His nom de cinéma is Angry Ron. At 32, he's a serious-minded person, with roots in political-punk culture and anarchist thought.
But Ron Douglas' short videos more nearly suggest Groucho than Karl Marx. Take "Spoon Guy," in which a gullible homeowner (played by the slender, unassuming Douglas) is bilked of his household silverware by a visitor dubiously claiming to be a city spoon inspector. The scam comedy quickly turns into a comic mystery and a chase which escalates into an even more improbable showdown.
Douglas' contemplative side will be showcased alongside his comedy at the Feb. 13 installment of the Film Kitchen screening series (which is co-sponsored by City Paper). Also on the program is "Metal Mom," Claire Houghtalen's profile of a young Pittsburgh woman incorporating a 7-year-old daughter into her heavy-metal lifestyle.
Douglas, who grew up in Beaver County, learned video production at Beaver County Community College, studied film at Pitt, and later took production classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. These days, as part of the Indymedia collective, he helps produce Rust Belt Television. Working with the alternative news show, which airs on PCTV-21, Douglas has covered subjects including a march against a local facility of defense contractor Bechtel Corp., domestic surveillance, and a visit to Pittsburgh by some Iraq War veterans.
At Film Kitchen, Douglas will screen "Vagaband," a lyrically shot 15-minute documentary about an itinerant group of politically active musicians who lived in some Pittsburgh woods one summer. They met in Chiapas, Mexico, working on land reform with Zapatista rebels, and they include an environmental-science teacher turned hobo-activist-mandolinist.
Douglas is also pursuing long-term documentary projects about train-hopping (something he's done himself) and punk houses, where he long lived and collected footage. Yet humor -- as exampled by "Spoon Guy" and the gorily comic "A Brush With Gum Disease" and its sequel -- seems to be his default setting.
"When I go to make movies, I can't seem to make anything dramatic or scary, but I can do ridiculous," says Douglas, a stay-at-home dad who lives in Bloomfield with his girlfriend and their 10-month-old daughter, Anath. "Anytime I do have fun, it comes out with me screaming and bleeding all over the place."
When 7-year-old Lydia plays Barbies, Barbie rocks out, head-banging at the Slayer concert. Credit her mom, Danielle McCoy -- the "Metal Mom" of Claire Houghtalen's short video profile.
In "Metal Mom," McCoy, homeless when she became pregnant, is off the street and living in Brookline. Houghtalen, a 24-year-old Brooklyn-based film worker, documents head-banger Barbie alongside mother-daughter pumpkin-carving sessions and McCoy getting a new tattoo while Lydia does her homework.
For her part, McCoy likes "Metal Mom" all right, though she's puzzled how Houghtalen could follow her for a year-and-a-half and end up with a 12-minute movie. Houghtalen says the documentary -- her State University of New York thesis project -- captures how the mother-daughter dynamic changes as Lydia grows up. The girl's love for watching football on TV, for instance, is a habit her mother finds mortifying. "She's definitely starting to assert her own likes and dislikes in the documentary," says Houghtalen.
These days, McCoy, 27, solicits subscriptions for the Pittsburgh Symphony. She also recently debuted as Mel Practice, a competitor in the new Steel City Derby Demons roller-derby league.
Her uncategorizable lifestyle was what first attracted Houghtalen. She met McCoy here, through a mutual friend, at a party in 2003. Another day, they accompanied McCoy to pick up Lydia at school. "It was seeing a completely different side of a person," says Houghtalen.
Film Kitchen 8 p.m. Tue., Feb. 13 (7 p.m. reception). Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., N. Oakland. $4. 412-316-3342, x 178 or www.filmkitchenpgh.org