It’s rare to find an artist who creates his work merely because his soul desires to do so. It’s rare to find an artist without expectation of showing his work to other people. Local filmmaker Jim Hollenbaugh, creator of the short film Self Portrait Portrait, has documented Bryan Lewis Saunders, an artist who, for the last 20 years, has created a self portrait of himself every single day. Jim wanted to share his story with the world, and he has.
Jim met Bryan online. They were both part of film forums and began trading underground work by other filmmakers and artists. Jim learned that Bryan was part of his own performance art project called “Stand-Up Tragedy,” which was a stand-up comedy routine with the intention of making the audience upset or making them cry instead of resulting in laughter. The more Jim learned about Bryan, the more intrigued he became. He eventually learned of Bryan’s 20-year-long, daily self portrait project and wanted to get the word out about this persistent artist.
Jim is originally from Carlisle, PA and went to Millersville University. He graduated from college and worked for a downtown production company, SR Productions, for 10 years. For the past four years he has been focusing on freelance work.
Self Portrait Portrait, which lasts for approximately six minutes, was shot on Super 8mm film. Super 8 film is a format that many people aren’t familiar with as it was released for the first time in 1965. It is the film used for many middle-aged individuals childhood home movies. There are many benefits and limitations to using Super 8 film. Jim explained that each roll of film lasts for a duration of three minutes which, after being purchased and processed, costs around 60 dollars. If you shoot and process ten minutes of this film, it can cost you a couple hundred dollars. You can transfer the film to a digital format, which keeps the old look of genuine film, but allows for various editing options.
Jim is very familiar with shooting with this particular type of film. Ten of his short movies are shot on Super 8. Out of these ten, Self Portrait Portrait has gained the most interest, including international showings. The film was first played in Switzerland and from there it received notable attention. Since receiving the “Top Documentary” prize from the 2015 Black Maria Film Festival, the film will tour the United States with several showings, including the Lincoln Center and the National Gallery of Art. The film will be shown in Lancaster at the Isadore Gallery. They will be showing the movie through the window at nighttime after the gallery and most of the businesses have closed on the 200 block of Prince Street.
Self Portrait Portrait is a fascinating documentary. It gives the viewer the ability to enter into a true artist’s personal world. It was Jim’s hope that Bryan’s story would reach the world, and now he can see it happen right before his eyes.