Thursday, December 22, 2011

RIP Phillip Guilbeau

It’s interesting as you get towards middle age and friends start to die. Recently I’ve had three friends pass away. All were involved in the art scene in a variety of ways. They all were instrumental in shaping people’s lives, but they were also artists whose careers never achieved household name recognition. It makes me sad thinking about the number of artists toiling away for years whose work never reached a large enough audience.

I just wanted to shed some light on one of those. I first met Phillip Guilbeau shortly after moving to SF in 1987. I have no idea where I first saw one of his films. At Club Kommotion? The Firehouse? The Artists’ Television Access? I don’t remember where it was, but I certainly remember what it was. The Psychosis of Tony Lambert was a bizarre, no-budget, super 8 blast of anger and aggression. The legendary Gary Floyd (of the Dicks and Sister Double Happiness) played both quack psychiatrist and patient Tony Lambert, driven to psychosis by society’s lack of understanding of his homosexuality. There was bad language, cross dressing, and wild gesticulations and facial contortions courtesy of Floyd. The film was nearly unwatchable at a technical level, but so full of life, energy and attitude that I was hooked and couldn’t wait to watch the film over and over. And it turned out Phillip had a trilogy of Lambert films under his belt. When I finally met Phillip, I found him to be one of the sweetest, quietest, kindest people I’d ever met. And his gentle Texas lilt was always so calming.

I immediately identified Phillip as a kindred spirit. A nice, quiet kid making insane films full of punk rock energy. We did lots of shows together. I put out one of the Lambert films on my first video compilation and screened his films countless times throughout the 80s and 90s.

As life does, we drifted apart. The number of times I talked to Phillip in the last ten years is miniscule. At some point, Phillip moved to Michigan to go to grad school at U of M (my alma mater). He reached out to me several weeks back, asking me to give him a call. We never spoke. I left a message. Phillip called back and left a message on my phone. The message was riddled with dropouts and bad reception and I heard almost nothing. I called back and left a message. And that’s it. Cancer. He passed away at his home in Texas with his family this week.

Not sure when the last time it was that he made a film. Not sure how many people will remember him as a filmmaker. His name likely won’t be included in film history books, but I know his work had impact. It certainly had an impact on me.

Rest In Peace - Phillip Guilbeau.


mtaylor said...

oh man, I haven't seen him or thought of him in years, but he was such a nice guy -- and his films were INSANE.

I hope someone is able to archive them somewhere so they live on.

that is just sad.

thanks for writing this danny.


Becca said...

I'm his niece. If you have any video or documentation of his films. please please send to me

Gabby said...

Yes - Danny - thanks for writing.

Likewise - I was touched by Phil - his art and person.

To Philip!! RIP

lemonyellow7 said...

Becca, It is Kelly Phillip's friend from ann arbor. Phillip was one of two people at my baptism. Please feel free to phone me regarding phillip's films. He spoke very highly of you, and loved your energy. I loved your spunk in some of his loving discussions about how I remind him of you. When I last visited your uncle in Houston three weeks before he passed, your grandmother and I were feeling the weight of the world on phillip's shoulders, and we didn't see eye to eye on how to approach the subject. I will say this though, after I spoke to him he reversed his decision to give up on the finishing of his life's work, his dissertation "The making of a Charter House". I have endless stories of many things we did together if you'd like to converse, but as for dear Joann I think it's too early to reattach myself to her in any way, as the loss of her son is nearly too much for any mother to process. I do love her very much, and I wear a Miraculous Medal around my neck that she found for me. Phillip wore one just like it. Blessings to you child. Your uncle loved you very much! Kelly Scott Brown 734.277.6345 please phone any time you like darlin'.

lemonyellow7 said...

Danny, If I may address you in such an informal manner. My name is Kelly Scott Brown, and I left a message for Phil's niece above this one. If you would like to speak to me regarding Phil's films please phone. Thank you for the loving tribute to a friend that means so much to so many people. Your post helped me get through a bit of tough grieving recently, and for that I wish to thank you. I can only hope to half as helpful to anyone else who loves him as you have been in posting this for all of us. Best, Kelly Scott Brown 734.277.6345

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lil m said...

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