Perhaps it’s just best to let filmmaker Janet Arneau explain the inspiration behind her new webseries, Roadkill Art:
“It came about after seeing 18 dead deer one early morning in New Jersey on the way to church. I sat in church wondering ‘who in the world is going to pick up all those deer hit by all those cars?’ and I was just daydreaming about some sort of Beetlejuice character coming with his old truck.”
Well, it turns out that while dead animals no longer interest Michael Keaton, taxidermists are regularly in receipt of roadkill. So Arneau picked John Criminger off a list of practitioners and arrived unannounced at his property in Kershaw, South Carolina. “I pulled up in front of a small wood building greeted by a bunch of barking dogs,” recalled Arneau. “He showed me his work adorning the walls, mostly deer. If you hit a deer, you take it and have John turn it into deer steak, deer roast, or deer burgers.”
And from that meeting, Roadkill Art was born. Following Criminger, his step-daughter Bree Lee and his wife Kendra—“a nurse who works the graveyard shift and often finds fresh roadkill which she throws in the trunk and brings home”—we see the family hunt or find and process deer, fish, go frog gigging, and cook up their game. They also make things like gun racks out of hooves. Arneau reveals that future episodes will feature turkey season as well as a dead bobcat that gets dropped off for John’s attention.
“I love John’s presence on camera,” Arneau told the Daily Dot via email, “and I love all the elements that he brings to the topic of roadkill, taxidermy and cooking game meat. He’s an excellent game meat chef. I was quite enamoured with how men, other hunters, especially teens, like to be around John. With his 17-year-old step-daughter Bree, who’s also a taxidermist and meat processor, they are a great team.”
Roadkill Art isn’t Arneau’s first webseries. In What’s Your Problem?, she asked various people the titular question and then “ha[d] a blast with their solution.” And her collection of Joe Franklin reminiscences have taken on even greater importance since the death of the stalwart talk show host early last year.
A friend insisted that Arneau meet the man who had interviewed over 100,000 people not because of his fascinating career but because he was a hoarder. This will not be a revelation to anyone who has seen the state of his office in the series. “To get to his desk once you entered the front door you had to follow a path through ceiling high walls of stuff,” recalled Arneau. “But to meet Joe was to fall in love with Joe. He was so gracious and his manners were so un-modern. He always had a fact about stars that I had never heard of. He is well missed by all of NYC!”
Screengrab via Janet Arneau/YouTube