"My First and Last Film" is a documentary edited from the footage that aspiring filmmaker Johnny Zhivago had been shooting during the last six months of his life.

Zhivago (1969-2001) was disgusted by the film industry, which he called "a business controlled by the rich to entertain the poor", but was determined to carve out a career as a writer/director.

Inspired by the recent success of low budget digital films, Zhivago believed he could inexpensively make his black comedy "Garbage Dump", although he was too broke to afford a DV camera. In the fall of 2000 he convinced a close friend, Bernie van Maarseveen, to be his cameraman and to loan his video equipment to the project.

At the start of pre-production, Zhivago began a video record of the filmmaking process.  In fact it transformed into a portrait of his descent into alcoholism and mental illness. Garbage Dump was never made, but the footage Zhivago left behind became "My First and Last Film".

As the story unfolds, the viewer comes to know Zhivago as an artist who has a profound need to tell a real story about real people - unaware of the fact that his own tragic history is being written as the camera rolls.


© John Kolchak