picture in picture

Statler And Krulik In The Balcony

Video auteur and underground docs

By Richard Whittaker, 12:36PM, Mon. Jul. 19, 2010

Statler (left) and Krulik: Yup, these guys helped redefine music videos and underground documentaries
Statler (left) and Krulik: Yup, these guys helped redefine music videos and underground documentaries
Photo by Richard Whittaker

To look at Chuck Statler and Jeff Krulik, you'd never think that they're underground icons. But the kinda nebbish-looking film-making friends, who are spending a long weekend in Austin as guests of the Alamo Drafthouse, have helped define and chronicle American pop culture through the magical medium of VHS.

Statler was the director of choice for many new wave bands, including Devo, Nick Lowe, and Elvis Costello. He'll be presenting a selection of his work (check out his video for The Suicide Commandos' Burn It Down, complete with real arson, below) at the Alamo Ritz tonight (July 19) as part of Music Monday at 9.45pm.

However, on Sunday night the stage was reserved for Krulik, the former Discovery Channel producer who has spent the last three decades creating micro-documentaries covering the weird, the bizarre, and Ernest Borgnine. Seriously.

With over a hundred films completed, Krulik is putting the finishing touches to his latest piece (Heavy Metal Picnic) and plans to complete his long-delayed doc about a hunting an urban myth called Led Zeppelin Played Here. While they have undeniable cult cachet, they aren't exactly multiplex-fillers, so the obvious question was asked: How does he make a living at this?

Aside from supplementing his income by doing archival research, Krulik really makes a living as an independent producer. The trick for any aspiring film maker, he explained, is all about priorities. "For some people," he said, "living is money in the bank, and for others it's surviving. I get by." He added, jovially, "It's freelance work, and it's hard, but it's doable."

He's also seen the market for his films change dramatically since he started as a cable access producer in the 1970s. When he first started making docs, it was tape trading or nothing: Then there were underground film festivals (for example, the aptly-named I Quit My Day Job For This Film and Video Festival), and now, Krulik said, "The Internet has made it a whole different ball game."

Many of Krulik's videos can be found on his YouTube channel: But if you've got ten minutes right now, watch the charming genius that is Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

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