Beauty Is Embarrassing
A Film by Neil Berkeley
Opening in Toronto – Friday September 28 – The Bloor Cinema
“Who said there’s no second acts in American life? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Fuck you F. Scott Fitzgerald.” – Wayne White
Making themselves very known, loud and clear, the wonderful, the creative, the inspiring, the irreverant documentary, Beauty is Embarrasing, screened at every important film festival across North America, including our very own Hot Docs last April. With each screening came an enormous amount of attention and a fast-paced growing jubilant fan-base. This not-to-be-missed feature doc – about one-of-a-kind visual artist and raconteur, Wayne White, creatively directed by Neil Berkeley – returns to Toronto for a one week run starting Friday September 28, at The Bloor Cinema.
For over 30 years, Wayne White has made an indelible mark on the creative world. As a designer, painter, puppeteer, sculptor, and musician, Mr. White created images and ideas that are an integral – yet sometimes subconscious – part of the pop culture lexicon. To this day, he still gets up every morning to do the only thing his body and mind was meant to do … create. Whether the world acknowledges it or not.
Part biography, part live performance, Beauty Is Embarrassing, traces White’s career from an underground cartoonist in New York’s East Village to his big break as a designer, puppeteer and voice-over actor on Pee-wee’s Playhouse for which he won three Emmy’s. It follows Wayne’s success designing and animating for other children’s shows like Beakman’s World and music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins (Tonight, Tonight) and Peter Gabriel (Big Time) through a dark period of struggle and self-reflection before emerging in his present-day incarnation as a respected painter and performer. The film, like White, embraces the ragged edges and messy contradictions of life, art, and family with rabid humor and honesty.
For two years, filmmaker Neil Berkeley traveled with White through Houston, Miami, New York, Chattanooga, Nashville and Los Angeles retracing Wayne’s steps from childhood to parenthood. He peeled back layer after layer of Wayne’s singular creative process and his astonishingly prolific career. In addition to the 300+ hours of footage shot by Berkeley and his team, the director discovered hours of video which White shot throughout his career including never-before-seen behind the scenes footage of the making of Pee-wee’s Playhouse – now included in Beauty Is Embarrassing.
Wayne White’s trip to the top came relatively early in life but was followed by a fall that felt all too real. Yet, as Wayne explains in the film, there are sometimes second acts in life that take us to new heights – without compromise. At its core, Beauty Is Embarrassing shows what it takes for one uniquely talented, profanely hilarious, and utterly uncompromising artist to make it in America.
Beauty Is Embarrassing is a Future You Pictures presentation in association with Tremolo Productions, featuring Wayne White, Mimi Pond, Mark Mothersbaugh, Todd Oldham, Matt Groening, Gary Panter, Ric Heitzman, Paul Rubens. Edited by Chris Bradley, with additional editing by Kevin Klauber. Directors of Photography: Neil Berkeley and Chris Bradley. Executive Producers: Aimee Bothwell, Bart McDonough and Eddie Schmidt. Produced by Neil Berkeley, Chris Bradley, Milan Erceg and Morgan Neville. Co-Producers Liah Corral and Anthony Maiuri. Written by Neil Berkeley, Chris Bradley and Kevin Klauber. Directed by Neil Berkeley.
“When people ask me what it has been like making this movie,” explains Neil, “the first thing I tell them is that it has been the time of my life. I hope audiences get that sense of joy that Wayne has about what he does every day. That’s the lesson I learned from him…spend every day doing work that makes you happy. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past three years, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what I’ve been up to.”
Interview subjects include (in alphabetical order):
Cliff Benjamin (Art Dealer), Tony Crow (Lambchop), Jonathan Dayton (Co-Director, Little Miss Sunshine), Valerie Faris (Co-Director, Little Miss Sunshine), Matt Groening (Creator, The Simpsons), Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Todd Oldham (Designer), David Pagel (L.A. Times) Gary Panter (Co-Creator, Pee-wee’s Playhouse), Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman), Charles Stone –(Director, Drumline), Fred Sullivan (Owner of the famous Fred62 diner), Kurt Wagner (Lead singer, Lambchop), Paul Zaloom (Beakman’s World)
Beauty Is Embarrassing is being released in Canada by KINOSMITH INC., an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. With a mandate to bring critically-acclaimed Canadian and international films to audiences across the country, the company has distributed over 200 feature films in the last four years as well as providing marketing advice to completed films and productions in development. KINOSMITH is also home to the Hot Docs Collection on DVD that releases award winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs festival in Canada. Current KINOSMITH releases include: 5 Broken Cameras; China Heavyweight; Darwin; Big Boys Gone Bananas!; Town Of Runners; Girl Model; Shut Up And Play The Hits; The Island President and Mark Cousins’ epic The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Upcoming releases include Award-winning The World Before Her; Buzkashi; Highway Gospel; Bob And The Monster; Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet; California Solo; Herman’s House; The Secret Disco Revolution and Yung Chang’s The Fruit Hunters.
Wayne White in one of his art studios, in California. Beauty Is Embarrassing is a doc you don’t want to miss. Back from its Hot Docs premiere last April, in for a one week run at The Bloor, starting Sept. 28.