by Angela Johnson
Barely out of high school, Scott Jones and his friends have just finished their second movie, which premieres at The Met on Wednesday. "We tripped over a camera one day," Jones says. "We wanted to have something to look back on."
Permasmile: A Comedy About a Tragedy, is three documentary-like stories spanning more than three decades. The movie was filmed locally except for some Seattle footage and took approximately two years for the group to complete.
Permasmile is divided into three "mocumentaries," as Jones calls them. The first mocumentary takes off where their lives were two years ago and is about a group of high school seniors who go on a road trip. The second part of the movie involves grown Siamese triplets (need I say more?). The final section is set in the '70s, where a few boys try to revolutionize a new pastime. Each part of the movie includes a tragedy and a surprise ending.
"The endings are the best things about them," Jones says.
He wrote pieces of the movie himself and was helped along by ideas from the cast. However, many of the scenes were ad-libbed.
Jones attempted to show his movie at several different locations, but found the only person who got back to him promptly was the manager of The Met, Michael Smith.
"He's all about getting local stuff going," Jones says. "Of course, I have to pay him."
Smith, who is currently writing several movie scripts, tries to encourage independent filmmaking. High school students from Lewis and Clark and North Central have presented movies at the theater.
"The Met's developed a reputation for experimental films," Smith says. "[Permasmile] looks very interesting."
Smith says there is a good response for local movies in Spokane and tries to keep the cost down because of the benefit to the community.
The first movie from Jones and his friends was entitled Pizza Boy vs. The Suburban Cannibal, which he describes as a crazy "B" movie. It is available to rent at Hastings.
"I had a friend who worked there who knew the video manager," he says.
After viewing the movie for appropriateness, Hastings put it on its shelf. Jones says the movie is rented often. In fact, he continues to get comments from people on the street about how much they liked the video.
Jones went to Shadle Park High School, where he met many of his cast mates. But the stars in the movie aren't actors or even film students, they're just friends. However, this will be Jones's last movie with them.
"They've expressed to me that they've had enough of me," Jones says of his obsession with the movies.
Jones, 19, is a student at Spokane Falls Community College and a pizza delivery guy, which is where his inspiration for the first film came from. He hopes to go to film school after he graduates, but hasn't given the school much thought yet.
Making movies is not about the money for Jones, since he is already in the hole financially from the films. His need for money is made apparent on his Web site labeled Scott Jones Films.
"I bought a computer over a car I really needed," Jones says. "That's what I used to edit this movie."
The equipment for Jones's movie Permasmile was very basic: an RCA video camcorder and some rented lighting. But he promises the movie looks professional.
After going through about 50 names for the movie, they came up with the title Permasmile: A Comedy About a Tragedy. Jones says he likes it because of the meaning; keep a smile even when times are hard.
"It worked on every level," he says, noting the two movies would sit side by side at the video store.
If all goes well at The Met, the movie may play at another location. It will be available to rent at Hastings sometime soon.
"It's a unique movie because it has no boundaries," Jones says. "We weren't told how -- we just went out and did it."
Permasmile: A Comedy About a Tragedy, plays on Wednesday, June 27, at 7 pm at The Met, 901 W. Sprague. Tickets: $4. Call: 227-7638, or go to www.scottjonesfilms.tripod.com.