Friday, October 31, 2008

Saw V and Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I have seen movies between when I returned from the festival and last night, but I can't remember them.

Saw V is the fifth in the series of horror flicks where paragon of morality Jigsaw helps people learn to appreciate life in the most vicious, disfiguring ways.

The fifth chapter suffers from the departure of director Darren Lynn Bousman to greener pastures. And of the writers that came before. Basically, this installment is inferiour to even Saw II. If you're one of those people who only watches these flicks for the gore, then you're going to be disappointed in that it's not as gory as the past flicks. I thought that what they had was pretty well done, but the script and direction was so hackneyed that it didn't really matter much.

Ah well.


Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Full Disclosure: I am a fan of Kevin Smith. The only one of his flicks I really didn't like was Mallrats. I even thought Jersey Girl was cute, but I wouldn't own it. Chasing Amy and Dogma are tied for my top favourite of his movies (Clerks and Clerks II are untouchable so they don't count). Zack and Miri is probably a close second for me.

Now that that's done with, it's funny and touching (get yer minds outta the gutter) and just very Kevin Smith. If you like his work, I think you'll like this one. If you don't, then don't bother. If you're kind of on the fence, see it anyway, maybe it'll make up your mind one way or the other.

In my review for Pineapple Express, I'd said that I thought Seth Rogan was the kind of actor who just plays the same guy over and over again. While it's true, I didn't think about that at all while watching this movie. I suppose that it's because he fit so well in the skin of this character and Smith's dialogue flowed so well from his mouth. And before this film, I didn't really care either way about Elizabeth Banks. She stands out as Miri. I love actors who can say more with a look than with reams of dialogue and in this, she and Rogan have entire conversations in a simple glance. A perfect pairing.

The real scene stealer in this, as in Pineapple Express, is The Office's (US) Craig Robinson. He was great. I love his delivery and timing.

Rounding out the cast are former porn star Traci Lords (strangely, she seemed a little tense in this flick), Jeff Anderson (he's gotten better as an actor, less aware of the camera, I think), and Jason Mewes (also seemed more comfortable in front of the camera.)

I really liked this movie. Also, there was a trailer for Fanboys in front of the movie. hopefully, the Weinsteins will be releasing the proper version and not their half assed one.

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A somewhat new world...

So, my PC was starting to die. The monitor was going wonky on me, the
printer decided that it no longer wanted to print things as nicely as
it used to, and then one day it just didn't want to start up iTunes
and whined when I attached my iPod. I finally got it to work, but it
took so long I had to go to work.

I'd had enough.

Granted, the PC was at least six or seven years old and while I took
pretty good are of it, it had simply had enough. Since I didn't, and
don't, want Vista in my house, I made the next logical choice.

I'm now the proud owner of a Mac, which I've named Trefusis not after
the philosopher, but after a character created by Stephen Fry.

I haven't used a Mac in nearly twenty years, but things are slowly
coming back to me... I love how user friendly it is and yet, how much
more in depth I can get. I. Love. My. Mac. I'm so happy with my
decision to switch...

So...yeah! That's all the news that's currently fit to print. :D

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The one about future projects...

I haven't posted for a while so I thought I'd pop into cyberspace to say hello!
The theatre's been kicking my rear end since I returned because we finally have our new District Manager; our former one got a promotion. First day back, I worked for eleven hours; eight of them by myself. Sucked.
On the brighter, happier side, I've been working really hard on the next short! The storyboards are done, the shotlist (which morphed into an Edit Decision List strangely) is done, and 3/8s of my casting is done. Just need to do more casting and scout some locations. I'm aiming for a December / January shoot date.
I also have some exciting things happening on the horizon, but it's too early to talk about all that. I just wanted to squee for a moment.
There. I feel better.
And, finally, my 30th birthday is on Sunday. Most of my 30 + friends are all like, "God, I feel ooooold!" I don't! I'm more excited than I was for any of my other birthdays and I'm not even doing anything crazy! Just dinner and some pool with friends. Good times...

Monday, October 6, 2008

ShockerFest: Day Three; or, The Final Day

As per my pattern concerning this festival, I didn't go to the theatre until around noon or one. I decided to get some lunch and check-in for my flight THEN head on over.

I went to the auditorium I thought was the one where my flick would be showing, but I realized as the feature hit that I was in the wrong house. I'll probably end up catching the feature, The Assessment, on DVD if it gets released even though it seems to be a Severence clone. Before it played: YOSHIWARA CLUB, an Italian short about the perils of the club scene. No dialogue except for movie quotes in the techno songs they used. It was pretty good. Well shot and well lit.

One of my favourite shorts in the festival was AM 1200 which was about a religious radio channel possessed by the devil. I'm oversimplifying it, but it was bloody awesome.

Then came my flick, WITHOUT/WITHIN. It was much different on this screen than it was on the screen when I asked the video techs to play it for me after the Sarasota Film Festival had wrapped. First of all, there were actual people who schlepped down to the smaller screen to watch it, including Brinke Stevens! She said that she was intrigued by my log line in the festival catalogue and would come see it, but I didn't think she'd actually be there not for any other reason except that there were so many flicks going on during the weekend, you know? At an estimate, I'd say that there were somewhere between twenty and thirty people in my movie, including a few of the filmmakers I met and bonded with over the course of the festival.

Secondly, it FILLED the screen so the imperfections were much easier to see. I am glad to discover, however, that I'm not the only filmmaker who had problems with with the colour red. For some reason, red makes the footage go really blocky at that size and I had a whole scene shot in red light. Others had the same issue, even some "higher quality" flicks.

When it was over and the credits began to roll, my heart sank a little because no one clapped. Then, I realized (hoped?) that it was because they were waiting for the very end of the credits and the music which they didn't do for most of the rest of the shorts. When the music ended, I received applause. :D

I had only two questions during the Q&A bit: "What's the story behind the broken camera?" My head was still in the plot so I was like "Huh?" and then he reminded me about the Special Thanks to the person in Seattle who broke the HD camera. The answer to that is I was going to film it in Seattle with a borrowed HD camera, but someone broke it which lead to me finally buying my own camera. Heh.

Then, Brinke Stevens asked, "Where'd you get the idea for this film?" The answer to that is that I used to develop film at a video store and there was a young boy whose family were regulars and I practically watched him grow up. Around the time he was four or five, I think, I noticed that pictures of him were very strange, very creepy even though he was a bright, energetic kid in person.


THE CONSUMED: Now, this was a strange short about a home-based scientist whose come up with the thing that will end world hunger. If it weren't for a couple of issues, I'd say this came from the mind of David Lynch. One issue is that they broke camera axis during a really long conversation, but I think that was out of simple, dire necessity rather than a mistake. The second thing is that it was a bit long. Not slow, just long. Otherwise, a good flick!! Josh Smith (I accidentally called him John because there's a John Smith here and I got confused) is a really nice, enthusiastic guy.

THE MERCURY MEN: is a short about a random cubicle rat charged with protecting an incredibly important power source from the bad guys. It was shot in black and white and is a great homage to those wonderful 50s Sci-Fi flicks. A great short!

VERBOTEN: is about a strange young man and the transformation he makes thanks to his father's girlfriend. Uh, yeah. Pretty good.

KIRKSDALE: This short was about a mental hospital where the inmates have taken over. I missed the first couple of minutes setting up why the police officer was escorting the girl to her place at the hospital, but the rest of the flick was pretty good. 

FOET: The title of the flick is pronounced "feet" in foetal. I was the only person in the theatre except for the festival volunteer because it was about dead baby skins being made into ultra chic purses for the Sex and the City crowd. Yeah, there's really no better way to put that. It looked like, and even sounded like, it was bootlegged from a second generation VHS tape. The message was interesting enough that I didn't hate it and I didn't walk out, but I wouldn't watch it again.
APATHY BREEDS CONTEMPT is the short made by my friend, and empty priest in my movie, Rory Abel. It challenges the audience to turn off the movie when faced with horrible images. It was incredible. Beautifully shot, beautifully written, beautifully acted and it looked great on the big screen. Great job, Rory!!

EXCISION: This short was shot on film and was about a young woman who dreams, literally, of being a surgeon and she wishes to help her little sister who needs a lung transplant. But the young woman is troubled, very troubled and while her actions come from a place of love, they're terrible and destructive. It looked beautiful and the effects were good, but the stand out was the performance of the lead, Tessa Ferrer. She was truly excellent.

EVEN: This film is about revenge. It's only six minutes so if I tell you about it, I'll give it all away. The effects and performances were excellent and I loved the story. Way to go, Ben!

THE BETTER ANGELS: It wasn't a horror film and was added to the schedule today from someone who had a film in the festival last year. It was about a man with Alzheimers who seems to think he's Abraham Lincoln. The director said that after his film last year, he wanted to make something that would make the viewers feel something. I felt that it was sterile and distanced.

CRUSHED: This was the last feature of the festival that I saw and was a Fatal Attraction clone that had some DNA from Hostel. Everyone else seemed to really enjoy it. I thought it was dull and unimaginative, but well shot and well acted with good special effects. I hated Hostel, by the way.

THE AWARDS: So, after Crushed, they set up for the awards portion of the evening. Most of the flicks and people I thought would win did. Then the Director of the festival gave out the Director's Choice me.


HOLY CRAP! Dr. Baker gave "Without/Within" the Director's Choice award!! My first words were "Omigod?" as I got up to go down in front of all those people. I was shaking and nervous and I concentrated hard on staying upright. I don't really remember what I said, but Ben assured me that it was all good and mostly in English. I've taken good pictures of the plaque and I'll post it when I get home.

I also received one of the Gorilla Software awards where I received a copy of Gorilla software, an organizational programme for filmmaking. I can dig it!

THE WRAP PARTY: The wrap party was awesome. I just sat around talking to Ben, Brad and Josephina Sykes (big winners in the awards for Plaguers), Brinke Stevens, and a few other filmmakers.

Now, I have to wake up around seven or seven thirty so I can arrange a shuttle to Modesto Airport as the woman at the counter wasn't exactly sure how that worked. Fair enough, I'll get up in enough time to take advantage of the free breakfast. :D

Overall, this was a wonderful experience and I hope I can come back next year! I've met some really amazing people and seen some amazing films and got to see my film with an audience. I've also learned of a women's horror film festival to which I'll be entering both Without/Within and aftershock.

I'd better get to sleep...I have to get up in something like five hours...heh

Sunday, October 5, 2008

ShockerFest: Day Two

ShockerFest Day Two

I woke up around ten in the morning and decided to check my mail and stuff before heading out for my day at the festival. I missed the first block of shorts I wanted to see, but it made me a happier camper to not rush around. So, what follows is a rundown of the flicks I saw:

Screeeam: A Japanese short that spoofed a variety of horror flicks. It was pretty good, but a little uneven in tone, as though they decided halfway through writing to make it funny and didn't go back to add humour to the first part.

Peekers: This was executive produced by Richard Chizmar and based on a short story by someone whose name I can't remember. Sorry, Author. Anyway, this short was excellent. I don't want to sum it up because I'll end up giving it all away. Minimalist and creepy. Great work!

Fog Warning: This was an "is-she-or-isn't-she" vampire feature. There was no tension and it was too long, but it had some good cinematography and some good acting.

(spek.ter): A short film about a Goth internet pin-up who is haunted by the death of her friend. I make it sound better than it is.

Penny Dreadful: This short was about a family during the Depression mourning the death of the matriarch. There was no tension, but it was well acted and well shot.

Blood on the Highway: This was a comedic vampire feature. It strikes me like a better paced, better shot Redneck Zombies. If you're familiar with and like Redneck Zombies, or really any Troma film, you'll like Blood on the Highway.

The Shadow Within: This is a British feature based on a French novel about a young boy who is haunted by the ghost of his twin brother who died just after he was born. There was no tension and it was too "deliberate", but it was well performed. Another issue was the writing. I felt as though I missed a few things within five minutes of the movie starting and here and there throughout the rest of the flick. The core idea was really good, but the script needed a bit more work.

Casting Call of Cthulhu: A really cute idea. Basically, it was who would show up to a Lovecraft casting session. I liked it quite a bit.

Hotel Colorado: Basically, even though the log line in the festival catalogue says that it was inspired by the Eagles song "Hotel California," it pretty much steals from The Shining. It was okay.

Til Death Do Us Partner: The animation was rough, but it was okay.

Hanah's Gift: Other than some pacing problems, it was a good flick about a very frightening night from the point of view of an acutely autistic girl with a special gift.

Safe: Predictable, but funny short. I don't want to give too much away by summarizing it, but I knew what it was about right away. I'm sure that's not the case for everyone not that I'm smarter than everyone else, but I just figured it out…

The Road Warrior hosted by Vernon Wells: Of course, the movie is excellent. A bunch of talkers sat around me in the theatre so I kept hearing all these comments and general chatter, but it was still great to see it in the theatre with a bunch of people.

Vernon Wells, who played Wez (the mohawk guy,) was there watching it with the rest of us and related quite a few funny stories about the making of the flick and his role during the Q&A. He's a very funny, self-depreciating man whose niceness was exemplified by his offer to give a few of us who were waiting for the shuttle a lift back to the hotel. Ben (the director of Even,) Josh (the director of The Consumed,) and myself took him up on the offer. I tried to buy him an energy drink from the hotel's snack bar to thank him for his kindness, but he wouldn't have it. Ah well, I tried.

Anyway, it was definitely an interesting night!

My film plays tomorrow (now today) at two in the afternoon and the first in a series of planes home leaves at 9:30 Monday morning so I'll be missing the first few shows tomorrow so I can do the online check-in thing and be prepared. And, I want to bring lunch with me. I wasn't feeling into Mexican food so I went to the market down the street from the theatre and all they had was Lunchables.

Also, other than a few corrections that need to be made, Without/Within is up on the IMDb! One of the corrections is that they have me listed as the same Lori Bowen who was in Pumping Iron. I'm totally not that Lori and I've notified them of that. It kind of feels like how, when I was checking into the hotel, the woman behind the counter asked me if I was Brinke Stevens. I laughed and said, "No. Definitely not. But thank you…"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ShockerFest: Day One


Well, day one didn't actually start for the filmmakers until six at night. After sleeping for nearly twelve hours, I woke up at around nine or nine thirty, read my complimentary copy of USA Today, got some orange juice from the snack bar downstairs, ate one of the bagels I brought with me from Florida (cinnamon raison, yum), and wrote a little. Basically, I relaxed the entire day, even taking time out to watch Bernard and Doris, an HBO movie about the relationship between heiress Doris Duke (Susan Sarandon) and her gay butler, Bernard Lafferty (Ralph Fiennes.) The movie felt choppy, especially toward the end, but was quickly paced. The shining star was Susan Sarandon; it was one of her best performances ever.

Six o'clock rolled around and I took Kristin's headshots down to the filmmaker Meet and Greet. I walk in and George Baker, the director of the film festival, introduces me to three of the filmmakers behind a short film called Excision and gave my film one of the best reviews ever. He said that it was "really weird!" Woo!

Moments later, Brinke Stevens comes in to meet with filmmakers and the organizers. She's a famous Scream Queen, one of the very first. She's very nice and very friendly. I sat at a table with her, the film commissioner of Colorado, and the director of the short film Even. After a few minutes, Vernon Wells came in and sat next to Brinke; he played Wez, the mohawked guy, in The Road Warrior. Also very nice and friendly, with a wonderful Aussie accent and stories about filming The Road Warrior.

I spent most of the night talking to Ben, the director of Even. We're both quiet people so that suited us just fine.

Around nine o'clock, I grabbed the shuttle over to the theatre, the Galaxy 12 about fifteen minutes from the hotel. It's a really cool theatre! The colour scheme is made up of blues and purples with a star theme and the staff uniform is all black. As I saw when I looked up into the booth from the auditorium, they still have film projectors alongside their digital ones, though I couldn't see what they were using. Oh, and their seats recline! That's very, very cool.

Anyway, the public party started in the lobby. The filmmakers got our nametags (stickers, I'll post pictures later) and started to roam the lobby. They had a band playing, too…they were pretty good, but they were a pop cover band. As I told Josephina and Brad (they made the opening night film) and Ben, I should have just brought my iPod. I have enough Goth music to cover several years worth of opening night parties.

Finally, they get to the zombie costume contest and I go out to get Brinke Stevens and Vernon Wells (they didn't have handlers and I can't help myself sometimes and want to help, I think this comes from years of convention and festival work) so they can judge the contest, then we move into the auditorium for the Scream Queen contest where they and three filmmakers judge the best scream. The one I would have picked got it.

Shortly thereafter, the zombiefest portion of the weekend started with an animated film called ZOMBIE GETS A DATE from an NYU student. It was a cute short whose entire premise is summed up in its title. All hand drawn, too.

The next short was a trailer made for the Romero contest called THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK OF THE DEAD made by some filmmakers in Riverside, California. Again, the premise is best summed up in the title and it was also great.

After that was the short PROMBIES! - horny young men turn into zombies unless their girlfriends have sex with them. It was funny and the make-up effects (no latex or silicone or anything, it was all just shadowing) were great.

The opening night feature was from some LA filmmakers and called PLAGUERS, starring Steve Railsback. A crew mourning their captain are hauling a mysterious alien energy source back to earth illegally when they intercept a distress call from a group of attractive nurses whom they bring onto their ship. As they dock, though, the alien energy source, called Thanatos, falls over and cracks and hell breaks loose as the original crew is threatened by their passengers and what they become.

The effects were very good and the sets were nice, but the script and the acting were…lacking. I'm sorry, but I'm a writer first and for me the story, dialogue, and characters are The Thing. This film didn't satisfy that need for me, but it was obvious they loved the project and the filmmakers are enthusiastic and talented. I think that counts for something. Strangely, the aspect ratio was way off. I don't know if that's their fault or the projector, but it was really distracting to me. Ah well…

By the time I got back to my room, it was 2:30 am (local), but 5:30 for me so I decided to sleep until I woke up instead of forcing myself to wake up for the first films of the day. I'm missing a whole block of films I wanted to see, but I don't want to end up falling asleep during them either, especially with the filmmakers there.

I figure I'll get something to eat and head over to the theatre around noon and camp out in the horror auditorium for a few hours.

I didn't take pictures last night, but I will today and definitely tomorrow.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


So, I'm here in sunny and currently temperate Modesto, California. I left home at 5 in the morning for the 8:38 am flight (I don't mess around when it comes to the security measures of large airports that are an hour away) and arrived at the modest Modesto airport at 5:30 pm local (8:30 my time.) Did I mention that I've had cumulatively only about two hours of sleep?

I've had, cumulatively, only about two hours of sleep.

Three connecting flights and the last one was about an hour late. Upon said plane, I met a man named John T. Law. For some reason, I find this extremely humourous.


TIA is a glorious mess of ill-lit signs and spaghetti-style roads, the confusion it causes is not unlike the confusion its home city causes. Once inside, it's relatively easy to navigate and security was surprisingly quick. And you want to know something funny? United seems to have gotten rid of the First Class cabin of the smaller AirBus planes because now you pay through the butt for those seats and the only thing they afford you is that you get on and off the plane faster. Take that, Mr. Business Man! Never mind that there's now and Economy Plus where if you pay an additional amount of cash (this trip, it was $59), you get five more inches of legroom (they seat up at the very front of economy)! They also charge for Snack Packs ($6) and the $15 baggage fee…but you can reuse the headphones that get hastily shoved into the seatback pocket for free.


Anyway, the flight was pleasant enough. I couldn't sleep and the plane voted on which movie to watch since Someone Screwed Up on getting the October movies onto their server or whatever. Our choices were Then She Found Me, Speed Racer, and The Visitor. People actually voted for Speed Racer (yeah, I liked it, but c'mon! A pan and scan version on a teeny, tiny monitor? No thanks!

The Visitor won.

The movie, in case you don't know, is about a man who gets caught up in the arrest of an illegal Syrian immigrant who's shown him a new rhythm to life through the djembe (African drum.) I thought it was excellent, but there was one older gentleman who took exception to the film having a little something to say about deportation based on ethnic profiling. Whatever, man. Everyone else seemed into it and it was a good flick. Richard Jenkins was awesome.

Anyway, the landing was one of the smoothest I'd ever had even though I saw an AIRPLANE ON FIRE AS WE WERE LANDING OMIGOD! (I'm totally serious, but I'm hoping it was like a training exercise or something…still, not something you want to see while LANDING A PLANE OMIGOD! and there I was in…


Other than some loose birds in the Denver airport, I don't have much to say…except that my flight to San Francisco was at gate B42. Heh. Oh, and they overbooked the flight. Magical. Skunk Anansie on my iPod kept me awake as I sat there waiting. Thank God for iPods. For serious.

The flight itself was nice. Whereas I was in the middle during my first trip, I had the window from Denver to San Francisco. It was only two and a quarter hours so they played some specially produced NBC shows whilst I tried to nap. Tried being the operative word here. Every once in a while, I would twitch awake, like myoclonic jerks, but it was just my hyperactive brain doing its thing. Very annoying, though.

Other than that, an uneventful flight into mountainous San Francisco….


The "puddlejumper" (small aircraft used to shuttle people between a small airport and a larger international one) leaving for Modesto was late. Really late. An hour late. Because the pilots or ground crew thought that it might be a good idea to change a ratty tire.

In the meanwhile, as some of the business class flyers complained, I took some photos of pretty, pretty mountains. I will post them to my Flickr later. Maybe tomorrow.

Finally, they let us board this Indiana Jones era two propeller airplane, which is noisy as all get-out, and as soon as we're airborne, we land in Modesto where I met one of the shuttle drivers and we get to the airport and I get checked in. Almost immediately, the director of the film festival finds me and asks me to come in and meet the other organizers once I get situated in my room.

And what a room it is… It's got a bed AND a couch AND a kitchenette with a minifridge and everything! And a ginormous bathroom.

So I go back and do the meet and greet thing, though I'm not exactly wonderful company after a bazillion hours in travel, but I do my level best, grab some dinner with two of the organizers, and then come back to my room to write this up and eat one of the best turkey burgers I've ever had from a restaurant and take a long, hot shower.

Yes, a nice end to a long day. Now, I'm going to pass out. I'm so thankful that I decided to come in today instead of tomorrow, which is the first day of the festival. And so thankful that they've hooked me up so nicely!