Entitled, “Middle of Nowhere,” it explores the stories of four local veterans. Filmmaker Jesse Fox – who was born and raised in Canada and now lives in the Los Angeles area – explained how he became familiar with Siskiyou County and what inspired him to focus on the area’s veterans.
One of the short films showing at this year’s Jefferson State Flixx Fest shines a light on Siskiyou County’s veterans. Entitled, “Middle of Nowhere,” it explores the stories of four local veterans. Filmmaker Jesse Fox – who was born and raised in Canada and now lives in the Los Angeles area – explained how he became familiar with Siskiyou County and what inspired him to focus on the area’s veterans.
This is the second film Fox has been involved in that takes place in Siskiyou County. He said he hadn’t heard of the region until one of his classmates from the University of Southern California showed him around. It was during his time in grad school for film production at USC that Fox said he became serious about filmmaking.
He helped his classmate with her Siskiyou-based thesis project, a documentary about gold miners along the Klamath River. That film, “Lonely as God,” played at a previous year’s Flixx Fest. Through working on the project, Fox said he fell in love with Siskiyou County.
After the making of “Lonely as God,” Fox noted, “I met a lot of veterans all over Siskiyou, many of whom were pursuing alternative, even off-grid lifestyles. I started to wonder what brought so many of them up to Siskiyou County. I've always been fascinated with histories of conflict – with legacies of trauma and violence – and I think it's important to examine what those experiences can do to people.”
Fox also explained some of his own family’s ties to military life. “A whole generation of my family was involved in the Second World War. I have a great aunt who was an attaché to a general in the Pacific. Apparently she had a copy of the invasion plans for Europe, and we still have a samurai sword surrendered to her by the Japanese,” he detailed. Additionally, Fox’s grandfather was in the first American armored division to cross into Germany.
Though “Middle of Nowhere” is only 15 minutes long, Fox said it was shot over the course of about a year. “I’m a firm believer in time being a key ingredient for many [documentaries],” he shared. “One of the hardest things with nonfiction filmmaking is finding a story, but the passage of time usually helps a lot. The more time passes, the more people tend to change. If we were to revisit all of our subjects in a few years, we would probably find their stories have become richer, and their perspectives shifted or evolved a bit,” he described.
The Flixx Fest program gives a synopsis of “Middle of Nowhere:” “Ex-Marine-turned-goatherd Brian and Vietnam combat vet Alex both live off-grid in the woods of Siskiyou County. Alan, whose military career lasted over two decades, struggles with severe PTSD and looks for peace in training mules. Marge, who served as a nurse in Vietnam, finds a home in a large and supportive community of veterans. All of them tell their stories, exploring what brought them to this wild and often-treacherous county in Northern California.”
Fox shared that he hopes the film will inspire audiences to reflect on what war does to people. And for those who don’t live in or around Siskiyou County, he added that he hopes the piece will provide a glimpse of lifestyles that are largely under-represented.
Having participated in the Flixx Fest before, Fox said he enjoys that it’s an intimate festival “that celebrates the awesome communities in Siskiyou, and allows contemporary films to find an audience there.”
The Jefferson State Flixx Fest features a wide variety of films which will play from Thursday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 22. Additionally, the Made in Siskiyou Showcase will not only play during the festival on Sept. 19, but will also be featured at the Empire Music Hall in Yreka this Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. The evening will also include a feature presentation of “Gun Runners.”
For details on the many films playing at this year’s Flixx Fest in Scott Valley, and to purchase tickets, visit flixxfest.org