Life Lessons with Ann Everton

By:  James Chiusano

“It just doesn’t matter,” proclaimed Bill Murray in a motivational speech as a camp counselor in the 1979 movie Meatballs.  This was all the motivation that Ann Everton needed for her current project, “Bill Murray Life Lessons.”  Since this scene, there has been no turning back.

Ann Everton with collaborator Brian Daniloski

Everton, a Baltimore native, took a rather peculiar route in her journey to making narrative films and video art.  As a teen in Baltimore, Everton really enjoyed creating graffiti art in the areas around Baltimore.  She loved being able to express herself through the art.  Everton graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in 2000 and went on to Barnard College in New York.  Here she earned a degree in visual art, focusing primarily on painting.  While studying abroad in Japan, Everton first began exploring the life lessons motif.  She wrote a book about life lessons you learn from science fiction novels. [1]  This paved the way for her future project.

While in Japan, Everton began to realize that painting was not the best way for her to express herself.  She began creating films that were still mostly based on graffiti.  Although she was a very skillful painter, Everton thought “her paintings were really boring.” [2]  Most others thought that her work was great and very skillful.

After finishing college, Everton returned to Baltimore and enrolled at Avara’s Academy of Hair Design in Dundalk.  Some years went by and Everton became very stagnate in her art:  “I went into a period of creative stagnation; everything was really dumb.” [3]  Then came the pivotal moment when she began her project, “Bill Murray Life Lessons.”  While watching the Bill Murray film Meatballs, Everton became intrigued during the motivational speech that Bill Murray gave as a camp counselor.  In the words of Everton, “I really didn’t have anything to do at the time.” [4]  But why make lessons out of Bill Murray movies?  She merely just thought that the films were cool.

Since then, Everton has shot 16 reenactments of Bill Murray films that each portrays a certain life lesson.  She desired to

Ann Everton

show people how to live happily.  “I wanted to give advice on how to live happily from mundane things.” [5]  Using friends and local artists as actors, Everton created some reenactments as shot-by-shot remakes, while others were much more interpretive.  One of the most interesting scenes that she portrays is a scene in Ghostbusters that is shot exactly where the scene was shot in the original movie.

But it wasn’t easy for Everton to extract life lessons out of every Bill Murray film.  Each film had its own challenges, but Kingpin was extra challenging.  It is such an odd and goofy film that Everton said that it was very difficult to extract a life lesson without making it about sex or fighting.  Thus, she created a much more interpretive piece that was much more silly and didn’t really have anything to do with the plot of the film, though it was shot at a bowling alley.

Everton currently resides in Baltimore.  She vigorously works three days a week as a barber and four days a week working on her art.  This allows her to spend ample amounts of time on her beautiful art.

[1] Bret McCabe, “Ann Everton,” City Paper 1 Dec. 2010 http://citypaper.com/film/ann-everton-1.1070797

[2] Presentation by Ann Everton at JHU on 18 April 2012.

[3] Presentation by Ann Everton at JHU on 18 April 2012.

[4] Presentation by Ann Everton at JHU on 18 April 2012.

[5] Presentation by Ann Everton at JHU on 18 April 2012.

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