Interview with Tim MassettApril 22, 2007
For being a pretty quiet avoid-the-limelight kind of guy, Tim Massett does get talked about alot. Whether it’s movies at The Pit, midnight movies at San Marco Theatre, Folio writing about his label, or that recent hoopla about the Jacksonville Film Festival.
Pictured here with “gal pal” Shana, Tim prepares to rock that Uke, so to speak, at The Pit – a rare change from his usual behind-the-scenes nature.
I emailed Tim some interview questions and he was very glad to respond.
Who are you and what do you currently do?
I’m Tim Massett and when I was a skaterat they use to call me masfat and it made me sad. And besides banging my head against walls, I program and run the San Marco Theatre, program titles for the Jacksonville Film Festival, run a hobby vinyl/mp3 only label – Shrug Records and trying to get through this super great book titled “The Corporeal Image” and it might just be a too high-falutin for me.
What sort of ‘official’ background do you have in film?
I don’t have a official background other than taking a semester of film 101 at a community college in California taught by a 2nd rate critic -Glen Lovell from the San Jose Mercury News. I read and watch and read.
I’ve heard about you rescuing library collections, running microcinemas, doing productions of your own. These are all kind of ‘under the radar’ film activities. How long have you been doing this?
Eh… I used to do film junk for a band here called Jon Todd. I did a music video for them that got into this fest in Athens, and then later surfaced on Insound.com. I also contributed to a swell music video for Melt Banana. I abandoned my documentary on changeover projection and only had my work in progress show at Craig Baldwin’s other cinema. There are enough filmmakers in the world but not enough film programmers to get that work shown. You got to learn your role in life and I think I finally got it. I started rescuing films in ’98 and then the collections dried up.
The Pit, here is Jacksonville – how long has that been active and in what incarnations?
It’s going about 5 years this past February and I lived there for the first three. It was a fun and horrible time but I am glad I was able to help create something here in this “swamp one has to wade through before getting to the everglades”.
What was your initial goal with The Pit, and how do you feel that goal has changed or been met?
My first goal to was have a place to rest my head and show films. John Magnifico was interested in booking shows and it kinda grew as a live/screening venue from there. Josh, you picked up the torch and ran that shit for some time. It was fun and I think the pit is in a period of transition at this point. It’s nice to see Scott (Magid) in there doing “something” and doing the occasional show is nice.
A lot of shows have happened and films have been played at The Pit, and it’s certainly known around Florida as a reputable DIY showspace as well as a microcinema – but known as both of these to relatively few people. What are your thoughts on this? Would you like to see more crossing over of these groups?
I don’t really care. The Pit was created and people projected on to what The Pit could be and I like that there was no false economic incentive behind it. I lived there. It was my home. I needed a place to live and a place to screen marginal work and then there was this organic component that grew for live shows. Some of the live shows and the people that attended were annoying and that’s one of the reasons I had to put the kabosh on it.
There is a place in Jacksonville Beaches called “The Pit.” What’s up?
Some really boring kids that couldn’t come up with their own lamo name. The Pit was named after this redneck electrician that was helping me tear down the inside and he said something to me like “you are going to live in this pit?” and there it was. I guess the fools at Brewster’s Pub thought it was really a punk idea or some really boring motivation. Snooze.
And speaking of music and film coming together, you have record label – Shrug Records. Tell me about it. (I posted a review of the Interkosmos release here.)
Well… I had always secretly wanted to press records.. I came up with the name years ago and after meeting and falling for my gal pal Shana it was serendepity. So the first 7inch artifact by her came out six months ago -“Terminally Bourgeois.” Which allowed me to cut my teeth on the pesky and trash talking record pressing world. Now, with my second full length everything is in place. I have carefully crafted covers designed by Dexterity Press which close like a matchbook over a pink 180gram vinyl. The soundtrack was written by Jim Becker of Califone and Colleen Burke for Jim Finn’s “shoe-string sci-fi.” I hope everyone enjoys. Next up is Sin Ropas and Fire Prizes. Then I got Shana’s Country LP and hopefully Tuffy will stop drinking for five minutes and records a ten inch for us.
I’ve seen it referred to as a “boutique” label. What does that mean to you?
I guess speciality. Super small pressings of quality packaged and pressed on really nice vinyl with access to mp3’s. No CD’s needed any longer. We create vinyl artifacts for the true audiophile.
And speaking of something different, your new film series?… *
John Waters will be in town for my new series The Talkies. It’s cinema striking back against the DVD. It’s a two night event. First night, we screen a film in 35mm to re-acquaint or introduce the viewer to a film. Then the next night not only does the director join us but they provide commentary throughout the film. Herschell Gordon Lewis was our first guest John Waters will be our 2nd during the film festival on May 18th and coming up next? Jarmusch, Linklater, Tarantino and hopefully Herzog.
So, you’ve been in Jacksonville for a while – how long? – and your interests here span various ‘scenes’ – film, music, etc – What do you think of the Jacksonville cultural community – or just Jacksonville in general? How has it changed for the better? For the worse?
I have been back in Jacksonville for 7 years….What do I think about the cultural community? It’s getting better, I guess, but moving at a snail’s pace. If we had a radio station or something that could provide as a hub for stuff going on nationally and locally it would help. Somehow I have been able to eke out a living programming films in a town that doesn’t have much of a film going community.
* Tim declined to comment on the recent resignation of Jacksonville Film Festival programmer Jean Tait (pictured with Tim above). He mentioned to the Times Union that “there were some difficulties between her and I that probably re-erupted last year.”