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.