Pigheaded tells the provocative life story of underground cartoonist and subversive satirist Skip Williamson. His unapologetic art exemplified the spirit of the 60s counter-culture movement. Williamson helped lead the burgeoning Underground Comix scene five decades ago as a founder of Bijou Funnies, one of the earliest and longest running titles of that Movement. From his involvement in the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention riots to his oft offensive work in Playboy, High Times, National Lampoon and many more. Williamson has collaborated with such notable characters as Abbie Hoffman, Robert Crumb, Jerry Rubin, Shel Silverstein, S. Clay Wilson and Jay Lynch. Pigheaded faithfully portrays Williamson’s life as rebellious artist, irreverent pighead and loving family man. Told through candid interviews, animation and archival photographs, this film reveals a man who is a voice not only for his generation but generations to come.
Behind the Scenes:
Director John Kinhart met Skip Williamson while filming his documentary Blood, Boobs & Beast, which was about Baltimore low-budget horror filmmaker Don Dohler, who had an interesting backstory that included publishing and connections to Underground Comix artists Skip Williamson and Jay Lynch. After interviewing him, Skip suggested to Kinhart that he'd be open to being the subject of a documentary. When Kinhart did some research on Skip's backstory, he learned the narrative of how Skip, Jay, Robert Crumb and Jay Kinney developed the material for Bijou Funnies #1 while the 1968 Chicago DNC riots raged around them. Skip was the only cartoonist of the group to participate in the riots, and then went on to collaborate and make illustrations for DNC protesters and Yippie activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. This little known piece of comics history that connected to an important moment in American history convinced Kinhart that it was worth it to pursue filming Skip further. But would it be a short or a feature? Sometimes it's tough to know early on. Filming for Pigheaded began in June 2008 when Kinhart and co-director Richard B. Smith, Jr. drove the 10 hours to Atlanta from DC for a weekend. To save money they camped at Stone Mountain. The first night they filmed an interview with Skip and laid the early groundwork for Skip's backstory. The next day they filmed Skip getting his first tattoo, inked by a longtime fan. Later that day while filming Skip back at his apartment, Skip's third ex-wife arrived. They had a wonderful rapport and humorous banter for a recently divorced couple and they both spoke of a desire to leave Atlanta and move to Vermont. Where was this going? So, with an interesting backstory and a question about what the future holds Kinhart decided that he would continue to pursue filming Skip from time to time.
When Kinhart was making Blood, Boobs & Beast, one of his goals was to complete the film quickly. That was made possible by the fact that Dohler lived locally. Skip, on the other hand, didn't live close to Kinhart. Meanwhile, the economy was collapsing and Kinhart wanted to start saving money to buy a house and start a family. So, for this project, Kinhart decided to take a slower approach. Years before, Kinhart met filmmaker Jem Cohen at a screening of his documentary Benjamin Smoke. Cohen was also famous for his documentary on DC band Fugazi called, Instrument. For both projects Cohen talked about filming the subjects without any agenda, including making a documentary. He just filmed subjects that interested him. Then after 8-10 years they realized they had all this material to make a documentary. Kinhart borrowed from this approach in that he decided to film Skip once or twice a year over many years with no deadline and wait for a present day narrative to unfold. Meanwhile, he could continue the process of researching and collecting the materials needed to tell Skip's backstory. As a result, in 2016 (8 years later) Kinhart, with the help of co-directors Christian Brown and Richard B. Smith, Jr., completed the editing of Pigheaded.