Searching for the Spitman: A Journey Through Foam, Froth, and Fun
Directed by Ernesto Santiago Camello | 23 minutes | Final screening October 5 at the Park Cinema
We’re all familiar with our friend Stan the Spitman’s signature phrase, “Spitballs from Heaven!” Yet how much do we know about the Spitman, himself?
I tell my clients it’s an old family recipe, but it’s not. I made it up on the fly and it worked…because the fly stuck to the wall.—Estanislao Gonzalo de Llama, aka Stan the Spitman
Not a lot, as it turns out. But writer and director Ernesto Santiago Camello has set out to change all that in this alarmingly candid short film about one of The Park’s funniest citizens engaged in one of the world’s oldest professions: spitmaking.
Estanislao “Stan” Gonzalo de Llama is a second generation SpitMeister, a master of the art of spitmaking.
“It’s an honourable profession,” he says with a wry smile, “that makes products used for dishonourable purposes.”
That wasn’t always so, as Camello demonstrates in his short look back at the history of spitmaking. But, these days, Stan estimates that about ninety per cent of his products go toward humiliating other Animals.
“It’s a fact of life in the profession,” he says. “But it doesn’t keep me up at night.”
Camello follows Stan through his day, from rising long before dawn to set a pot on the fire, to the arduous task of mixing, boiling, and stirring the ingredients.
“I tell my clients it’s an old family recipe, but it’s not. I made it up on the fly and it worked…because the fly stuck to the wall,” he jokes.
The film is full of lines like that—jokes that wouldn’t even be funny if they came out of another Animal’s mouth. But Stan gets away with it, largely because he is an honourable Animal. Last year, for instance, when Milton Struts, then head of the Park Finance Office, found himself covered in spitballs at the PIFF Awards ceremony, Stan secretly sent him a gift certificate for a full “do” at The Pluming Room.
“I don’t even know for sure that it was my spit they were using, but I know how it would feel and I didn’t think he deserved that. I’m not sure any Animal does,” he says in one of his more thoughtful moments in the film.
In another of those moments, Stan lets slip that if he hadn’t been pressured into joining the family business, he probably would have become a comedian or even a musician. And just so you don’t dwell on the poignancy of that admission, he quickly offers up another:
“No matter what, I’d have made my way back to spit[making]. It’s in my DNA,” he laughs.