It always makes us happy here at JumpCut HQ when we get an email from CK Goldiing. If you don’t know CK yet, you will soon enough, as we are certain this guy is set for the top. Not only is he a fantastic and inventive documentarian, but he’s also a ridiculously lovely bloke too. Add to this, his infectious drive to put himself out there and get his work noticed, and you have the perfect recipe for a filmmaker destined for success. And you also have the topic for his latest documentary, titled Out There, which sees CK head out to America and do what he does best – connect with people. It’s not always easy, and there are times when these attempts to engage with strangers don’t quite go to plan, but CK rarely lets this stifle his creativity.
“The uncertainty of my projects is beautifully addictive for me. As a writer-producer, my job is to give the viewer an enjoyable experience, and that means each documentary or short film must be unpredictable. With that in mind, I embrace the rare occasions when strangers respond to me less favourably. That said, at the beginning of all my projects, there’s always a little anxiety, of course there is, but I suppress it as best I can. I suppress it not to be the ‘big man’, but because I understand how sensitive humans are to emotional energy and micro-expressions. When I approach a stranger, if I appear happy, buoyant and optimistic, the person will subconsciously pick-up on this and usually respond accordingly. If I’m nervous, or anxious… good luck trying to produce anything watchable, frankly”.
It’s a recurring theme in CK’s work that his ultimate goal is always to connect with his subjects, and ultimately his audience, in his own unique and endearing way. His first film, 61 Hugs, saw CK wander the streets and ask people for a hug, and the results were fascinating. His follow up, Waiting With A Killer, was a whole different kettle of fish, as CK came face to face with a troubled man who many years ago committed a very violent crime and was now dealing with the consequences of this. This new documentary though, goes back to basics, and is such a light, entertaining piece on the art of self-promotion, something which CK feels more artists need to embrace.
“If I wrote you a list of all the incredible artists I know that are terrified of pushing their art, you’d need bigger servers to support it. As I developed the concept for ‘Out There’, I had five singer-songwriters in my mind. I’m friends with all of them. They’re incredible talents. As their names flashed by, I thought: “God, I hope they watch this”. I hope they start tweeting more about their music, reaching out to more press or start being more visible generally. I recently asked a first-time filmmaker why she released her debut short film one day, tweeted about it just once, and did nothing else. These were her exact words: “I don’t want to bug people too much”. My heart sank. If her film was shit, fair enough, I’d endorse her low-key promotion, but it was a brilliant debut. I loved it. Sadly, this kind of artistic shyness is more common than you’d think. And by the way, I also suffer from this artistic shyness, so I do get it, but I always try to challenge it rather than succumb to it”.
The MO for ‘Out There’ is two-fold for CK. First of all, he wants to spread the word about his film ’61 Hugs’. But, in his own words, “nothing comes for free”. So, CK has a proposal for the various restaurant owners he approaches – promote my work, and I will give you 61 minutes of free labour to repay the gesture. An interesting experiment, albeit one which takes a little bit of time to get off the ground, most likely through the general scepticism of the human nature. Thankfully though, CK finds a willing recipient of his offer in the form of Alika, the manager of a bar and restaurant which is the proud home of the best fish tacos in San Diego, apparently. It is Alika’s warm, laid-back nature which allows this documentary to breathe and gives CK his opportunity to get out there and interact with the random citizens that cross his path. Many of these people just keep on walking, politely declining the conversation, but when CK does manage to engage with a handful of the more friendly passers-by, that’s when we see him shine. It’s clear how much CK enjoys these moments, and it is truly a joy to behold. We meet an ensemble of genuinely wonderful people throughout this documentary, and our narrator asks us who our favourite is, but we turned the question back around on CK.
“I mean, what’s not to love about Alika’s giant smile and bear-like warmth? On a purely practical level, I must award him the ‘favourite’ medal, because without him, there is no documentary [laughs]. Seriously, though, he’s the kind of person I wish for when writing these projects – likeable, open, warm-spirited, full of character, funny, blah blah blah. Caitline was adorable, too, as were the handsome humans in the car park. All very obvious selections, I know, but there you go”.
We will never tire of seeing CK Goldiing make documentaries. His inquisitive mind and playful soul always shine through in everything he does, and it’s the main reason these films are such a success. This is a marvellous documentary from a man who is simply intrigued by human behaviour, putting himself out there for our entertainment. With ‘Out There’, CK has created a short but sweet snapshot of the beautiful things that can happen when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and it genuinely had me smiling throughout. Before I let CK go, however, I had just one more question – did he ever get to try those famous fish tacos?
“Great question. Now I’m annoyed. Thanks for that. No, no I bloody didn’t. Madness”.
Follow CK Goldiing on Twitter (@CKGoldiing) for more of his work, his musings on life and his new podcast.