The recent ‘Reruns’ episode of the always excellent This American Life radio program tells the story of The Beaver Kid.
The kid is Groovin’ Gary, who was happened upon by an aspiring film film director, Tent Harris, in a Salt Lake City parking lot one day in 1979. Harris is trying out his brand new videocamera for the first time when The Beaver Kid starts to act up for the camera, doing impersonations and cracking jokes. Harris tapes him.
The story goes on from there, becoming an obsession for Harris, and ends over twenty years later at the Sundance festival, with the footage being used to open a bizzare and wonderful film by Harris that features Sean Penn and Crispin Glover replaying the meeting and what happened next. As Harris explains in the This American Life program, the guilt he later felt towards The Beaver Kid led him to remake the original footage he shot, trying to somehow change what had happened by doing so.
The film has never been released, but YouTube provides, with the entire film broken into ten seperate segments. Here’s the first part: