Diary of a Deadbeat (2016) film thoughts… I love film documentaries and after meeting Victor Bonacore this year, he relayed the story behind his documentary, Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim VanBebber, I was very intrigued. While I couldn’t make the screening that day, I put this documentary on my list of things to get. I have been a long time fan of Deadbeat at Dawn (1988) since reading the late Chas. Balun’s review “…It hits like a jackboot to the nuts!” I first saw it on VHS and was blown away by the rawness of the film, bleak on all counts.
The trouble for Mr. VanBebber is he has had problems since trying to get films made, partially due to financing troubles and partially because he is a diehard independent film maker. He has completed other films, such as The Manson Family & My Sweet Satan (which I do own but need to make it a point to see.) though it has been a long road. The documentary covers his early young years as a talented preteen super 8 film maker (some of it is impressive), his college years, the making of & the eventual success of Deadbeat and his later films & acting roles.
After seeing this film, I realized that while I’m a fan of man, I knew little about him. Victor Bonacore interviews many people who worked with VanBebber and fans/followers of his. While the subject matter is raw, the documentary is extremely well done, moves along nicely, never bogging down. The 6 years working on this film was time well spent. Bonacore pulls no punches and while he’s definitely a fan of VanBebber, he keeps camera on for the not so nice parts. I would personally be uncomfortable around a drunk VanBebber, he gets ugly. For us fans though, we have to take the bad with the good. When you get down to the brass tacks, Jim VanBebber is a super talented human being and I need to get on seeing his other completed films and some of his acting work.
Diary of a Deadbeat is a top notch film documentary that should be on your shelf next to classics like Document of the Dead by Roy Frumkes, it’s a solid look at an overlooked film maker. Hopefully, this will bring more attention to VanBebber outside of the fan base.