Staying Quiet

We can’t shut up about Isaac Olsen’s film

By Christopher Wood on March 16, 2011

Film noir, with its signature chiaroscuro, hard-boiled dialogue and (most important to an independent moviemaker) low-budget vibe, has over the decades spawned countless remakes, spoofs and homages. Falling somewhere amidst these three categories is Quiet Shoes, which hit the Rialto last summer and now returns to town at the Tacoma Art Museum March 17, as part of the free Third Thursday series. A story rife with gullible gumshoes and deadly dames could not exist without the noir tradition, but the genesis of Shoes also comes from a more contemporary, and musical, source: longtime local band Girl Trouble, which is still rockin' after 26 years.

Each of the four group members has had a hand in the film since production commenced in 2005. K.P. Kendall, who gets any party started with his meaty vocals, penned the script with director Isaac Olsen. Bassist Dale Phillips plays the unperturbed protagonist, a dick they call Rick, Rick Savage. His character hasn't a clue, but that doesn't stop Phillips from keeping cool in every scene.

Bill Henderson, aka Kahuna, strums guitar onstage with Girl Trouble, but onscreen serves as the villain of Quiet Shoes. Watch as his mighty Vespa scooter (dubbed "the TRUE love of his life") roars across Tacoma in the climactic chase sequence. He also designed the movie's visual effects and its most iconic prop, a gun nearly the size of, well, a Vespa.

Finally, Kahuna's sis, Bon Von Wheelie, plays off the "quiet drummer" stereotype with a small role as a cigar-chomping trucker of few words.

Just as Girl Trouble brought about the film, the film's creation resulted in Olsen's burgeoning production company, Schnelluloid. The name combines "celluloid" with schnell, the German word for "fast." Olsen certainly has a knack for churning out quality work quickly, as evidenced by the shorts he's produced almost every year since The Grand Cinema's 72-Hour Competition began.

Besides honing his craft, Olsen hopes to turn Schnelluloid into a distribution site for both filmmakers and musicians. As he says, "Just surrounding me there's a lot of people creating content, people that don't necessarily or haven't yet had the means to get (their work) out there on a bigger scale." To the community that inspires both his and Girl Trouble's talents they have given back, and nowhere can you more fully see this devotion than in Quiet Shoes - a nod to noir, a love letter to Tacoma.      

[Tacoma Art Museum, Quiet Shoes, Thursday, March 17, 6 p.m., free, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4258]