Category Archives: The Hitchhiking Movie

From the Vault: Hitchhiking with Fred

Ready for some more travel writing?  Let’s go retro and rummage around the Eleven Visions Archives for a story from The Hitchhiking Movie.  Enjoy.

“You move back!  You’re right in my eyesight!”

He said it dry like he was pissed off.  He had a snake-like look to him.  In fact, this man could have been a snake in human form which is, I must add, possible.  Haven’t you ever read conspiracy theorist David Icke?  (Come to think of it, I think we’ll interview Icke.  He apparently will interview with anybody, and if “out there” was left field, this guy clears the left field wall by 500 yards – like Waveland Avenue  at Wrigley Field.)

Snake people, and Rowdy Roddy Piper’s They Live aside, Fred did not represent the conspiratorial, controlling, power-crazed Illuminatus that Icke and other conspiracy theorists imagine; he was extremely kind even if his initial behavior belied that fact.

How we met Fred

Most who have been on this site already know about The Hitchhiking Movie, in which you can see several scenes from our encounter with Fred; but, what I’d like to do now is go behind the scenes and deeper into the psyche of one of the most lovable characters in our documentary.  While the movie is excellent in its gritty capture of a real life hitchhiking adventure, it does not (nor can it completely) capture the internal struggles of the characters involved.

Fred was a reptile… okay, seriously.  Fred was a Native American standing at about 6’2″ (about 185 cm for all you on the outdated metric system).  I walked up to him outside a truck stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I had seen him descend from his 26-ton, Diesel 18-wheeler that had big, metallic letters on the grill:  M A C K.  Mack truck.  Holy shit, I thought.  I did not want to ask this guy for a ride.  Somehow, I did anyway.

Once asked, he looked at me like I had just spit on him.  He seemed irked and responded irked:  “I’m goin’ to Kentucky.”  He popped his head back, started blinking and then looked sharply down.  “I’m goin’ to have to think about this,” he then said and left me flat as he went inside to pay for gas.  A skinny man, he walked like a hulking mass, like he could kick your ass if he wanted to and probably could.  I turned to Phillip.  “I have no idea what just happened here.”

When he came out, he walked right past me towards his Diesel.  Well, can’t win ’em all, I thought.  “You comin’?” he asked already 10 yards ahead of me.  I looked at Phillip:  “Now I really have no idea what’s happening here.”

In the Cab

Fred rearranged his junk in the front seat:  toilet paper, magazines, a general conglomeration of dirtiness.  Not many passengers had been in the cab.  I crawled in and sat in the passenger seat.  Phillip remained on the ground holding the camera.  “Where are you going to sit?”  I turned around.  “Oh there’s a bed back here.”  I moved into the dark back of the cab and prayed not to be greeted by a man with an ax.  Ever see that scene in Silence of the Lambs where the killer pushes the girl into the van with a couch?  Yeah, that’s what was going through my mind.

The Engine…

started and was loud.  It was hard to film.  Shaky, a cursed vibration that killed all intelligibility of sound, and dark, dark, dark.  Fred seemed completely unalarmed.  I know we were concerned for our safety, but Fred looked more annoyed than worried we were going to rob him.  We could have been carrying guns.  We could have maced him, tied him up and stole his rig.  Without going into that much detail, I asked him about that very fact:

“I let the Man upstairs guide me on everything I do.  When you asked me for a ride, he just let me know, ‘It’s okay.'”  His face was placid.  He really could care less if we were dangerous or not.

The line “Move back.  You’re right in my eyesight!” which was followed by, “I can’t see but through my mirrors!” was actually directed toward Phillip.  In the movie it looks like it’s toward me, so we just left it that way for simplicity’s sake.  Somewhere in the first awkward hour, Fred revealed that he was Native American.  WTF, I thought, this guy’s white as cotton.  Studying his face further you could see the stoic undertones of an Indian complexion.  His cheekbones were sharp and could have very well been the cheekbones of a buffalo-hunting, high-plains arrow slinger.  “I’m Cherokee Seminole by my dad, and my mother will tell you she’s a white woman, but she’s got Chickasaw blood in her.”  Ah, he was half white. I imagined his mother, wanting to get away from the Indian label, happy to appear white enough to distinguish herself from the dark-skinned Indians on the reservation.  In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of her characters is an older half white/half black woman in an African American community.  Much as many a human has done, she uses this characteristic to distinguish herself, to make herself feel better by believing she is better than everyone else.  Unfortunately in the human game, it’s not enough just to say you’re better.  You need reasons, fabricated or otherwise.

Well, I guess, “My skin produces less pigment than yours,” is as good a reason as any.  Not enough?  How about:  “The fact that my skin produces less pigment means that I’m smarter and closer to God (check out Mormon doctrine on that one; to be fair they recently changed it, but this idea lingers in many protestant religions across the United States) than you.”  Ohhhh, you need science to back it up?  Okay, how about, “Whites are intellectually superior; I found it in my carefully-constructed testing.”  Nevermind that these “tests” didn’t even take into account their subjects’ socioeconomic background.  (If I’m black and I grow up in a well-to-do neighborhood with easy access to intellectual and social resources, I’m going to be “smarter.”  For the life of me, I can’t see how James Watson – a brilliant scientist – could conveniently forget these factors.  Intellectual rigor, unfortunately, is not necessarily a cure for racism.)

Sorry to bang on about this, but if you’re Bobby Fischer and I put you in an environment where you have to worry about getting shot every day, where you live in a rundown apartment in Chicago with no heat, where you’re friends and some of your family ridicule you if you express intelligence, and where the mass media conveys to you overtly or covertly that the best you’ll be is an entertainer or maybe a shoe-shiner; then, odds are, Bobby Fischer, you’ll be a broke-ass, dumb white kid and won’t do so well on your “scientifically sound” intelligence test.  Would you even feel like taking such a test in that environment?  Go live in a ghetto for six months before you form your opinion.

I could detect in Fred’s voice that his mother used her whiteness to feel better about herself; correction, to convince herself that it was her right; divine, scientific, or otherwise; to feel better about herself.  “I’m better, better than these half-breeds and I don’t have no Chickasaw blood in me.  Chickasaw, plah!”  When will we humans stop playing these games?  It was very faint, but I could detect the pain in Fred’s voice.  No matter.  He was very squarely proud to be Indian and made no bones telling me about it.

Cordiality

I confess that I am an accent slut.  I will whore my accent out to whoever I am talking to.  I have lived in Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Minneapolis, Mexico City (yes my Spanish is chilango), and Lyon, France (Can’t say my French is southern, but I do roll out a puteng! out once in a while when I want to make French people laugh; it’s the equivalent of hearing a foreigner say in a Texas accent “weeeelll, shiiiiiiiiiiit.”)  With Fred, I was going southern.  My drawl was extended.  I seemed more folksy.  I wanted to connect.  He started talking about Billy Graham.  A Christian Indian?  Well he did say “Man upstairs;” this guy’s intriguing. A cross between a good-ol-boy southerner and an Indian; if I had a dollar for every time I ran across one of those I could solve the financial crisis.  Phillip and I spent two whole days with Fred.  We packed two weeks of experiences with a person into those two days.  He talked incessantly.  I don’t know if he thought about it this way consciously, but I feel that when we had the camera on him he wanted to share.  He thought this was an opportunity, however small, to share his life with the world.  I want to think that anyway.  If you click here and scan down to Fred, you’ll see a small snippet of what he was like.

Nighttime, West Virginia

“What are you thinking about?” Fred asks me.  Phillip is asleep on the bed in the back… knocked out.  Come to think of it, during this trip, at least one of us was knocked out 90% of the time.  I have no idea how we found time to film.  Fred is eyeballing me, keeping one eye on the road.  This man had an uncanny ability to spot all things natural.  “See that hawk!” he’d say.  “There’s some deer.”  “Eagle, 12 o’clock, high.”  Amazing.  Likewise, he was spotting my animals, those of a demonic nature.  “You’re not going to solve that problem by thinking,” he says.  “You think you are but you’re not.  I don’t worry about anything.  Nothing.  I wasn’t worried when you guys got in my cab; I wasn’t worried when you pulled out the camera.  You – your wheels are turning – always – I can tell.”

“I do think all the time,” I replied.

“Let ‘er go.  You think you have control but you don’t.  You have no control.  God controls.”  He smiled, one of the few times he did.

Fred was a contradiction.  At times spiritual, at times pedantic, at times crass, he was a total human being.  After lecturing me on the dangers of letting your out-of-control mind run your life, he confessed that was on anxiety medication for some horrors of his past.

The Horrors

Fred was a military man.  “Keeping our freedoms free in peace time,” was all he would give me when I asked him what he did for the military.  He said he was in special ops.  Black ops.  “They told me if I died over there, all my mother would receive was a paper saying I was killed in a training accident.”  Nobody was allowed to know what I was doing.”  “What did you do?” I asked fishing.  I had the camera pointed on him just under my right arm.  I thought it looked more inconspicuous that way and the subject would open up more.  Fred knew exactly where it was.  Though he never took his eyes off the road, he saw everything.  A smirk again.  “Keeping our freedoms free,” he said again.  He knew I was trying to get him.  The wily cat wasn’t going to be trapped.

The Diner

The climax of our encounter occurred in a small diner in West Virginia.  The entire waitstaff was comprised of 4 overweight women under the age of 23.  Fred was tired, visibly.  I had no planned material for this encounter, so I asked Phil to turn the camera on and said, “How did you know I was thinking all the time?”  “Give me a question that’s hard,” he said.  He was smiling.  He thought that was hilarious.  “I have an ability.  I’ve never been able to understand it.  Some people call it clairvoyant.  I don’t call it that.  I just think the greater relationship you have with the Creator, the more you know.”  Jesus was his peace.  “I’m nobody special; I’m just a big, ugly sucker that does what the Man tells me to do.  I’ve stopped at truck stops several times for no reason because He told me to, and I find out later why?”

“Did God tell you to stop at that rest stop so you could pick us up?”

“No.  I stopped because my stomach said ‘I’m hungry; you better stop.'”  He thought that too was infinitely hilarious.

The End

The end was bittersweet.  We had shared something, the three of us.  We were all men, however, and didn’t really want to talk about it.  Fred had looked at a map and decided that the best place to let us off was in Lexington, KY.  He wanted us to smoke his prayer pipe first before we left.  (The movie explains the pipe a hundred times better than I can describe it; watch it here.)  He took a side road and meandered through Kentucky’s capitol.  The roads however, not built for an 18-wheeler, produced an eerie scraping sound.  “Fuck!” Fred said loudly.  He’d gone under a bridge.  The top didn’t scrape.  It was high enough, but it wasn’t wide enough.  “I just blew 2 tires.”  He knew instantly how many.  He knew by feel.  We meandered the streets for a while.  There was nowhere really to drop us off.  I told him to just take us to wherever he was going.  “No, no,” it’s gotta be a natural spot.  He looked at the map.  “There’s a spot on the way to Louisville.  I’m not goin’ that way, but hell, let’s just do it.”  Fred drove a crippled semi 5 miles out of his way so that we could get a correct experience of his prayer pipe, so that he could accommodate his new friends, so that he could say “thank you”… just for us being there.  His drive from Pennsylvania to Kentucky could have been boring.  He could have done it with less hassle, without two men who wanted to film him.  But he had people in his car, he had someone to share his life with, and I think he was grateful.  I really think he was.

Out of the Cab

I didn’t really know how to leave.  I didn’t want to leave.  Part of that was selfish.  We’d slept in his cab, we’d had a steady form of transportation (slow and plodding, but safe and reliable).  To look upon the other cars whizzing by you in your 26-ton behemoth is amazing.  You feel like God, you feel invincible.  Now it was time to leave.  Safety, gone.  Security, Fred, love, life, everything good… gone.  Time to leave the womb.  Onto the cold, hard concrete.  Before we left, at the truck stop where he had  settled on dropping us off, Fred tried to radio a ride.  “How ’bout it?” he said.  “I got two young men trying to get out to LA.”  Nothing.  “If you were female,” he said, “you’d have fuckin’ everybody goin’ ‘blblblblbbblbl!”

“Thank you Fred,” I said.  He had spectacles on.  He was looking at something, planning his trip in a notebook maybe, something; but, I got the impression he wasn’t really doing anything.  He was fake planning.  This was hard.  We were saying goodbye, and his way to handle it was to put his attention on something else.  Plans.  Math.  Miles.  “I can tell you’re thinking; don’t think.”  He didn’t think.  “We’ll see y’all,” he said.  Phillip had descended, and  I was supposed to descend now.  I was supposed to say goodbye.  I tried to think of something else.  Nothing.  Fred continued staring at his notebook the same way  he had stared at the road:  seeing everything but looking at nothing.  I wanted him to look at me, just once; but, with nothing to say I left.  It was sad.  I still asked Phillip to film me.  “We need to get a shot.”  Though emotional I still wanted to get something on film.  What an emotion whore:  The bane of the reality TV industry.

Moving on

We had a ride in five minutes.  God wanted us to move on.  It was over, no looking back.  Adios, Fred.  I will miss you. Part of me did not want to contact him again.  He’d given us good material.  God, I hate thinking of people in terms of material; but, as a documentary filmmaker, that’s exactly how you think of them sometimes.  People become tools, just as real emotions and memories become tools to the actor.  Then the emotions lose their flavor; the people lose their flavor.  I didn’t want that to happen so I tried not to think of Fred at all.  “I’ve still got his number,” Phillip told me the other day.  “We can interview him for the hell movie.”

“That’s an excellent idea.  He’d have some shit to say!”  I was thinking about him again.  It was good to revisit.  Floods of emotion came over me.  Floods of… I don’t know what.

“Part of me doesn’t want to contact him.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.”

“He’d be perfect.”

“Yeah, he would be… he really would.  I just hope the same flavor is there.”

“Ryan,” Phil said, “you can’t control that.  This is a new movie, a new time.”

He’s right.  A rebirth must happen.  Fred is different now.  I am different.  And if we do interview him for the new movie, I will be glad to tell him that I’m not always thinking.

Get Your Popcorn – FREE Online Screening of The Hitchhiking Movie!

iStock_000005504155XSmallEleven Visions announces its very first Online Movie Theater Experience!

We are offering you, our fans, a free ticket! to an Online Showing of The Hitchhking Movie that will take place next Thursday, 9pm Central!

Know nothing about our movie?  Watch this!

The Hitchhiking Movie is a fun, rollicking ride that attempts to answer the question, Is kindness still alive on America’s roadways?

A real life adventure documentary, here’s what some have said about it already:

  • film babble blog (10/19/2009) – “well worth seeking out”
  • The Film Doctor (10/9/2009) – “a winning indie effort”
  • Culture Kills (10/1/2009) – “the essence of independent documentary film making”
  • SPL!NG (9/13/2009) – “more real than reality TV itself”
  • Strange Culture (9/11/2009) – “fun and unpredictable”
  • eFilmCritic.com (9/10/2009) – “different and very entertaining”
  • Hollywood Bitchslap (9/9/2009) – “very different and very entertaining”
  • MyReviewer (6/27/2009) – “it’s a fun ride…an interesting independent film”
  • Film Intuition (6/16/2009) – “compulsively watchable from start to finish”
  • Curled Up DVD (6/11/2009) – “an enjoyable lark”
  • Route 66 News (5/11/2009) – “the right balance of affability, earnestness and wit”

I already know about The Hitchhiking Movie, Ryan; just give me my tickets!  (Scroll down below, enter your name and email and hit ‘Subscribe’ to get your tickets!)

That was for people who are in the know.  If you ain’t in the know, keep reading:

The Hitchhiking Movie follows the journey of Phillip Hullquist and Ryan Jeanes in their attempt to hitchhike across the entire continental U.S. (New York City to Los Angeles)… in under a week!  Twenty-three strangers give the pair the only shot they’ve got of making it from coast to coast before the deadline.

A fun movie, a heart-warming movie, this is an adventure you won’t forget… and we’re giving you, fans new and old, a chance to watch it one time only for free!

This free online screening is our thank you to you.  We appreciate the fact you’ve followed us through The Mississippi River Adventure, The Alcatraz Adventure, and beyond; and, we want to say, “Thanks for coming with us!”

This is a ticketed, one-time-only event with a limit of one hundred people, so you have to sign up fast!  Scroll down to the bottom of this post, enter your name and email and hit ‘Subscribe’ to begin!

That’s Not All!

We are also offering free online chatting with the moviemakers, that is, US! (Phillip Hullquist and Ryan Jeanes) during the screening.  You will be able to submit questions to both Phillip and me in real time while you chat with other moviegoers.  How cool is that!  A real life movie experience done over the internet!  Like I said, grab your popcorn, but don’t get butter on the keyboard. 🙂

Hold on a Sec, We Want to Give You Even More Stuff!

How is that possible?  Easy!  When the screening ends, we’re going to offer you a special offer on The Hitchhiking Movie DVD.  This is big.  REAL BIG! We have an awesome deal for the DVD, so make sure you get your ticket now!

This event is going to be awesome, so don’t miss it.  Tickets are available…… NOW! Sign up below to get your ticket.

One More BIIIIG Thing to Get You to Sign Up for This One-Time Event!

My buddy and pal Kelly Canull has promised that she will give a FREE ten-minute Soul Reading (click here to find out what a soul reading is) to the first 10 people who sign up for the screening.  To put that in perspective, she charges a hundred bucks an hour to top-name clients for this service.  People from all over the world seek her out to help them get in touch with their soul’s purpose and we’re going to give it to you FREE if you’re one of the first 10 people to sign up below.

Just put your name and email in the form below and you’re good to go.  She has also promised a FREE mp3 (a $97 value) for EVERYONE who signs up below.  What have you got to lose?  How much more free stuff can you take?

Put in your name and email below to be a part of an amazing, one-time online event.  This is our thank you to you.

Don’t forget to click Subscribe, and we’ll see you at the movies!





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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Film Festivals

The Hitchhiking Movie, the Mississippi Paddle Adventure, and 11 Visions itself are all a joint venture between Ryan Jeanes and Phillip Hullquist.  Therefore, I give to you 11 Visions’ first ever JOINT POST!  No we’re not smoking joints while writing – we’re collaborating on a single post.  This is a tad experimental so if it blows up in your face just send us the cleaning bill.

It was about 3pm when Ryan and I arrived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Secret City Film Festival. So much to do today: find the theater location, get posters made, update the website, meet festival organizers, find a secluded campsite–what? Yes, we’re still camping! In order to save money on unnecessary conveniences motels provide like running water and electricity, we paddled across the river and setup a tent instead. I think it’s actually better as it’s reducing the withdrawal I might otherwise be experiencing from leaving The River. This is my first film festival, my first “big-screen” premiere, and my first chance to get a real life audience reaction to the film. It’s all very exciting, but I also have no idea what to expect. –Phillip

—–

“Arrived” in Oak Ridge, TN, he says.  More like rolled in on one wheel and a prayer.  Phil and I had just orchestrated an 11th hour comeback to get from New Orleans to Nashville in the first place.  Making the film festival AT ALL was a Mail Mary pass.

2 days before film festival – New Orleans, LA:

Phil:  “OK, I’ve got it.  Since AMTRAK doesn’t go to Nashville, we buy tickets to Memphis and hope someone can give us a ride to the Music City.”

Me:  “Ummmmm, so like do you have anyone who’ll come get us?”

Phil:  “No.”

Me:  “Great plan; I love it.”  That’s not sarcasm; this does sound like a Phil/Ryan plan.  “What about Wes?”  Wes, you will recall from this post, is the guy whom it took four hours to coordinate a ride from Gold Dust, TN to his parents’ home in Memphis.  This is an abbreviated version, but that phone conversation on the riverbank between Phillip and his former roommate (who splits his time between the Music City and the Blues City) went something like this:

5:12pm – Gold Dust, TN – It’s dark; to my understanding Wes said he would have a truck waiting for us at the boat launch.  Unless I’m blind, there is no truck.

Phil:  “Wes, hey, we’re here, um, didn’t you say you could arrange a ride for us?”

Wes:  “Oh, dude, like I totally forgot.  Um, like, let me call my mom and see if I can get y’all a ride.”  Hangs up.

Phil:  “Guess what?”

Me:  “Wes forgot.”

P:  “Yup.”

5:38 – Riiiiiiiiiing.  P:  “Hello?”

W:  Hey dude like I just talked to my mom.

P:  Yeah?

W:  So like yeah she says that she’s making tuna casserole for dinner tonight.

P:  What the hell does that have to do with us being picked up?

W:  Nothing, oh yeah, so like I forgot to ask about the ride.

P:  Wes?

W:  No dude.  (Hangs up.)  I’ll get on it.

6:15 – Riiiiiiiiiing.

W:  Dude, I just watched this youtube video…  Oh yeah, I forgot.

7:13 – Ring.

W:  My brother says he might be able to do it.  Do y’all need a truck or will my compact work?

7:51 –

W:  Where are y’all again?

8:45 -I consider eating my brain.

Wes:  “Yeah so like my brother might be able to do it…”

Phil:  That’s what you said an hour ago!

W:  Dude, don’t get testy, um, yeah, let me, dude you got to see the new clue book from Warhammer!

Phil:  Wes.

12:45am (this is not an exaggeration) – Wes’s brother arrives with a truck (thank god) and a frustrated tale of how it took his brother 4 hours just to communicate to him that he needed to come pick us up.

“Why didn’t Wes just give us your number?” I asked Reilly, his brother.

“That’s a really good question; this woulda gone a lot faster.”

Noooooooooooo scheisse!

Phil and I Reach Memphis (By Train This Time, Not Boat and Not Wes)

Amtrak is speedy and effective.  A nice lady saw me downing Mini Moos and eating sugar packets, and bought me lunch.  People on the train were friendly and cordial and nice and, um, friendly.  I tried to cross cars without shoes and not only the conductor but the passengers implored me to “go put some shoes on, you’s gonna get yo’ feet stuck ‘tween them caws!”  Nice people concerned for my safety.  An old black man was jovial sipping his Budweiser tallboy.  “I likes to talk to sum youn’ people,” he says.  “Main, my daddy always tol’ me, you gotta talk to youn’ people, hang out withem.  Dat way you stay young!”  He smiled ear to ear and had four teeth.  It was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve ever had.  My lunch was bought by a coupla old-timers seeing America via train, playing Gim Rummy and eating peanuts.  The energy on the train was through the roof.  Glorious, wondrous, I loved it.

Greyhound is NOT Amtrak

Nashville, TN is one of the few major American cities without passenger rail service.  Why?  Global warming; I don’t exactly know why.  I know the Carter Administration forced some Amtrak cuts in the late 70s (f—ing Carter), but presumably for lack of potential ridership (yeah, I know, no one would be interested in commuting quickly and easily between the Capitol and the state’s largest city) the track between Memphis and Nashville was never to be.  This means that if you don’t have a car, and you’ve got a crapload of stuff, and you don’t want to fly, and you don’t want to call Wes Herndon to pick you up because you might as well jump of a bridge and hope the wind currents blow you and your seven 50-lb luggage items to Nashville, because you have a better shot at that than Phillip’s well-meaning (but mentally vacant) roommate finding the power of focus necessary to come to his hometown (Memphis) and take us back to his worktown (Nashville) in exchange for money or stories or sex (your job, Phillip) or effusive thank-yous.  Wes, I love you to death… Wes!  Pay attention!  Right here!  Yeah, right here (makes eye-to-eye hand gesture with fingers).  Wes, I love you to death but making a PB and J sandwich for you is an all-night operation.  (For those of you thinking I’m being too hard on Wes, just know that I love him and want to have his babies :).  Eat your heart out, Jessica.)

Greyhound is not Amtrak, but that is what Phil and I have settled on.  The festival is in in less than 24 hours and none of Phil’s leads are coming through.  Phil turns to me exhausted:  “It’s gonna cost an arm n’ a leg, man.”  Greyhound wants 35 bucks per extra bag.  F that! Some of you who’ve been reading this blog know I’m into some New Age stuff, the Secret and all that.  In my experience it works great sometimes and it works for shite other times.  One thing I have noticed:  When I need it to work and I’m really intentional about it working, it does.  First I form in my imagination the outcome I want.  OK, brain, here we go.  I’m imagining the manager talking to me and I’m saying to him that I want him to charge me no more than 10 bucks an extra bag, and we get our tickets and everything for less than a hundred bucks. Mind you, I’m doing this right after Phil came to me and said he was just shot down by the clerk for asking the same thing to which she replied, “Um, no, sirrrr, duh policy is very clear.  Whatchu wan’ me to do?  Change duh policy?  It don’t work like that.  Y’all gonna hav’ tuh pay $185.  Look at all dem extruh ba-ugs!  I shude be chargin’ y’all mo’!”  Calm, brain, calm.  We can do this. I go up directly to the evil clerk (buahahahahahahaha!).  “Howdy, ma’am!” I say Texan.  (I always do this when I want to be more jovial and cordial, because Texans – especially Charles Whitman 🙁 and the guys who ran Enron – are cordial and nice.  “Would you be able to check all these bags on this cart and give us our tickets for a hundred bucks?”  I’m smiling at her.  I’m staying present.  I’m asking as if I expect a direct and honest and positive yes.  I know she can say know; perhaps I know she will say no, but that’s okay.  I ask. I expect my response.  I’m using the Secret; I hope to God this works.  “Um,” she ponders (better than the response Phil got), “I just, uh, you need to talk to duh managah about dat!”  I go up to the manager.  Stay present, stay real, this can happen, this will happen, by god I hope this happens.  Shhh. “Hi [insert manager’s name on name tag], I would like to travel to Nashville with all those bags for 100 dollars.”  He looked almost flabbergasted.  I don’t know if anyone had so boldly asked him that before.  He starts rummaging through my bags and talking speedily.  I almost don’t know what’s happening.  Phillip is asking me what’s happening, and I say, “I dunno, but let’s not spoil it; I think this guy’s going to do something; I just don’t know what.  Let’s just go with it.”  He gets half our bags on via the baggage handlers and then says the other half I’ll have to put on myself.  I don’t know why we’re going through this weird process, but…. F it!  It’s working!  I go back to nasty clerk:  “Soooo, how much I owe ya?”

“$1o2.97.”

Thank you, Secret.    -Ryan

—–

Oak Ridge, TN

Photo Credit: Betsy Pickle
The premiere gave us reason to smile. (Photo Credit: Betsy Pickle)

They call it the Secret City. Ryan asks me why it is named such seeing reference to this nickname nearly everywhere. He thinks I know more about the city than I actually do because I told him that Knoxville people make nuclear jokes about the town. Only a day later we would learn much of the city’s unique history while watching Keith McDaniel’s (the Secret City Film Festival creator) excellent documentary about his hometown.

For the showing of The Hitchhiking Movie on Friday afternoon, I sat near the front inside the expansive Playhouse Theater. Ryan chose a seat near the back…apparently to spend time observing the audience response instead of being immersed within it. Everything is larger on the big screen; the opening titles almost look over-sized to me, each shake and small movement of the camera translates into a larger movement when projected 16 feet tall. But it’s great–glorious even. Our audience is laughing throughout, feeling the pain of the journey, and applauding the successes along with us. A film critic from Knoxville described the movie as a “crowd-pleaser.” Many people have traveled from all over to visit this festival, but we PADDLED every day for a month to make it there in the nick of time. The reactions were perfect.

Then this story: on Saturday morning a woman named Meghan working at the festival found the need to describe a dream she experienced as a result of seeing The Hitchhiking Movie. As I recall from her account, she also got picked up by “Sammy” and later on met her husband-to-be. So now we’re not just inspiring people, we’re giving people nightmares! If anyone else can confirm that our movie induces strange dreams, please report in the comments below. If you haven’t seen The Hitchhiking Movie yet, you can order a copy at IndieFlix.     –Phillip

——

Yes, Meghan, um, that was a little weird; and, as you know, we’re a coupla straight-laced guys so quit freaking us out like that. 🙂  Thank you, Meghan, also for buying a copy of the movie; hope you enjoyed it.

Keith McDaniel has really jazzed up the festival this year (so I’m told):  He’s got corporate sponsors, he’s got big-name talent (Elaine Hendrix – Knoxville native and star of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion – “I invented Post-its!” – is there as well as Mitch Rouse – director of Employee of the Month, probably one of the most kick-ass movies I’ve seen in a while).

My Date with Elaine

This is a rather bizarre experience.  Betsy Pickle, the Knoxville movie critic Phillip mentions above and author of ze photo abuv yor head, calls me over to speak with someone after the screening of Mitch’s Employee of the Month.  Holy crap, I think, that’s a goddamn movie star standing there! I wouldn’t say I became tongue-tied but I did become awful shy when Betsy introduced me to Elaine Hendrix.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi.”  Awwwwkweerrrrrrd.

“Um, so like I dug Romy and Michelle.”

“Oh, good.”  She’s probably done like a thousand things since then, but that’s the only thing I can think of right now.  So, Elaine, if I came off like a douche, sorry, but I really did like your role in that movie.  Oh, an’ kudos on your short mocumentary The Cloggers (don’t really know how y’all can see this one yet – wait till it’s out of the festivals – but just imagine Spinal Tap pared down to 7 minutes and about cloggers instead of rockers.  Good job, Elaine; very funny.

I really didn’t know what to say to this girl.  She certainly isn’t model hot, but she is hot with steely black eyebrows under beautiful, bleached blonde bangs, a beautiful smile… I was smitten.  Betsy, bless her heart, saves me and starts pitching The Hitchhiking Movie to her.  “Oh really?” she replies.  A goddamn movie star is interested in me!  Don’t F this up, you slimy bastard.

“Uh, yeah,” I say and totally drop the ball.  She looks at her watch, and I want to jump out a window.  “Pull up, goddammit, puuulll up!!!!”  All right, brain, we’re gonna pull this one out of the gutter and land it safely on the runway. I push my shoulders back and puff out my chest.  Ahem, I can do this, movie star or no!:  “Hey, Elaine,” I say suddenly confident-ized, “you’re mockumentary was very good, I gave it a 5/5; I know you said during the Q and A you liked documentaries, so I have one for you.  I know people have been pushing their stuff on you all night so I wont push anything on you.  This [Phillip shows up with a DVD] is for you to enjoy.”  She says thank you, and it is genuine.  Betsy tries to explain to her that she wants her in a short she’s going to direct in Knoxville to which Elaine demurs.  She’s been ghermed all night (ha!  thanks, Jim, for the term; told ya I’d use it all the time!) and wants to go home.  By fate or god or failing to pay the electricity bill the lights go dim, and Elaine makes a break for the door.  Good cue. “Phil,” I said later, “do you think she’ll watch it?”

“I dunno, probably.”

“Probably will.”  And if not, F it.  Just as the Doors said, “We did the Ed Sullivan Show, man!” I can say, “I talked to the co-star of The Parent Trap, man, I frikkin’ talked to the co-star of The Parent Trap!”

I met Mitch Rouse outside the theater and asked him to tell me a little bit about being on the Second City Stage in Chicago with Stephen Colbert and Nia Vardalos, which he did.  Very unasuming, kick-ass fellow.  Thank you, Mitch.  Like I said, Employee of the Month was a good movie.  OOOOOOO I want to spoil the ending for you so bad… so I won’t.

Conclusion (That’s Spanish for Conclusion)

We had a great time.  People were coming up to us, as Phil stated, asking us if we “really” were sleeping in a tent.  Hotels cost 50 bucks!  What would be the point.  You ain’t talkin’ to a rich man!  Many people loved the Hitchhiking Movie.  Though we cringed through the intro which took too long and the music issues and the sound issues and the issues issues, it was great.  The premise itself was compelling enough.  My on-camera-ness seemed to be compelling enough.  We did a good enough job of editing for it to be enough.

The people told us so.

And I believe them.

Thank you to Keith, Dana, and Natalie of the SC Film Festival.

It was great.

Thank you to all who’ve chosen to follow us after the Mississippi Journey.  Told ya there’d be more cool stuff happenin’!

And thank you to Elaine and Mitch.  I think you taught me that I stand on two feet just like you do, and if I work (even though I’m 6’4″) I might one day get to be as tall as you.

THANK YOU FANS!  LOVE YOU!

Ryan

So What Now?

There is no more paddling to do and things are quieter.  Weird.  There are no more beans to make on the riverbank, no more news crews to notify, no more fights to be had over continuing down the curve or cutting to the next bank, no more clacking of paddles, no more singing of dirty songs whether Phillip likes them or not, no more dirty water and “oh my god there’s only three inches of visibility today, theres snakes in the brush, there’s a barge coming; paddle light so you don’t splash my camera, pass me the camera for a sunset shot, I’m tired of you, thank god for you, I don’t want this to be over, I want this to be over.”  No more.

Now is a small town called Empire, Louisiana.  Now is the fortunate running into a man, an ultra right-wing Republican (I attract them like flies) telling me he doesn’t want to pay for my health care, but I can stay in his house; he doesn’t want Socialism, but is glad to help us because “shoot, guys, you do a trip like that, I gotta give you credit cuz, shoot, I could never do something like that, and y’all can stay in my cabin, Number 33, cuz it’s unoccupied now, and, hell, we’ll even drive you to New Orleans if you want because, shoot, that’s what you deserve… but don’t expect no handouts.”

That’s our reality now that the Mississippi River is done.

Now will be film festivals (we’re on our way to Oak Ridge on Wednesday for the Secret City Film Festival for a big-screen showing of The Hitchhiking Movie), now will be editing, fighting over which scene goes where and why, figuring out where we will live in Nashville, how I will earn money, how I will appease my adventure addiction while living in the “real world,” how we will continue to write interesting blog posts about the Go to Hell movie, our next film, which Phil will be telling you about in the next few days, how we will do… everything… and I stop.

It will be no different than the Mississippi, I think to myself.  The title of our film will be The River is Life, and this is Life.  Editing will be life.  Going and talking to fire-and-brimstone preachers will be life.  I also want to do a train-hopping adventure I want to write about; people will want to know about that; there’s tons of new material to come; tons of things to do with the website; people will want to know what we’re doing (as long as we’re doing something interesting) and I can do that – I can do interesting things… and I can share them with our fans… I can relax.  Things will be okay.  What’s next won’t be barges, or cookouts, or staying in strangers’ homes (actually, that’s the one thing I hope never goes away) or lifting 300 pounds of gear into trucks, out of trucks, down levees and up embankments – rocky, smooth, muddy, clay-y or otherwise.  But in a way, that’s exactly what will continue.

Life will continue; life does not stop at the Gulf of Mexico.  It can’t, and Eleven Visions won’t.  The River will still be there; making movies, entertaining the hell out of people is our thing, and we have blog posts to share about that.  The River… has not finished; it has just become… a much larger body of water.

So What Now?

Good question.  I think… this is my calling.  I think I am supposed to be an explorer and commenter of life.  I think travel writing is my calling; I think people enjoy it – our interactions with people, emotions, things, objects… Life again.  I think my partnership with Phil – making movies – is my calling; so, we will blog about that.  I think Eleven Visions is a celebration of exploration; and people will want to know how we’re exploring next.  None of it… will stop.

Some things to expect are the following:

  1. We’re making a film called Go to Hell that hopes to answer the question “How exactly does one keep from going to hell?”  Our biggest adventure yet!  Whereas our old adventures were about going to a place, this will be about how NOT to get to a place.  How do I, Ryan Jeanes, keep from going to hell?  Who’s right?  The Adventists?  Mormons?  Presbyterians, Russians, Socialists?  That’s a good question, and EVERYONE has an answer… and damned if they’re the same answer!
  2. More travel writing – I’m going on a train-hopping excursion that I will be more than happy to write about, share videos about, show pictures about.
  3. More tales from the insides of the editing process – You’ll see footage we’ve decided to keep in the River is Life movie, footage we’ve decided to keep out; if you stick with us, you’ll get a sneak peek, you’ll be along for the ride; the tide does not stop where the Gulf of Mexico begins; this, my friends, is only the beginning.  Eleven Visions is your home if you choose to stay, and we’d love to have you.  Do you take coffee in the morning?

In short, what now is more adventure in this beautiful world, more dialogue about life and what it means, more entertainment from Eleven Visions coming your way in the form of videos, audios, photos and writing.  We have more, much more, to share with you.  Come with us… deeper.

In a few days, Phil will give you the lowdown on our upcoming projects.  I will finish off the travel writing aspects of the Mississippi River journey.  Remember, we left off in Baton Rouge.  Um, yeah! a whole bunch of stuff happened between here and there.  Wanna know about it?  K, working on it.  It’s comin’ your way.

We want you to stick with us.  Eleven Visions does not die with the Mississippi.  It flows on into the Gulf of Life.  There is more, a whole ocean to explore; and, train-hopping, giving you a sneak peek into our latest footage on both The River is Life and Go to Hell movies, and more philosophical connections with you, dear reader, on the dimensions which make up this life… are just the beginning.  A new beginning… for all of us.

We’re glad you’re here.  Wait for Phil’s post on the Go to Hell movie.  Wait for my “just what the hell am I going to do with the English Channel?” post.  Wait for our New Orleans posts, paddle-to-the-Gulf posts, celebration posts.  Wait and listen.  Eleven Visions has more visions in store.

So don’t blink.  🙂

Ryan

The Hitchhiking Movie to Premiere at Secret City Film Festival

The Hitchhiking Movie
The Hitchhiking Movie

Nashville, TN — September 24, 2009 — Nashville based filmmakers Ryan Jeanes and Phillip Hullquist are premiering their first feature film The Hitchhiking Movie on October 9th at the Secret City Film Festival in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The movie follows the pair’s attempt to cross the entire continental United States in less than a week, using nothing more than their thumbs.

“After over a year of work on this project, we can finally see The Hitchhiking Movie play on the big screen,” said Hullquist, who also served as editor for the film, which is already receiving positive reviews and press. First time filmmakers often times get bogged down in the overwhelming amount of work involved in actually completing a movie, but as Jeanes explains, “The real work is done in the editing room.  Successfully filming our hitchhiking adventure was an accomplishment, but I was more excited when we had the finished product.  The positive reviews have just made the experience sweeter.”

“Before we left for the trip, people told us we’d be stabbed or murdered,” Jeanes says. “Very heartening.”  The 101-minute feature film chronicles the filmmaking duo’s experiences as 23 complete strangers stop on the side of the road and take them from New York City towards Los Angeles. (You will have to watch the film to see if they actually make it.)  “I had already bought two return tickets from L.A.” Jeanes continues. “We had to make it or we’d miss the flight back.”

The pair created the website 11visions.com which not only sells their DVD but also highlights their current adventures which include a kayaking trip down the entire length of the Mississippi River. Adventure travel seems to be their mainstay, but as Jeanes explains, “I think many people have the desire to leave their current existence and do something crazy. Where most people stop at that impulse, we actually go do it and get it on film.”

The Hitchhiking Movie is funny, insightful and full of unexpected surprises.  Hullquist explains, “I was a one-man crew with no script, so it was challenging to set up the shots we needed to make the film. We wanted to capture the realism of being like any other hitchhiker on the road, so our camera gear was kept to a minimum.”

What about the danger? “That’s what we wanted to dispel,” Hullquist says. “This is a realistic portrayal of hitchhiking unlike what you see in your average horror movie.”  ”There’s no blood and guts,” Jeanes adds. “The only real fear was whether we could make it before the deadline.”

Entertaining scenarios abound in this documentary:  A hysterical yet attractive young woman offers to drive them all the way from New Jersey to Los Angeles, a Seminole Indian entreats them to smoke his prayer pipe, a rowdy, one-eyed construction worker instructs on the basics of train hopping, and the pair finds themselves desperate in Denver with over 1000 miles to travel and less than 48 hours in which to do it.  If a real life adventure is your thing, this film is for you.

“A lot of people probably aren’t going to finish watching the movie and then go stick their thumbs out on the side of the road,” Jeanes points out. “The beauty is that The Hitchhiking Movie is for both the armchair and active adventurer. You can share in the fun without ever leaving your house.”

But Jeanes and Hullquist aren’t stopping there. Just two months after the DVD release of The Hitchhiking Movie, photography for their next film began in Minnesota. Their new film is titled The River is Life, and it tells the story of people they meet while paddling down the entire Mississippi River. A third documentary, a lighthearted exploration of heaven, hell and the idiosyncrasies of religion, is also in the works.

Tickets for The Hitchhiking Movie as well as more information about the festival are available at www.secretcityfilms.com. To purchase a DVD for home viewing go to www.hitchhikingmovie.com, or visit the parent website www.11visions.com. The film is available in streaming video and DVD which includes bonus scenes, an audio commentary from the crew as well as a special “drunk commentary.

“Free Lunch” Movie Will Document Hitchhiking Adventure

I’m going to take a quick break from the Mississippi River news to tell you about a new hitchhiking adventure beginning later this week which is similar to our own hitchhiking trip from back in 2007.

David, Docta, and Erik
David, Docta, and Erik

While Ryan and I have been pleased with the success of our own hitchhiking movie, there is always room for another one. That’s why I was so excited to hear about Erik Price’s new film tentatively titled “Free Lunch.” Erik and his team of two other friends will start together from Cameron Park in central California and plan to cover a route that will take them to the four corners of the continental United States AND hit every single state. It’s an ambitious goal to be sure and one that may end up taking longer than their estimated 4 week timeline.

The great thing about hitchhiking movies is that every one of them is guaranteed to be unique. The experience is so unpredictable that nearly anyone can go out with a camera and come back with very different stories. Erik’s also managed to one-up us by bringing an high-definition camera and covering a much-longer route. Both of our stories focus on a similar theme of the kindness found on the American highways, and follow the rule of not bringing any of our own money. By including three people in his group he’s not only tripling the fun, but also breaking new ground as most hitchhikers travel solo or as a team of two. It will be interesting to see how this affects their ability to get rides.

The Proposed Month-long Route
The Proposed Month-long Route

I spoke with Erik briefly about his plans and he seems to be well prepared for the journey. His team has just completed a 1000 mile trial run from central to southern California and back which helped them all get into the grove of what they will be experiencing during the long weeks ahead. A solid HD camera, a dozen extra batteries, and a dedicated cameraman means they are unlikely to miss any of the action.

Erik plans to record video continually for up to 10 hours per day, but I have a suspicion they will reduce this amount as the journey progresses. After all, hitchhiking inherently has lots of downtime and the resulting 300 hours of raw footage would certainly slow down the post-production process. Following the grueling trip, there is the even bigger task of editing down those hours of video into a entertaining movie. We wish Erik and his team the best of luck on their epic American adventure. The hitchhiking community certainly needs more media featuring the activity positively.

Follow Erik’s adventure: www.twitter.com/FreeLunchMovie
Join their Facebook group: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=117678829253
Learn more about hitchhiking: www.digihitch.com

4 out of 5 Stars! No, It’s not Star Search

What is Ed McMahon doing now anyway?  Well, here he is on Tom Green.  No!  We got 4 out of 5 stars for the latest review of The Hitchhiking Movie!  Sweet!

Click here for the review.

I’m likable apparently.  I’ll take that.  If you haven’t already, check out the Hitchhiking Movie today.  It’ll cost you 4.95 to watch it online or, if you want the DVD, 17.95.

Updates on the Mississippi Adventure coming soon!

Route 66 News Reviews The Hitchhiking Movie

Respect My Authori-tai!
Respect My Authori-tai!

 

Howdy y’all.  In the link below you’ll find a good review of The Hitchhiking Movie not in a sense that it’s somewhat praiseworthy of us, because it is that.  But I felt it did a great job of summarizing a typical experience one might have watching the film.  The writing is crisp and concise, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really enjoyed reading a movie interview.  

What the bridge looks like if you're not being detained by the police
What the bridge looks like if you're not being detained by the police

Ron Warnick is the creator of Route 66 News.  For those of your who haven’t seen the movie, there is a short but significant portion of the trip when we’re on Route 66.  My favorite part is when we’re almost arrested on The Chain of Rocks Bridge.  We will be revisiting that bridge during our Mississippi Float, and dah! dah, daaaaahhhhhhhh!  There’s rapids!  Here take a look at this video.

Lastly, before we get to the movie review, I have some better info on the windiness of the river.  This photo says it all.

Still don't think it's windy?
Still don't think it's windy?

Thanks to Dan, Stu, Dan and Steve of mississippipaddle.co.uk for the photo and video.  

And, of course, thanks to Ron for his review of our movie.  Click here:  Film review: “The Hitchhiking Movie”

The Hitchhiking Movie Documentary Released on DVD

The Hitchhiking MovieNashville, TN — April 14, 2009 — Adventure documentary The Hitchhiking Movie was released today on DVD. The movie follows the journey of actor Ryan Jeanes and director Phillip Hullquist in their attempt to cross the entire continental United States in less than a week, using nothing more than their thumbs.

“Before we left for the trip, people told us we’d be stabbed or murdered,” Jeanes says. “Very heartening.”  The 101-minute feature film chronicles the filmmaking duo’s experiences as 23 complete strangers stop to pick them up and take them from New York City towards Los Angeles. (You will have to watch the film to see if they actually make it.)  “I had already bought two return tickets from L.A.” Jeanes continues. “We had to make it or we’d miss the flight back.”

The pair created the website 11visions.com which not only sells their DVD but also highlights their current adventures which include a float down the entire length of the Mississippi River and a swim across the English Channel. Adventure travel seems to be their mainstay, but as Jeanes explains, “I think many people have desires to leave their current existence and go do something crazy. Where most people stop at that impulse, we actually go do it, and we get it on film.”

The Hitchhiking Movie is funny, insightful and full of unexpected surprises.  Hullquist explains, “I was a one-man crew with no script, so it was challenging to set up the shots we needed to make the film. We wanted to capture the realism of being like any other hitchhiker on the road, so our camera gear was kept to a minimum.”

What about the danger? “That’s what we wanted to dispel,” Hullquist says. “This is a realistic portrayal of hitchhiking unlike what you see in your average horror movie.”  “There’s no blood and guts,” Jeanes adds. “It’s nothing like that. The only real fear was whether we could make it before the deadline.”

Entertaining scenarios abound in this documentary:  A hysterical yet attractive young woman offers to drive them from New Jersey to Los Angeles, a Seminole Indian entreats them to smoke his prayer pipe, a rowdy, one-eyed construction worker instructs on the basics of train hopping, and the pair finds themselves desperate in Denver with over 1000 miles to travel and less than 48 hours to do it.  If real life adventure is your thing, this film is for you.

“A lot of people probably aren’t going to finish watching the movie and then go stick their thumbs out on the side of the road,” Jeanes points out. “The beauty is that The Hitchhiking Movie is for both the armchair and active adventurer. You can share in the fun without even leaving your house.”

To purchase The Hitchhiking Movie, go to www.hitchhikingmovie.com, or visit the parent website 11visions.com. The film is available in streaming video and DVD which includes bonus scenes, an audio commentary from the crew as well as a special “drunk commentary.”

The Hitchhiking Movie – on sale now at 11visions.com.

Phillip Hullquist and Ryan Jeanes will embark from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to begin their journey down the Mississippi River via kayak in May of this year. Visit http://www.11visions.com for more info.

Buy Now from IndieFlix

Dilbert Goes Hitchhiking

Strip 1

Strip 2

Strip 3

I don’t blame Scott Adams for his negative portrayal of hitchhiking in a recent series of Dilbert strips. After all, he’s a supporter of the growing rideshare movement and the joke wouldn’t work without the reference to hitchhiking. However, when presented in this manner it keeps reinforcing the idea of hitchhiking as inherently being dangerous. We know better. But public opinion (be it true or false) creates the reality. Our work may help to reverse this reality in the future.