The Amazing Transformation of Dr. Kitchin
Slomo came into my life at an opportune moment.
Having just rolled into my 30s, I was looking for both a film subject and some wisdom on how to approach the encroaching “middle third” of my life– the years when youthful idealism is so often blunted by adult responsibilities.
Around this time, during a business trip to San Diego, my father had a chance meeting on the Pacific Beach boardwalk with John Kitchin, an old medical school classmate.
My dad barely recognized Dr. Kitchin, who was meticulously skating up and down the promenade, blasting inspirational music from speakers hidden under his shirt. Disillusioned with a life that had become increasingly materialistic, he had abruptly abandoned his career as a neurologist and moved to a studio by the beach.
The locals called him Slomo, knowing little about his past life, but cheering and high-fiving him as he skated by in slow motion. He had become a Pacific Beach institution.
I was intrigued.
I’ve long been fascinated by people who make seismic changes late in life. It goes against the mainstream narrative: “Grow up, pick a career, stick it out, and retire.”
I was also curious about Slomo’s concept of “the zone,” a realm of pure subjectivity and connectedness that he achieves through his skating. The only thing Slomo loves more than being in the zone is talking about the zone, so it wasn’t hard to persuade him to take part in a documentary film.
Slomo’s combination of candor and eloquence made him a natural on camera, and his background as a neurologist legitimized his metaphysical theories about skating, lateral motion and the brain. But like many of the people who saw him skating by, I couldn’t help wondering: was this guy nuts, or was he onto something?
And was his mantra – “Do what you want to” – translatable to those of us without the nest egg of a retired doctor? But just like the throngs of Slomo fans on Pacific Beach, I couldn’t get enough of him, and was determined to capture the effect he had on people in a cinematic way.
With this film, we hope to create a window into the ecstatic experience that Slomo has every day, transcending the trappings of the material world.
And for my part, I continue to be intrigued by the particular joys and conflicts that define a person’s life once he decides to do exactly what he wants.
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Josh Izenberg is a filmmaker based in San Francisco. “Slomo,” his first documentary, received more than a dozen awards including Best Documentary Short by the International Documentary Association and the jury award for best short documentary at SXSW.
This film blew us away on a number of levels. We hope you like it too.
Oh, one other thing: it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
~For Herrmann and Cheyenne Spetzler, Bill Hunter, and Jim Bella; with the best wishes for happiness and health.