Ralph Arlyck

1. — Elisabeth (Cardonne Arlyck) and I first met Harry (Roseman) in the early eighties shortly after we moved into our house on Raymond Avenue. We were having a yard sale to get rid of accumulated junk so we would have lots of room in our new house to accumulate much more junk over the next 30 years. Harry (the King of All Accumulators) stopped by — probably took a few pictures — and bought something (I forget what — but my father later said it was a steal). We’ve never had another yard sale because we’d much rather go to dinner or the movie with Harry and Cathy (Catherine Murphy) then sit on our lawn trying to pawn off useless objects on to unsuspecting professors.

2.— Whenever asked to talk about filmmaking in terms of art, I think of Samuel Goldwyn’s wonderful question, “Who’s this Art everyone keeps talking about?” I guess I’d say that if what I do has any claim to the art designation it does so because it’s less concerned with what happens than with what those happenings might mean. I make what are sometimes called “personal essay” films although this too is a term I tend to use sparingly, again having butted up against the specter of Hollywood in the form of an old-line director who once reacted to that self definition with a smirk and the comment, “You mean sort of like Thoreau or something?” I’m interested in topics like success, utopias, responses to the news, how we feel in museums etc. and the films are ruminations on such questions — things we generally don’t confront on a daily basis but which kick around in the back of our heads. In the most recent one, a theatrical doc called “Following Sean”, I went back and revisited the subject of my first film in 1969 — a precocious 4-year old hippie boy in Haight Ashbury — as a way of looking at some lingering notions from the 60s (personal freedom, ideas about work, the unpredictability of life). I’ve been doing this for a while so, in a way, my work can be thought of as one continuous film with separate chapters — or, as my spouse sometimes puts it, “making the same film again and again”. My work has been solely funded by grants and fellowships (since private backers — and even foundations –aren’t stepping over each other to put money into personal essay films) so I regularly toss proposals into the ring and cross my fingers.

June 2007 Video: Following Sean Trailer: Following Sean