Sitting down with Jak Kerley of Shibby Pictures
Written by Sandeep Sehbi
We sit down with film-maker Jak Kerley, the man behind Shibby Pictures. His breakthrough works include a string music videos he’s shot with the band Days n Daze and a well-passed around documentary on DIY. He’s just coming off a showing in Africa, and has a string of US dates planned.
TUNED UP: You’ve toured DIY circuits as a film-maker. How was that process, visiting spaces that perhaps typically housed musical performances, and screening film?
Jak Kerley: When I first tell people that I’m touring films, I usually get one out of two reactions: They’re either super excited because it’s something so different from a touring band and they can’t wait to have a show with diverse mediums, or they’re weirded out because it’s something so different from a touring band and they don’t think anyone will come. What’s great about my set up is that I can fit in almost any type of venue or space. I’ve done everything from screenings on a beach in Daytona, to the exterior wall of a house moments before a power-violence band plays. Early on I was unsure of how everything would be received by different crowds, but I’ve come to find that as long as the people are attentive, everyone is usually pretty into it.
TUNED UP: You’ve managed to record with some very high profile acts. How was it working with Days n Daze? How did you get hooked up with Crazy and the Brains? How was that shoot?
Jak Kerley: I’m sure Days n Daze would have a good chuckle at you calling them high profile! They were wonderful. I had been listening to them for a while, and offered them a show in Savannah. When I offered them a show I also said we should do a music video. Whitney was totally into it, but we had no idea what to do for it. So right before we started shooting, I said, “Hey let’s just go film it on a roof.” So we did that, we messed around with a GoPro a little bit, and for some reason it has almost 350,000 hits on YouTube! Crazy and the Brains was a similar situation whereas they needed a show in Georgia with less than 24 hour notice. They also just so happen to be one of my favorite bands right now. I was able to throw them together a house show. It was awesome. Then we went to the beach and made the video. Funny enough we got hassled by the cops for both shows. They were super fun to work with as well; I hope I can do another with them soon.
TUNED UP: You’ve produced a documentary on DIY punk that’s done very well. Where did the inspiration come from?
Jak Kerley: To be honest, I’m not sure how the documentary started. I just started filming shows one day, and then started doing interviews shortly after that. Then not long after that I told people I was making a documentary. I really stuck with the documentary concept more for my own enjoyment than to have a product to show people. So when I threw it up on YouTube I didn’t expect too many people to watch it really. Then Big D & the Kids Table posted it, then DyingScene.composted it, then it was all over Reddit, and over the course of a weekend, I was receiving about 3 downloads every minute for a good period of time.
Jak Kerley: Once a lot of people had watched it, I started receiving messages (and still do to this day) on Facebook from so many random people thanking me for making it, how great it was, and how great so many of the bands in it were. Someone told me it saved their life which was incredible. It was all very unexpected, but I’m glad it worked out and circulated the way it did.
TUNED UP: Do you have plans to make further documentaries? What’s next for Shibby Pictures?
Jak Kerley: I always make the joke (“joke”) that if I knew people were going to watch the documentary, I would have made it a lot better. For a while I had been toying around with the idea of going back and filming some more interviews and shows and developing it into a 70-80 minute project. I’m really split between going back to this project that I and so many people I know loved, and pushing forward and trying something new. As of right now I don’t have any firm plans to film more for it, but it’s definitely an idea that sits in the back of my head that I’m sure I will act upon eventually.
Jak Kerley: Up next, I have a tour of pretty much all of the US except the East Coast with the band Tokalos that I’m super excited for. I know I’m gonna end up filming a video or two on that tour for sure. I’m also in the middle of a editing a bunch of videos right now. I might be filming another music video with Days n Daze next week. I have one filmed for Savannah grunge band Generation Pill that I’m editing that will hopefully be done within a couple weeks. I just finished a music video for Mischief Brew that was an absolute joy to make. My big project right now is a short documentary I’m filming with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans about what it’s like working in Minor League Baseball. I’m hoping to have a short cut of that ready to bring on tour with me this September.
TUNED UP: You went on a pretty rad tour screening film all across the country. And now you’re on your way back from Africa. What brought you to Africa? Where did you get to screen?
Jak Kerley: The Ministry of Health in Botswana hired me to make a documentary for them about the computer software that they use that connects all of the hospitals and health-posts in the country. It’s really cool because it’s about this 3rd world country using this incredible sophisticated software that’s used in 1st world countries.
Jak Kerley: I was filming there for a week, then took another 10 days for myself to explore. I decided that I wanted to do a Shibby Pictures screening while I’m there. So I looked up “South Africa DIY” on the internet, and the first thing that came up was We Did This Records. So I e-mailed them, told them what I do and they said they loved Trying It At Home and my Days n Daze videos. This absolutely blew my mind. They helped set up a screening in Johannesburg at a place called Amuse Café. It went super well and a lot of people showed up. It was funny because even 8500 miles away from the US there’s still people that are fans of Days n Daze and Mischief Brew.
TUNED UP: You probably have some cool stories from the road. Give us three anecdotes from tour that you think are memorable.
Jak Kerley: There was a screening in Detroit that went to absolute hell once. A bunch of people left because someone joked they were gonna stab someone else, then someone got like 200 dollars stolen from them. We dipped right after that, but not before swiping two garbage bags of empty cans to turn in for gas money at the grocery store!
Jak Kerley: The one thing I’ve learned from tour is that if you see a brown highway sign that looks like something cool is just off the highway; ALWAYS follow the sign if you have time. We’ve seen so many cool things because of that. Waterfalls, caves, and even a huge natural bridge in Alabama.
Jak Kerley: Certainly one of our favorite stops was going through Baton Rouge on a game day. My friend invited Taft and me to a tailgate before the football game. Now I’d been to an SEC football game before, so I knew what to expect, but Taft didn’t. Pretty much the mile radius of the stadium was surrounded by tables of people offering us free food and drinks. Needless to say we took advantage of all of it and moved on to the next city with full bellies.
TUNED UP: I heard you had a pretty rad day job. What do you do?
Jak Kerley: I do the video production for the Minor League Baseball team the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. It’s really great, I get to watch baseball at night, and make short videos during the day! I’m halfway through a documentary about it called Take Me Out to the Show that I’m trying to get done as fast as I can so I can show everyone a little bit of it on tour this Fall.
Video for Days n’ Daze ‘Misanthropic Drunken Loner’:
The official page for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans: