Film narratives often slide from the ridiculous to the sublime, but it takes a special kind of storytelling to make a movie about grifters, yoga devotees, drug dealers, gruesome murders, a Dougie dance session, a tender love story and the musical stylings of BOTH Warren G and Kenny G. In the case of Every Day Is a Journey, it also took six directors and a lot of goodwill.
“We called in a lot of favors,” says Justin Freet, the mastermind behind the “synergistic cinema” concept of EDIAJ and the director of its first episode, “The Inner Octopus.” Freet conceived of the project as an audience-builder for the Seattle film festival Rawstock, which he co-founded with Dylan Noebels and Will Russell in 2005. In 2011, when Rawstock had a contract with ACT Theatre, they’d pre-scheduled six screenings and needed an audience.
“I was thinking, how are we going to get people to come to six of these events?” says Freet. “We have great short films from all over, but we needed a real hook.” He started toying with the idea of telling a serialized story in six episodes, and airing a new one at each screening. “I wanted people to say, in two months I have to come back and see what happens next.”
Freet began calling filmmaker friends with Rawstock connections: Nik Perleros, W.T. Russell, Christian Palmer, Jason Reid and Ian Connors. “I thought it would be really cool if I jumpstarted it and then said, guys, you can do whatever you want,” he says. “You have to take up the story threads from the previous episodes and see what happens.” Would it be a train wreck or would it somehow fall into place?
Ultimately, it was a little bit of both. Freet introduced a set of characters and a simple story of low-level con men, and the snowballing began. Episode two took an absurdist left turn, episode three killed off a main character, episode four opened the tap wide on a heartbreaking love story. Episode five went scorched-earth on the whole story, and episode six was left to pick up the pieces and make audiences care again. A full-length film was never anyone’s endgame, but it turns out that, viewed as a whole, EDIAJ is bizarre and completely unpredictable.
Because of the project’s nonexistent budget, cast and crew did double duty. Russell also plays yoga teacher cliché Sullivan Burke; Freet ended up playing a hitman named Freakshow after an actor flaked on him. Local actors like Susan Perleros, Dylan Noebels and John Hildenbiddle contributed their talents, but the performance by Nate Quiroga (formerly of local rap group Mad Rad, now part of indie rock band Iska Dhaaf) became the heartbeat of the film.
Due to issues with music rights (and the headache of negotiating with a massive creative team), EDIAJ could never be released for profit, but beginning on Dec. 8, an episode will be released every night on YouTube for free, concluding with the entire 99-minute film on Dec. 14. Each episode is a stand-alone piece, but there’s something special about watching this cinematic chimera in its entirety. A Rawstock audience member put it best, Freet says: “It’s like watching a living movie.”