81 Minutes  1995

Tara Jane O’Neil is growing weary of her life at the Rocket House, a party pad filled with crashing slackers, artists, and rock bands. She works as a ticket taker at a movie theater and hangs out with a group of friends who are equally aimless. Her brother, Otis (Ian Svenonius) – the arrogant lead singer of a local rock group called the Guilloteens (played by other members of Svenonius’ band, The Make-Up) – smacks Tara in the face after a show for ‘fucking up his encore.’ Humiliated, Tara convinces her pals to hijack the Guilloteens’ van (still full of equipment) and form a band in order to stay out on the road.

FEATURING: Tara Jane O’Neil, Jeff Mueller, Jason Noble, Jon Cook, Cynthia Nelson, Ian Svenonious, Dave Pajo, James Canty, John Moses, The Grifters, Dave Shouse, Tripp Lamkins, Scott Taylor, Stan Gallimore, Jonathan Marx, Barbara Johnson


Made in 1994 in Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga, HALF-COCKED follows a group of kids who steal a van full of music equipment and pretend to be a band in order to stay on the road. The film features Ian Svenonius and members of Rodan and The Grifters, playing versions of themselves. With music by Unwound, Slant 6, Freakwater, Versus, Polvo, Smog, Helium and others. After completing the film Hawley and Galinsky took the film on tour showing it rock clubs across the US and Europe.

The film was largely funded by a small advance for a soundtrack that was released by Matador Records. Shot over 10 days in 3 different cities in Kentucky and Tennesse. Conceived as a document rather than a documentary, the fimmakers set out to document the Undergound Music scene that they were a part of. They wrote parts for friends who were in bands and had them basically play versions of themselves. The intent was to have each person change the script so that it felt like what they would say. Ian Svenonious showed his genius by changing his parts in extreme ways that expanded the scope of the film, and forced major changes to the script.

“It doesn’t seem too bold to say Half-Cocked is an Easy Rider for the 90’s and deserves as much attention.”-ERIC GLADSTONE, ALTERNATIVE PRESS

“Bracing in it’s dry humor and first hand accuracy” -VARIETY

“Hawley and Galinsky know how to make pictures shudder with feeling” – MANOHLA DARGIS

“Life among young bohos and would-be rockers gets a strikingly true-to-life treatment in the deadpan road movie “Half-Cocked.” Co-creators Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky are indie-rock scene veterans, experience that shows in every frame. While the no-budgeter may be too insiderish and understated for the Generation X masses, its wry comic veracity could score a
bulls-eye with hip college auds.” – GODFREY CHESHIRE, VARIETY

“This raw and moody drama from 1994, by the husband-and-wife team of Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky (they co-wrote, she directed and edited, and he photographed, in appealingly grainy black-and-white), captures a moment of grungy charm, when independent art-rock scenes were new and resolutely local. A quintet living in a ramshackle house in Louisville gets a gig at a club, but the show turns sour when the vain, pretentious glam-punk Otis (Ian Svenonius) goes onstage and smacks Tara (Tara Jane O’Neil), the quintet’s spiritual leader—and his sister—for spoiling his encore. In revenge, Tara steals his van and equipment and drives the rest of the band to Chattanooga, where they scuffle along in fear and desperation. Though the aesthetic is rough-and-ready, Hawley is a sincere and sensitive storyteller who brings the characters to life with subtle, oblique touches that show who they are without saying too much about them. Casting highly regarded indie rockers and filling the soundtrack with their songs, Hawley movingly roots their music in a way of life as well as in the grimy urban landscapes they inhabit.” -RICHARD BRODY, NEW YORKER

Five years ago, in recognition of the 25-year anniversary of Half-Cocked, we put together a show for Art Basel2021 with Miami-based artist Tony Kapel. The show was part of a satellite fair by the group TOGETHER, and took place at the 7 Seas Motel. The intention was to celebrate all of the profoundly creative people who were involved in the production of the film and to celebrate their work since completion of the movie. Below is a sketch of “where they are now.”

TJO is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and visual artist. She creates melodic and experimental music under her own name and in collaboration with other musicians, dancers and filmmakers. As a solo artist, she has released 10 full-length albums. A founding member of Rodan and guest player for countless others, TJO has performed around the world at DIY spaces, festivals and the Pompidou.
Tara’s mother, Sara O’Neil, also an actor in the film, did the record art for Tara’s new album: http://orindal.limitedrun.com/products/776365-tara-jane-oneil-the-cool-cloud-of-okayness

Jeff is a vocalist and guitarist who runs the art and letter press studio Dexterity Press. Since filming the movie, he has been part of the bands June of 44 and Shipping News – the first with Sean Meadows of Chattanooga the second with his old friend Jason Noble. June of 44 continues to play shows both here and abroad.

JASON NOBLE (1973-2012)
From the archives of Greg King: “After Rachel’s, Jason kept recording and touring with Shipping News up until he was diagnosed. And he, Christian and I made a record together for music we made in 2008 for a performance of the Tempest at Actors Theater of Louisville. We called ourselves The Young Scamels. Putting out the CD of that music was among his last projects, as it was interrupted when he got sick.”

Since being in the film, Cynthia has participated in several bands: The Grand Style Orchestra, Digressive Combine, Ruby Falls, Retsin, The Naysayer, The Sophie Drinker Music Project.
She released her 5th solo album in 2023.
New album, For Days, as well as all other solo music: https://cynthianelson.bandcamp.com/
Project where I’m having 10 different video artists each make a video for a song on the album, releasing them one per month:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMdVuSFq_SGimqZezO54HuQ
*(most people seem to watch them on IG) https://www.instagram.com/cynthianelsonband/

JON COOK (1973-2013)
From the archives of Tim Furnish: “After Crain broke up in 1995, Jon and I did not work together until 2008, when I asked him to play drums with a new Parlour lineup. This group went on to make the “Simulacrenfield” LP: https://www.temporaryresidence.com/products/trr162 Released 28 September 2010, by Temporary Residence. We did a string of shows in November 2010. Jon died February 18, 2013.
I am currently working on a CRAIN ANTHOLOGY BOX set with Temporary Residence that should include 4 LPS, (SPEED, HEATER (REMIXED in 2018 with Steve Albini and Tim), Singles/Comp Tracks, Unreleased last CRAIN album – Total Teenage Telepathic Takeover) 2025 release.
Crain Bandcamp page: https://crain.bandcamp.com/
Crain Speed on label Temporary Residence: https://www.temporaryresidence.com/products/trr083

From Ian: “I’m playing in a band called Escape-ism and we’re releasing a new record Charge of the Love Brigade this summer as well as The Make-Up.
I just put out a new book – my fourth – it’s called Against the Written Word.  And I am screening short films and made the feature film The Lost Record

From James: “Since ‘94, I’ve recorded and released a bunch of records & toured the world with The Make Up, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, and French Toast – also doing short tours as part of Kid Congo’s band and !!! (chk chk chk).
The last few years, I’ve gotten into tour management, stage management and general tech-ing, working with Bikini Kill, The Hold Steady, a short tour with PJ Harvey, and some TM stuff for Fred Armisen.
I’ve been the fill-in keyboardist & bandleader on the Late Night With Seth Meyers show for 8 or 9 years (I’m on a few times a year when Eli Janney can’t do it)
The Make Up and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists are both touring this year !

Since the movie, Dave has played with bands such as Will Oldham, The For Carnation, Tortoise, Stereolab, Royal True, King Kong, Swan, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol. In 2022, Dave joined Gang of Four starting with the North American tour.

Since ‘94, Jonathan played as a member of the band Lambchop from its early days until 2008, playing woodwind, brass, and electronic instruments. Also a journalist for The Tennessean and the Nashville Scene, it has been written about Jonathan, ‘You can’t find a writer in town more in touch with the artistic soul of Nashville.’

Continue reading…

About a year and a half ago – when we launched our first kickstarter campaign to help fund Battle for Brooklyn (a doc we have been working on for 7.5 years), I did a great deal of planning. I took the game theory aspect very seriously. We knew that we had networks of people that we could tap into, and......

Last night I spent a little time going over a grant application for film funding. Years ago, I gave up on applying for grants because we never got them- literally- in our first ten years of applying, we got none. The one positive thing about the process is that it does force one to do the work of articulating what......

When I hit the floor with searing back pain for the second time in my life I was stuck on my office floor for two weeks, unable to even sit up. On the 9th or 10th day of my stuckness I tried to go to the airport to get on a plane with my family. It took every bit of......

Last week a good friend, and academy nominated doc director, gave us some great notes on our rough cut. He had seen a somewhat earlier version of the film so it was great to hear his notes because we had already addressed about 80% of them. At the same time, he asked a series of sharp questions about what we......

Cathryn J Ramin’s heavily researched look at the back pain industry, “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting On the Road to Recovery“, is painfully satisfying to read – especially for people who have struggled with back pain and the surgeons, pushers, and needle jockeys that profit from it. Ramin’s book is framed by her personal journey to heal......

On a Saturday afternoon in late September, I almost drowned.  On this warm fall afternoon, my friend Caroline and I had impulsively decided to swim across a lake.  It’s a big enough body of water that we had to frantically wave at several speedboats to make sure that we didn’t get run over as we crossed.  It’s one of those......

DSLR video has had a tremendous impact on us over here at Rumur. The image quality is so much better than standard HD cameras that it has inspired a whole new wave of ideas. Before we made our first feature film, “Half-Cocked,” Suki said to me, “If we can make it look anything like your photos, we’ll be all right.”......

Feb 13- a snow storm locked Chapel Hill into place. The highway was stopped and the meadow froze over. Our borrowed dog struggled with the icy layer....

Last month I got the first copies of my photo book.  It would not exist without kickstarter, and for that I am very grateful.  It all began when I put some 20 year old mall pictures on-line.  They went viral so I quickly threw together a kickstarter to make a book.  I kept it simple, just using a music video......

We've been doing this work for over 25 years and have made all kinds of films from rock and roll narratives to crime films to political and personal documentaries. On the surface, most of the films don't seem connected, but certain themes run through them all, and they build on one another. These can be thought of as themes and also as lessons we learned from making the films. ...

When I was a freshman in high school, I became somewhat obsessed with photography. I was “that guy” who took most of the pictures for the school paper and the yearbook. I knew that I wanted to be a photographer, but I didn’t want to go to art school, or journalism school for that matter. I intuitively knew that it......

***this post is a bit unfinished- but I wanted to get it up before going out of town*** I have been writing in general about the stages that we all go through in life. The stages of my adult life have been clearly demarcated for me through my artwork. I can visually track the transitions through my photographs. I was......