dir. Jeff Krulik and John Heyn
Plays (with other shorts) Wed Feb 7 at JBL Theater at EMP.
In 1986 metal was God, the video revolution was poised to explode, and Jeff Krulik and John Heyn created a milestone in independent video history--Heavy Metal Parking Lot. A short document of party-hardy fans outside a Judas Priest show in Maryland, HMPL has become a cult classic that has bubbled through America's pop culture and inspired numerous imitators. In the past 15 years, Krulik and Heyn have continued making short documentaries highlighting the absurd aspects and people in our culture (collaborating "spiritually" when not in deed), including King of Porn, the hysterical Mr. Blassie Goes to Washington, and HMPL's sequel, Neil Diamond Parking Lot.
Krulik and Heyn have put together a program of a number of their short videos and various HMPL tribute films to show at EMP. I recently talked with them about metalheads, independent video, and how imitation is not always a sincere form of flattery.
Tell me a little about how you two started working together.
JOHN: We were both emerging filmmakers back in the mid-'80s when we came together.
JEFF: I was running a public-access community TV studio and John was working for a local station. We both had a lot of ideas, and my place turned out to be a great proving ground for them.
So how did the idea for Heavy Metal Parking Lot develop?
JEFF: John came up with the idea to do a concert, and Judas Priest just happened to be coming to town. We were both a little unsure about what might happen in the parking lot. We didn't know if anybody would be pissed off, from the security to the people hanging out. We couldn't have been further off the mark. The crowd just loved it. Most of them were pretty loaded, but that was no surprise.
JOHN: We are lucky because we captured it at a time when not everyone was running around with camcorders .
JEFF: We spent just a couple hours there, fumbling around, getting this footage. We had really old, heavy equipment, so one person had the camera, one person had the deck and the microphone, and we'd alternate. The material was all great, and we were lucky--we had such a low shooting ratio. It's really amazing we got such great stuff.
Now your video has inspired a lot of other filmmakers.
JEFF: Yeah, a lot of people have made films inspired by HMPL, and that's a lot of what this EMP showing will be. We are putting a big 90-minute collection together, a 15th Anniversary tour if you will. We've got our own pieces like Neil Diamond Parking Lot and Harry Potter Parking Lot, as well as tribute videos: Heavy Metal Sidewalk, which Robbie Socks did in S.F. when Judas Priest was on tour several years ago; Raver Bathroom, which is a Canadian production; also, Girl Power Parking Lot and then a music video inspired by Heavy Metal Parking Lot. It's a dense little collection.
How do you feel about people copying your idea?
JEFF: That's cool. Obviously there is no copyright as far as being able to go into a parking lot and tape people--we've just been fortunate enough to have an imprint on it.
JOHN: We are flattered and have embraced these tributes. It's just that this one guy rubs us the wrong way.
You mean Roy Damm with his film Heavy Metal Parking Lot 2000?
JEFF: Yeah, this guy's stealing our name and appropriating it with no contact with us and with complete disregard for the fact that we have been shopping this name and own the name as intellectual property. HMPL is from a time and place that we fortunately were able to capture, something that has really stood the test of time. But we want to develop something that can make some money. And that's by taking this scene and making it into a narrative feature, HMPL the Movie. We are trying to rip it off before anybody else does.
But HMPL 2000 is confusing the issue?
JEFF: He's created a shtick, and more power to him--just don't involve us, don't confuse us with him. The name has been associated with us for a long, long time. I do give him credit, though. He's got this tremendous ego. You kind of need that in the business.
See more of Krulik's and Heyn's work on their websites: www.planetkrulik.com and http://heavymetalparkinglot.home. att.net.