Local filmmakers’ Kerouac movie will premiere

Local filmmakers' Kerouac movie will premiere A feature-length motion picture by local filmmakers about an American literary icon, Jack Kerouac, with many local people in its cast and credits, will have its South Dakota premiere Saturday, Feb. 12, at 7;30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. at the Augustana College Gilbert Science Center Alumni Auditorium, 33rd and Summit Avenue, Sioux Falls.

Go Moan for Man is a two-hour exploration of the life and literature of Jack Kerouac by Doug and Judi Sharples of Wakonda. The filmmakers will be present for the showings, which are the first for the new film in the United States since its world-premiere preview screening at the "Orlando Celebrates Kerouac" festival in Florida. Tickets ($6 for adults, $4 for students) are available at the door.

Doug Sharples (writer-director-photographer) began shooting footage for the movie in 1982 in Boulder, CO, where poet Allen Ginsberg, novelist William S. Burroughs, and other "true-life" characters from Kerouac's Dulouz Legend celebrated Jack Kerouac with poetry readings and a literary conference on the 25th anniversary of the publication of On the Road.

That was the beginning of a 17-year effort by Sharples and producer Judi Sharples to make "the best and most complete film possible" about this novelist and poet who named the Beat Generation, titled the literary movement's most famous works, including Ginsberg's Howl, Burroughs' Naked Lunch, and his own On the Road, and created a monumental body of work that has stood the test of time very well, according to Doug Sharples.

As the filmmakers could afford raw film, processing, travel, and time off from other projects, they crisscrossed the United States and Mexico from the author's hometown of Lowell, MA, to New York, San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest and Mexico City. They followed him overseas to Tangier, Paris and London. From the house of his birth in Lowell to the hospital where he died in St. Petersburg, FL, they filmed the apartment buildings, houses, schools, churches, mountains, cities and roads of Kerouac's life and books.

The film was edited by Krista Scholten, formerly of Vermillion, who now lives in New York City. Other important credits include Peder Vagle of Vermillion, who created maps of Kerouac's travels which were animated by Dianne Bellino of Iowa City, IA. Don Lane of Gayville, a New York-based film producer for four decades before his semi-retirement in South Dakota, narrated the movie, and Peter Lownds of Los Angeles read Kerouac's literary quotes.

Actor Bill Mabon of Springfield, VA, as Jack Kerouac, leads a small cast portraying the life and literary development of Kerouac in black-and-white sequences that alternate with interviews and other documentary scenes. Geoffrey Gray-Lobe of Vermillion appears as William S. Burroughs and as the title character of Kerouac's novel Dr. Sax. Lonnie Fischer and Steve Merryman, both of Vermillion, portray Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, respectively.

Ivan Barnett of Wakonda portrays 4-year-old Jack Kerouac, and his brother Joseph Barnett plays an older, young Jack, as well as Kerouac's older brother Gerard. Jamie Jackson of Wakonda portrays their sister Caroline. Pam Kadous of Vermillion created several of their costumes. Steve Marsden of Iowa City, a former resident of rural Wakonda, plays the dual parts of Kerouac's Shrouded Traveler and Zacatecan Jack. Others in the credits include Nancy Carlsen of Vermillion, and Nick Mullinix and Guy Eggers of Wakonda. Rory O'Connor of Wakonda helped with wardrobe and was casting consultant.

Scenes shot in Vermillion, rural Clay County, Yankton and Wakonda were cut together with footage from the authentic sites of Kerouac's life which the filmmakers shot across North America and abroad. Interiors at the Wakonda Hotel, for example, stood in for hotel rooms in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A shed on a farm owned by Harry Scholten, the movie's firearms consultant, provided the backdrop for a scene of Gray-Lobe (as Burroughs) practicing with his pistol in New Orleans. Several Vermillion backalleys stood in for those of Lowell.

Harold Fischer of Vermillion and Diane Pinkleman of Yankton provided vintage automobiles, and other period cars were found in Iowa and Nebraska to help recreate Kerouac's 1947 travels over two-lane highways to Denver. Kerouac's trip through the mountains of Mexico on the Pan American Highway and life in Mexico City were filmed with the help of South Dakota magazine writer and editor, Jerry Wilson of rural Vermillion, who served as guide and interpreter on two Mexican trips and sound recordist on one of the trips to New York City.

The editor of The Portable Kerouac, Ann Charters, and other Kerouac biographers and scholars provided commentary, as did Kerouac's family, friends and fellow writers. In addition to Ginsberg and Burroughs, these included author Carolyn Cassady, Kerouac's widow Stella Sampas Kerouac, his first wife Edie Parker, his daughter Jan Kerouac, his agent Sterling Lord, novelists Joyce Johnson and Ken Kesey, musician David Amram, humorist Paul Krassner, and poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, and Gary Snyder, among many others.

Kerouac himself appears with Steve Allen on Allen's weekly TV variety show from 1959. So does the famous typewritten scroll of On the Road, centerpiece of a 1996 Whitney Museum exhibition on the postwar influence of the Beats on American art and culture. Historian Douglas Brinkley argues that Kerouac is one of the "true American greats," ranking with Thoreau, Whitman, Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

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