Two years ago, Dave Altizer flew from Nashville to Southern California to film a wedding. Instead of renting a hotel room, he stayed with his great uncle, Bobby Jaber. Altizer, who was traveling with a Canon 7D, decided to make a film about Jaber and the porcelain art he created.
"Bobby has always been a treasure to my family and is seriously one of the most interesting individuals I've ever met," Altizer says. "I just felt like I had to make a documentary about him."
Jaber, who lives in Long Beach, is a retired high school science teacher. He pursued porcelain art partly because of the chemistry involved. Many pieces resemble the shapes of molecules.
"He is kind of a quirky introverted type of guy, and he didn't really know what he was getting into with the film," Altizer says. "It took a while to get him warmed up, but he [eventually] came alive."
After shooting the wedding, Altizer went back home to Nashville. The footage remained untouched on a hard drive until this summer, when he returned to film another wedding. Feeling inspired while staying at Jaber's house, he found the footage and stayed up one evening to edit a cut for his great uncle to watch. Around 2 a.m., "Porcelainia" was finished.
"My grandparents came over that morning and I showed all three of them the film and Bobby broke down into tears," Altizer recalls. "I had never seen him express himself like that in my life. He felt that it encompassed himself and his work so perfectly, and he said nobody had ever done anything like that for him."
The film hadn't been seen by many people outside of his family until the end of July, when Altizer sent a tweet to digital video guru Philip Bloom. On Aug. 1, Bloom sent out three tweets about "Porcelainia" for his 67,000 followers to see. The film boasts the type of cinematography that Bloom loves to write about. It also includes stop-motion sequences at the beginning and end.
"What I've learned from this whole experience is that if you can get views and find a good story that's told well, you will have a successful film."