Jimmy Humphrey (right) filming "The Day I Met Her" | Photo by Brandon Ingram
Jimmy Humphrey (right) filming “The Day I Met Her” | Photo by Brandon Ingram

When Jimmy Humphrey talks about his new film, “The Day I Met Her,” it can be hard to figure out if he’s talking about Adam Wells, the film’s main character, or himself.

“A person who is 35 looking back over 20 years of mucking around and saying, ‘What can we do with this? Is there a point to all this?’ I think that’s what the movie is,” says Humphrey in a recent interview with Insider Louisville. For the record, that quote was about his decision to make the movie.

But the main charter is based on Humphrey, a local filmmaker, who has been creating a weekly public access show for almost 20 years and has written and directed two previous feature-length films.

On Sunday, Oct. 9, his latest and most ambitious project premieres at Village 8 Theatres, where it’s showing for one night only.

The film will premiere at Village 8 on Sunday, Oct. 8.
The film will premiere at Village 8 on Sunday, Oct. 8.

Humphrey got his start in filmmaking early.

“Mom had one of those huge VHS cameras with the brick (battery) you could kill someone with. It all started there,” says Humphrey, who talks lovingly about “daisy-chaining together VCRs” to create a makeshift editing bay for his early efforts.

By the time he was 19, he started “I Eat Poop,” a public access show that still airs, though it’s mostly in reruns right now. Much of the content also is available at the “I Eat Poop” YouTube channel.

“I was right out of high school, I just started college. Most of the other cats I recorded with were in high school at the time, and most of the stuff I was recording was just my goofball friends just goofing around,” says Humphrey.

As the years rolled by, what started as skits and sketches became slightly more serious

“You get tired of doing the same thing, and then your friends get older, and it’s sad to see your 30-year-old friends just goofing around. You have to do something with it,” he says.

He started work on his first feature, and it took him three-and-half years to finish. “Gunther Toody’s Happy Time Fun Show” was a collection of puppet stories tied together with a narrative frame. “Billy in Action,” Humphrey’s second film, only took two-and-a-half years and followed in the puppet footsteps of “Gunther Toody.”

The inspiration to take a more serious look at making a feature-length film came from events in Humphrey’s life.

“I was getting married, and I felt like I wasn’t prepared for that,” he says. “Not like I don’t love this person, but, like, ‘Was this 20 years of mucking around a waste?’”

He began to refine the script for “The Day I Met Her,” the story of a man in a time loop who goes back over his past and his relationship with a woman after being dumped.

Humphrey had started the script years earlier, calling it an “FU script” that began after he himself was dumped. He’d come back to it occasionally and add a little. But when he decided to get serious about making the film, he returned to the script and turned the 50 pages he had into a full story. It’s a much bigger film than Humphrey has ever made.

“There are four main characters, but a massive secondary cast — bigger than I have ever had. Also, usually in my films it’s a ‘(Monty) Python’ feel, where everybody plays four characters, but in this one, everyone is one character,” explains Humphrey.

Jimmy Humphrey | Photo by Brandon Ingram
Jimmy Humphrey | Photo by Brandon Ingram

In total, the cast is more than 100 people, though the crew was substantially smaller, essentially Humphrey and one other person. The film was made on a shoestring budget, mostly filmed through love and sweat. Humphrey ran the camera 90 percent of the time, and he cast his friends. He lit it himself, and actors often took turns holding the boom mic to catch dialogue.

As he filmed and worked on his passion project, Humphrey realized that although the action centers around a man reflecting on losing a lover, in the end, the story is about the man, not the woman. “(It’s) him eventually finding it’s not so much about her, it’s about him,” he says.

Humphrey didn’t say if it answered any questions he had about whether or not he wasted his 20s. But he did indicate that the process of taking his latest film seriously, not just “mucking about,” has made him very nervous to share the finished product.

“That’s what makes me the most nervous about it, is I took it seriously. So if it fails, I can’t just write it off as ‘Well, that was just some lark. Just a farce.'”

That statement could certainly pertain to many of our lives, as we wade through our 30s and realize, like Humphrey, it’s time to take things seriously.

“The Day I Met Her” premieres Sunday, Oct. 9, at Village 8, 4014 Dutchmans Lane. The film starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $4 at the door. The film is not rated but contains strong language.

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Eli Keel
Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.