Saturday, July 29, 2006

Who is Jerry Hoffitt?

Ever since I first posted the "Hanso Industries" film on Youtube several months ago, it seems like I've been asked that question a million times. Most people assumed I was Jerry, and I don't blame them. But the truth is, I don't really know who Jerry Hoffitt is, nor have I ever met him, and probably never will. This is the story of how I came into possession of his film.

About a year ago, my girlfriend and I decided to move in together. We found an amazing little old guesthouse for rent in Highland Park, which is located just north of downtown Los Angeles, and just west of Pasadena. According to the current owners of the property, a little old lady who was approximately in her 80’s previously occupied the house, which was built in 1906. The woman had been living there since before our current landlords had bought main house, and was allowed to stay there after the property was purchased.

After the woman passed away, there was no one to claim her possessions. No family, no relatives, no will. Most the furniture in the house was either sold during the estate sale, or given to charity. The only things left behind were some old junk that had been stored in the cellar: a child’s old bed frame, a couple of utility shelves, and a beat up desk.

When my girlfriend and I moved in, we decided to just leave the stuff alone. It wasn’t taking up much space, and besides we hardly ever went into the cellar anyways. Then about six months ago, a friend of mine told me that he was looking for an older type of desk, and I told him he was welcome to take the one in our cellar provided that he would be the one to move it. He agreed, and I invited him to come over to check it out.

When he got here, the first thing he asked me for was the key to the desk’s locked drawers, something I had completely forgotten about since I first saw it after moving in last year. The bottom drawer had a lock on it that made it impossible to open both drawers. I told him that I didn’t have the key, but that I would help him get it open. We got my tools, and after a couple of minutes of prying and pulling we ending up breaking in…literally.

The bottom corner of the top drawer snapped off into my friends face, as the bottom drawer lunged off its tracks and toward my left knee. We got the damn thing open, but had damaged it quite heavily in the process. But it wasn’t the desk that interested us anymore, it’s what was inside that now had our attention. Locked up for who knows how long was an old film can that had a label on it that simply read: “Hanso Industries – 1965, Dir - Jerry Hoffitt”.

Now prior to this, I had never heard the name “Jerry Hoffitt” before. It wasn’t until later when I asked our landlords about it that I discovered that Hoffitt was the last name of the woman who lived here before us. As it turns out, her husband went missing sometime in the early 1980’s and was presumed dead. Everything I now know about Jerry Hoffitt I learned from what his wife told my landlords, and from asking our older next door neighbors who knew him when he lived here.

Jerry Hoffitt was photographer and filmmaker who started his career shooting and editing industrial films for such directors as Jerry Fairbanks and Jim Handy during the 40's, 50’s, and early 60’s. One day in 1965, a representative of a foreign company approached Jerry about a project they needed help completing. It was a job editing together a recruitment film that would be shown to colleges and universities around the United States. The representative offered Jerry a decent amount of money, and he accepted. However, the footage they provided him to edit with was severely insufficient for the script he was given. So Jerry had to improvise by adding his own footage that he shot for other industrial films which he had previously worked on. Apparently the foreign company was so impressed with the results, that they offered him a full time job as their own personal filmmaker (I can now only assume that the company was Hanso Industries). According to his late wife’s story, Jerry’s new job required that he not only travel for several weeks outside of the country, but also that he remain completely secretive about what he was filming. Then one day, he left for one of his assignments and never came back.

I became completely fascinated by what I learned about Jerry Hoffitt. So much so that I decided to have the film transferred to videotape just so I could see what it was all about. Little did I know how expensive that process would be. Quite frankly, I was a little underwhelmed when I first viewed the footage and began regretting the whole thing. I guess I had built it up too much in my head.

One thing that I haven’t mentioned yet is that in the process of trying to learn more about Mr. Hoffitt, I did several searches for his name on the internet and found nothing. However, what I did find was a ton of websites on Hanso which all pertained to the television show “Lost”. Now at that point, I had never seen an episode of “Lost”, so I didn’t know how the Hanso company played into the program, and could only assume that the film I found had nothing to do with the show whatsoever. Since then, I’ve tried to keep up with the show, and even rented the DVDs from the first season, to see how Hoffitt’s Hanso, and Lost’s Hanso may be related. And to be honest, I’m more confused now than I ever was.

So, in an attempt to get some definitive answers, I decided to put the Hoffitt film online for everyone to see. My hope was that someone out there on the interweb would know something about the Hanso company that Hoffitt worked for. But instead, the film took on a life of it’s own. I began recieveing tons of e-mails, all relating to the show “Lost”, everything from fan mail to hate mail, to even some threats to take it down. Some people thought it was part of a game, while others declared it a hoax. After a while, I just gave up on sifting through all the “Lost” related comments and decided to forget about it. It was becoming more of a pain than what it was worth.

So why am I coming out now to tell this story? Well something happened recently that made me realize that there is much more to Jerry’s story. Last week, we found a postal delivery on our front step that wasn’t addressed to either myself, or my girlfriend. Oddly enough, it was addressed to the late Mrs. Hoffitt. But that’s not the weird part. The really strange part was that the package said it was from Jerry Hoffitt. Inside was only one thing: a video tape (I didn’t re-edit the video, it is exactly how I found it).

I’m not sure what exactly is happening in the film, but there’s something about it certainly that creeps me out. I don’t know who really sent this, but I have a feeling it wasn’t Jerry Hoffitt. It just doesn’t make any sense. Although it does worry me a little that whoever sent this has our address. If anyone out there has any idea who may have sent this video, please contact me through this blog. Thank you for reading my long winded explanation. Hopefully this whole thing can be resovled.