A lo-fi cinéma vérité portrait of Jay Wade, a New York City steamfitter from El Paso with a mysterious past and an insatiable passion for music and numbers. Shot on analog hi8 tape and Jay's own iPhone, the film provides a direct experience into Jay's life, full of rough textures, dark humor, and endless non-sequiturs. We follow him inside the skeletal infrastructures of skyscrapers, ride along to record a song in Nashville at Third Man Records, enter his private creative sanctuaries, and examine the many unique artifacts he's collected throughout his journeys.
I first met Jay Wade at a late night backyard show adjacent to an abandoned junkyard. He tore the universe apart with his guitar for an hour and shouted crazy shit about drug cartels and a beautiful woman trying to shoot him with his own gun. I immediately knew this was someone who had to be documented.
Jay creates instruments out of things he finds in the dumpster, so I chose to film him with a camera someone found in a closet. I bought a forty dollar analog hi8 camcorder off eBay, and with Jay’s permission began filming him the following week.
One week later, Jay signed up for a Record Store Day promotion that Third Man Records was hosting in Nashville: one song, one mic, one take, direct to acetate. Before I knew it, I was on an eighteen hour road trip with an eccentric lunatic I had just met, with a camera I had only recently confirmed actually worked.
The road trip was a surreal adventure that became the foundation for our unique friendship. Upon returning, Jay opened up his life to me in ways I had never expected, sending me iPhone footage of his work as a steamfitter in the skeletal infrastructures of New York City, and granting me access to his private creative sanctuaries.
It became clear early on that I would not be able to explore Jay's entire life in a single film. Instead, I focused on living in the present, documenting the authentic experience of hanging out with him. Jay is a person most people would be too intimidated to approach, let alone spend time with. It was essential to me that this movie be shot through a lens of friendship, granting viewers access to a warmth Jay usually conceals behind an aggressive exterior.
My main focus was his music. His talents are like a house with infinite rooms, layer after layer of curiosity and instinctual virtuosity. For Jay, music is like breathing. Songs pour out in a seamless stream of consciousness. They are always influenced by his immediate environment, defiantly present and rarely saved or shared. This film is a document of those lived in moments and the glimpses of Jay's life that emerged between the notes.
Follow Jay on Instagram @enigmaproof_