Hear the Soothing Voice of Tom Waits in 'A Brief History of John Baldessari'

Now for something completely different. From one end of the film spectrum to the other, here is a short documentary called A Brief History of John Baldessari, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. You may or may not know their names, but you certainly have heard of the films they've directed, like Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3. While much of the film is graphics, photos, and text, it's the voice-over that adds to the film's larger than life personality.

A Brief History of John Baldessari, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman:

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eU7V4GyEuXA

I can't image that this film cost a lot of money (even if it was commissioned by LACMA), but a lot of the expense if we were going to do a film like this would come from getting all of the materials together (and possibly getting rights to use the works in the film). The real treasure is the writing of the voice-over beautifully delivered by Tom Waits. While we are probably not going to get Tom Waits to do voice work for our films, picking the right subjects to discover can lead to all sorts of happy coincidences, and John Baldessari and Tom Waits just so happen to be from the same town, so naturally there was no better person to translate the wit of the dialogue than Waits himself.

This short is a lesson in using your own creativity to enhance the story of the individual, rather than letting your own personal artistic voice overshadow the subject at hand. John Baldessari is a larger than life character, and the film reflects that in style and substance by showing plenty of examples of Baldessari's work in a creative way, and also giving us a sense of his personality using humor and wit.

His last lesson to artists, "Being at the right place at the right time," is one of the most important lessons any filmmaker can learn, because we won't always know when we'll be at that right place, but by pushing forward, being positive, and being prepared, we can have the best chance of taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

[via Short of the Week]

Your Comment


Love the variety of posts that you've got going on man, keep it up!

I listen to Tom Waits sometimes, but I seem to like his other random appearances in life more, such as his part in Book of Eli.

May 19, 2012 at 4:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I agree, his other appearances are what make him so interesting.

May 19, 2012 at 10:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Ahhhhhhh. This was incredible! Thank you so much for sharing.

May 20, 2012 at 12:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '+1'.

One day I'm going to direct something where Tom Waits and Stephen Fry tag team narration.

May 20, 2012 at 5:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Tom Waits is awesome. Just wanted to say that. This was awesome but Tom Waits reading Bukowski is the awesomest thing I've seen,

May 20, 2012 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Tom Waits is too good for this website.

May 26, 2012 at 5:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM