~ Tom Waits ~

Nirvana by Charles Bukowski

A very popular poem — there are three videos for it on Vimeo alone — probably because it captures in simple language an experience most of us have felt, and also because there’s a great recording of Tom Waits reading it (which is the narration used here). It also has that wistful, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” kind of vibe, even though the holidays aren’t mentioned. And for me this poetry film epitomizes the appeal of down-home, local diners. (I worked as a short-order cook in a diner for a few years when I was young.)

The director, Patrick Biesemans, says about himself:

I currently work as head of production for a cool little company in Manhattan, and when the opportunity arises I am a freelance director of commercials, fashion films, and music videos.

The film was supported by a successful Kickstarter campaign and shot on a $4000 budget. The campaign description shows Biesemans’ thinking about the project:

We would love the opportunity to pay tribute to Waits and Bukowski by creating a short film inspired by, and complimentary to, this great poem. This video project would be visual poetry, focusing on the atmospheric qualities that Waits’ presents with his voice, and Bukowski with his words. A story revolving around the quiet moments that spark and inspire great writing. […]

Our approach would be to shoot this live action and on location, with a playful mix of practical effects and miniature elements (mainly using model railroad train elements); A surreal yet welcoming artistic representation of the world. I want the influences of the 1950’s and 60’s to shape the art direction, costuming, and mood of this project.

We have no plans to submit this to film festivals or get praise for completing such a great project. We’re doing this as a “love letter” to travelers, writers, singers, campfire storytellers, and poets.

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

A highly imaginative remix of Tom Waits’ reading. This is definitely a case where the video improves on the poem for me. By itself, I find the text didactic and somewhat clichéd. But director Neil Chan, producer Kathryn Kelly and actress Skyler Carlin have taken it to another level.