LACMA’s 'Levitated Mass' Rock to be Subject of Documentary

“Blue Valentine” producer Jamie Patricof is behind the project, which he hopes to take to next year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The 340-ton stone that finally rolled onto the LACMA campus amid much media hype on March 10, will soon hit the big screen. The Boulder, a documentary directed by filmmaker Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Surfwise) and produced by Jamie Patricof (Blue Valentine, Half Nelson), was shooting as the megalith made its way across the Southland from a Riverside quarry on a specially designed transporter to its permanent home on a lawn adjacent to the recently announced Oscar museum.

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It will be part of reclusive earth-artist Michael Heizer’s large-scale sculpture Levitated Mass. Financial backers of the artwork include former Warner Bros. head Terry Semel, AFI chairman Bob Daly and his wife, songwriter Carol Bayer Sager, producer Steve Tisch and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

“As a documentarian you couldn’t ask for more in a subject,” says Pray. “The film will be about what LACMA and the artist are endeavoring to create, and how they’re going about it. But it’s also about how people are reacting to it—some people find it gorgeous, and others are annoyed. There are a lot of haters: ‘This is stupid; it’s just a rock.’”

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Adds Patricof, who hopes to take the feature to next year’s Sundance Film Festival: “The documentary is really about, ‘What is art?’” The producer notes that The Boulder, with its real-life Fitzcarraldo overtones, has already had to overcome its own special ring of development hell, with permitting delays related to the stone’s travels through four counties, 22 cities and 105 miles causing numerous start-date delays since August. 

“Usually what you’re waiting on is financing [to begin a film],” Patricof says. “This was new.”