Choose Your Own Blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

April 30th, 2002 - Back East Pt2

I get up about one p.m and don’t feel so hot. My wife shows up. I get them to go get me something to eat, and then I throw up some and sleep some more.

After they bring me a sub, I feel a little better. None of us make any move to go into town and watch any movies. Fuck that.

After a while, my wife and I get ready for the awards show. No way am I thinking we’re going to win an award.

You see, the actor Frank Vincent is being honored at the awards gala. He’s also got a movie running in the competition. Now ask me what movie I think is going to win.

It does. Then Best Feature in another category goes to some movie whose producer also helped put on the festival. Conflict of interest, anyone?

The director of that feature also gets Best Screenplay and Best Director. Everyone in the joint seems to know him. I’m feeling like more of a stooge by the minute. I can see this whole thing was planned out before they even started the show.

Well, the dinner took place at the Liberty House, so that was neat. New York City skyline in the background, Statue Of Liberty off to the right. Everyone in suits and tuxes.

My wife and I go back to the room. We’re going to try to go into New York City, but by the time we get ready, it’s pouring rain.

We go back to the room and say fuck it. The whole weekend has pretty much sucked. I spent roughly seven hundred dollars of money I don’t have.

So now I’m sitting here a couple of nights later and the whole thing is like this mini-nightmare. I just never expected a first-year festival to be this political. Christ, it’s who you know even at these little festivals.

I’ve got to jam on these press kits. Hunting Humans has to get out there. I’m working on the screenplay to Fear Of Clowns right now. It’s more of a straight romantic horror mystery. You know.

Monday, May 10, 2010

April 30th, 2002 - Back East Pt1

I believe this is where my hate of New Jersey started. And something I remember from right after we first got to NJ: Rick and I are walking back from where we grabbed lunch and we see a girl, maybe 18, walking the opposite direction from us.

She's crying, and pulling a suitcase behind her. Rick and I watched her walk past. I mean, what were we going to do?

Anyway, the entire night in New York is just one giant surreal thing in my mind. Bizarre. I guess that's New York.
April 30th

We got home from the Back East Picture Show. It took place from the 25th to the 28th of this month. Things started bad. Should have taken it as an omen and gone home right then.

Rick and I left for it on Wednesday night. I had made reservations at an Econo Lodge about two miles from the actual hotel we’d be staying at for the next couple of days(by then it was booked up for that night because we’d planned on coming down on Thursday).

My plan was to get the lay of the land, put some flyers out at the theater, etc. Try to get some people to come to our showing.

What happened was that we got into town within 3 hours. It took us about another hour to find the goddamn hotel. The guy I called didn’t speak much English. He was no help. We finally stopped at the Doubletree and I checked to make sure my reservation was fine and got directions from that guy.

After a small misdirection,we got to the hotel. It was a dump. You at least expect an Econo Lodge to be decent, but this was in a crappy part of town. Tons of construction, lots of litter and crap all over. The rug in our room was stained and burned in places. I didn’t want to put my head on the pillow, the room was that crappy.

We figured to get up early and get over to the theater. I set my alarm for 9:30am.

We get up and roll out. I buy a map of Jersey City at the hotel. We head toward what we hope is the theater.

Construction prevents us from taking certain roads. We keep getting detoured to other roads. We find some of the roads we’re supposed to be on, but they’re not going where we want.

I ask a couple of people where the theater is and they’re like “That’s in Hoboken, right?” as if it’s forty miles away. The paper I have says it’s about three miles away.

It takes us, no shit, two hours to find the theater. No shit. And it was only three miles away.

It’s raining like a bitch, we’re pissed off about what a crappy city Jersey City is, and finally we stumble into the theater.

Hudson Street Cinemas is a two-screen theater. Small and quaint. I meet the guy putting the festival on who seems fairly nice, but he’s asking me questions about how did I do the sound for my movie. I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. It’s called a microphone, chief.

He wants to know if we’re going to the seminar or something. I tell him we just want to go get something to eat. We’re hungry and tired from being lost.

We get some lunch at a little crappy steak joint. They don’t serve fries. They serve some onion-covered potato thing. A thimble of bitter cold slaw. The burger is okay.

We head back for our screening, dreading it. You see, they’ve not only given us a bad time slot, but they’ve put us opposite the Director’s Lounge where everyone can go get free drinks and schmooze with the other filmmakers.

Five people come to our showing. Two of them told us beforehand that they would be leaving a little early to go to the Lounge. So then we had three people.

Great, I’m thinking, as I watch the movie for the millionth time. How can we win an award when only three people are watching it?

After the movie, they took a few pics of us. We rushed off to the Lounge. Had some drinks, chatted with some people. Everyone was very transparent with their “What can you do for me?” attitudes. Passing tapes and business cards.

At least we find out that there will be judges voting for the best movies, not the audiences.

That night we go to bed early. I need the sleep. I figure we’ll party the next night. We’ve been passing out cards with invitations to a screening of HH in our room with free drinks.

Friday rolls along. We head to the theater, where it seems no one is taking part of the showings. No one seems to care. Where are all the filmmakers?

We catch a movie called Peroxide Passion. Not bad. Some good acting performances by the leads, but some of the directing is off(or it could be the editing, it’s hard to tell without seeing what they had to work with).

I’m bored. Kinda pissed. We can’t find where people are hanging out, if they even are, so we can’t pass out some more invitations. We want some people to come to the screening in our room, but we’re getting a bad feeling.

I make Rick watch Living In Oblivion. He didn’t find it as funny as I did. He’s real jaded. He gets into these little bitter moods. I can feel it too, but I repress it. Time to get pissed later.

We get some dinner and go to the theater to see what it’s like. Tonight they’re screening the movie that the guy who put on the festival shot, but it’s not in the competition.

There’s a decent crowd out front. Danny Aiello walks by. Some other actors whose faces you know but names you don’t. We decide not to go to the screening. I’m not feeling like watching any of these fucking “filmmakers” movies, ‘cause they didn’t come to mine, did they?

We head back to the bar that hosted the Director’s Lounge. We get some drinks. We head back to the hotel at about 11:30pm. I get the room ready, get some liquor ready.

No one shows. No one. Rick’s pissed. I’m pissed. What the fuck are all these people doing?

Rick and I take the Path, a subway that runs into New York. We get out on 14th street and catch a cab, telling the guy to take us to any happening bar. The guy has no idea what we’re talking about. (He doesn’t seem to speak fluent English; go figure)

Finally he drives us to some strip with a couple of bars on it. We head into one called Bar515 and get some beers. After a while, two girls wander over and ask us what the badges around our necks are. We tell them. One girl is named Rebecca I think, and the other girl is some Hungarian girl who doesn’t speak much English.

Rebecca’s a wanna-be actress. She’s pretty with a good body, but I don’t think she’s got the intelligence to be a good actress.

Bar515 closes at 4am, so they ask us if we wanna go to another bar with them. We’re wasted. We say sure.

They take us over to some theater that’s hosting a Neil Simon play. Some mook is letting some people in the back door, but they won’t let us in, even with the girls. Another guy comes up and Rebecca talks to him. He hands the big black bouncer a hundred dollar bill and we’re in. Let me tell you that I have no idea why that happened.

We’re ushered up some dark stairs into an even darker room. Little black couches, bluish neon lighting around the walls. I get five drinks, which come to thirty six bucks. Rick has to pay for it, ‘cause all I got is plastic at that point, and they won't take credit cards.

We hang around chatting on the couch and then suddenly the girls are gone. They went through some door that is opened and shut periodically to admit certain desirables, of which we are not.

That clinches it. We finish the drinks and get out of there. Where ever we are, it’s close to Times Square, because that’s where we end up.

It’s like Vanilla Sky. There’s no one there. A lone hot dog vendor. We get a hot dog for Rick and a pretzel for me.

Then we head home. We get off the fuckin’ path at the wrong place and have to hoof it about a mile. It seems like ten miles when you’re drunk.

When I get back I call my wife and tell her to go ahead and come if she wants to. The festival isn’t anything like I expect.

I go to bed at about eight a.m.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April 21st, 2002

The interesting anecdote here is that the theater that we used to premiere "Hunting Humans" was the actual theater where Shivers would stalk Lynn and Tuck in "Fear of Clowns".

My projectionist buddy James Fellows got us into both theaters, and dies in both movies.

The line to get into the auditorium.

April 21st

    The screening was yesterday.

    I’ll start off by telling you how soured I am on the state of Maryland in terms of help they give to filmmakers. How about zero?

    I was reticent about mentioning this stuff, ‘cause you don’t want to burn your bridges(but since I may be the only one reading this and I can always hit the delete key), but when we first started prep for the movie I sent a letter to the head of the Maryland Producer’s Club. One Jed Dietz.

    It asked if he had any advice or could offer any help obtaining permits.

    No response.

    I let that slide. Who knows what happened to the letter? I was too busy to ever give it another shot.

    So I put together this screening. My wife makes a bunch of press kits and sends them to the local television stations, newspapers, you name it. We waited a week and got no response.

    I call and email a butt-load of the local newspapers. A small local one called “The Gazette” responds, but that’s it.  Rick and I do an interview that comes out in the April 13th newspaper. It’s pretty good, but the paper is too small to be much help.

    I fax the Sun(the biggest local paper), since I’ve already emailed them and snail mailed them. No response. I think perhaps they have too many good stories. I pick up one and read an article about how to make old furniture look like new furniture.

    I decide they don’t have too many good stories. Finally one of them calls three days before the screening. They want to interview me over the phone. Great, I say. I do the interview. I ask whether they’re going to send someone out to see the movie. They tell me no, they’re doing the story on me and that’s it.

    Totally defeats the purpose. If I wanted a story on me, I’d make it up myself. I need some good quotes, some critics saying they liked the movie.

    My wife called three of the television stations who all say they’re going to try to get a crew out, but it’s a busy Saturday for news.

Me and the wife outside the theater


    I got five hours of sleep the past two nights. Just kept thinking about all the shit I had to do. I did a test run with my computer and made a copy for the VCR in case something drastic happens once we get to the theater.

    It all seems to be going okay. Ticket sales had been okay, but I figured to get a lot more people showing up after hearing about it in the Sun.

    I arrived early(8:15am) at the theater. My buddy had told me a site rep was coming out to supervise us, which was really bad because I was using the theater’s digital projector and sound system when I was expressly told not to.

    We devise a big lie where I brought in all this equipment the night before. To top it off, we’re moving the showing into the biggest theater. I’m worried about the site rep, but I’ve run a couple of scenarios through my head depending on how the person is.

    We get everything set up. We test the sound, get it to the right level. My wife starts blocking off sections for cast/crew/press. I’m running all over. Waiting for Jeff and Paul to show up so I can hand them the video camera and still camera and tell them what to shoot.

    Nine o’clock comes around. One of my employees shows up to be the ticket taker. Jeff shows up shortly after that. Then my brother. Good to go. Nine thirty shows up and there’s still only friends and family.

    I put on the tickets to arrive between 9:45 and 10:00, but you’d still expect some people to show up early. I’m getting worried. I’d hoped for big crowds already. A huge line.

    I start to feel a little better as people arrive. A line does form. It’s not as many people as I’d hoped, but it’s a decent crowd. I get them in a line and have Paul take a picture so you can see what they’re waiting for.

    A few people ask Rick to stand in front of the movie poster so they can take his picture. Funny stuff.

    Everyone gets let in, taking their seats. I stall, hoping more people will show up, or maybe the press. So far, we haven’t seen one press person. That pisses the shit out of me. I guess a movie shot by a Maryland filmmaker in Maryland gets screened all the time at the movie theater.

    Fuckers. This state sucks for indy film.

    Rick and I get up front and say a few words. There may have been 150-200 people there, but in a 450 seat auditorium, it didn’t look like many. I’d had an idea of what I was gonna say and I still blew it. Public speaking is not my forte.

    The movie starts and I run upstairs to get my seat where I can see everyone’s reaction. Rick and my wife are sitting near me.

    The lead-in to the credits didn’t get a whole lot of reaction. I didn’t expect it to really. I imagine a lot of people are slightly shocked, wondering what they’ve stumbled into.

    The movie rolled on. Some scenes that got a reaction at other showings don’t get any reaction and vice versa(the “Must be the pickels” line got NO laugh, while Rick’s naked ass garnered a lot). Rick looked over at me when they laughed at his naked ass with a look that plainly said Fuck You.

    The reaction that most pleased me was when Jeff gets his throat cut in the movie theater. There were a lot of people sucking in a breath when it happened(it was THAT loud) and then a lot of uncomfortable movement. Very cool.

    As expected, people jumped when Paul got clubbed, but I think even more jumped at Rick getting punched after he gets out of the bath.

    Then, disaster.

    Last half hour of the movie, the sound begins reverberating. Every noise, every dialogue, every narration. I RACE up the stairs and stop the movie. I push the space bar, hoping everything will clear itself up, which it normally does.

    Nope. I try again. Nope.

    Finally I load the old version of the movie and hit play and it works. But that meant I would have to come back up and self-load the outtakes. I’m pissed and embarrassed. The one time I need the thing to work and it screws up.

    After the movie everyone seemed to enjoy the outtakes. Lots of laughs. A bunch of people waited around to say hi and tell us how much they enjoyed it. Very cool, but I’m still stewing. No press whatsoever. They’re the fucking reason I did the whole thing.

    I briefly think about doing something rash, like stalking and killing a few reporters for fun. I bet they’d do a story then, wouldn’t they?

My first newspaper story