The original idea of Energy and How to Get It was to make a documentary about the somewhat tragic existence of inventor Robert Golka, who experimented with ball lighting in an abandoned hangar, intending to use it as a practical source of energy. Frank, who had made photographic portraits of Golka in the late 1970s, Gary Hill, and the screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer took off with the real story of Golka’s life, creating a fake documentary about a man who faced numerous obstacles presented by the American authorities. What began as a documentary film about Robert Golka was turned into a spoof on the documentary form, inserting fictional characters into the story such as the Energy Czar (William Burroughs) and a Hollywood agent (filmmaker Robert Downey). John Giorno is also on hand as Burrough’s right hand man, as well as a musical appearance by Dr.John & Libby Titus.
Following his emigration to the U.S. in 1947, Robert Frank documented life in South America, Europe and specifically in the U.S. with his camera. After the publication of his seminal photographic collection, The Americans, Frank went to work as an avant garde filmmaker. His first film Pull My Daisy (1959), with voiceover by Jack Kerouac, tracks the then newly-designated Beat Generation; the film is generally considered a cornerstone of avant garde cinema due to its unusual juxtapositions and improvisation. Beginning with Me and My Brother (1965-68) Frank began to blur the line between documentary filmmaking and reality by including more staged, traditional storytelling elements. Cocksucker Blues, his 1972 documentary about a Rolling Stones tour, calls into disturbing question just what is real and what is fiction in the context of life on the road with a rock band. Multi-image and multi-media has become a hallmark of Frank’s filmmaking, which almost universally casts an eye on himself… read more