Judy Drosd Interview

By Mikel Fair

Interview with Director Judy Drosd

We had an opportunity to catch up with director of the independent film documentary film Joey Skaggs: Bad Guys Talent Management Agency, which screened at Oregon Documentary Film Festival Winter 2021. The screening on February 28, 2021 was a live drive-in theater screening on the Film Festival Circuit.


1. What led you to make a docu-series on Joey Skaggs?

"Joey’s exploits as a multi-media performance artist are incredible. I mean this literally. They are truly unbelievable and much of the work is also very funny. Add his stage presence and ability to tell a story and you’ve got a great documentary subject. After the success of “Art of the Prank”, the feature documentary about his work I produced with director Andrea Marini, Joey and I wanted to dig deeper, particularly into stories and themes not covered in the film."

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2. I found all of the archival footage and newspaper articles really’ fun and fascinating. How did you track all of that down?

"Joey went to great lengths to collect and preserve documentation of his work for decades. This includes behind-the-scenes footage, photos and audio tapes as well as mass media news coverage. He did this because his performance art is ephemeral. It happens in real life in real time. He knew if he didn’t save the coverage, no one would believe these things actually happened.

In addition to documenting his work, the archival materials also reflect the contemporary history at the time. This helps put Joey’s work in social context. And, people can see what influenced, angered and inspired him."

Judy Drosd Joey Skaggs Poster

3. So this is the third episode of the ongoing oral history series, "Joey Skaggs: Satire and Art Activism 1960s to the Present and Beyond." Is there a way for people to see the first two episodes and any future episodes?


"This episode, “Joey Skaggs: Bad Guys Talent Management Agency”, is the third in what will probably be a series of more than 40 short films. I’ve edited four so far and they are playing in film festivals, either individually, as with the Oregon Documentary Film Festival, or compiled into one 52-minute film. Each festival has different length limitations for short films, so we’re releasing the episodes in this unusual way. Fortunately, each story can stand on its own. 

We’re not sure how or where they will be distributed after the festival run, but they are part of Joey’s archive and will, at the very least, be available on his website at https://joeyskaggs.com/videos/oral-histories. For now, future festival screening dates can be found on that page.

Joey Skaggs- Bad Guys Talent Management Agency


4. What are some topics that will be explored in future episodes?

"Joey has tackled a wide range of issues over the decades, from equal rights to the legal system to religion to celebrity to vanity to heroic athleticism to intolerance to scientific breakthroughs to social justice and more. With his particular way of decoding current affairs, he’s created some fascinating scenarios that communicate his concerns about what is going on.  

For each piece, he portrays different characters and creates props, costumes and other ephemera to hook the media into reporting the story or event as if it is real. The work is multi-faceted and layered, with him sometimes portraying more than one character at a time. 

As an editor, there’s a lot of material to work with and each film episode will explore a difference aspect of his work. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come:

. Metamorphosis (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/metamorphosis-the-miracle-roach-hormone-cure/), the cockroach hormone miracle cure, offered a panacea for all ailments known to humans.

. The Solomon Project (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/solomon-project/) totally revamped the American judicial system using networked super computers. The computer program found OJ Simpson guilty. 

. Portofess (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/portofess/), offered religion on the move for people on the go. Father Joseph said, “The church must go where the sinners are”.

. The Final Curtain (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/final-curtain/), a parody of the death-care industry which offered a series of Disney-like memorial theme parks and mall cemeteries. People could create their burial plots while they were still alive. There was also a time-share travel program for cremated remains.

. Comacocoon (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/comacocoon/) offered a new medically enhanced comprehensive dream vacation using anesthesiology and subliminal programming. Tourists could visit foreign lands, learn a foreign language and lose weight without the inconvenience and dangers of leaving home. 

Hair Today, Ltd. (https://joeyskaggs.com/works/hair-today-ltd/) offering scalp transplants from cadavers to permanently cure baldness."


Judy Drosd Joey Skaggs Poster

5. Were there any challenges you've had to face while making this docu-series?


"The elephant in the room is the COVID-19 global pandemic. We couldn’t safely shoot interviews with media experts or journalists or the numerous co-conspirators from his performances. And, we couldn’t go on location to the places where things happened.

Instead, we used one location to stage all of Joey’s storytelling--a picture window looking out on a very pastoral setting--as a contrast to what’s going on in the stories.

In a funny way, this drove us to work harder and faster than we otherwise might have. We started shooting during the summer but with Autumn looming, we realized the view out the window was going to change dramatically and soon. If we took too long to shoot, we wouldn’t be able to intercut any of the early and later footage. This also meant there would be no opportunity to pick up shots if we needed more elaboration or details from Joey. As a precaution, we shot some background footage, in case we want to use it with greenscreen later.


6. Do you have any fun or interesting stories about the making of this docu-series? Maybe an experience or conversation you had off camera with Joey Skaggs?


Joey Skaggs_FinalCurtain


"Working with Joey is highly entertaining. He constantly surprises me with his take on things. I tried to capture it all on camera.

Although we’ve talked about pursuing this project for years, there were always other priorities. Recently, Joey became interested in finding a permanent home for his archive. He wants to assure that it is preserved over time and available to the public.

We started working on this with the NYU MIAP (Moving Image Archiving and Preservation) program in the Tisch School of the Arts. This past summer, they assigned a Masters student, David Griess, to develop a “Collection Assessment”, which is a report that defines and describes the archive. Since David couldn’t be with us physically, we did the whole thing remotely using spreadsheets, video, photographs and Zoom. This takes the collection to a new level.

During David’s internship, we kicked off the oral history project as a way to bring the archive to life. We shot the first two episodes with him as tests to figure out the nuts and bolts. They were so much fun that we just kept going."

7. How long would you say each episode takes to make from start to finish?

"They vary in complexity and length, but it’s a very organic process. Once Joey starts reminiscing, he’s off and running and the stories flow. So, the actual filming is very spontaneous and each narrative creates the spine for a short film. Editing can take several weeks, because not only are we focused on incorporating the archival material to support each story, but we’re considering how each one will mesh with future episodes not yet edited. It’s an interesting process."

8. What has been your favorite part of the process of making this docu-series so far?

"Sometimes while shooting I hold my breath so I don’t laugh out loud as he recounts his wild and crazy escapades. Then seeing the stories come to life during editing is wonderful.

Sharing the films with the people who were co-conspirators in the work is also a lot of fun and very heart-warming. As you can imagine, some of these people have worked with Joey for over 50 years. They are excited and amazed to step back in time and relive these experiences.

9. What would you like audiences to take away from this documentary?
First, I hope people enjoy the Bad Guys Talent Management Agency story at face value. It’s outlandish and funny. But more important, I hope they feel inspired and empowered in their own lives. One reoccurring theme in Joey’s work is the power each individual has to use their imagination to help create the world they want to live in.

10. I'm really excited to see what you do next! Is there anything you'd like to promote or anyone you'd like to give a shout out to?

"We’re working with some incredibly talented people who are also locked-down in their own bubbles. It’s a tiny but mighty team which includes artist and graphic designer Kaboom J. Schneider, who contributed title graphics, text, poster art and the voiceover for the trailer; artist and editor Claudio Castillo who provided animation and technical assistance; and composer Daniel Pemberton who has given us access to music from his personal library. In closing, thank you and Mikel Fair at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival for inviting us to screen “Joey Skaggs: Bad Guys Talent Management Agency” with you. We are very grateful for the opportunity."

Joey Skaggs Green Screen background comparison


Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair

From 1999-2015 I worked on location in the television and film industry as a location sound mixer, production manager and field producer. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Today, I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit LLC, a US based company that manages international film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Our team is passionate about showcasing new independent films, videos, series episodes, screenplays and teleplays of all genres.

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