Dave Tourjé’s Short Film ‘John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN’T IT’ to Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
It’s been eight years since Los Angeles artist Dave Tourjé decided to make a movie about acclaimed pop artist John Van Hamersveld—and this week, the resulting film, John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN’T IT, will make its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film screens Wednesday, February 6, at 5 pm.
Tourjé, a longtime friend and collaborator of Van Hamersveld, produced and directed the 11-minute film, working with director Christopher Sibley, producer Ariana Capriotti, and writers Andrew Van Wyk and Adam Cude. The film features interview with many artists, including Van Hamersveld himself, Chaz Bojórquez, Carole Caroompas, Shepard Fairey, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jeff Ho, Harvey Kubernik, Steve Olson, Nina Palomba, Mary Anna Pomonis, Louise Sandhaus, Quentin “Shplinton” Thomas, Shaun Tomson, and Gary Wong.
Producer and director Dave Tourjé in post production studio with sound mixer Ross Leitner. Photo by Ariana Capriotti
Before heading up to Santa Barbara for the film’s premiere, Tourjé and Sibley talked to Cartwheel about the project and how it all came together. Tourjé says, “I had the idea back in 2011 to make a film about John, but I’m not really a filmmaker—I’m a painter and musician. I just knew a film about John should be made, and I knew it wouldn’t be made, really, by anyone other than me, because I love him so much. He’s such a mentor and an inspiration.”
One of the biggest challenges was finding the film’s focus. Sibley says, “Dave and I probably had like 20 different phone conversations trying to get to the root of what is the story we’re trying to tell. Is it John? Is it a bigger message? Is he the backbone for a larger question which is, ‘What does it mean to be an artist and not give up on your art?’” That question resonated with Sibley personally. He says, “I had been living and working in L.A., I was finishing grad school, I’d started a company, I was doing tons of projects—but you tend to get lost. There are peaks and valleys as a filmmaker, as a painter, as a sculptor, as a chef… Everyone is an artist in their own way, but what does it mean to understand the path of an artist which we perilously walk? How can we find inspiration and be resilient, and own our work in an age of digital democratization?”
Artists Shepard Fairey and John Van Hamersveld
John Van Hamersveld CRAZY WORLD AIN’T IT tells the story of Van Hamersveld’s career and his impact on surf culture, rock and roll, and muralism. Van Hamersveld, whom Tourjé describes as a “very cerebral, intuitive artist,” created the iconic surf image on The Endless Summer poster, along with the cover art for such albums as the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. He’s also the man behind one of the largest murals ever commissioned in the United States—a 510-foot artwork that wraps around a water tank in El Segundo.
In addition to its focus on Van Hamersveld’s life and accomplishments, the film has a broader message that’s about working as an artist and sticking with it over time.
“What we’re hoping to do with this story is not only challenge people to ask the question, ‘What does it mean to be an artist and not give up on your art?’ but as well to send a message of hope—to inspire.” – Christopher Sibley
It’s a message close to Tourjé’s heart. “I’ve been making art since I was two years old. It’s all I really ever thought of. I went to art school, went to music school. Using my hands and my eyes is my thing. Here I am, and I’ve done some cool things with the California Locos and other great people, and I’ve met a lot of great people. Every single day, I’m challenged not to quit what I’m doing—to this day,” he says. “The message is for everybody, but it’s also for me. I felt really satisfied that it became a message for me, too.”
For Tourjé, Sibley, and their crew, making the film over several years involved plenty of starts, stops, and frustration. Looking back on it, Tourjé says, “The struggle that we went through is the struggle that we’re talking about.” Now, they’re excited to finally get the film out there. “Santa Barbara is starting to fill up with people, and I’ve got forty people, including John, going up to celebrate this moment.”