“There is this wall created by E! shows and Hollywood and reality television. If you’re just trying to get famous or published, your idea is going to get clouded.”
As the camera pans out to a grainy shot of a silver Ford Focus—its bumper densely adorned in cartoon horse stickers—the viewer gains a sense of the commonplace. The clip, aptly entitled, “Fingers Off the Glass,” is just one of 30 daily video shorts that Joe LaRocca, a film professor within the fine arts department at Boston College and BC ’05, has compiled into his latest 40-minute films released in June 2013. “The first thing I noticed was how cheap they made the car look, and how angry my father would have been had we stuck stickers all over his car as children,” LaRocca said. “Then I realized how funny they were, because they were little horses all over the car.”
The “Month Movies” series seeks to capture the humdrum, monotony, and essence of daily life.
Filmmaking has been part of LaRocca’s life since high school—long before he earned his B.A. in film studies at BC and then his M.F.A. in film production at Boston University. The first of his prolific “Month Movies” series, which he both shoots and directs himself, debuted in February of 2007. For the series, he records one-to-two- minute, seemingly random video shorts, and at month’s end, pieces them together into one final film running about 40 minutes. Family members, friends, and household pets have all made guest appearances in what he describes as his “video diary.”
LaRocca’s series is a response to the Digital Age, streamlined and catered toward the “YouTube Generation” to which viral videos are commonplace. For LaRocca, the goal is to challenge redundancy and derive creative vision from the first thing that inspires him that day. Rather than finding the constraints of daily filmmaking inhibitive to the creative process, he prefers shooting short video series to feature length films, and he describes the experience as unexpectedly liberating.
“After [my second film in] May 2008, I said I’ll never do anything after that again, and here we are six years in,” LaRocca said. “Creating a series rather than a feature forces you to be creative and go beyond the boundaries.”
Although the feedback to LaRocca’s series has been markedly varied, since its inception, his “Month Movies” has garnered a loyal following. “I have a small niche,” LaRocca said. “There’s a spectrum of responses that I get: I’ll have someone who will tell me their least favorite film, and then have someone else say it’s the best one they’ve ever seen.”
In addition to filmmaking, LaRocca’s “Month Movies” has served as an innovative platform for other creative outlets, most notably music. The video series is scored by a range of performers, from distinguished composers such as Beethoven to more relatively unknown musicians, with some of whom LaRocca is personally acquainted.
LaRocca’s career as a professor and a teaching assistant has helped support his work as a freelance filmmaker, and it also has been an opportunity to give guidance to student filmmakers.
“There is this wall created by E! shows and Hollywood and reality television,” LaRocca said. “If you’re just trying to get famous or published, your idea is going to get clouded.”
When giving advice to young artists, LaRocca stresses that recognition and acclaim stem from the pursuit of passion and relatability in the creation of art.
“You have to figure out a way to make yourself stand out and create something people can relate to,” LaRocca said. “I have learned that the only satisfaction is to enjoy the creation of it.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Joe LaRocca