By Philip Clarke
CALGARY – Getting more than a hundred-and-sixty films made over the course of almost two decades seems downright impossible, but infamous underground worker bee Stephen Groo has managed to do just that.
Groo is the definition of a guerrilla filmmaker by foregoing equipment that even the most basic of film crews would use. He also doesn’t bother getting film permits or clearances for copyrighted material at all. Who has time for legal legwork anyway when there’s real art to be made? He’s the kind of filmmaker that shoots insanely fast, to the point of blistering insanity. His mind is going a million miles a minute, always thinking, planning, dancing or articulating through his current obsession. Many would argue that his projects are objectively garbage, and they would probably be right. Despite all of that, his unfaltering drive to tell stories is nothing short of inspiring.
The Insufferable Groo is a bizarre balancing act, because it’s a well made documentary about a guy who doesn’t make well-made movies. Director Scott Christopherson documents Groo’s career from his early beginnings in the late nineties, to the point where he feels like he might finally get his big Hollywood break. The titular man is such a purist, that he manages to snare the attention of Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess, and actor Jack Black. They love his work so much that they both want to be involved in his latest shoe-string-budget masterpiece.
The documentary is at times an insightful look into the indie filmmaking process. At others its intentionally cringe-inducing by way of Groo throwing out all artistic merit and quality to the wind. David Fincher and Groo are day and night as artists, but could both by definition be considered auteurs. Where the former made Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara do the opening scene of The Social Network ninety-nine times before it was absolutely perfect, the latter will shoot seventy-five different shots in a single day, so as to wrap an entire production before the weekend is out.
The Insufferable Groo is a fascinating portrait of a man with an unadulterated cinematic mind who makes zero concessions in order to achieve his dream. Even if that dream will make freshly green film-school students and seasoned filmmakers alike squirm in discomfort and fume in total abject anger.
The Insufferable Groo screens as part of CUFF docs on December 1 at 7:00 pm at The Globe Cinema.CUFF, CUFF.Docs, The Globe Cinema, The Insufferable Groo