room, I got in my head that I wanted to make a sequel.
We got as far as making a Kickstarter, which is a humiliating and pathetic spectacle to gaze upon now.
We asked audiences to help three dumb teens make an indulgent sequel, and their response was loud and clear. They said "no." To our credit, we listened. We wanted very nice things but we didn't deserve them. We weren't ready yet.
Despite there being every reason for Foiblè to be done and buried, it never did really truly die. After the failed Kickstarter, I hadn't really touched it since and that's been over a decade. Recently, however, Trevor Cochran of The Thumbnuts has been collaborating with Baltimore and I and hopefully, eventually, there will be a Thumbsnuts/Foiblè crossover dropping. The supergroup nobody ever asked for! Hopefully we can make it to Dr. Demento. That would be way more than I ever expected to get out of Foiblè.