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.

No comments: