Ever-changing road-trip film 'Silver Ochre: Who Are US 2016' coming to Ogden

Friday , April 08, 2016 - 6:45 AM

OGDEN — They bill themselves as “two perpetually traveling artists,” and they’re on a journey to capture American life one moment at a time.

Next up for their lenses will be Junction City as videographer Angela C Villa and composer/keyboardist Thollem McDonas bring their ever-evolving film project to Ogden.

“Silver Ochre: Who Are US 2016” — playing April 15 at Art House Cinema 502 — is a compilation of visual images set to a live, original soundtrack.

The film changes at every venue as the artists add in new footage shot on their seven-month road trip through the United States.

The result is “an absolutely unique experience — for film, for art, for music, for all of those,” said Joel Layton, owner of The 502.



• WHAT: “Silver Ochre: Who Are US 2016”

• WHEN: 7 p.m. April 15

• WHERE: Art House Cinema 502, 158 Historic 25th St., Ogden

• ADMISSION: $10; seating is limited

Viewers for the screening at the 28-seat theater can expect to see some of Ogden’s and Utah’s footage added into the film, Thollem said in a phone interview on the road from Colorado Springs.

That’s because in each city, “people will identify with the overall project if they see a little bit of something they recognize that’s personal to them,” said McDonas, who works under the artistic name Thollem Electric.

“Who Are US 2016” began March 31 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will end in that same city on Nov. 6 — two days before the presidential election.

The end date is no accident, McDonas said, as he and Villa, whose artistic name is ACVilla, decided the project would be their way to take part in democracy during an the election year.

“We’re looking at this point in time in America and thinking how can we participate in some way that might be positive or beneficial somehow,” the musician said.

• Story continues below video 

Yet the film is not intended to be political in nature, nor is it a get-out-the-vote project, McDonas said. It’s simply a way of holding a mirror up to the country and helping viewers see it’s a diverse nation filled with different ideas and cultures.

“It’s an incredibly complex country,” McDonas said. “We’re learning about our country; we’re learning about ourselves and about our neighbors in this country.”

The goal is to film “Who Are US 2016” in all of the 48 contiguous states. After Ogden, the artists are off to Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. Some tour stops are already set; others are yet to be worked out.

At this point, McDonas said he and Villa avoid the iconic images of each state, as the film is not meant to be a tourism film.

“Much of what Angela does is shooting serendipitous moments — idiosyncrasies in normal everyday life,” he said. “For the most part, we’re not going out of our way to capture something in particular.”

The music that accompanies the silent film draws on many types of musical styles, from bluegrass to baroque to punk, but also allows for spontaneity and improvisation, McDonas said.

“Sometimes the music is very much in time with the images and sometimes in contrast,” McDonas said.

• Story continues below map

“Silver Ochre” takes its name from both the silver screen of film and from ochre, a type of pigment used through the ages for artistic expression.

The film, which will also screen in Salt Lake City and Provo, now runs about one hour, McDonas said, with new footage being edited and deleted in each city. Taking things out and changing the flow of the movie can be a challenge, he said.

“It’s like pulling a thread, you know; you start pulling it and everything starts coming out with it,” he said.

The final product will likely end up being up to two hours long, perhaps presented in two parts. The completed film is something the artists hope to show in museums or at film festivals.

Contact reporter Becky Cairns at 801-625-4276 or bcairns@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @bccairns or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SEbeckycairns.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.