The waves of fresh VHS excellence are steady rolling in, Tapeheads, and today in Lunchmeat Land we feature one of the more enthusiastic and exciting entities to enter the analog-inclined arena in recent rewind-inclined memory: Weird Life LTR. Since their inception in 2016, they’ve released a small army of fresh VHS releases, which I highly VHSuggest checking out via this here hot link. It’s their newest release, however, that’s grabbed our attention with WLLTR issuing a limited edition videocassettte featuring filmmaker Courtney Fathom Sell’s homegrown and heartfelt documentary Tracking Issues.
Tracking Issues is described by Sell as, “[a] chronicle of the lives of four children who aspire to become horror filmmakers, and begin their ‘careers’ making films in their parents’ backyard in Suburbia. The film follows them up until a few years back where it checks in to find their lives have gone in totally different directions…”
You can check out the official trailer for Tracking Issues just below….
The majority of footage in Tracking Issues is analog, more specifically Hi-8: a format Sell feels affectionately connected to. He expanded on the production of the film, and the process of bringing Tracking Issues together: “…much of the early footage which is included in the film such as us as kids making horror films were shot on Hi-8… However, when deciding to put the film together, the rest of the movie was filmed entirely on cheap twenty dollar cameras that you could buy at department stores, along with a few FlipCams…. some cell phone footage was included, as well. There are a lot of formats in the film, but the entirety of Tracking Issues was remastered in disposable cameras.”
Sell also expanded on the aesthetic decisions he made for Tracking Issues, along with the overall meaning behind this project for him.
Sell explains: ”To get the proper feel for the film, I filmed all my early footage off the television, from VHS with disposable cameras. Some of the footage dates back to when I was about 4 years old, including some audio, so it was extremely wonderful to dive deep into the archive at recover this stuff, and preserve it forever. Some of the VHS footage was shot in mid-to late 90’s while some other Hi-8 footage was filmed over the course of ten years starting from early 2000 when my Father was diagnosed with Cancer. I had been traveling the country making no-budget documentaries with my Hi8 and decided to turn the camera on him and document his story. The actual documentary about my Father is called My Dying Day, and was released in 2007.”
A still from TRACKING ISSUES featuring Sell’s Father shopping for a casket. It goes there. And deeper, dude.
Tracking Issues certainly seems to offer a sincere, multifaceted journey through a world of disparate personal experiences, but perhaps what’s most interesting is how Sell and his crew inadvertently documented their whole lives simply through efforts toward making backyard low-budget films. The mixture of these organic and fascinating elements offer the potential to add up to some seriously powerful stuff, and I asked Courtney to elaborate on that notion.
Courtney reflected, “At first, it was simply going to be about my friends and I being silly making shitty films in our backyards… Every weekend and after school we would make these films, but it was never something we did to screen – in fact we barely watched the film outcome. Instead, it was just fun to do… We had basically whole franchises of shit films with titles like “Killer” 1-10, “Maniac vs. the Killer”, “Weed Wacker Massacre”, “Sundown Rundown”, “The Man Who Can’t Stop Eating”, “TV Sucks and the Dogs are Mad” and “Ralph” which is our most infamous [movie] as we were all taken to the police station for posting flyers which depicted our main character vomiting… In the film, I mention that this was our way of simply rebelling – as most of the films were transgressive in nature and gory or sick. We didn’t play instruments, at least at that time, so this was our way of lashing out and being punks. It was all done with heart… Yet, it still has the right about of silliness and humor. It was so wonderful to be able to sit through all this footage and laugh… though most [scenes] were cringe-worthy.”
A look at the VHS release for TRACKING ISSUES from WEIRD LIFE LTR. Grab this slab RIGHT HURR, Videovores.
Weird Life LTR main brains Ryan Ohm and Jeremy Marsan also commented on their inspiration to exclusively release projects on the VHS format, and their excitement on working with Sell on Tracking Issues.
Marsan offered, “We knew about the psychedelic effects of VHS tape going into this, but we didn’t know how gorgeous & mind-blowing it would actually be… especially when we work with filmmakers like Courtney Fathom Sell who drink the same Kool-Aid. Giving [artists] the proper medium to release their work is a small but hugely gratifying privilege for Weird Life LTR.”
Ryan Ohm shared his thrill about working with Courtney on the release, along with a few other groovy details on the Tracking Issues VHS release. Ohm explained, “We’re pumped to have Court’s film as the newest addition to our roster. Immediately, Court’s passion and friendliness jived with us and even before fully digging into his intensely personal and organic flick, it felt like we had formed a bond over indie filmmaking, VHS, and more.”
Ohm continued, “The release is publicly VHS exclusive upon launch, however, Court has a private link to a digital file fans will receive immediately upon purchasing the tape (though we’d strongly recommend saving this for those dire times when a VCR isn’t accessible). The tape also features custom artwork we created using old drawings and photographs from Court’s archives warped into the finished product (and of course, the release comes with free microwaveable popcorn).”
Wait… free microwave popcorn?! Apparently some micro-pop comes with every purchase from Weird Life LTR. You know we can dig it, man.
A peek at some of the VHSelection from WEIRD LIFE LTR. Dig on these and more by clicking HERE, Videovores.
Tracking Issues along with a slew of other interesting indie films exclusively committed to VHS are currently available via the Weird Life LTR store, so groove on over check it on out, Tapeheads. If you’re looking for a label that’s delivering the essence of truly independent contemporary underground cinema on VHS, Weird Life LTR’s got the goods, man. Go grab a slab or two. Your VCR will thank you, dude.