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Don't Like, Don't Subscribe, Just Watch: Interview with Barefoot & Independent’s Jason Heath

Updated: Mar 7

Seeking is, undoubtedly, one of the most rewarding things you can ever do in life. Too many folks walk around all boxed-in while not even entertaining the thought of going beyond their little coconut-shaped-head-ed path. For example, it was while looking up the theme song of a somewhat obscure 1980s film that led me to the YouTube channel of a production entity called Barefoot & Independent. From their always fantastic video newsletter, “I Shouldn’t Post This”, to film trivia and the ongoing series of “Squeaky Clean Adult Films” and more, Barefoot & Independent brings so much needed color, heart, humor, and verve to the current video landscape. (Not to mention spectacular editing, which can be a YouTube rarity. Making content is chilly marketing. Creating videos and art is a one-two punch of love and audience respect. These guys are the real deal.) 

Being an esoteric film nerd, it was the “Squeaky Clean” series that grabbed me first. The technical presentation is second to none, but it is the host, director, editor, and bon vivant of wonderfully weirdo artists everywhere, Jason Heath, that takes what was initially a joke and turns it into something far more vast. Too many times when the topic of adult cinema is brought up does the discussion immediately turn into the mutant offspring of the dumbest frat boy and the worst religious puritan. Even in better natured programs and articles, it’s often handled by folk who are lacking knowledge and even a willingness to accept that, yes, adult films are movies too and can and should be considered a viable art form for that reason. 

What Heath does with this series is fantastic, because the way he presents these G and PG-rated cuts of X-films is that he uses this premise of trimming out all of the actual nudity and overtly prurient material and somehow, turns it into a simultaneous love letter and a mini film school. On top of that, his expertise on the genre, which ranges from the deepest of deep cuts to such well known classics like Devil in Miss Jones, is absolutely the tops. 

The more I delved into this channel and Heath’s work, I found a filmmaker who is as genuine as he is truly a one of a kind talent. So, naturally, I wanted to ask him several questions and find out more about this super cool creative. 

Q. -In addition to being a jubilant archivist and presenter of the safe-for-work parts of adult films, you are first and foremost a filmmaker. You have mentioned in your videos about going to film school. What led you from the path of film watcher to maker?

A. Seeing Pulp Fiction on the big screen made me want to write/make movies. Up to the point I wanted to be William S. Burroughs. I walked out of the theater with a bunch of girls and told them… “that’s what I’m going to do, fuck that book!” (I was writing a book ‘No Dice Life’)

Maybe I was trying to show off, I was the only guy that went to the theater with a whole group of girls. One was my fiancé and one, her best friend, I later had 3 kids with…. but that’s a whole different story. 

Q. -You have tattoos of both a film and video camera, one per each arm, which is fantastic! For the longest time, there was a tangible bias against shot-on-video (SOV) films. So, with that, have you always loved the video format or was it more of a gradual conversion? 

A. I would say I probably didn’t know the difference at first but I remember buying the VHS of Redneck Zombies without having seen it… and when I watched it that night, I was like ‘what the fuck? This isn’t even film.’ By the time it was over I was extremely inspired. I was still pretty young and dumb and I literally didn’t know THAT was an option! I was a video production student who was obsessed with 16mm. Even though I was in VP we had a 16mm class and I’d read about a bunch of 16mm features. That night I started thinking it was possible to shoot a feature on video. TONS of SOV’s were before that Troma movie but I wasn’t aware of them. Honestly it was pretty recent that I even learned the term ‘SOV’ and I’d even shot one about 10 years prior to knowing it was its own genre. At this point in my career I really dig both. 

Q. - One of the things that shines the brightest with your entire channel is your immense passion for filmmaking and especially all things indie, out-of-the-box, cult, etc. What are some of the key non-mainstream films that set you on this path less traveled?

A. My starting point would have been horror films on VHS, so Bloody Birthday and Sleepaway Camp. A bunch of other stuff that’s not really obscure but not necessarily mainstream… I was obsessed with Chopping Mall. Then Pulp Fiction changed my life so I read everything I could about Quentin and learned a lot about exploitation films through him. Around that same time I got a VHS tape from a pawn shop… it was Bad Girls Go To Hell and was presented with a Joe Bob Briggs introduction. I’d never heard of him OR Doris Wishman but it was one of the best titles I’d ever read, so I bought it for a dollar. Currently Doris and Joe Bob are two of my absolute favorites, but I have to give it up to Quentin even if he isn’t that high on the list anymore… because prior to diving into all his magazine articles, I’d never even head the term ‘blaxploitation’ and I knew nothing of kung fu flicks. 

Horror VHS was pre-teen and Quentin was teenage but around the legal drinking age I found a used book called Trash: The Graphic Genius of Xploitation Movie Posters. It’s a large coffee table book and that’s around the time I turned my back on big budget Hollywood pictures. There was a whole new world in there. At the time I’d only seen a couple of the movies in the book and now there’s only a couple I haven’t seen! 

This is gonna sound silly, but you could put a headline on MySpace. Right on top, next to your picture. Most people had something about themselves, a quote or an update they would change all the time.. Mine said “I’ve never seen Titanic but I’ve seen Repo Man 27 times” Still true, but after the Criterion release I think it’s up to about 33 times. 

Q. -With your “Squeaky Clean Adult Film” series, you take the comedic aspect of making G and PG-rated cuts of XXX cinema to actually highlight the fact that so many viewers and film critics alike don’t realize that there is legit interesting and great filmmaking under the explicit umbrella. What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding about adult films?

A. It’s not real art… it doesn’t count…. It’s embarrassing. All of those are false but that is the misunderstanding. A lot of people don’t like that I do this series. I’ve had multiple friends say they like them BUT they would never share them. People go out of their way to tell me that. I’ve had an actor say she couldn’t share a local video we did because our ‘whole page is filled with porn’. I have a really close friend that shares them, one on one, with a lot of his friends but said he would never post one for all his followers to see. Numerous people are kind of embarrassed of me… or embarrassed for me. Which is weird with the whole ‘sex work is real work’ movement. With the whole ‘no kink shaming’ movement. I feel like those things made it cool to say you’re ok with porn, but not many people truly are. 

What’s really weird, in those cases of my work, we’re talking about G and PG rated material!! YouTube has some gnarly stuff on it. A lot of videos and streams would be R rated, but here comes my Disney ass, clean as can be…. but people can’t get over the source material! The source material started off as taboo and it doesn’t matter how much I clean it up, it still has the stigma of ‘porn’. So dumb. I love porn.

Q. -Out of your many projects, from feature filmmaking to short films and non-fiction shorts alike, what’s your personal favorite? (Both format and actual creation wise.) 

A. I am proud of nothing.

Okay, I feel like I should answer this… even though my first answer was pretty awesome.... and honest. I guess I’m proud of making a feature at 24. Raising the money, writing it, getting a cast & crew, shooting it, developing the film and then editing it. It was a lot of work. 

I’ve directed movies, edited them and then threw them in a drawer. The actors haven’t even seen them. My first 16mm short was shot in 1999 and it isn’t even done yet. I have a fucked up relationship with my work. Each project is me working through something… but they mostly all end in some type of disaster… it’s a wonder that I keep going instead of just quitting. I have another fantasy that once I “make it” with a project, I’ll go back through all the early work and it just may be worth something. 

Q. -You get into a time travel machine that immediately takes you to the world’s greatest Mom & Pop Video Rental store. What is the first section you immediately run to? The second? Third?

A. I would take the time machine to Video Culture in Murfreesboro, TN. It shut down but it was the best of the best! The first stop is always the directors wall. This was the first place that I ever saw that. I never even knew that was a thing!? It was a big ass wall too. I later saw director sections in other stores, but this was a wall… of culture! Then cult. Then horror. Then upstairs to the porno. Porn had its own damn floor! Sometimes I check out foreign and documentaries but they aren’t on the super important list. 

1. Director Wall 2. Cult 3. Horror 4. Porno

At a regular video store, Horror is the first place I go…. and then Comedy. Most regular places, like a Blockbuster, didn’t have a directors wall, a cult section or porn. 

Q. -The Mahon Drive In contacts and begs you to program a From Dusk till Dawn all nighter program. What movies do you pick and why?

A. It would be cool if this was the opening night of a weekend, but here is my all night film festival. 

7:30 PM -  Nightmare Weekend                        

9:15 PM -  Gummo                                              

11:15 PM -  Bloody Birthday                                

12:55 AM - The Killing of a Chinese Bookie        

3:25 AM -  Friday the 13th: A New Beginning     

5:10 AM -  Sleepaway Camp 3                           

These are a bunch of my favorite movies. I’ve never seen a single one of these on the big screen, but that is secondary. I wanted to make it like a mixtape. Start strong, then take a left turn. If you watched Nightmare Weekend and then Gummo everyone would know exactly what was up. We’re getting weird! It’s kinda strange to then go to Bloody Birthday and then Cassavetes but we’ve now created a pattern in order to exceed expectations…. with two bastard franchise entrees. Friday 5 is the one everyone hates but it’s probably my favorite! It’s super sleazy. Most people will tell you Sleepaway Camp 3 sucks…. but it’s possibly the best one. It’s punk rock as hell. It’s super racist, sexist, classist and a bunch of other bad things… nothing you would want in real life, but I absolutely want it in a low budget slasher! It’s SO against everything that it almost feels more like trolling than storytelling! I’m going to put it on right now. Dead serious! 

Speaking of trolling… I could see someone seeing my list and saying it’s a joke, I picked the worst movies, and I’m celebrating things that people don’t like… Not at all, those are literally 6 of my favorite movies. 

Q. -Who are some of your biggest art heroes?

A. I feel like my art heroes are the stereotypes for all the weird kids, but either way, here they are: David Byrne. Roger Corman. John Cassavetes. David Lynch. Joe Bob Briggs. Mike Patton. Doris Wishman. Harmony Korine. Bam Margera. Kim Deal. William S. Burroughs. Stanley Kubrick. Kathleen Hanna. Hal Ashby. Vincent Gallo. Werner Herzog. David Cronenberg. Lou Barlow. Flava Flav. ODB. Jim Jarmusch. Robert Rodriguez. Joe Dante. Robert Altman. Andy Warhol. Wendy Carlos. Lloyd Kaufman. Recently I’ve added Gary Whitson, Dario Argento, Sam Hyde and Tyler the Creator to that list. They’re the only ones that haven’t been around for a decade or longer. 

I could also watch Giovanni Ribisi, Parker Posey, Michael Shannon, Crispin Glover, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tom Sizemore or Dennis Hopper act in anything. 

Q. -You mention music a lot on your shows and often sport some particularly kickass band tees on the channel. Who are some artists whose work can almost always pick you up out of a funk and inspire you to create? 

A. The most inspirational pick me up ever is ‘Pulled Up’ from Talking Heads. The closer on their first album. It’s a secret weapon I use on myself… except sometimes it works too good and I get sucked into daydreaming about all these accomplishments I’ll probably never achieve. 

Besides that single track: Ween, Mr. Bungle, Death Grips, Talking Heads, Beastie Boys (especially when they picked their instruments back up) Flaming Lips, Primus, Matt & Kim, Pantera, Violent Femmes, Public Enemy, and mid 80s to current Tom Waits! His early stuff is beautiful but sad. His wild, crazy stuff really makes me happy! Those have all been at one time, my favorite band. This list is almost impossible to make, those are just the tippy top of the iceberg. Example, two of my favorite albums of all time are by Faith No More and Ice Cube and they aren’t even on that list… 

I was the kid who made mix tapes for all my friends. When CD burners came out and with the help of Napster, I made my first CD mix called “Songs From The Back of Your Moms Car”. I didn’t own any of this material but that’s what Napster was for. Lionel Richie, The Jets, Whitney Houston… that kind of stuff. 80’s R&B pop can really turn my mood around. Some late 70’s and early 90’s could be tossed in there as well. My mom was from the Detroit area and we had Motown constantly in the background. 

Q. -Going back to Squeaky Clean Adult Films, your episodes cover films ranging from around the era’s feature film beginnings around the early 1970s all the way to the 2000s. Do you have a personal favorite era or decade of the genre? 

A. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 70’s pictures. They are legit, real movies! If you cut out the naughty bits they are just exploitation films. If I was worried about being judged, I would say them. However, I don’t really care about that…. so I’d say my favorites are when the 70’s guys were still doing the ‘film technique’ thing but they were shooting on video in the 80’s (with a fraction of their budgets.) Those pictures are insane! Like Debbie Duz Dishes. I know technically Debbie Does Dallas is better in almost every aspect. It’s 35mm, they had wardrobe, a location manager, a budget and real actors…. But isn’t it cooler to see what that same group of actors does with a Betacam and no money? The scripts turned bonkers too. They weren’t really paying writers and a lot of it was made up the night before or even on the spot…. The next stop was no scripts, no acting… the death of one of my favorite things. So right before it ended, they sure went out swinging! That’s my favorite era. 

Richard Mailer made a picture in 1986 called Up All Night There was no writing credit. You’d recognize all the talent from the 70’s. It’s about “a weird elevator”. Yup, an invisible alien possesses an elevator…. and makes it ‘weird’. It can also read people's thoughts. I’ll take that over anything! 

Q. -Any last thoughts, sage wisdom, fun facts, etc? 

A. As long as I can remember, people have always teased the ‘pizza delivery guy’ and the ‘fix it handyman’ that both stop by the ladies house. Honestly, I can remember kids making jokes on the back playground of my elementary school. The back playground was for the 5th and 6th graders. 

We also made those jokes in high school about it and I’ve literally been in skits in film school, playing out those same scenarios. At least to someone my age, those plots have been through the test of time. Go to an improv class and say “do a porn scenario” and you’re going to get one of those!  That’s long lasting entertainment that has legs. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I sure think it means something! 

I have a piss jug next to my editing bay. It’s probably gross but that type of dedication actually makes me proud of myself. I realized it’s kinda weird to not be proud of your work but to be proud of your piss jug. 

I love clean porn more than most movies. I wish I could get high-end copies of all movies. I feel like someday people will hear about our “Squeaky Clean Adult Films” and they’ll spread like wildfire. The people that find the series really like them! I’d like the project to take off and I feel like they could actually help the sales of the original cuts of these pictures. Not many have hard copies as physical media isn’t what it used to be, but a lot of these are available for digital download. I don’t know, I have a weird fantasy about helping the porn industry. 

I could keep this one going for a long, long time! I have fun facts for days. 

Thank you so much, Jason, for taking the time out to answer my questions! Please check out and support Barefoot & Independent. In a world full of AI & Hollywood Pap, we need to support our artists now more than ever.


Mar 06

Those squeaky clean films are not only hilarious, they showed there was some actual talent at times shooting those features.

Mar 07
Replying to

Exactly! I get so irritated whenever I see coverage of these films and it's just people making bad jokes without ever really giving anything a chance.

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