MY GAL ROSEMARIE x JASON TIPPET
Out today over on Short of the Week our good friend and collaborator Jason Tippet has released his latest short My Gal, Rosemarie Jason first showed us Rosemarie several months ago and it was love at first sight. Rosemarie and Ray are the epitome of pure heart and they share this peace with everyone they meet. Even though they lived a life of hardship together you would have absolutely no idea from talking to them. For Ray and Rosemarie, beauty and joy are everywhere - you just have to take a moment to realize it.
How do you find subjects? Or do they find you?
They usually find me, but I feel incredibly lucky when people decide to open up. I’m not sure what it is about me to be honest and maybe it’s better I have no idea.
I used to have this fifty year old neighbor Sarkey, he would stop me as I’d walk by and invite me in for hot dog buns and sour cream. He used to show Joe Callander and I tapes of him driving to Disneyland and back with no hands. He made dozens of these tapes with different soundtracks on each tape… one would have The Beatles, another would have Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Metallica, and others I’m forgetting. It would be the same video, but different music. And every week he’d ask me what I thought of the new tape, and every week I’d say, “I really loved that one” and he’d hand me another to take a look at. Sarkey used to say, “believe in God, believe in miracles” he felt like an angel of god when he’d drive with no hands. To this day Joe and I both regret never making a portrait about Sarkey. So, I’m gonna try hard to never make that mistake again… to not wait and think about making something, to just start making it and stop wondering if I should make it. The one that got away...
At what point when meeting someone do you decide to make the commitment of making a documentary on them?
There’s a specific type of person I’m interested in making films about. They need to be the same person on camera as they are off camera. People that are too self aware usually don’t work out. You can tell pretty quickly if it’s going to work with somebody or not. I also need the subject to be a collaborative part of the process. I like talking through plans and goals they’re interested in pursuing. I appreciate when subjects get invested in the project and suggest things to shoot, as they begin to understand what I’m hoping to get out of filming.
You say that rosemarie and ray gave you perspective, which seems to be an occupational hazard of documentary filmmaking. in all of the hours that did not make the final edit, are there any further pieces of wisdom you took away from the time you spent with them?
There’s a moment I couldn’t fit in the film, where Ray was showing me a singles dating magazine he put out for a few years. He told me he wanted other people to enjoy the only thing in life that brings him happiness, someone you can share your successes and failures with. In a way, I still think that comes across in the film but isn’t outright said. That’s the reason I was interested in making the film in the first place. I wanted people to witness a couple that didn’t have much, but had love.
Do you keep up with your subjects after the fact? do you know what rosemarie and ray are up to now?
I try to keep up with the people in my films, but in all honesty I’m not very good about it. That’s actually something I regret quite a bit and didn’t handle correctly with my last film Only the Young… and while we’re being honest, also my first short Thompson. I’m not the best about staying in touch with people.
The last time I saw Ray and Rosemarie was about a year ago and they were both in the hospital waiting to have hip surgery. Ray would get up early on Thursday mornings and move his car across the way for street cleaning. One morning while Ray was moving his old wagon, he was hit by a car pulling out from a driveway. He was rushed to the hospital. A few nights later Rosemarie tripped at the apartment complex after returning home from visiting Ray at the hospital. She crawled to her apartment and fell asleep on the floor. The next morning she got enough energy to crawl to the phone and called 911. They were set up at different hospitals so I went to visit them separately. I had recently finished the film so brought it along. They both missed each other so much. The first time they saw the film was in the hospital and it brought them both to tears, they were so worried for one another and there was nothing they could do to be together. That was the last time I spoke with either of them.