Best Documentary Palm Beach International Film Festival
Best Documentary Dahlonega
Best First Feature Dahlonega International Film Festival
Best Folk Film DIFF.
"Every musician in America should see this film"
Faust Pierfederici 1 of the 7 editors of Jimmy's Story.
"Billy Yeager is not dead. His film, so full of life, is proof of that" John Stacey "New Times"
" Out of the 700 films submitted into The Dahlonega International Film Festival Jimmy's Story is the one that moved me most to tears of joy and frustration".
Dean Treadway Programm Director for the 2003 DIFF.
" An outstanding film that is a remarkable achievement, I can't imagine how much work went into this very personal original film: Awards ceremony at The Palm Beach International Film Festival.
"That a local musician such as Yeager was able to turn a life of artistic struggle into a visual story is unique enough. That anyone without any prior film experience could have actually transformed 100 hours of raw footage and 20 years of personal history into a finished more than feature length film is a testament to perseverance.
John Stacey - New Times
The Story of Jimmy's Story
Where does Jimmy's Story begin and end? Who is Jimmy Story?
Jimmy Story is a fictional character created and played by Billy. After years of frustration and rejection from the music industry Billy dyed his skin black and decided to become 'The Long Lost Son of Jimi Hendrix, "Jimmy Story" Even though he was discovered several times by major artist including one - Grammy Award Winner Bruce Hornsby, Billy was rejected by the major record labels for 18 years.
Billy began documenting his struggle, frustration and relationship with the music business in 1985. In 1997 he dyed his skin black and played his own manager even creating bogus documents that were later certified and given to the press. Certified by himself. Billy forged fake seals and certified the bogus documents and became a certified handwriting analysis (graphologist) and gave these documents to the press.
He spent 1 year creating the bogus evidence that was needed to convince the press and also composing songs that were suppose to be "lost songs that Jimi Hendrix composed and left "lost recordings behind with his mother. These songs also had hidden messages in them referring to a prediction that Jimi was trying to tell people that he was going to be murdered.
Billy had fake boots that were supposedly taken off of Jimi Hendrix's feet in the ambulance before he was brought to the hospital. Billy wrote cryptic codes and numbers on the bottom of the shoes so that when you held them up to a mirror you could calculate the days that Jimi had left to live.
( Jimi Hedrix wrote songs about mirrors and the song if 6 were 9 , turn them upside down) To the press this evidence was very convincing. It was very prophetic actually since there are several books published about the mysterious death of Jimi and many now saying they believed he was murdered. Billy also played his own manger as he promoted himself to television shows and magazines.
The incredible hoax that Billy pulled off on the press was international and many were confused at the artist and his schemes thinking he was angry, and or crazy.
But Billy had everyone fooled. He had been documenting the hoax the whole time with hidden cameras making personal appearance's as 'The Long Lost Son Of Jimi Hendrix" on television News stories and news paper articles world wide.
Reality television is relatively new. How did Billy know that over 20 years ago that he had a film in the making of his own life?
Billy I was wearing wigs and disguising myself as different kinds of people or sons of dead rock stars since 7 th grade. "I ran away at 13 years old. I lived in a tree house. I lost my virginity to a big fat girl who raped me on a hit of acid when I was 14 while her parents were in the living room watching "All in the Family". I worked on a farm and trained racehorses. I met David Bowie and Mick Ronson at 13 years old. I hung out with Tommy Bolin the night he died. I was a rebel with a car at 15 with no license, no education, half of my friends were dead, I carried a bottle of peppermint schnapps and a rifle underneath my car seat and would shoot both of them whenever I wanted. Hell my life was a movie since I can remember. I said I have got to film my life. So I did.
Bunny Yeager and Billy's sister Keri also filmed Billy with video cameras in the early years.
Jimmy's Story is discovered
Jimmy's Story was completed in 1997. The raw footage was seen by Independent filmmaker Kevin Smith.
Billy tracked down Kevin and asked Kevin to help him.. Kevin produced and directed the films "Clerk's", "Chasing Amy", "Dogma" and is also known as the character 'SILENT BOB". Kevin liked what he saw and thought he should send the film footage to John Pierson who repped and sold the films, Clerks, Hoop Dreams, Slackers and Blair Witch Project and considered also by many to be the most powerful man in the independent film world.
John also liked the story about Billy and how he filmed his life. He contacted a filmmaker in Orlando at the time to meet him personally at Billy's apartment in 1997. John hired a little unknown cameraman and filmmaker that was to film and interview Billy for John Pierson's show on Bravo called "Split Screen". The cameraman was Dan Myrick who had a film idea himself that was cutting edge and very original. He told Billy about it. Dan showed Billy some of the raw footage of his film at the time called 'The Blair Witch Project".
The 2 become friends and stayed in close touch. Dan wanted to become more involved in Billy's film. In the year 2000 Dan and his production team had their film accepted into The Sundance Film Festival which also was acquired by Artison that same year.
In between interviews and the huge success of Blair Witch Dan also found the time to help Billy edit his film into a more professional format. They were trying to tell a story that would explain the film itself, about how Billy was filming his life. They made a shorter version which was submitted to Sundance the next year, but it was rejected.
Discouraged at the rejection Billy kept filming about the rejection of the film itself and eventually how it left him homeless.
In the film neighbors are filmed unknowingly, landlords, grandparents, friends. The cameras were taken to restaurants, laundry mats, cameras were mounted in the car, outside the car. There were 4 cameras mounted in his car also documenting his 8-year relationship with fiancé' Maria Coppola.
New Times John Stacey; Perhaps the most compelling figure to emerge in the saga is Yeager's girlfriend, Maria. Through her incredulous open-mouthed reactions and double takes, Maria serves as a barometer of normalcy. Maria is the star of the film's most amusing moments.
Billy even mounted a camera on top of 4 -12 foot two by 4's nailed together to make one 48 foot high extension. He then bungie corded the camera on top and extended the huge homemade crane to get arial shots of his life. It became an obsession and many would wonder when the film would ever end.
He bewilders friends and family. His grandmother sends him a K-Mart application as a hint.
He needed an ending to his film so he faked his own death that was also a hoax that ended up on the news.
John Stacey New Times; In the movies dramatic climax, the troubled artist films his own suicide. One member of the audience is stunned not sure if this is for real. Two seats down in the theatre Billy Yeager the man being mourned by family and friends, grins in the theatre very much alive.
In the film his 8-year relationship ends, his apartment burns down, his car breaks downand leaves him homeless. And then finally after filming another 5 years the film ended. Billy's father Ray had passed away from cancer.
Fact: Jimmy's Story is considered a masterpiece of Independent filmmaking by the Independent film world. The footage are compiled tapes of over 200 VHS tapes, over 24 Hi-8 tapes that were all 2 hours long, Beta Tapes. Old 8m.m. film, plus super 8 Film, Super Vhs , and digital.
Fact; Billy spent 6 months creating the vision for his edit decision list which consisted of notes and pieces of paper taped to the wall's of his apartment like a story board studying the footage every night.
Fact: Billy spent 16-to 18 hour days editing the first version in only 2 weeks.
This is Billy at an editing session with Faust. Billy set up a blanket on the floor to sleep. They edited non-stop for a last minute deadline for a Sundance submission
Billy charged the batteries at gas station bathrooms and continued to document his ordeal. Eventually he had 3 parts to his film each 2 to 3 hours long. For the next 4 years he kept filming and editing and re-editing the film.
Gary Brice on filming Jimmy's Story:
There was one shot that Billy wanted. He wanted the opening of the film with him playing piano on the beach. He also wanted to film it from 50 feet in the air.
We all thought he was crazy, but he has this way of talking you into things because of his passion. So there is 4 of us carrying a 600 pound piano in the soft beach sand down to the water for the length of a football field. The waves are crashing onto the piano and we set this homemade 50 foot 2 by 4 with the camera bungie corded on top filming him playing piano while the microphone is capturing the piano notes and the ocean waves. It was brilliant. But our backs were broken, our hands cut, my legs hurt for days, the cops came and almost arrested us, and that's about 10 hours of work for a 7 second scene.
ICM the largest agency that represents the biggest entertainers and actors in the world became interested in Billy's story. They wanted to make a Hollywood film about Billy's life using Hollywood actors. The two parties however could not agree on how the story would be told. This is the letter from ICM.
Billy on filming:
I knew if I carried the cameras everywhere I went people around me would eventually get use to them absurd as that may sound. I have one scene where my father and myself go to the graveyard to sit and talk because he liked to talk about life and death. It is a very serious moment. The birds are chirping in the background, the tombstones around us, and my dad is telling me how he would like things to be when he dies. Yes there are some very proud moments I have in the film. Risky? Yes. Putting my life right out there for everyone to see, personal? Absolutely.
Billy on Jimmy Story:
I made the name up way back in 1985 as a fictional character. Then in 1996 I was watching the movie "Tootsie" with Dustin Hoffman who is a struggling actor that nobody wants. I had been rejected by the labels for almost 20 years at that point even with Bruce Hornsby's help. So I am watching this and thinking, man that is me nobody wants me! So I started thinking about it and I could always play and sing like Jimi Hendrix and I knew I could compose music that would sound like as if he wrote them, so I did. After that I thought I would just have a little fun with it and I put out a couple of feelers to the press. I even paid for an ad in the back of Rolling Stone magazine for a 10,000.00 award for the whereabouts of Jimmy's Story Jimi Hendrix's Long Lost Son. And that was it. I got letters from around the world from fans, underground magazines and writers wanting to do a story about Jimmy.
At first I told no one not even my fiancé but then after a while I started to smell like turpentine because I had to rub the dye off which was Rit clothes dye that I filled the bathtub up with and soaked my body. I also wore a fake nose made of clay because mine is small. Later I just stuffed a lot of napkins up my nose, which also made me sound more nasal and like Jimi Hendrix's voice.
Gerry Georgettis on the hoax;
The funniest damm thing though was when a local television show contacted Billy about the hoax and asked him to come on the show on live television. It was a stupid show in South Beach and Billy wanted to talk serious about his film that's what he thought they contacted him for. But they wanted him to dress up as the character and it pissed him off. So he gets this guy who is 40 pounds overweight and puts him in the Jimmy Story makeup it doesn't even look like him, or Billy but who would know, right?
So Billy tells the guy to pull off the wig and tell them, I am not Jimmy Story, I am not even Billy Yeager and do just like Dustin Hoffman did in Tootsie and screw up their whole show. So Billy asked me to go and film it for him. So there is this guy on live television pulling off the wig, the producers are standing around don't know what to think. And the guy says, " I'm not Jimmy Story" as he pulls off the wig. Then he says ' Hell, I'm not even Billy Yeager" as he wipes off the makeup. They stood there with their mouths open. So really he just kept on pulling off hoax but in different ways, and kept filming them.
To our fans
Up -date of the cast of Jimmy's Story
Mark Smith got married and has 3 children. He works at American Airlines and still plays golf with Billy from time to time. Billy still uses his name (Mark Smith) when he needs it.
Stan Jeff Brown; Stan still drives a cab and has recorded an album. He lives with his mother and is still a close friend to Billy. When the two of them talk Stan has a difficult time however establishing fact from fiction from Billy's life.
Ozzy Lambiro; Ozzy and Billy still go surfing. This day they went surfing Billy asked Ozzy to put the wig on. Ozzy asked why, what are you up to now? Nothing said Billy and all was forgotten, until NOW!
Gerry Georgettis; Billy's manager became one of his closet friends. The two talk frequently and Gerry manages a musical theatre in Miami. They still are working on plans to get Billy's new music to the major labels.
Keri Yeager; Billy's youngest sister Keri has 4 children and is a photographer. Taking after Bunny she has won several awards for her pictures in photo contests.
Billy visits his niece and nephews and plays practical jokes on them instead of the press.
The Old Gang; All the members of the old gang unfortunately passed away. The bench on Hollywood beach is empty. For 12 years they sat everyday with Billy at sunset to tell stories. They always complained that Billy never gave them proper credit in the film calling them the "old gang". Some things never change.
Ray Yeager: Is gone and forgotten unfortunately except for those who watch the film. Billy's father never had the huge success but he is immortalized in Billy's film.
If purpose and meaning is what we should seek most in life, then Rays life served a great purpose by the words he speaks.
Maria Coppola: Maria lives in Florida. She is currently involved in Real Estate.
Her profound words in the film resonate. " Maybe the only purpose for me in this was to struggle and tell a story, a crazy and sad story. Perhaps that was the reason that Billy and me were brought together for this reason.
Evidence of the Jimmy Story Hoax
There were many pieces of fabricated evidence. Part of the conspiracy story about Jimi Hendrix's death was built on truth. A friend and source of Billy's knew about certain details that nobody else knew, someone who dated Jimi Hendrix. This is where Billy came up with the idea of a murder conspiracy theory.
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence however was the music that Billy created. The music was given to experts, people who worked alongside with Jimi Hendrix including Buddy Miles and others. The skeptics from the press sent this music to be authenticated. The word came back that " The lyrics, the melodies, chord changes, arrangement let alone the guitar playing and vocals, this is no doubt the son of Jimi Hendrix." Quoted from The Experience Publication dedicated to Jimi Hendrix fans.
This music is featured in the film soundtrack. To purchase Jimmy's Story visit the FILMBABY.COM Website and enter documentary category.
There were 32 pieces of evidence. Most of it is lost now. But these are some remaining pieces.
This I think is the most incredible piece of evidence because this is a postcard from the first gig I ever had at The Castaways Hotel. I was 17 years old, and I kept it forever. It is the only one I ever kept. One day when I was investigating information about Jimi Hendrix I saw a book at a book store that had a picture of him playing at The Castaways Hotel in Miami. He had a concert but it got rained out, so Jimi was staying at The hotel and jammed there that day. Someone took a picture and later it was documented in this book. I thought "oh my God I have that postcard! But more than that, the Castaways was torn down in the early 1980's nobody had any memorabilia form there. So I made it into a match book cover and put Jimi's famous writings on the back "Once you are dead your made for life" scribbled on the back. I then had the letter certified.
The certification letter.
Billy#2 piece of evidence
John C. Granville sounded good to me. I read many books about handwriting analysis and there were only so many of them in The United States that were certified. So I made myself # 81 and ordered the seal and made up some facts and figures.
I thought, who's gonna question a certified Graphologist?
The shirt that Jimi wore.
Billy #3 piece of evidence
I knew I needed something that I could say my mother gave me from my father Jimi Hendrix. So I decided it would be a shirt that he performed with. I bought the material and I made a pattern. I sewed it myself by hand and I put it on and Maria took my picture.
When I did my own phony interview on camera that I would send to the press, I had Maria ask me." What's that shirt in the background? I would play stupid and walk over to the photograph which was computerized version showing Jimi wearing the short. And the press really ate that up the fact that I was wearing the same shirt my father had on.
The story was that Sunshine ( My mother) was given the shirt to her from Jimi and that she wanted me to have it.
" A kiss before the dying" song written by Jimi Hendrix and given to Sunshine Story.
Billy; piece of evidence #4
The song was meant to be mysterious and you'll notice I took a very peculiar number from the bible 153 fishes, which Jesus mentioned. The numbers were then used on the bottom of the shoes and if you held them to a mirror and subtracted these numbers you would come up with the date of Jimi Hendrix's death. I also studied books on numerology to come up with some fascinating theories.
Jimmy Story as a baby.
Billy: piece of evidence # 5
The baby was from National Geographic magazine and Sunshine who is suppose to be my mother is actually my sister Keri. I needed someone who would resemble me a little bit even with all that make up on so I used her. She called me one day upset because her 18 year old daughter at the time came home and said " Hey mom, you're in the newspaper with Jimi Hendrix"
Billy piece of evidence # 6
This of course is bogus, nobody thought to look it up they just believed it. I knew other publications would run with the story if other bigger magazines mentioned Jimmy.
The hospital bracelet
Billy piece of evidence # 7
Yes I actually went to the hospital dressed like that and told the emergency room that I was sick. When you sign in they take your temperature and give you one of those little bracelets you wear. I figured that if I wore that to interviews not only would they think I was legit and had some kind of proof for identification, but that I also needed some kind of medication for my condition and behavior. It worked.