Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interesting new gig as a reviewer of vampire films!

I've been waiting for word that the first review was posted before I mentioned this, just in case anything fell through. I was approached about a month ago by Asif, the director of the Vampire Film Festival, to write reviews of vampire films for their re-vamped (hur hur) website (I think the redesign will be upcoming because it looks the same to me right now.) I agreed so long as I could watch older vampire films and if I didn't have to watch Twilight (this was really important) and he didn't seem to have a problem with it so here we are! The first review was posted today!

I call it the Metropol Viewing Room (Fangs for the Memories, my first name for the review series, felt a little too punny and cheesy even for me.) It's actually a reference to Lamberto Bava's Demoni. Not a vampire flick, but there you go.

That's the main reason I've been so silent. Between working, writing for the future and writing for this, and trying to let my brain rest occasionally, I've been otherwise occupied. However, I've just finished writing a new script and am about to embark on pre-production for a music video for my brother so I'm sure that I'll have more to blabber about very soon. You poor, poor people. ;D

Thursday, November 5, 2009

movie review: The Fourth Kind

The Fourth Kind is a sci-fi flick written and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi and claims to be about the true story behind a series of mysterious disappearances and deaths in the remote Alaskan town of Nome. When the first thing you see, just like in the trailer, is Milla Jovovich approach the camera and say, “I'm actress Milla Jovovich and I will be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler,” you know that you're in for a bit of a genre-bender, even as heavy-handed as that intro is. The film also stars Will Patton and Elias Koteas (I LOVE them...)

The main crux of the movie is about alien abductions as the theory explaining the strange occurrences in Nome, focusing in on a psychiatrist whose husband was murdered recently (relative to the time the story was told) and four of her patients who are all experiencing the same vision of an owl creeping outside of their bedroom window. Eventually, when put under hypnosis, two of the patients start to remember what happened. One patient's story ends tragically, the other's ends with a warning to Tyler from an unearthly presence. The unearthly presence doesn't give her enough time to repent her ways, however, before destroying her life and sending her on a dangerous path to discover what happened.

I'm trying to be vague in case you, dear reader, want to see it.

I'm no expert in extra-terrestrial goings on. I'm an open-minded skeptic. You tell me that you've seen aliens and, depending on the type of person I think you are, I may or may not believe you. The only aliens or UFOs I've seen have been on the television; however, I do think that alien-to-us lifeforms are absolutely possible. It'd be ignorant to rule it out completely especially when you consider how weird it is that we humans exist at all.

With a modicum of research on the internet, you can find out that Abigail Tyler doesn't exist. You might want to say that she's an amalgamation of people involved, but that's not how the film handles it. The film handles it as though she's real and is coming forward with this incredible, irrefutable proof of alien abductions while giving every other character an “alias” designation, blanking out names and going to great lengths to protect identities...except they don't hide the faces of the people in the “real footage.”

As I said in the projection log last night for my one-sentence review, “It's scarier than Paranormal Activity, but not exactly a good film.” There were quite a few fantastic set pieces in the film, parts that gave me goosebumps...and most of them revolved around the “real” Dr. Tyler. They way they did her make up, shot her, framed her...the woman's face was freakin' scary! Whatever they did to her made her look like an alien-human hybrid and it was very unnerving. Now watch, I've probably totally insulted some poor woman, but it's true. To me, she was one of the scariest parts of the movie and she wasn't supposed to be.

Several of the “real footage” clips are good, but only because you can't really see what's going on and when you can make something out, it's weird and freaky. I have a thing about human bodies being stretched out of proportion or doing something it really shouldn't (like the spider walk in The Exorcist.) There's a fair bit of that in this flick.

As for the “dramatic recreation” parts of the film, which comprise most of it's tight 98 minute runtime, the dialogue is contrived and these great actors are poorly directed. I think it's mainly because they're trying to be as close to the “real footage” as possible, but when the “real footage” isn't real and you know it, I can see that putting a damper on one's ability to act. The way the film is structured, the dialogue matches up, sometimes beat for beat, with the “real footage” or “real audio” and that further reenforces the unnaturalness of the performances in the “dramatic recreation.”

I think they were depending too much on the “real footage” for the depth the characters needed to be believable because the “dramatic recreations” were pretty flat. Sad part is, so was the “real footage.” At least the woman playing the “real” Dr. Tyler and Milla Jovovich seemed to be having the same problems in performing the character as she was written on the page. Patton's Sheriff August was poorly written overall and try as he might, he couldn't make him that believable. Koteas' Campos, a colleague of Jovovich's Tyler, was the most believable of the characters next to the underused expert in the Sumerian language played by Hakeem Kae-Kazim. (Sumerian is the language used by the aliens in the flick, harkening to the idea that we were created by the aliens.)

The film itself is like a feature length episode of Unsolved Mysteries, but with big budget Hollywood trickery and big name actors taking on the roles in the recreation. Well, Patton and Koteas are big names to me, anyway. I thought the surround foley was rough and too loud in some scenes, but otherwise everything in the film was technically proficient if not slightly overwrought.

Overall, and this may surprise you, I did like the flick. It has a lot of problems and requires the audience to make huge leaps in the suspension of their disbelief, but I applaud the filmmakers for trying something new with the genre and conventions even if it's really just something that's been on the small screen for decades. I'd probably even see it again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vampire Film Festival 2009 wrap up notes.

Well, this actually took me longer to get to than I thought it would. I've been trying to catch up on my sleep since I returned while also working and getting back into the groove of home life. Needless to say, it's been difficult, especially when I was bombarded at work with the bad things that have happened, and the things that haven't been done, while I've been gone.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to write a little wrap up is that I wanted to take an opportunity to thank Asif, Karyn, and the entire crew behind the Vampire Film Festival for all of their hard work! This being your first year in a new city, I was surprised you weren't more disorganized, to be perfectly honest, but you pulled it off and it was an amazing experience with a fine crop of films from around the world. If you're a filmmaker reading this and you have something that fits into their programming packages (Vampire, Gothic, and Mythic) I highly recommend submitting this festival and recommend even higher attending it!

I wanted to give a separate shout out to Rene at Zeitgeist for hosting the event! I loved the venue and the sound system is fantastic even taking into consideration the wide openness of the space. Thank you for playing host to a bunch of bloodsucking gothic beasts as us!

Also, I want to say something to my fellow filmmakers! It was fantastic meeting those of you who were there once I felt well enough to join in! Stupid airplane cruds...

And, of course, one cannot forget to thank the city and citizens of New Orleans. The water damage runs deeper than the surface and yet you manage to be open and friendly so long as the tourists abide by their common sense, of course. Support PNOLA, the Red Cross, and any viable charity that will help to revitalize not only the French Quarter, but the areas surrounding the tourist center, the areas where the people who work there live as well as all the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. If we don't help each other up, who will?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Orleans Day Five and the Vampire Film Festival Day the Fourth

This was Monday, the 26th. My 31st birthday. Unlike the majority of women in the US (and possibly the world), I have no problem telling someone my age. I have no problem with the gray hair that's popping up. I've earned every year, every strand, and I'm just as excited about turning 31 as I was about turning 30 or 18 or 10. As such, I decided that I didn't want to spend the entire day at the venue. I wanted to see a couple of the flicks, but also tourist up New Orleans once more before I had to board the plane home the next day.

Goodbye Cafe du Monde and my morning view.

I woke up and had my “usual” breakfast at Riverwalk's Cafe du Monde, facing the Mississippi. After that, because I didn't have all that much time before the first show of the day that I wanted to see, I hung around the warehouse district and walked the Riverwalk Marketplace. Lots of very small shops aimed toward the tourist who either didn't know about the flea market in the French Quarter or had forgotten something there, plus an EB Games and an extremely overpriced t-shirt store. A little disappointing, but at least I got to talk to mon homie Evy on the phone. She decided that I was, indeed, in New Orleans when she heard the brass band in the background, roaming the mall. :D

I had a little time to kill so I walked slowly to the bus stop...and missed the bus. I forgot that the schedule changed pretty drastically from the weekend / Sunday time table to the weekday schedule, but I didn't have to wait too long for the next one. They run every half an hour on the weekdays (if they're on time, which the return bus to downtown wasn't.) So I got the bus to uptown and the venue to watch Strigoi. I saw the trailer for it and it looked like it was going to be fun and used a vampire mythos unfamiliar to most westerners. I'd heard of "Strigoi" before, but wasn't that informed about them previously.

I wanted to like it, but it was mostly dialogue with a little bit of action here and there. The DVD errored in the last ten or fifteen minutes and we didn't get to see the ending. It was pretty easy to figure out based on what we had seen, but still! A big letdown on an already big letdown of a movie I left a little frustrated because that covered two and a half hours of my birthday, of prime daylight in a city where it's really, really not safe to walk around by oneself at night, and then the bus back to downtown was running late and then I got turned around when I got off the bus and wasted another 45 minutes trying to get back to my hotel. I had yet to see the cemeteries or get on a street car and discovered that sundown was in thirty minutes or so from when I'd finally gotten back to my hotel. Ah well...stuff to do on the next trip! So, at that point I just hung around the warehouse district.

I had a lot of time to kill and I did go back to the casino. I spent $25 with no return, which I think was actually very good for me. If I'd left without playing again after my very nice win, I would have kept wondering what would've happened if I HAD played again, blah blah blah. I guess it's a writer thing so I'm very pleased with the outcome.

Since I hadn't yet sampled the culinary prowess of the restaurant attached to my hotel, I decided to return and try it out. Their menu must be new every day because it was a xeroxed, one-sided piece of paper. They had no house salad, so I had some friend green tomatoes (I had better fried green tomatoes in Portland, OR) and this excruciatingly large fried chicken sandwich. I do mean excruciating; it was hard to take a bite! The sandwich was pretty good, though, and their fries were nice. I still had some time to kill before the last film of the festival so I popped up to my room and started to pack up. My flight was at 6 am, but the shuttle was picking me up at 3:55 and the last film of the festival was scheduled to start at 9:30 (moved from 9 to accommodate the vampire dance performance) with the closing night party at 11.

Nine o'clock rolls around and I grab a cab and head to Zeitgeist. The buses were still running, but again with the alone at night in New Orleans thing. Anyway, I walk in and discover that no one was there. I thought that was a bit strange since there was supposed to be a screening of the audience award winning film (Shadowland, as I predicted, and congratulations to Wyatt, Gayle, and Robert on the win!), but I didn't think much about it until Rene mentioned that some people who had shown up for the screening at 9 (and didn't know that the screening time had changed) left. I checked my phone and it was almost a quarter to 10! Eventually, of course, Asif and everyone showed up. At that point, I was zoning out; I'd had four hours of sleep the night before and I was thinking about various stories that I'm working on. Anyone who knows me knows that I get very focused and pretty intense when I'm thinking (which is a lot) so I hardly noticed when the crew came in. They probably all think I'm rude, and I suppose I am, but I'm a writer first and can't help it when I space out.

So we all settle down and start watching Asif's film after Larry Richman's very nice introduction. As far as the theme of the festival is concerned, it doesn't really fit in. And, I'm sorry Asif, but I have to say it: I saw the end coming within five minutes of the start, but that's how I would have ended it if I were writing it so I hope I didn't make you feel bad! The acting was great and it was great to see Patricia Richardson!

After the flick came the wrap party! I didn't want to stay too late just because of the earliness of the pick up and the flight, but I managed to stick around long enough for the group photos and some great conversation and to help them tear down some decorations. I called the cab, said my goodbyes, and went outside to wait for the ride...and felt like a goof as Asif and the crew brought stuff out to their cars and such. Ah well, such is the life of someone waiting for a cab. A couple of people came up to me to comment on my film which made me feel all warm and squishy. They really did like it!

Finally got back to the hotel a little after one in the morning, did a little more packing since I had to fit a surprise into the luggage (it's a present for Rick and in case he happens to read this, I don't want it to be spoiled for him), and managed to catch an hour's worth of sleep before getting up, finishing packing, triple checking the room, and checking out. From there, the return trip was a bit of a whirlwind. I slept through both flights, waking up only for touch down and landing, and was surprised to find that we arrived in Sarasota early considering the President had flown in half an hour previously.

Air Force One!!

Even though I knew he was going to be here, I was still surprised to see his plane and to see just how large Air Force One really is. I didn't get to take a plane comparison picture, but I think the SUV at the foot of the steps is good, too.

That was my trip to New Orleans. Reviews and a wrap up will be coming in the next few days as I catch up on my sleep and other assorted things.

All of the photos from the trip are in one very large collection on my Flickr, the direct link to the NOLA collection can be found here. All of the aquarium and parade photos are in that set and there are quite a bit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Orleans day four; Vampire Film Festival Day the Third

It seems like clockwork this entire weekend that I wake up at around 8 am. Today was more like seven. And it was Sunday so things opened just a little bit later than they would on a Friday or Saturday. So I did a few things online, double checked a few directions, and then remembered that I hadn't yet been to the Aquarium. I went online and checked the hours of operation and it's a good thing I did because they're not open on Mondays. :D

I got dressed, got my morning beignets (too darn good...) then headed over to the Aquarium. I love aquariums and all the neat little fishies and some reptiles and birdies and stuff. I took tons of pictures...I couldn't help myself!

From there, I headed back to the room because, wouldn't you know it, the battery died on my camera. I think the camera wasn't reading the battery's life correctly, but whatever. That means that I have no pictures from the screening or dinner before hand. One of these days, I'll get a photo of the audience and maybe one of the nice filmmakers or the festival will share their photos with me so you all can see how crazy my hair decided to be today. I kept it in a ponytail because it was windy and, Gods, it was a mess by the screening. Since I normally don't pay attention to The Frizz, I didn't even think about it before getting up in front of everyone, but I'm getting ahead of myself again.

So, yeah, left the hotel and tried to catch the bus to Zeitgeist realizing only as I got on the bus that I only had enough dough to get a taxi home. I had my card, sure, but there are quite a few places that don't take cards. I was on the wrong block for the bus I needed, I realized that when I saw 15 instead of 91, but then I found the right stop and the bus showed up only a few minutes later. A few more minutes and I was off the bus and in the Zeitgeist in plenty of time for the 2:00 panel of Vampire Literature. It was a good panel, though I'd never heard of the authors beforehand, but it was informative. Next came the Shoot Louisiana! panel. I'd LOVE to shoot here someday...the architecture, the atmosphere, the neighbourhoods...but the filmmakers, while extremely passionate, made it sound like the state of film production in Louisiana isn't so hot right now due to graft and the fact that the State doesn't support filmmakers with budgets of less than $300,000 (that's the minimum budget required for the tax credits, if I understood them correctly and you have to spend that much to $90,000 back.)

After that was the Film/Literature mixer. I met a filmmaker from Seattle named Jeff whose short, a version of Edgar Allen Poe's Morella, was in the same package as mine, and Maria, whose short film, Blood Sisters, was in the first night's midnight package. She was kind enough to give me a copy since I left early that day due to the Airplane Cruds. I also met the filmmakers of NosferaJew, which was in the same shorts package as Maria, and gave them a card. They said they'd send me a copy as soon as they could. :D

Gayle (producer of Shadowland) gently chided me for not talking more and throwing myself into the proceedings. As long time readers have heard me lament, I'm not so good with the networking thing, not because I'm a snobby filmmaker (I'm a snobbish fan of film, but I don't think I'm better than anyone else), but if I don't have anything to say, I don't say anything at all. Add on to that the being sick for the first two days of the festival and thus leaving before the midnight shorts and still trying to experience New Orleans while I'm here, it was all a bit of a whirlwind that I still wouldn't change for anything!

I also spoke at length with Asif Ahmed, the director of the festival, and Rene Broussard, the owner of the Zeitgeist, and two fine gentlemen to boot, and the Event Director, Karyn Bui, invited me to dinner with herself and Asif. I was joining Asif, Karyn, Jeff, Maria, Larry Richman (a critic and photojournalist from L.A.), and the filmmakers of Shadowland (writer/director Wyatt Weed, executive producer Robert Clark, and producer Gayle Gallagher) and we all went to Coop's Place on Decatur for some authentic local cuisine. Well, I don't eat most of the things on the menu (seafood, rabbit, ham, sausage), so I got a blackened chicken sandwich and a house salad. Delicious all around! It was a bit of a tight squeeze for nine people in there, but it worked and there was a lot of great conversation!

Afterwards, we went to the original Cafe du Monde so people could have some magic wake up juice and sugary goodness so we could all make it through the two shorts packages. I had no room for beignets (figures...there was no line!), but I did have room for a nice hot chocolate. Yummy! Had to cool it down with some water, though. My tongue still feels a little burnt.

We got back to the venue and the place had more people in it than I'd seen all weekend, even keeping in mind that I wasn't there the entire time. Even Jeff said that there were more people for the night programming than he'd seen and he had been pretty firmly ensconced.

The lights are shut off and Gothic Shorts Package 2 starts. First up: Jeff's Morella. I thought it was well done and well shot and his lead, Dennis Kleinsmith, looked very familiar to me. I can't think of where I might have seen him, though, and I haven't seen the films on his IMDb page. Jeff's film, and I find this to be a compliment, had a 70s Argento / Bava look to the composition which I liked a lot. Since he liked my shirt (it was Suspiria, which is a film by Dario Argento), I take it to mean that he understood what I was saying.

There were a few more flicks (more comprehensive reviews coming when I get home tomorrow) and then came my flick! I find it interesting how it plays differently every time I see it in a festival setting. At Indie Gathering, I poked at it a bit, but overall I was just happy for a screening even in spite of no one really showing. In CenFlo, I was having an awesome time watching it with so many people. Here, there were a bunch of people and yet I couldn't stop picking at the flaws and coming up with new ones. There comes a point at which one has to step away from a film and set it free unto the world. Even with my relatively short post-schedule, the only thing that makes me giggle every time (other than how much I love all my cast) is how I had to assemble the fight with the goons. I wanted to do it differently on set, but that was not to be. Ah well! I love the flick, I love everything about it (even that clumsy fight scene), but sometimes one is too overly critical of one's own work.

I saw a couple of people around me shake their hands, like, “What?!” so I became nervous for the Q&A, but also excited. I wanted to hear what they had to say! Well, the two I saw didn't say anything so I was nervous for nothing. Myself, Jeff, and musician Jill Tracy (she had a music video in our shorts package and a music video in the midnight shorts package) got up. Jill Tracy's music video was the last thing seen so she got most of the questions (took a load off my mind!) I had some interesting questions: why a silent film? How long was the shoot? What did you use for the shadow effects? Did you cast for strong bone structure?

The first question: I made a silent film because I wanted to experiment and have some fun and what better time to experiment than on my own dime?

The second question: The shoot was something like five or six days spread over two weeks because I shot the film around Christmas time. Christmas wasn't the problem, it was that everyone was working retail!

The third question: The shadow effects took FOREVER because of the method I used. I equated it to stop motion rotoscoping because I made a mask around Rickey in Apple Motion and would have to animate the mask's control points (anywhere between 60 and 260 points) individually by one pixel per frame (I think 280 was the highest number of frames.) I think the effect is wonderful, but it was backbreaking.

The fourth question: Okay, the last one kind of threw me off. I hadn't had that question before. Then again, though this was my third festival, it was the first Q&A for the film, and I believe that the woman who asked me this was an artist. Very few people pick up on the defined lines. I did cast Brian based on his incredibly expressive face and those big beautiful brown eyes and while I knew he was an actor, and had been assured that he was good, I was very happy to discover that he is indeed fantastic! He and Eon were the main focus of that question because of their intense close-ups.

Oh! And I was asked if I liked Sin City. I did like Sin City, but that wasn't what inspired me to make it black and white and so contrasty with a little colour. Sin City has no gray in it. Mine does. Quite a bit, actually, especially in the final scene in the grotto. But I also LOVE black and white photography. Strong blacks, nice shadows. Unfortunately, it looked a bit blown out on this screen and I did mention that. Also unfortunately, I think Rene took it personally. I wasn't bitching or anything, I just mentioned it. It's not his fault the whites were really hot. It plays differently everywhere. Ah well, sorry Rene!

After the screening, I briefly talked to one of the people who looked annoyed about something. He said that I should have just stuck with one font for the whole thing. I think he was a little drunk, though. The fonts are representative of each character. I thought that would be good to differentiate between all of the cards since I had so many of them. Interesting. The girl next to him looked annoyed by something, too, but I didn't get to her fast enough to find out what her problem was, but she looked annoyed about the religious aspects. No one commented about an Asian woman playing that character or what I was talking about.

Throughout the weekend, I've had to explain what the title of the film means. I knew it would happen that people thought I'd filmed in Jerusalem or that I was trying to tell a story set in Jerusalem and it's hard to explain what the title means without giving away the entire plot. Basically, “A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem” refers to how an American couple vacationing in Jerusalem described a very loud sound they heard that shook the land (the earthquake I describe in the first card.) “Anathema” is the name of the chapter and comes from a Greek word that once meant something offered to the gods and now means something shunned by the gods.

After the mingling in between packages, and the filmmakers all singing “Happy Birthday” to me, we sat down and watched the midnight vampire series. I do have a problem with the too slick, too hip vampires (like Underworld) and the badass flawless black vinyl encased vampire hunters. They make me giggle. At least give me a good characterization or something to think about!

The filmmaker for the short The Third Shift, Bruce, was there and he got up for his Q&A. He got to shoot his flick on the Red! He knew someone who knew someone who owned it and rented it to him for a really small chunk of change. Nice guy, too, with a good flick!

Asif asked the filmmakers to fill out the ballots for the Audience Choice award showing on Monday. He admits that it should have been the general public, but apparently there weren't a lot of people who came for all of the shows everyday. He also acknowledges that the filmmakers may not be objective. I know Shadowland's going to win even as a I voted for The Revenant. I liked Shadowland well enough, but The Revenant was so freakin' good...

Asif and Karyn were nice enough to act as my shuttle back to the hotel. I posted my pictures from the aquarium and passed out. :D

My plans for today: I'm going to see Strigoi at 2, find out who won the Audience Choice award thingie, head out for some fun around town for my birthday, come back for Asif's film (Lost Dreams) and the closing night party, then come back here to pack up and try to get some sleep before I head home. May be hard...the shuttle's coming at 3:55 to pick me up for my 6 o'clock flight. I should probably be up by 2:30 or so. At least I can nap on the plane or when I get home.

Man, oh man...this festival and this trip have been amazing!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Orleans Day Three, Vampire Film Festival Day the Second.

I passed out shortly after I posted last night, which was nice, and woke up feeling at least a little better. I'm not completely well, but I definitely feel better than I did last night.

Today was the day of the Jazz Funeral for a Vampire (which keeps putting that Elton John song in my head, the “Funeral for a Friend” one from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road which is my favourite EJ album) and the Scavenger Hunt. I ended up going to only one film, The Revenant, and I went to the “costume party” at the Original Dungeon.

The Funeral Procession was freaking awesome!! I didn't want to drag a hugely complicated costume up here so I went to a costume shoppe in the mall and got a cape and this really cool devil mask and wore that to the procession. Not terribly creative, no, but easy to transport and simple. I wonder what the devil mask looked like in the airport x-ray... The mask is pretty tough plastic, too, not flimsy like most cheap masks.

My first stop, however, was to get some breakfast. While it isn't the original cafe, I went to the Cafe du Monde in Riverwalk to try the beignets which was the one thing most recommended to me to do. It's basically fried dough with a LOT of powdered sugar, but I have to say that it is, in fact, a mouthful of yum. Surprisingly airy, light, and not greasy, they're so gooood. Guess you know where I'm having breakfast tomorrow...and Monday...

I got to Dutch Alley shortly after they wanted us there; I kept stopping to take photos of things on my way to the meeting place. Luckily for me, the festival was still setting up their table so I was able to walk up and help them out a little. Unfortunately, there weren't many filmmakers in attendance. In fact, I may have been the only one, but I don't know. I know I'm not exactly obligated to go to these things, but come on! The procession sounded like fun and, oh dear Lord, it was! We went from Dutch Alley to the triangle stage via the narrow as heck French Market. It was maybe four blocks, but it took us about an hour...OF FUN AND DANCING! I decided a long time ago that I wanted a New Orleans-style funeral and this totally sealed the deal, so pay attention loved ones and future executors! But I also want to be cremated so keep that in mind, too.

I also got to toss beads at people. The festival crew attached fest fliers to the beads and that made untangling the beads difficult. Also, the second time I tossed someone beads, I accidentally hit someone else in the from that point on, I just handed them out. One woman was trying to tell me to loop the beads on my arm to pass them out. She didn't seem to realize that I received them knotted. I think I passed out like fifty of those things. And danced the whole way to the triangle stage. I eventually had to remove the mask, though. It was hot and it was pressing against my right eye.

After that, I went to do the scavenger hunt. Almost everyone there was a local. Cheaters. I eventually teamed up with a couple of people who have lived here for a while and that was pretty cool. Strangely the three of us have Florida ties. I got to see some streets I missed on walkabout the other day AND they pointed out Joan of Arc, which I kept passing and never saw. So much to see in the French Quarter, man.

We got all of the questions (the director of the festival had issue with one of our answers, but the question stumped the locals in our group and two ladies at the tourist information center we went to) and headed back. Turns out the prizes were tickets to the festival and to the ballet, which my team didn't win anyway. I was fine with that, I have the filmmaker badge, but one of my teammates wasn't and kind of stormed off.

After that, I had time to kill so I had lunch at this hole in the wall gyro place called Dixie Gyro. I wasn't expecting much except maybe stomach issues...I'm kind of pessimistic about dive restaurants and this one kinda looked like a dive. As soon as I heard the woman's accent, I knew that my fears were unwarranted about this place. Everything about it was yummy, from their ranch dressing to the beautifully cooked chicken and onions to the lettuce and tomatoes they put in there, and the french fries weren't greasy. They were piping hot and good! If you're in New Orleans and want cheap, good food, it's next door to the Subway on Carondelet. Very small, very good.

After a delicious lunch, I returned to my hotel room for a photo post then left to catch the bus to Zeitgeist, which I missed and ended up grabbing a taxi, and saw The Revenant. I haven't done a movie review for a while, nor have I reviewed the flicks from yesterday yet, but I only saw the one today.

The Revenant is about a soldier who was killed in Iraq and wakes up a vampire and deals with im/moral and im/mortal. I'm boiling it down to it's basics because I don't want to spoil anything. It was a fantastic flick! I highly recommend it! It was hilarious (kind of juvenile humour, but still freaking funny) and thought provoking. A must see if you're disappointed in what passes for vampire right now (still looking at you, Twilight...)

I missed the bus back into town..again...and ended up grabbing a cab back to my hotel to drop off my bag and head out to watch the Krewe of Boo parade. I was going to go to St. Peter's Cathedral, but something made me stop on the neutral area of Canal and St. Peter, where the street cars go. I shouldn't have been right at the corner as it was tough to get attention from the goodies tossers, but it was a fantastic experience! Except for the woman next to me, whom I've dubbed the Vulture. She loved them beads, man...if I hadn't let go of one string, I'd still be around her neck.

Anyway, my favourite floats were the one that looked like Dagon from Lovecraft mythos, the Alien themed float, and (of course) the Vampire Film Festival float. Nope, I was not on it. I wasn't told about it, but then again, I didn't participate in the costume contest. I wanted to do the Scavenger Hunt, darn it!

Where I stopped was so perfect because I had a second chance to get beads because the parade did a u-turn at some point down Canal and came back to head down Tchopatoulas and that's when I got more beads. The people in front of me were almost worse until they got a bunch of beads with an eyeball attached to it from the Dagon float and gave a few to me. I just wanted one so I handed the rest out to other people. I was almost hit in the head once as I walked along side the last float toward my hotel, but I ducked behind a car and the lady the float person was aiming for was able to catch it.

I came back here to kill the hour and a half I had until the party at the Original Dungeon started. Turns out that was when it opened and it wasn't a party for the festival or anything, it was “Hey, you get into this bar for free this night only.” I wanted to go to see the costumes, but also to see a Goth club in New Orleans. I kinda wish I didn't go. Basically, it was as if Disney had made the Castle (a Goth nightclub in Tampa) into a metal bar that fit into a thimble. Very little seating, very little room to move around, and the tunes come from a jukebox full of metal and a few industrial bands. The “dance floor” upstairs played some Goth stuff, but was the size of a shoebox and had very little seating.

I stayed for a while and talked to Jeff who was a photojournalist covering the festival and the goings on in New Orleans this weekend. He was nice and wanted to learn about my favourite flicks and I ended up giving him a bit of a lesson in Argento and Fulci. Mainly Argento. Got to exercise my brain a little. Forgot what Mater Suspiriorum meant (it's Mother of Sighs, by the way...stupid brain fart.)

After a while, I went out and called a cab. Most of the streets in the French Quarter are one way and people cross the street without giving way to the 2,000 pound hunks of moving steel. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so much, no one was hit on the street. Someone did fall down inside Dungeon and badly enough to call an ambulance, blocking traffic pretty far down Toulouse. I think my cab passed me by anyway, but I walked to the end of the jam, grabbed a cab from the company I called, and got out of there. Way too many drunk people. It was like Ybor if Ybor fit into a shoe box. (Ybor is a part of south Tampa that's made up almost entirely of night clubs, but at least they block off traffic at night.)

Now, I'm back in my room with a sore throat from the shouting for beads and a sore body from earlier in the day. I think I'll sleep well tonight!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day Two in New Orleans and Day the First of Vampire Film Festival

I'm back at my hotel room “early.” I feel like crap. I was feeling ill before I left home, but I thought maybe I kicked it in the rear. Apparently not. I've been shivering for most of the night even with my jacket and a long sleeved shirt. I wasn't even hanging out outside except for when I was waiting for the cab, but I'm actually getting a bit ahead of myself.

I ended up watching four episodes of CSI last night (I brought some entertainment with me for reasons like that) and fell asleep around 12:30. I woke up at 6, lord knows why, and couldn't get back to sleep, and I knows why – too excited! So I got up, got dressed, and decided to walk the city.

I started at Riverwalk and about fifteen minutes later, I was in the French Quarter. I turned on the GPS in my phone and just sort of got lost. I almost walked into a bad, bad feeling area, but I turned around pretty quickly and got back to everything that brings people here: cajun restaurants, bars, pubs, taverns, seafood restaurants, lounges, clubs, and hotels. Lots of hotels. Not a whole heck of a lot of stuff to do other than walk around if you don't drink. Took some photos of the area (which can be seen at and walked around for three hours. I also found a Walgreens, which was awesome because I lost my deodourant in the Great Room Swap of 2009.

I went through the French Market. Nothing really in the farmer's side, maybe tomorrow, but the flea market side was great. I got an adjustable clip-on sunglass attachment for my glasses. I have Transitions, but they just don't seem like enough in Florida. And I bought a couple of nice rings for pretty cheap. And a shy shilling for charity (or for himself, you know whatever) gave me a black New Orleans hat. He laid on the compliments pretty thick so I gave him a couple of bucks. A girl likes to be complimented every once in a while.

I went to get a beignet at Cafe du Monde, but man oh man were they full up! I'll try again tomorrow, I guess. Later on, I went to the Hard Rock Cafe to eat brlinner. I'd never eaten at one before so I thought, eh what the heck. Their salad had raisins in it and I've accidentally eaten more bacon in the past two days than I've eaten in two decades (I became a foulatarian – I'll eat chicken and turkey and the very occasional shrimp, but not red meat or pork – about twenty years ago. Maybe a little less.) The fries were good, but the “seasoning” was kind of lame and they had NO Stevie Nicks memorabilia, but my honey mustard chicken sandwich was excellent.

After that, I returned to the hotel room to freshen up, load pictures to the Flickr and say hi to mom. I didn't feel good before I left home, but I thought (hoped) that I'd managed to kick it in the rear, but mom heard my voice and was all like, “Oh em gee, you're sick.” And I was all like, “Oh em gee, I'm not.” And she was like, “Like, you totally are.” And I was like, “Shush, I'm trying to be positive.” I grabbed my leather jacket (I'm not a vegginazi, I just don't want to eat pigs and cows and cockroaches of the sea. I don't mind if others do) and headed out for the venue.

Zeitgeist is about a half an hour walk from my hotel room, but I didn't feel good about walking there and I'm definitely not walking back, certainly not at the hours I would be coming back. Doesn't cost very much, but drivers here are insane. I don't know why people keep saying New Yorkers are the worst. They must not have ridden with a New Orleans cab driver or tried walking around here. They use stop lights for the pedestrians. I have to admit, that confused me at first. And you don't have to hit any buttons, the lights activate when they're supposed to.

Anyway, I grabbed a cab and headed in, got my fest pack, met Asif, the nice guy who's putting this shindig together, and the owner of the Zeitgeist, Rene, who's also very nice. In fact, everyone I've encountered has been very nice, bad driving aside.

Then I sat down for the first flick. No technical problems and surprisingly good quality sound, but I was like, “Oh man...I think I've gotta go back to the room...” I popped some Tylenol for a slight headache, bought some water, and was able to hang in there for a little while. I only stayed through Nadja, which was supposed to be Near Dark according to the schedule, and then said a few goodbyes and left. I barely talked to anyone. Now I'm pretty anti-social on a good day, but when I'm sick, I just kind of sink into myself.

Now, I'm in the hotel room and I'll write up the movies another day. Good night!

New Orleans: On the Day of Arrival

So, after an hour and 13 minute long flight, we land at Louis Armstrong at 2:08 or so. By four, I'm in my hotel. Why so long, you ask? Well, I decided to get a shuttle voucher via Expedia. It was $30 round trip. Pretty good deal...until you get in line to wait for a place in one of the shuttles, wait for everyone to board, wait for the driver to pile the luggage into the back of the short bus, and then drive into the city proper. It wasn't bad, just absurdly long. The drive into the city was slightly depressing because it didn't look much different from an average highway back home...until we got a view of the ginormous Mississippi River bridge. At least, I think it was the Mississippi River bridge, I don't really know my landmarks here just yet. Regardless, it was huge, it was neat, and it was NOT the Sunshine Skyway. My bag was at my feet and I was crammed into the back corner of the bus like a chicken in one of KFC's cages so no pictures yet. Also, I didn't want to take pictures of the airport. I'll do that on the way back.

So, I get to the hotel and check in and receive a really small room on the first floor where the door was hard to open and even harder to close and my view was of a brick wall.

My view.

Really, the only good things were a huge tub and the wireless (more on that in a moment.) SO, I called my mom to let her know I was here okay and she convinced me to go get another room. Now, I'll complain about my job and my co-workers, but I don't like sending food back unless it's super disgusting and I don't like to complain about a hotel room that is within a 15 minute walk of the French Quarter, but I knew mom was right (aren't they always?) and I asked for a room with a view that wasn't a brick wall. And I got it!

it may not be much, but at least it's not a brick wall!

I took this after I came back from walk about last night. It was rainy and only started raining when I was a few blocks from the hotel...well, sprinkling really. It didn't start really raining until I got back to the hotel.

So, I got my stuff into the new room and assembled my city bag for walkabout and left the hotel for Riverwalk. Seven minute walk, people, from the mighty Mississippi.

the mighty Mississippi

I took note of restaurants along my path. The street cars have a stop at the Hilton by the river so that's something to keep in mind. There was a live jazz band at a seafood restaurant on the river, but I rarely eat seafood so I kept walking. The Aquarium of the Americas is right there, too, and that's something I definitely want to do before I leave. I'm weird, I know.

Something else I wanted to do before I left was visit Harrah's Casino. My gambling consists of scratch cards every ten years or so. I don't place actual bets when I say, “Bet you!” But, who knows if I'll ever get to go to Las Vegas or come back, or even go to the Seminole casino back home. Before I left, I received a little birthday money and decided that I would be okay with spending $20 at the casino. I walk inside and get a feeling of cheery desperation, the cheery part provided by the happy “come play me!” tinkles coming from the sparkling machines. I stuck with the slots. I play War and Go Fish!, not poker or blackjack. Safer to stick with something completely unfamiliar like the slots and not cards.

They don't do coin returns at Harrah's, they handle everything digitally, with tickets that are barcoded so the machines from which you get your winnings, or your money back, know how much you get.

The first machine I played was called Poppit! I put in $5 and tried to read the instructions, but they were a little confusing. I decided to treat it like one of those side games in an RPG and just play. I wound up winning $22 and some change, which covered what I was willing to spend with a $2 addition. The next game I played was the Glinda version of The Wizard of Oz in honour of my mom. I lost $ knew that I'm not a fan of The Wizard of Oz. Next, I went to a classic slot machine with the pull thingie. Lost my $5. With one five dollar bill left, I roamed the casino looking for The Machine. I found it in Ghost Island.

I put in my $5. It was pretty typical; I won, I lost, I won, I lost, I lost, I lost, I lost. Finally, I won. Relatively big. $150 and some change. I printed out my ticket and slowly walked toward the entrance all dejected like so no one would be the wiser. I cashed out, and headed to one of the restaurants I saw on the way to Riverwalk trying to not look like I'd just multiplied my investment by like seven and three quarters, which was difficult. I'm not an actor, after all, but I can occasionally keep a straight face.

In case she reads this: Janine, I wanted the play the Star Trek themed slots in your honour, but the damned Trekkies kept hogging it. ;)

So, I went to a restaurant called Gordon Biersch. I didn't know this until I walked in, but apparently there are like twenty of them all over the US. They brew their own beer, blah blah blah, totally uninteresting to me as a non-drinker, but the prices were pretty good considering where I am so I ordered a wedge salad and teriyaki chicken / tempura shrimp and, of course, a lemonade.

The lemonade was okay. It needed a little sugar, but otherwise it was good. The wedge salad was NOTHING compared to the wedge salad I had with Vanessa and Evy, but their ranch dressing was omnomnommy. The rice that came with the meal was kinda gross, “sweet ginger rice.” I'm not a big fan of ginger any more after a disastrous kitchen experiment with whole ginger root and the ginger was strong with their rice. The “vegetables” on the plate were just pea pods, which I happen to love, but don't use the plural when there's just one type... The chicken and shrimp were delicious. I wonder how many people skewer themselves every day with the shrimp skewers...

No dessert for me. I came back to the hotel just in time to avoid the heavy downpour and used some of my winnings on a small bag of M&Ms (85 cents! O_O) from the vending machine three feet from my room. :D Came in and tried for the next few hours to connect to the wireless internet. No go...I can see the networks all around me, but I can't connect to any of them. One or two look shady, several are city wireless, a few were from the hotel next door, and two were from this hotel. This morning, I found an ethernet cable and hooked up that way. It won't reach the bed so no being comfortable while I search, but that's a very small price to pay.

Today's plans consist of getting a beignet at Cafe du Monde, taking pictures, walking the French Quarter, grabbing a bus or a cab to the venue and starting the film festival thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Airport Confessions - SRQ Airport (surprise, surprise)

Goodbye Sarasota!

Well, here I am, back in the airport again. It's peaceful right now. The muzak right now is pretty hippity-hoppity and funky, completely opposite of the travelers herein gathered. While this trip is for a film festival, this isn't any old festival. It's the Vampire Film Festival's first year back in New Orleans. How exciting! To be there on the ground floor of an established festival's return to the city of its birth!

My film isn't a vampire film. It's in Gothic Shorts Package 2, which plays either at 5:30 or 10:00 pm on Saturday, October 25. The events calendar on their website ( says 10:00 pm, but the short films detail page says 5:30. I guess I'll find out for sure when I pick up my filmmaker package.

I'm also excited because I turn 31 on Monday, the 26. This is the first time I've ever been out of the state on my birthday. I won't be around my family or friends, but I hope to make a few new friends in New Orleans. The only problem I foresee is that I don't take the vampire subgenre very seriously. Not that it's not historically a rich and vibrant subgenre, but have you seen some of the crap people are putting out these days? (Twilight, I'm looking at you...) (Yes, mom, I know you like it, but sparkling vampires? Really?)

I'm not sure yet, but I was thinking about taking Monday away from the festival to tourist up the city for my birthday. I think there are some movies I want to see that day, though, so who knows. I've never been there before, who knows when I'm going to be able to get back and it's my birthday, that's the one hand. On the other, I am in town for the festival which is playing my movie. So, who knows. Regardless, I'm very excited! So much so that I just spelled “excited” wrong. Hee!

I thought I'd have a problem getting to sleep due to the anticipation, but that wasn't the problem. The problem came when our new upstairs neighbour decided that wearing super thick soled boots was a good idea at 4 am and also decided to walk right above my bed, which means he or she was on my roof because my room sticks out a bit from the rest of the house. Then I had a bit of trouble getting back to sleep. But I'm here! The time is near! Get used to it! Or something!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vampire Film Festival 2009

Hey everyone!

I received word the other day that A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema has been accepted to the Vampire Film Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana! The film is in Gothic Shorts Package 2 which plays on Sunday, October 25 (the day before my birthday!), at 5:30 pm!

The shorts schedules:

There are features playing, too. In fact, I missed The Death of Alice Blue at CenFlo so I get to check it out here AND I'll get to see Strigoi and The Revenant, other films that have been accepted to festivals that my flick didn't and looked interesting! :D

In case the previous paragraph didn't make it clear, I will be at the festival, which runs from the 23-26 of October. My birthday's the 26th so if you happen to be going, find me and say happy birthday! Or not. Totally up to you!

My first trip to New cool is that?!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Airport Confessional -- SRQ International (part deux)

9:30 am at Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport.

Well, I’m back in the airport again, this time heading to Washington state for a vacation. I think this is the same gate I left from for Cleveland (SRQ is small in spite of calling themselves an international airport.) I decided to eat a cold sandwich from the Wolfgang Puck line next to the airport lounge. Eight bucks for the flipping sandwich, a “turkey remoulade on cibatta.” Well, I don’t want to survive on airplane cookies and Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chewy bars all day - I’ve got 12 hours of travel ahead of me after all - so I paid for the bloody thing.

Airport sammich

Mommy’s sammiches are so much better.

I’d like to chalk it up to it being an airport convenience, like the need to take off our shoes and separate our laptops from everything else we’re carrying onto the flight for the security checkpoint, but I have a feeling that if I were to go to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, I’d find the same sandwich for $10 so, maybe I got a bargain. It wasn’t a bad sandwich, it just wasn’t good and certainly not worth eight dollars. The gum I bought afterwards was better than the sandwich.


I got about five hours of sleep. I had to work last night and it being a Thursday, which is the busiest night for projectionists as that’s when we break down and move prints in preparation for the new prints to open on Friday, I didn’t get home until two in the morning and didn’t get to sleep until three. Thankfully, the only excitement last night was a couple of random pieces of matching luggage that were left outside the emergency exit of one of the auditoriums. I went up to my boss, who was sitting in his office with someone from corporate, and said, “Hey, might want to know that there are two bags outside one of the emergency exits. Now, either it’s Her Royal Highness’ Matched Luggage, a body chopped up and split between two bags, or a bomb. Just so’s you know.”

He didn’t even giggle at the Spaceballs reference. There’s no hope for him. He also said that it was for the Jennifer’s Body promotion (which of course we’re not doing) and while I played along and said that I wish I’d known since I know people in the special effects field (the corporate person is the regional head of promotions so I might have gotten my FX friends some work in the long run), it just showed his colossal ignorance of what’s being shown in the theatre he “runs.” However, he’s not that different from the people running the company as far as knowing that people are actually there to watch a movie, not give us their money willy-nilly.

When my alarm went off at the unGodly hour of eight this morning, I was deep in REM sleep, dreaming something about a baby. Lord, and maybe Morpheus, knows what it was all about. Not my kid and swaddled all in red. And I kept thinking, “Man, if I knew you were going to be here, I would have gotten you a onesie from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well!” (I got my friend’s baby a cute onesie that read “Future Rocker” in the AC/DC font. Watch the kid grow up to be an accountant.)

I’m still not quite awake. I probably won’t be awake until after one in the afternoon my time (Eastern.) From here, I go to Charlotte, North Carolina, to catch a plane to Phoenix, Arizona, and from Phoenix I go to Portland, Oregon. I was so tired this morning, I told my mom I’d never been to Charlotte. Charlotte-Douglas is the airport with the bathroom attendants and the tasty mints. Yeah, brain no workie at 8 am, but somehow I managed to remember to pack my cell phone charger. All other chargers I packed on Wednesday. No, I’m not excited or anything.


I was on the phone with my wireless carrier the other day and the operator, who so kindly helped me with my phone issues, asked me where I was calling from, just making conversation while we waited for technology to catch up with us.

“Sarasota,” I replied.

“What’s Sarasota known for?” he asked.

“The circus.”

“What?” Obviously, he wasn’t expecting that.

“John Ringling, of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, pretty much founded Sarasota. The Clown College was here until about ten years ago when it was forced to move to, I think Michigan, because the rich, white majority found it too unseemly.” I’m just assuming that last part, but I’ve lived here long enough that it’s most likely the truth.

“Oh,” said he. “Wow...”

“Yeah...” said me.

He went on. “I lived in Orlando for a while and always heard about Sarasota...” I figure that was a lie, but he’s paid to fix my phone and be friendly and all I’m spending is my time so whatever. I neglected to tell him that Walt Disney considered building Disney World in Sarasota, but the then-current city elders thought that was a bad idea. I wonder if, in some alternate universe Disney actually had built his Floridian empire here, the guy would have said that he was from Sarasota and that he’d heard of Orlando.


The airport is filling up now. There’s one airplane that’s been here, and its passengers waiting, for about five hours. They had to wait for a part from Tampa. Tampa’s only an hour away so it must have been one hell of a part. I wonder if they flew it down or drove it.

I’ve seen a few pilots just aimlessly ambling around this particular area. I think they’re with the plane that’s been delayed for several hours. Or they’re zombies. I just saw a pilot running. I guess they were zombies.

You know, I don’t see Egon’s assessment that “print is dead” being true. I see lots of people, myself one of them, traveling with actual, physical books. I have Level 26 by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker. The dude across from me is reading the movie edition of My Life in France by Julia Child. The lady next to me is reading an actual newspaper (poor darling...)

Time to be packing up. The flight should be here soonish (it’s running a little late according to the gate attendant, but she assures us that we’ll be fine for our connecting flights...) and I should save some battery power for later on. I’ve got a writing contest starting today, too. :D

Thursday, September 10, 2009


In my twitter list tonight, I saw a link to an article whose title was "Elm Street's Nancy Has Her Day." My knee-jerk reaction was, of course, cynical that it was an interview with Rooney Mara, who is playing Nancy Thompson in the remake, but I'm a sadist, I suppose, and went ahead and clicked on the link even in spite of hating what I've heard so far about the new Nancy. I'm so, so glad I did. This article at reports that Heather Langenkamp is making a documentary about being Nancy and the effect of the character on the lives of the fans as well as the dynamic between Freddy and Nancy and the story they're in.

There's no way to properly explain my reaction to this news other than to say that I was jumping up and down whilst clapping like a mad woman.

I've always been upset that Nancy has never really gotten her due. She's an amazing character and Heather Langenkamp plays her with intense, quiet strength. It's because of this movie, and this character, that I'm a writer and director. I try to put a little bit of Nancy in the majority of my female characters, and I find her strength and courage inspiring in a personal way. She was the first strong female character I encountered when I was a kid and is one of the few strong female characters in the genre. She doesn't back down from Freddy, Freddy doesn't back down from her, and Wes Craven didn't make one character weak in order to make the other strong. Every action and reaction from all of the characters feels very organic and realistic; however, it's Freddy who gets all of the attention. There's a scene in Wes Craven's New Nightmare that illustrates this perfectly. In the film, in which Wes Craven's writing a new Nightmare script and it mirrors real life so closely that it becomes real life, Heather is waiting in a green room after a talk show appearance completely unbothered by the throngs of fans that surround Freddy actor Robert Englund.

(The part I'm referring to comes in at 6:26 in the clip above assuming neither New Line nor Warner Brothers pull the clip for reasons of copyright at any point. The still used in the player is from the scene.)

Anyway, the documentary has a Facebook page where you can become a fan and get updates in addition to the website that will be updated once they have more to say. It appears that they're making the film right now.

I'm incredibly excited for this project and I can't wait to see Heather's perspective on this career and life defining, groundbreaking role and for her to bring Nancy out of Freddy's shadow and into the light where she deserves to stand.

CenFlo part two!


Theatre 2

Rickey decided that he wanted to sit this one mostly out so I got up and headed over to the theatre for a day chock-a-block full of indie movie goodness. I caught the shorts package that had Renee O’Connor’s new short film in it. I’m a fan of hers from the Xena days and it was so wonderful to see something new from her as a writer and director as well as an actress. After that, I watched the shorts package from, some good stuff in there, but it was a long pack that felt longer due to how short the films were. My favourite part was how they used a PS3 to play the movies. I think it’s an ingenious use of the system and I love that they did that! Made me wish I’d brought my copy of Ghostbusters: The Video Game.

After that, I popped into the other theatre to watch the end of The Mandala Maker and all of Somewhere Beyond and The Cab Ride. I missed most of The Mandala Maker so I can’t comment on that one comfortably. Somewhere Beyond was very good.

The Cab Ride, however, annoyed me. It was slow and they cast a young woman to play a senior citizen. Why not actually hire an older woman? The young woman wasn’t bad so much as she was very obviously not old and the way she chose to play the character was unrealistic. Also, the young man they cast as the cab driver was uneven in his performance, but I think that had a lot to do with the script, which I think needed some more polishing before lensing.

After that, Rickey joined me and we decided to go have lunch. Unfortunately, that made me late for The Death of Alice Blue, which I missed on Friday and really wanted to see, just not enough to walk in an hour or so into it. We hung out in the lobby until the documentary Judy Toll: The Funniest Woman You’ve Never Heard Of came on. Very good documentary, very touching and heart-felt. I hope it gets picked up somewhere.

Getting ready for the awards

After waiting in the crowded lobby for a while after judy Toll, it was time for the awards! I was pretty confident that we weren’t up for anything and when Rickey asked me why we were going if I didn’t think we were getting anything and I replied, “To support the other filmmakers.” That was a message Bob Cook kept repeating through the weekend and is something I agree with wholeheartedly.

Anyway, the lights come down and the Oscars-like pre-show starts. Bob’s wife Ginger edited together a collection of shots from all of the films and she edited together scenes from each of the finalists in all of the categories. No, we weren’t finalists or nominees or whatever you want to call it, but the awards ceremony was a lot of fun anyway! There was only one winner I was surprised about even though I hadn’t watched it: Scare Zone won Best Florida Project. I was slightly surprised that it won because it’s a horror flick, but I was mostly surprised because the clips and trailers I saw made it look cheaper than a normal cheapy horror flick. My opinion was further dragged down by the filmmaker’s acceptance speech which essentially said, “Woohoo crass commercialism rocks!!”

Thanks, bro. You’re part of the reason American horror sucks right now.

Feeling pretty let down by that speech, I decided to forgo the screening of the film and head back to the hotel for the post-festival party. Since the awards ceremony got started pretty late, the party was a bit of a downer, but we sat outside and talked to the Aerojet Dade people for a while and were invited to the “exclusive” party in one of the Courtyard Mariott rooms. We went, of course, and I’m glad we went, but I hadn’t slept much during the weekend and I really just wanted to go to bed at that point so I was probably not the best company. I wasn’t cranky or anything, just tired.

The next morning, we checked out and came home!

Heading home

I had a fantastic time! The festival was wonderful. The seminars were wonderful. The host theatre had comfortable reclining seats that weren't broken and their popcorn was far better than any I've tasted in a long time, including the popcorn from the theatre where I work. This was a fantastic experience and I thank Bob and Ginger Cook for creating and maintaining such high quality in their festival! I recommend it highly for any filmmakers looking for most festivals to enter!

CenFlo part one!

My CenFlo badge!

Well, I didn’t have much of a chance to blog the Central Florida Film Festival and I thought that I’d better remedy that!


Rickey, who played Batraal in the flick, and I left Sarasota pretty early and after dealing with some errands that needed to be done, we made our way to Ocoee, Florida, which is about half an hour away from Orlando, and the host hotel which was the Best Western. The name isn’t redacted this time because it was an endlessly good experience from check-in to check-out.

We decided to go check out the host theatre so we got in the car and drove a whole two minutes to get to the West Orange 5, a cute little mom and pop theatre kind of set back from the road, but with a surprising amount of parking. The employees let us roam around a little, very nice theatre, but I didn’t know how nice until the weekend really got started.

From there, we decided to head over to downtown Disney for a look around and a bite to eat. We decided on the House of Blues for a salad with some amazingly tasty grilled chicken and chicken quesadillas. It was my first trip there, too...very cool place. Nice atmosphere, good music, and good company. Couldn’t ask for more!

After that, and with everything starting to close for the night, we headed back to the hotel to get some shut eye for the first day of the festival.


After waking up and primping and preening, we headed back to the theatre and met Kuuchi, a Gypsy Vanner horse. A documentary about the relatively new (to the US anyway) breed of horse had played just before we got to the theatre and the horse was outside in a pen to help drum up publicity for the breed. I’m not a horse woman per se; I like them, but I don’t go all gaga when I see them, but this was definitely a beautiful, friendly horsey.

We departed Kuuchi’s company and headed in and were immediately, and warmly I might add, greeted by Bob Cook, the director of the festival, before we headed into theatre 2 for our first film of the weekend, Aerojet Dade, a documentary about Homestead, Florida’s, participation in the space race of the sixties and the invention of solid rocket fuel. It was a tad dry, but otherwise fantastic.

We stayed in the theatre for the next film, Homeland Nation: Mescalero Apache, which was a made-for-television piece about the Mescalero Apache tribe of native Americans. It was well produced and well done, but it shouldn’t have had the commercial bumpers in it and it needed some proof-reading as there were several misspelled words.

Afterwards, we decided to go have lunch with some friends that were driving three hours just to come hang out so we went to the ginormous Mall at Millenia and raided FYE’s exceptional movie selection (I grabbed Lamberto Bava’s Demoni and Kasi Lemmons’ Talk to Me. You can’t say I’m not diverse!) After perusing a couple of other stores, we met up with our friends and ate at the Cheesecake Factory. Good lord, that place was busy, but the food was good so it wasn’t surprising that it was slammed.

The Cheesecake Factory

We had to cut the hanging out a little short so we could go to the opening night party back at the hotel where we schmoozed and mingled and we met the Aerojet Dade filmmakers. Great people, lots of fun to talk to! The party was over at, like, 8:30 or so and we decided to leave a little early and head back to downtown Disney to catch the 9:00 performance of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. I’d seen Cirque’s performances on Bravo before, but never live...such an amazing experience! If you have to chance to see them perform live, I highly recommend it!

Cirque Du Soleil: La Nouba

After La Nouba, we headed back to the room to get some shut-eye for the next day’s film intensive activities, including the screening of our flick!


We woke up early enough to catch the Acting and Film in Florida seminars which were held in the Best Western conference room, very handy. Even though I’m not an actor, I attended the seminar as a filmmaker because you never know when you’re going to learn something new about dealing with actors. As it turns out, most of the people who attended the seminar had the same thoughts I did! It was great to learn at little bit about the various SAG contracts in order to get SAG actors in your flick.

The Film in Florida seminar was also fantastic, but a little harder to swallow as a filmmaker who had to go about the filming of her movie guerilla-style especially when one of the panelists doesn’t believe in film festivals, just pay checks, apparently. I understand that the business is a business, but there’s art in it, too, and if you don’t think so, Mr. Panelist, you’re missing the point entirely. While he gave some good advice, I don’t think he should have been on the panel.

After the lectures and grabbing some lunch, we headed over to the gay party at the Courtyard Mariott, which was directly behind our hotel, so directly that they shared parking spaces for an hour before heading over to the theatre for our screening. The party was fun, but not enough people showed up, which was a shame. Well, if they do the celebration of gay film next year, too, hopefully more people will show up.

Anyway, we meet Chris (who played the Priest in the flick) and his wife Reba at the theatre and sit down to watch the shorts package. Ours came first and there were at least 30 people total in the theatre, the most attendance that I personally saw throughout the festival with the exception of the awards ceremony! Everyone I spoke to seemed to love it, but the strange thing is that there was no Q&A after the package. In fact, there was no Q&A for all but two of the films the entire weekend, which I found to be strange, but hey, each festival does things differently, I guess. My hometown festival runs the whole package and then has the filmmakers come up at the end, introduce themselves, and answer questions and Indie Gathering ran every film, feature and short, separately.

Unfortunately, Chris and Reba had to leave right after the package was over, but Rickey and I stuck around, of course. I stayed for the first film in the gay themed night, Choosing Absalon, which was a documentary about a US citizen who felt that he had to leave his country in order to live with his husband and have all the rights someone in a relationship should have, but doesn’t here in the States just because they’re gay. A good, thought-provoking documentary that, unfortunately, won’t get widely seen because it’s 30 minutes long. Not that it would change the minds of people who are so vehemently against gay marriage or anything, but it really should be seen.

Afterwards, I popped outside to call my mom to let her know how the screening went and then went to theatre 2 for shorts package 1 and after that a feature film called Deadland, which was about a man’s journey through a nuclear wasteland formerly known as the United States as he searches for his wife. It’s a good flick, well made, well acted, and well written. Deadland went on to win two awards the next night, Best Feature and the Media award, as decided by the Ocoee indie newspaper.

When my feature was over, I met up with Rickey in his theatre and watched the rest of his feature, A Lower Power. After speaking with the filmmaker, I found out that the festival played the wrong version so I can’t really pick on the technical issues much, but the actors were reciting their lines instead of acting and that’s never good. After that, we headed back to the hotel room to get some much deserved rest in anticipation for the next day, the final day of the festival.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Airport Confessional -- Hartsfield - Jackson International Atlanta International Airport

Approaching Hotlanta.

I have decided that my favourite time to take off is just before dawn. The sun is still down and the street lights are still on and when you’re taking off, it’s easy to imagine that there is no ground and all of those little twinkling amber lights below aren’t street lights, but are actually stars. Then, when the sun comes out, it’s illuminating the ground, but hasn’t burned off the fog so there are white rivers of mist crawling over the landscape like fingers. It’s especially neat when the lights are still on in those fog-shrouded areas. And, if you’re me, when the lights blink and sputter, you think of the Stephen King story and the excellent Frank Darabont movie and shudder.

I’m in Atlanta now. It’s really gloomy here, overcast and a little foggy. It’s only 8 in the morning so the sun hasn’t had time to burn off the mist. I’d take a photo, but all of the seats by the windows are occupied by exhausted travelers who are thinking the same thing I am, “Why the hell am I awake?”

I was going to grab a quick nap on the Cleveland-Atlanta flight, but I was hungry and wanted some water to go with my breakfast bar so I couldn’t. I got about four or five hours of sleep last night, but going to bed at 7 or 8 at night to get up at 2 in the morning has really screwed up my internal clock. A friend was up at three in the morning my time, which was midnight hers, and I totally was like, “Oh em gee, dude, what are you doing awake?!” And then I was like, “Oh, wait...”

They oversold the Daytona Beach flights and are desperately seeking someone to give up their seat for another passenger. $400 Delta Dollars. What, exactly, does $400 Delta Dollars buy, anyway? Is that enough for a round trip domestic ticket? Or are the $400 Delta Dollars more like the points for frequent flyers where you have to spend almost a kabagillion dollars in order to accrue a half of a mile of travel? I’ll have to look that up when I get home, if I’m that curious. Or ask the attendant if they need someone to give up their seat to Sarasota...which I honestly can’t imagine. It’s Sarasota, after all.

When I left Cleveland, I took a moment to revel in the non-humid 70s and the light, cool breeze that was flitting through the runway. The plane was a small commuter so they didn’t hook up the gangway, they just had us go out to the tarmac. I didn’t breathe deeply. It’s still the airport in Cleveland after all, but I did revel in it. It was very nice. I’m going to miss not having humidity, especially when my hair decides to do its best Roseanne Roseannadanna impression.

Indie Gathering Day Three; or It's Been Swell, but the Swelling's Gone Down

Goodbye Cleveland!

I’m at the airport as I write this; my plane is scheduled to leave at 5:45 am. I’ve collected my award - the only one from my category to show up, though thankfully some of the other filmmakers showed - and the event is over. One group I know was there didn’t show up for their awards. Weird.

I maintain that this is one of the strangest festivals I’ve ever heard of, been a part of, or been to. It’s not open to the public and yet it was badly organized and I don’t understand how awards like their Viewer’s Choice and Best of Fest is going to work considering how few people were in the screening rooms for a lot of the films I saw. I’m including their apparent judge, who I saw firmly entrenched in screening room A. (Tip: You may not want your judges to sit in the audience with their paperwork in front of them...I’m just sayin’.)

I didn’t get to see the other films in my category, with things running either ahead or behind in most of the screening rooms I was afraid of missing my own screening which was when the others were playing, but I did not see one film that was inspiring to me in anyway. There was no “Even” here, no “Excised,” or “Creepers” (that short is still chilling to me) or “AM 1200” or "Apathy Breeds Contempt" -- all films that I saw at ShockerFest last year that were wonderful. There was nothing at Indie Gathering that was in any way inspiring. My mom would stop me here and remind me that my flick played, but I’m not talking about my flick, I’m talking about the films I watched, which is what I was there for.

I mean, there were a lot of films that showed me what I DON’T want to I suppose the festival part of the event did serve a purpose, but I’d prefer to be inspired, to think, “Man, those people are awesome, I HAVE to meet them!” and not “Okay...Troma looks like Universal Studios next to this guy...and he’s on a panel giving a lecture?! He’s on MORE THAN ONE PANEL?!”

Don't misunderstand me, I am grateful for the screening and the award. The medal is very nice, much nicer than I was expecting, to be honest. But the point in any screening is to have your work seen and I can’t help but wonder how different the festival part of the event would have been with better organization, or maybe more attention paid to the material presented.

It’s not that it’s a bad event. It really isn’t. It’s that it’s not as international as it would like to be and it’s less a film festival and more of a Ohio / Michigan based martial arts / stunt extravaganza. If I still lived in North Canton and happened to find my way into film, I think I would have loved this festival as it really is so region-specific. As it is, I’m gunshy about coming back next year because there was no audience for so many of the films...probably just as gunshy as they may be about having me back considering how I’m blogging about their event. If you live near there, it’s great, really great, for making contacts in the Ohio film industry. If you don’t, approach it with the knowledge that it’s about action films, stunts, and martial arts and not so much about the films.

I’ve got CenFlo coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to that one as there will be more people watching the flick than just myself and the very nice projectionist. I also have a bunch more festivals to hear back from.

Forty five minutes until the plane is scheduled to depart. It’s still dark out so I’ll be watching the sun rise from the window of my plane as I head back south, back home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Indians

I’m watching my first Indians game in decades while I’m waiting for the lecture on special effects make-up to start in 45 minutes; they’re playing the Twins. This is particularly strange because I hate sports, but when I was a kid, I loved to play baseball and briefly entertained the idea of playing for the Indians. When I was in Little League, I always hoped that I could be on the Indians, but I got the Astros for t-ball and the Expos for coach pitch. Or maybe the other way around. Pheh. Give me the Indians.

The thing about baseball, though, and the main reason I don’t watch it normally, is that it’s freakin’ boring as a spectator. Nine innings of hitting a ball so the batter can run around a diamond to go home? Gods, it’s a drag to watch. And these blokes get billions of dollars for this stuff. I never understood the baseball strikes; it’s not like y’all play American football or hockey, something really high impact. You run a lot. Seriously.

Anyway, the Indians are one of the few things I still hold in deep affection from my former life in Ohio. It doesn’t matter to me how good or bad they are. They’re my hometown team. Whenever I see that little Indian guy, I smile. So, I’m coming out as an Indians fan. Yep, I said it. Pheh on the DEVIL Rays, poo on the Marlins. I less than three the Indians.

Does this mean I’ll watch more games? I don’t discount it, but I also wouldn’t bet on it. I usually stop the channel surfing when I see the Indians playing and I don’t often stick around because baseball is so boring to watch. In my opinion, I know.

I probably should be downstairs “networking” with my very nice award hanging around my neck instead of hanging out in my room talking about the Indians and watching a game on TV, but, well...more on that when I get home, I think, once I do my day three round up. For now, I'm content to watch a little baseball.

Random thoughts - the Indie Gathering

Before I go on a trip like the one I’m currently on, I tend to download a few new songs. Usually, one song will stand out and remind me of the trip, though it may not have anything in particular to do with the trip itself; last year it was “This Boy’s In Love” by The Presets. This year, it’s a song called “World Coming Down” by Ashbury Heights. I’m not even done with the trip yet and I know which song will remind me of it.

This year, I also downloaded Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking from iTunes. I love Carrie Fisher. She’s such an amazing writer and she is the one reading her own book which adds a wonderful element of awesome to the proceedings. It’s like you’re sitting with her and she’s telling you about her life, which I would love -- to sit with Carrie Fisher and listen to her talk. True Fax: as far as I know, the first time I ever saw Carrie Fisher wasn’t in Star Wars, it was in The Blues Brothers. I can just about guarantee that I was the only child ever to say, “Hey, that’s the lady who tried to kill Elwood!” when Princess Leia came on screen.

In the mornings, I’ll fire up iTunes and listen to all my Goth stuff whilst finishing up the previous day’s write up, doing Yoga, and getting ready for the day’s screenings. At night, I’ll begin the write up of the day while the television is going in the background, then start that day’s write up before going to bed. Don’t want to forget stuff, you know?

I don’t want anyone to get me wrong about this event. I love the martial arts and martial arts films. I just wish I knew that was what this event was all about, martial arts and stunts. I would have approached it differently, I think. I probably would have still mostly watched movies as that’s why I’m here, but I would have made a more concerted effort to check out some of the fight stuff, like last night’s stunt demo. It’s good for filmmakers to check stuff like that out, to see what they’ll be putting the stunties through. Strangely, I was the only filmmaker in the stunt demo last night, too. Well, there was one other person, but he left before the good stuff started and I had to leave during the good stuff for the last film. I should have either stayed to watch the stunt demo or gone to the film that “stars” Brinke Stevens. At least she gives a solid performance.

Indie Gathering Day Two

My empty-ass screening room.

I’m up super early today for no other reason than my flight is super early tomorrow and if I want to have any hope of catching some Z’s before take-off, I need to be tired tonight.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this particular event is that it’s mainly a martial arts convention and tournament that happens to have a film competition, but the film part is secondary. It’s also like a huge audition for martial artists. I mainly attended films yesterday, you if it was a film festival. Often, I was the only person in the screening room with the exception of the projectionist and a couple of people who floated in and out. I never met a filmmaker after their film, though some of them were here. I met three guys here for their flick and instead of sending even one into the screening room, they sat at their table in the convention room to chat with each other and sell their movie.

During my film, it was just the projectionist and I and one guy who came in with ten minutes to go until the end. The projectionist really liked it. Really, really liked it. The guy who came in during the last ten minutes said he liked what he saw so I gave him a copy of the flick and told him to enjoy it. I also gave the projectionist a copy of the flick and my card. So it’s good to know that people who see it really like it...but they have to SEE IT in order to like’s gotta get past the selection stage and into the screening stage. Like a colleague once said, the selection process is so bloody random; one viewer might say it’s a must have and another viewer might say it totally stinks.

I toured the convention a little, bought a couple of movies from filmmakers. I haven’t watched them yet and for all I know, they’re poo. I don’t know, I was feeling supportive, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s a rundown of what I saw...

No One Island: Actually, I was on time to see A Jersey Christmas, but they’d started screening films and not telling people who were waiting in the hall that they were starting the movies so they had to restart one and lost it from there. I missed the first ten or fifteen minutes or so and was lost. It doesn’t help that the rest of the flick was vague and performed like a missing episode of Twin Peaks, but not in a good way.

A Jersey Christmas: This was about a group of people who don’t celebrate Christmas working at a Christmas store on Christmas Eve for a guy who can’t control his gambling habit and owes at least one organization $45,000. It was cute, but not laugh out loud funny so I was disappointed. They had a lot of potential for touching hilarity and it was squandered.

Hanging by a Thread: This was about a married couple whose therapist has them filmed by a reality television crew to sort out their problems. Pretty good. Well written and to the point.

Becoming Roman: This is about a left hand who wants to become a right hand and then aspires to be the person to which the hands belong. It was like a bad version of Clive Barker’s “Body Politic.”

Stuck: A man and a woman are stuck in an elevator. Short and to the point, it was okay.

White Radishes: This was about an obsessive compulsive man who helps a young woman who was trapped in her house by her mother. To go further than that would be to spoil it. It was really weird, though not in a way that makes me happy, but it was definitely original.

A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema: I loved it, but that’s not really news. I still love everything about it, though I’m at the point now where I’m picking at the flaws, but I don’t want to change anything. I love this flick, what can I tell you? And even though no one showed up, I know people have picked up a few of the posters and postcards so at least they’ll look it up. Or use them as notepaper, but I prefer the other idea. ;D

Life, Passion, Death: I tried like hell to stick this one out, it was the film that came on after mine and I had nothing else I wanted to see for three hours, but I just couldn’t do it. It was about a Spanish woman who falls in love with an American man while she’s on vacation in New York and just thinking about it makes me want to fall asleep. I’m sorry to the lady who spent so much time on it, but I had to leave.

At this point, I left the festival / convention to get dinner and came back to watch some of the World Stunt Association’s demo / training thing. The first part was the organizer of the event telling the aspiring stunties how to audition for roles and then he brought up the pro stunties to start giving these people, including quite a few children, the basics of stuntwork. The kids should learn how to punch before they learn how to not hit people, but that’s just me I guess. The organizer was very quick to be gender inclusive for the actors and stunties, but not so much for the directors, producers, and writers.

There were a few other issues I had with the organizer’s spiel, but I won’t go into them. To each their own opinion; though I don’t agree with what he was saying, I understand his point of view.

And, finally:

The Sky Has Fallen: The world has ended, its population infected with a mysterious virus, and the survivours are seeing black figures that take the dead bodies away to experiment on them and reanimate them. One dude, and a woman he helped, set off to kill the leader of the black figures. (The revenants did look like something out of a Fulci film, so that was pretty cool.)

This was a big disappointment. It had an intriguing premise, great cinematography, a great score, and great special effects, but it was destroyed by ham-fisted direction, bad performances, and a terrible script. Almost every other line of dialogue was a question and they spoke in circles so much that they made no forward progress and actually reversed something they’d said only a couple of minutes before. It was rare that a character spoke more than one sentence in a row and the editing followed suit with talking heads. Most of the film was made up of intense, vacant close ups. And what action there was was boring.

I almost walked out, but it was only an hour. And I was the only one there and felt really bad. The film just before it was empty, too.

That was the last flick for the day. Today is the last day of the festival and includes the awards ceremony. If there’s time after the awards, there’s a flick I’d like to check out and a seminar on special effects make-up for low budget cinema I’d like to attend, but we’ll see. After that, I just have to make sure everything is all packed up and ready to go for my early-ass flight home. Needless to say, I did not attend last night’s networking party and considering how early my flight is on Monday, I will not be attending tonight’s either. I do feel a tiny bit better, though, so that’s good.

Alright, more to come later as I wrap up my time in Cleveland and at the Indie Gathering.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Indie Gathering: Day One

My Indie Gathering badge.

Pretty much as soon as I got back to the hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I got wrapped up in the first day of the festival. It wasn’t supposed to start until 6 and I got back at five-ish, but I went ahead and got my fest badge (on which I’ve since written my name and the name of my film), and hung around the general festival area until the first film started, a Mongolian flick called Jinjiimaa. I did come back up to my room to wash my face and grab some posters for the poster table.

The thing you should understand about the first day of any festival is that it tends to be kind of low key and a bit of a slow start. There were maybe fifteen people in there and the filmmakers, of course, weren’t there. But then again, none of the filmmakers for last night’s films were there. The film that had the most people in the auditorium was The SEED, a short film by one of the Linkin Park guys.

I missed the fourth film in favour of getting something to eat. I thought it would be kind of distracting to the rest of the audience to hear my stomach grumbling. Then I returned for the second to last film and didn’t watch the very last. Like I said in my Hall of Fame post, I wasn’t feeling all that great, in fact my throat’s kind of sore this morning, so just came back to my room, started writing the Hall of Fame post, and passed out around 2 only to be awakened when I thought my clock read the afternoon. Yeah, it was 7:30 in the morning, but the top bar of the seven wasn’t showing up. The first film I want to see isn’t until 1:15 pm so I have some time yet.

Jinjiimaa: The organizer of the festival said that this film was actually in the festival a couple of years ago, but he liked it so much that he wanted to bring it back for the opening night. I think it needed some work in the cinematography, sound, and editing departments (coincidentally, the editor is here to give a lectures about editing and producing), but the performances were fantastic across the board.

It’s about a woman who lost her hearing after an accident when she was a child and was raped by a town leader when he grew up. After the act, when she shot him, the man she loved and who loved her took the blame and did the time for her. When he’s released, she goes to pick him up and introduce him to her child from the rape. They all get along well for a while, right up until she finds out she can get a surgery that will cure her deafness. The man sells all of his cows to pay for the surgery and she takes off. The town leader she shot, who is still alive, tries to take the child away saying that the man can’t take care of the woman’s child, and through an accident, their hut burns down, presumably with the man and child inside.

Fast forward fifteen years: the child is grown up and the man had taken her away because he thought the town leader set the fire on purpose. They’d been unsuccessful in finding her mother, who we discover is now a famous activist for women’s rights. Apparently not famous enough, though, because it takes the characters forever to reconnect. And there’s one more tragedy at the end which I won’t reveal, but it’s tragic.

Forgetful Not Forgotten: This is a documentary about one man’s father and his journey through early onset Alzheimer's, from pretty early on right through to the bitter end. The filmmaker, Chris Wynn, was afraid that he was showing signs of early onset Alzheimer's himself so it also chronicles his trips to the memory clinic and his struggle to decide whether or not he was going to start a family with his girlfriend. The one thing that lifts this doc above the rest is that it’s unflinchingly honest about his father’s decline. You watch it as it happens, pretty much. Utterly heartbreaking.

The SEED: This is the flick by the Linkin Park guy. He pumped a lot of cash into it, too, but it’s only twelve minutes. If you’re going to put that kind of cash into a project, make it a feature. It probably would have served the story better to be a feature anyway. It was shot on film and in scope so not only was it shot on film, it was shot on super-35.

The flick’s about a possibly crazy, possibly homeless guy who has a cloaking device in his brain and he fights some hockey-masked baddies with his mad martial arts skillz, then he takes the corkscrew end of a Swiss army knife, drills into his own head, and pulls out the SEED and now he can see spaceships. I suppose it was a “what if the crazy homeless people aren’t crazy” type deal, but more of a story would have been appreciated. It was well shot, well edited, and had good effects. The acting was okay.

After this there was an intermission in which I came back to my room, grabbed my hoodie, then got some food, and then waited for the last half an hour or so until the last feature started so I missed Ghengis Blues.

Hampshire: A Ghost Story: This flick is, as the title pretty clearly states, about ghosties. The Busy Bistro, which has since gone out of business in real life, is just an average restaurant with some very dangerous ghosts. People go completely missing, completely mental, or both. And the spirits follow you, driving you mad and killing everyone around you.

I make it sound more exciting than it actually was because outside of some great cinematography, good set pieces, and some pretty good acting, it really wasn’t scary. There was so little tension that whatever tension there was was broken with the use of overly dramatic music cues or silly classical selections. And the end song, which was performed by the twins in the flick, was a blatant Manson rip-off. It was an okay flick, but it could have been so much better, especially when it had so much going for it.

After the flick, there was one more short, but I decided to head over to the bar where the networking party was and get a bottle of water. Moments after arriving, though, I just went ahead and came back to my room and settled in for the night. I don’t want to be sick, especially not for my own screening. My throat’s still a little sore and I’m tired...not a good combination, not when I’m in Ohio anyway.

More to come after today’s festival goodness!