Theory of Obscurity(2015)
Overview


When director Don Hardy initially approached The Residents about a film documenting their more than four decade existence, there was understandable skepticism within the group. After all, The Residents had built a career around the concept of anonymity, never giving interviews, showing their faces or revealing their names. At this advanced point why should they open themselves up to such an unknown element, obviously creating an opportunity to expose and desecrate years of careful constructed mythology and secrecy? But some were less suspicious than others, so the group agreed to meet with the young filmmaker.

Encountering an initial attitude of doubt, the first thing Hardy said was that, opposed to exposing their secrets, he respected what The Residents had done and wished nothing more than an opportunity to enhance and broaden the group's mystique. With those words, a bond of trust was established, ultimately giving the filmmaker full access to the group and its vast trove of archive material.

As The Residents were only a few weeks from starting their 40th anniversary tour and one of Hardy's projects had recently been put on hold, the timing for the project was perfect. Dropping everything else, the filmmaker submerged himself in the arcane world of Residentia, accompanying them on tour while shooting over twenty performances of the Wonder of Weird, their celebration of forty unique, unlikely and uncommon years. For the next two years, Hardy along with two colleagues, Bart Bishoff and Josh Keppel, worked on the film, shooting over fifty interviews with longtime Residents' collaborators and friends, transferring archive film and video, and editing constantly, finishing in time for a world premier at SXSW in the spring of 2015.

Rising to the challenge of condensing over forty years into ninety minutes, the film is a triumph of perseverance and creativity, both on the part of the filmmakers and the group to which it pays homage. As proof, over the following year, Theory of Obscurity was screened at over forty film festivals around the world.