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Neil Berkeley: Beauty in the Weirdness

Documentaries that chronicle the overlooked



 



Storyteller Neil Berkeley specializes in documentaries about interesting people who fly just under the pop culture radar.
 


“I don’t really care about A-listers,” Berkeley explains. “Wayne White was the puppet maker on ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’; he wasn’t Pee-wee. Dan Harmon was the writer of ‘Community’; he wasn’t the Joel McHale. And Gilbert Gottfried is a comedian who’s just always been there in our lives. He’s like the wallpaper. It fascinates me that they don’t break through, or that they don’t want to break through.”

His subjects may be off the beaten path, but Berkeley’s films have garnered mainstream attention from the very beginning. His debut, Beauty is Embarrassing, premiered at South by Southwest, won awards across the country and made its TV debut as part of PBS’ Independent Lens series.

In Oklahoma, the film won Best Documentary Feature at the deadCenter Film Festival, and subject Wayne White was invited back to the OKC Museum of Art the following year to create an installation of massive cardboard puppets. All of the attention made Berkeley seem like an overnight success … but the truth about this Moore native and Oklahoma City University graduate was far more interesting.

“I met Wayne nine years before I started making a documentary about him,” Berkeley recalls.  

“We lived less than a mile away from each other. Everything he did was such a big part of my life. His art and influence were everywhere.”

At the time, Berkeley was launching his creative services company called BRKLY, which did design and graphic work, eventually getting into broadcast. Now they create Emmy-nominated video and promotional work for “Top Chef,” “Project Runway,” “Real Housewives” and HGTV’s “Property Brothers.”

“My design company was going well,” Berkeley continues, “but I wanted to make a movie, and I wanted to tell the story of Wayne White. So it all came together. They both collided nicely.”

Berkeley followed up Beauty is Embarrassing with another critical and festival favorite, Harmontown – about Dan Harmon, the creator of “Community,” who was then going on a podcast tour after being fired from the show he created. Berkeley’s latest film is about comedian Gilbert Gottfried.

“Before I made Harmontown, I wanted to do a movie about Gilbert Gottfried, even though I had never met him,” Berkeley says. “For years, I was talking to everyone I saw about making a movie about Gilbert Gottfried.”

Gilbert premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews. Berkeley was praised for his ability to capture intimate moments and stories from the notoriously reclusive comedian.

“I don’t bring a crew of people. My process involves getting a camera by myself and casually talking to them until they finally break and start talking,” Berkeley says. “Gilbert did not talk to me for a long time. But I went to his house every day. Ultimately, two things happened: He forgot that the camera was there and it became a real conversation.”

Of his films, Berkeley explains, “Topically, they are all about weird, eccentric artists – but the way I approach each of them is different. Wayne’s was about his career, Dan’s was a moment in time and Gilbert’s is a big reveal about who he actually is.”

Neil Berkeley will be in OKC this month as a featured guest of the deadCenter Film Festival, June 8-11. He will be speaking on a panel about directing films, and presenting his latest documentary feature: Gilbert will screen at 8 p.m. June 9 at OKC Museum of Art, and at 9 p.m. June 11 at Harkins in Bricktown. For a full schedule and information about tickets, visit deadcenterfilm.org.

 

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Calendar

April 2018

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

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Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

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Free Spanish Conversation Practice for Beginners! We invite all beginner-level Spanish-speakers to practice with OKC Spanish! At each meeting, we read a Spanish-language article together,...

Cost: Free

Where:
AMH Language Office
11212 N May
Suite 115
Oklahoma City, OK  73120
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Sponsor: AMH Language / OKC Spanish
Telephone: 405.896.0955
Contact Name: Addie Eubanks
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Oklahoma City residents will get a once-yearly, behind-the-scenes look at their state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility. Visitors will be able to view the 220-ton cyclotron, which accelerates...

Cost: Free

Where:
ProCure Proton Therapy Center
5901 W Memorial Rd
Oklahoma City , OK  73142
View map »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

In 1968, the Oklahoma Art Center, OKCMOA’s predecessor, purchased the 150-piece permanent collection of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the first art museum in the nation’s...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
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