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Guest Blogger: ‘Impaler’ Filmmaker W. Tray White

April 29th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

This week’s documentary focus turns to W. Tray White’s Impaler, a film about Jonathan Sharkey, a self-professed Satanic Vampire who in 2006 announced his plans to run for Governor of Minnesota. An in-depth interview with White is posted with the film, but below he offers his insight into the making of Impaler. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

Going into this I was expecting one of two things: Either a hilarious documentary about a bumbling fool, or a sadistic gore fest overflowing with satanic rituals and vampire orgies. Thankfully, neither was the case. In fact, nothing I expected from this “Satanic Vampire” came to fruition. Jonathon is an absolute mystery to me. He worships Satan yet holds Christian values while openly praising Jesus. He fantasizes about personally impaling other humans, but he’s actually a pretty nice guy. His favorite bands are Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. He’s a former wrestler who loves NASCAR and go-karts. He prays to Lucifer daily while just assuming that his cloak will ignite a fashion trend across the globe. He also wants your vote.

It was close to midnight on a Tuesday when I ran across Jonathon’s campaign website. I became engrossed by the apparent madness that was Jonathon Sharkey. Either that or it was one of the greatest hoaxes I have ever seen. I thought it might have been a fantastic prank until I realized that it was too perfect to be a joke. Even the look of his site, with the 1998 style template accompanied by the terrible pastel colors applied to each page flooded my brain with highly comical and thoroughly confusing memories of watching Troll 2 for the first time. When I came to Sharkey’s section where he wrote about having terrific sex with his half sister, Kathleen Sharkey I was thrown into an emotional cycle of laughter followed by disgust, then back to laughter, only being able to break the rotation by clicking on a different link. Jonathon threatened several high ranking Federal officials with his “bones to anger” curse while claiming responsibility for heart attacks suffered by Judges. In Sharkey’s world, he was magically changing the weather and causing earthquakes in locations that angered him. Then I got to his 13-point platform. His platform was actually one of a moderate Democrat, with a touch of right-wing extremism sprinkled in for fun. He was also kind enough to provide his campaign number. So I did what any 28-year-old kid from Texas would do. I called him.

When Jonathon and his Pagan wife Julie picked up the phone, I didn’t have time to order a meat lovers’ pizza or declare myself Merlin and cast a spell. They were both speaking at an auctioneers clip and treating me like a close confidant. Everything happened so fast, the next thing I knew, I was telling my wife to book a ticket so I could go to Minnesota and make a documentary on a Satanic Vampire.

Before I knew it, I was in Minnesota intrusively pointing my camera in his face. Eight months later, I was in the editing room trying to figure out what just happened. I knew that I wanted to shoot and edit with the intention of trying to stylistically match the unusual qualities of Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey, the rest was going with the flow. My aim in crafting this story was to simply make an honest documentary. I would not disagree with a viewer who found a subtle overarching theme or several themes that raise serious issues about the American media, the pursuit of fame, religion, and American way of life. At the same time, I’ve spoken with our first MySpace friend, a quasi-Satanist/Vampire fan named Christopher, on the phone a few times. The last time we spoke he had watched it nine times and still found the entire movie to be a giant comedy about irony, quoting line after line that he found hysterical. Of course, he is not any more wrong than those who found it to be a profile of a confused man fueled by the media in need of serious medical attention.

I always found it incredibly fun to watch a movie and try to figure out what the overall message was, along with the possible meaning behind the visual references. So for my first film, to actually sit with my good friend Brian and create a puzzle for other people to figure out was a dream come true. Factor in that once the movie was finished, I thought Impaler would be nothing more than a great learning experience and a source of fun stories to tell my grandchildren. The fact that Impaler is available on Hulu.com of all places, the primetime site with a huge and loyal fan base, is so bizarre to me that I can’t help but notice how absurd, yet strangely fitting this all really is. — W. Tray White, Director

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