Friday, June 11, 2010

A break in the VA tale for GOOD NEWS!

Good morning!

I know, I owe the fourth and final day of the Female Shorts Film Festival, but I pretty much had to hit the ground running as soon as I returned from Alexandria because the music video's playing in New Filmmakers' Summer Series in New York City on July 7 and my brother and I are planning on being there and I had to get right back to work at the theatre and continue cutting Circus Sarasota...I've been crazy busy!

This morning, I was notified by Laura at the World Music and Independent Film Festival that the music video (which is currently in the lead in their People's Choice category - if you haven't yet voted, please do so! Go to , click on "add" near World Collision, then scroll to the bottom and click on "vote!") had been nominated for two awards: Best Alternative Rock and Best Cinematography! Here's a list of all of the nominees! I think I can speak for the band and cast here when I say we're deeply honoured and terrifically excited! A few of us were planning on being there anyway so, like I told Laura, this is like the cherry on top!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Female Shorts Film Festival Day the Third

Yesterday was a relaxing day. I had nothing too spectacular planned, mostly because the trip to Georgetown wore me out. My leg were pretty mad at me yesterday and felt like they weighed a bazillion pounds each. No matter. I had a very simply breakfast and then went to Candi’s Candies and, surprise, got some candy! You pick up a basket and pay by the pound except on certain “specialty” or pre-packed items. They have an entire room dedicated to salt water taffy, too. I probably undid any weight I lost during the Georgetown hike, but that’s okay because omigod candy!!

After that, I roamed around their weekend artist’s market. We have something similar in Sarasota, but ours is huge in comparison. Ours also starts and ends earlier, which I don’t like. And there’s only one food vendor here, which I found to be strange for something that, on the internet, is called a farmer’s market. Pretty interesting stuff, but nothing caught my eye so I mosied on over to the venue for the first of three special screenings today: Wedding Advice: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace. Karen Sosnoski started to make the documentary when she was trying to decide whether or not to get married. Most of the arguments against marriage are from a socio-political or individualistic standpoint, though there were some who simply said “Why should we? We’re committed to each other, we don’t need a piece of paper and a ring to say that.”

The doc did briefly touch on gay marriage and those against it both due to religion and, again, from a socio-political standpoint. Like any good documentary, it didn’t say yes you should or no you shouldn’t. It just gave every viewpoint and let you, the viewer, decide.

My personal belief is that you should do whatever makes you happy that doesn’t hurt anyone else, but if you’re going to get married, you’d better think very carefully about it and realize that it’s a true commitment that’s going to take a lot of work from both parties. It’s a contract on a state, moral, and spiritual plane and isn’t something to be taken lightly.

After that, we had an hour break so I went over to the same divey little food court I went to when I first got here and went to the Spanish place for a turkey wrap. I kept getting strange looks from the Spanish people behind the counter as well as a Spanish family and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, I remembered that I was wearing my Spanish Inquisition shirt. Jesus...surely even Spanish people watch Monty Python...?

Anyway, after a delicious lunch and ice cream treat, I went back to the venue for the last two special screenings: Karen Cantor’s The Danish Solution, which is about Jews in Denmark during World War II, and Last Rights, which is about the Right to Die. A pretty heady day of films if you ask me. All good stuff, but heady...

After that, I came back to my hotel room, had a bit of candy, wrote a little bit, and relaxed. Not too exciting, I suppose, but a really nice day.

Today’s the last day of the festival and the special screenings start at 2 so I’m going to take a shower and get ready here in a moment, then head on down to the venue and walk the gallery since I haven’t done that yet. The place is pretty spectacular: it’s three storeys and houses 82 galleries into which one can walk and talk to the artist and buy their work directly from them. They show over 150 artists in the various galleries, not to mention the fact that they house the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. It kind of reminds me of the Art Department’s Level Four studios back at Booker High. The seniors all had individual work spaces (or they shared, if the space was big enough) which I always thought was pretty damn cool. I thought my friend Stacy’s studio was the coolest. She shared with two other students, if I remember correctly, and it was relatively private and pretty comfortable, a really great workspace.

So, that’s it! This time tomorrow, I’ll be on a plane heading back to Sarasota. I’ll have a little over 24 hours after landing before I have to be back at work and start thinking about the New York festival. I’m so glad my co-workers have been nice to me and haven’t called... I’ll be sure to post about today when I get back to the hotel room after the closing night party.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Georgetown and Female Shorts Film Festival Day the Second

I woke up early today, 8 am to be exact, after deciding last night to go to Georgetown. The rest of the weekend’s festival schedule seems to be pretty jam-packed so today was my only opportunity to go over to Georgetown. For some strange reason, I decided to make use of the fitness center and did about ten minutes of their stairliptic machine. I don’t know why, I just did. After I came back to my room and got ready to go out, I decided that I had to make up for the lousy pancakes I had on my first day here so last night I Googled for the best breakfast place in Alexandria and a joint called Jack’s Place popped up. Reviews were that it was tiny and hard to find, but worth it.

Boy, they were not lying.

I eventually found it on North Lee, and went in. It was crowded with five customers at the counter and the two people behind the counter, but I’d JUST missed the rush, apparently. Yay me! I ordered orange juice, pancakes, and hash browns. The orange juice was ice cold and delicious, the pancakes were huge and cakey and soaked up all of the syrup, and the hash browns were just the right kind of greasy. All in all, delicious and a great way to start the day!

After that, I went over and bought my ticket for the 11:30 Washington Monuments Cruise which lands at Washington Harbour, Georgetown, and made sure my return ticket said 5:30 (I later changed this to 4:30 so I could have time to go back to the hotel and shower before tonight’s festival stuff, a wise decision, as I’ll point out later.) Anyway, I went to CVS and got some sunblock and water and then we departed for Washington Harbour. I decided to sit on the top deck in the back. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t hear the pre-recorded info track for the tour, but that’s okay. It was still beautiful.

Forty-five minutes after leaving Alexandria, we land in Georgetown. I studied a tourist map the night before to go to one specific location so I knew the address and I knew basically how to get there. 3600 Prospect Street, otherwise known as the Exorcist house. Yes, ladies and gentlemen...I went to Georgetown specifically to see the Exorcist house and the stairs.

Guess! One favourite shot of the Exorcist steps

I made sure to get a bunch of stairs photos; I was getting weird looks from people while I was taking photos of the house. Then again, I’ve been getting weird looks from people all day. Weirder than the looks I get from people in Sarasota, and that’s saying a lot. I was wearing my red Day of the Dead shirt, nothing too out of the ordinary for me, but there aren’t a lot of Goth or Metal people in Georgetown (at least, not during the day time) or Alexandria so I’m an oddity, I suppose. I got even more pointedly weird looks as I walked to the venue for tonight’s festival stuff wearing my Rocky Horror shirt. Tomorrow calls for something more normal, I Spanish Inquisition shirt.

Anyway, to answer a question, yes, I went down AND up the steps. I had to stop during the ascension, though, at which point I said, “Man, they do NOT pay stunt people enough money...” which we all knew, but those steps really illustrate the point.

My other favourite shot of the Exorcist steps.

I have two more geek tourist goals left: visit the Nightmare house and go to Monroeville Mall.

After that, I just walked around that small area of Georgetown. I didn’t want to stray too far away from the Harbour, but I wanted to see more. Unfortunately, most of the area was geared toward high end shopping. Maybe if I’d roamed around the Exorcist house, I could’ve seen more of the area, like the University or something, but all there were-were shops shops shops and restaurants, but an uneven distribution of nationwide restaurants to local places. And no music or movie store. At all. Not even in this crazy ass mall I went into that seemed to have fifty storeys in the space of only three. It was really weird. A very neat looking mall, but I’d hate to have that place come up in Left 4 Dead 3, you know?

Before leaving, I decided to see if I could make it to the National Mall and the Washington Monument and all of that. I was walking the entire day, I’ve probably walked about ten miles today and that doesn’t include whatever distance I put in on the stairliptic machine. I got as far as the Kennedy Center and the Watergate Hotel.

The Watergate, yesindeedy. The Kennedy Center.

I think my favourite area all day was K Street / Water Street. Not a place I’d want to go after dark and I didn’t take any photos, though I should’ve, but I liked it for its lack of tourists as you head toward Key Bridge, which is weird considering I am one here. I live in a city whose main source of business is tourism so I try to not be That Tourist when I go a’visitin’. I also liked it because sound is misleading down there (K Street / Water Street is under the Whitehurst Freeway.) Creepy, like in a Stephen King story or, dare I say it, one of my own. Haha!

I got on the boat and returned to Alexandria and stopped off at Bugsy’s to grab some pizza for dinner. I like their cheese blend, it was yummy, but it stuck to the bottom of the pizza box because it cooled on the twenty minute walk back to my hotel and the sauce just tasted like what they’d probably put on their spaghetti. Good sauce, tasty, but that’s the first time I’d ever thought of spaghetti while eating pizza.

Tonight’s special presentation during the Female Shorts Film Festival was a feature-length documentary called Who Does She Think She Is? which is about women in the male dominated art world, but can apply to all careers on different levels and was followed by a discussion moderated by the festival juror, Sydney-Chanele Dawkins, and featuring former film producer Pamela Viola who had nothing to do with Who Does She Think She Is?, but was a woman in Hollywood and is a woman in the arts.

It was a very interesting film that featured a lot of things that I’ve come up against, albeit on a smaller scale, but I choose to not think about too much because it would just get so depressing...and then it would enrage me...and then it would frustrate me...and then I’d get a blend of all of the above.

I don’t know if it’s residue from the common conception of Horror or caused by the Sarasota perception of the word “Artist”, but I don’t consider myself an artist. I just do what I do and hope that the message gets through or that people pick up enough of the threads to weave together a meaning for themselves so when Sydney-Chanele Dawkins asked me to stand up to talk a little about being a woman in horror, I was a little daunted and wholly unprepared. Plus, I had a headache and had to go to the bathroom something fierce (hey, this is my blog and you’re gonna get the truth about what’s going on in my head when I go to these things! Hahaha!) I mentioned that to the audience (the artist thing, not that bathroom thing ‘cause, you know, that’s really only good for the blog) and they were quick to tell me otherwise, which was nice.

I also said a few words about how, generally, women in horror are there as set dressing and rarely are there good, strong female characters and there are very few of us behind the scenes, though that is changing. I brought up the character of Nancy Thompson, of course, because she’s probably my biggest influence and then told a story about how, in high school, I was always told that women can’t make horror films and that I should stick to romantic comedies and such, but I never felt right writing that stuff, I only started to feel right when I started writing horror. When that got a laugh, I assured them all that I’m perfectly safe, which got an even bigger laugh. I also mentioned how my mom, in spite of being squicked and scared by the stuff that comes out of my head, encourages me to follow my passion. My interpretation of my mother’s reaction to my work got a laugh, too.

It’s strange to me to think that I’m going to have to start speaking up more about women in horror, but that appears to be what’s coming up. It’s something that’s always on my mind, but not something I tend to talk about or call attention to, but maybe one of my personal stories will help a young woman who wants to make horror or sci-fi or fantasy, but is told the same things I used to hear. Gotta work on that...

Overall, a great day which ended in a great way! Tomorrow, the festivities start at 1 and go until about 6 or thereabouts so I’d better get to sleep. G’night y’all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Female Shorts Film Festival Day the First

Even after sleeping for a good three or four hours last night, I managed to wake up early and have a big ol’ breakfast of pancakes and potatoes.

today's breakfast

I forgot to order toast, but that ended up being okay; I was stuffed by the time I was done. The pancakes weren’t very good, though...made me a bit of a sad panda. At least the taters were omnomnommy. I have internets. I should do a search for best breakfast place in Alexandria and hope that it’s within walking distance!

Anyway, I gathered up my things and headed over to the venue:

Torpedo Factory Art Center waterfront side close up.

It’s really huge, it used to be a torpedo factory for realies. I plan on walking the whole thing on Sunday before the special screenings.

By the time I got there, I’d missed the first two shorts of Group 1 and arrived in the middle of the third, but I found my place quickly and settled in for an all-day treat. I was pretty much the only one in the screening room (it’s a Thursday after all, and early in the day). In the intermission between Group 1 and Group 2, I checked my phone and saw that I had some emails. Not unusual (I get a lot of spam that isn't spam, if that makes any sense...) and among them was a letter from New York City's New Filmmakers telling me that they've accepted the music video to their Summer line-up! I was so excited, not only did I have to leave the venue for a minute, I could barely breathe so when I called my mom, she freaked out for a second. Poor mom. But OMIGOD, NEW YORK CITY! New Filmmakers! WOWSERS!!!

Back to the festival at hand...hahaha! The screening was good fun and during my flick, attendance swelled to five, including me and the projectionist! Around four thirty, they started the whole thing over again so I watched what I missed, then excused myself to get something to eat before the opening night party.

I went to the homemade ice cream shop I talked about in the last post and had a small cup of their cookies and cream. Oh my much better, but the atmosphere was so cold, literally and figuratively. If one could take the atmosphere of the one store and the ice cream from the other and combine them, it would be a kick ass joint. As I stood there (I’d been sitting for six hours, after all), it started to rain. And me without my rain gear. Yay. But, I remembered that there’s a CVS in the area and was maybe a couple of blocks from it so I braved the falling water and bought one. Good thing, too, because it soon started to pour. It was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so fiercely that it knocked my umbrella into my head and almost knocked my glasses off. At that point, I went into a Books-a-Million to wait until it’d cleared up a bit.

From there, I popped into Bugsy’s Pizza on King Street and had a chicken sandwich. It wasn’t very good, though it looked delicious. I think I was distracted by the hotness of their red pepper mayonnaise. Waaaay too much capsaicin, not enough mayo, but I’m a total wuss when it comes to that stuff.

It was a little after six at that point and the opening night party was to have started already. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining very hard and I made it to the party in time for the screenings with the filmmakers present. A very good turn out it was, too. I didn’t do a head count, but I think there were between twenty and thirty people there! So, I got to see a bunch of the films I had just watched all over again. Sometimes, this was good. Sometimes, this was NOT so good. But at least the filmmakers were there!

To be completely honest, I zoned out during my film. I was trying to not shiver as it’s flippin’ COLD in the gallery, I’ve lost about 70 pounds just from when I filmed Anathema so I don’t have as much to insulate me against the cold, and I was still wet from the rain. Not a great combination. I got up for my “A Few Words on the Piece” and cut it kind of short because I know that it’s a half hour silent flick (people start squirming around 15-20 minutes in, hahaha!) and...I was shivering! But I made them laugh at the beginning of my bit and the end so that was nice.

After the screenings, a very earnest filmmaker came up to me to tell me that she thought the film was beautiful and had a beautiful message amongst the horror and another filmmaker told me that she really liked the film, especially the cinematography. Another Sin City reference, of course, but I gotta take it, I guess...not a lot of high contrast black and white with a little bit of colour flicks out there.

I left soon thereafter and started to warm up a bit, but it was a cool night in Alexandria thanks to the rain. I may have to stop and get a sweater or jacket tomorrow because the gallery is going to be just as cold the rest of the weekend.

Tomorrow, there’s a special screening at 7 pm, but I’m free until then because, well, I’ve seen all of the films already...some of them more than once. I’m either going to go to the George Washington Masonic Memorial or I’ll pop into Georgetown and see the Exorcist house. And by pop, I mean I’ll take the 45 minute boat cruise over (it’s actually the Washington, D.C. monuments tour that goes to Washington Harbour) walk the half hour to see the stairs and the house, see some other stuff, and take the 45 minute return trip. I’d get to see a lot of stuff, which wouldn’t be bad for such a short trip. I may do that Saturday and do the Masonic Memorial tomorrow. I’m not sure why, but I really want to see the Masonic Memorial. I haven’t read Dan Brown’s books, by the way, and I thought The DaVinci Code was a laughable movie.

That’s all stuff for tomorrow. For now, though, here’s a picture of my view:


Interesting, sure, but not something to throw wide the curtains to every morning.

Airplane Confessional (SRQ to DCA via ATL, OMG) and O Hai Potomac!

Yesterday was a bit of a rush. My cab was a bit late getting to my house to pick me up for my 7:10 am flight and while I made it to the gate in plenty of time, I wasn’t early enough to take out my computer and get all introspective. This was after ten shifts in a row, including the night before where I had to clock out an hour earlier than I was scheduled because otherwise I would’ve gone into overtime and gosh darn it, we can’t have that.

People have strange things they want to read on the airplane. I was in the newsstand getting water and a woman comes in and asks the cashier, “Do you have the new issue of Garden and Gun?” She was completely serious and expecting an answer from the confused and surprised woman behind the register. I walked out giggling. Garden and Gun? Really?

I slept through most of the two flights to get to Alexandria, Virginia. Not a whole lot of time for deep thoughts outside of the fact that it takes an enormous leap of faith to not only get into a large aluminum tube that has jet fuel attached to it, but to also allow yourself to fall asleep while moving at some 200 mph surrounded by strangers, especially when, the closer one gets to Washington, D.C., the more the conversation around you turns to terrorism and health care. One woman alerted flight staff to a bag that was underneath the empty seat beside her. The stewardess patiently said, “It belongs to the person in the seat behind this one...” without a hint of the “duh” that she was probably feeling. Geez, lady, where’d you put your carry-on?

I’m in Virginia for an event that starts today, the FemaleShorts Film Festival which is being held at the Torpedo Factory. When I got to my hotel yesterday, I was told that my room wasn’t ready yet (to be fair, I was early) so I left my bags with the concierge and walked down to King Street to grab something to eat. I was trying to not look too much like a tourist as I took in the architecture of St. Asaph Street. I’m in Old Town so most of the houses in the area are registered as historic landmarks and have that classic American Colonial look to them. I turned left when I got to the St. Asaph / King Street intersection, which eventually took me to the Potomac River and the venue, the Torpedo Factory Art Gallery. I didn’t have my camera with me yesterday, but I will today and over the weekend so I can get some photos of my trip that aren’t strangely blue, like the photo of the river I took yesterday with my cell phone...

Anyway, I was too tired and too stinky after the trip to go anywhere fancy so I went to a divey little food court that’s attached to the art gallery and had a delicious chicken gyro (though it wasn’t as good as the gyro I had in New Orleans.) Afterwards, I decided to have a little ice cream and stopped at Pop’s, an Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour on King Street and had a small cookies and cream. Yummy, but not omigod yummy. Today, or tomorrow depending on my schedule, I’ll try the place that was directly across from it, a homemade ice cream place.

Anyway, I got back to my hotel and got my room. No view and I’m on the mezzanine level which is, like, floor 1 1/2, and I have no view to speak of, but the venue is pretty much on the Potomac so I’ll have an awesome view every day. After I went to the grocery store across the street to get some water and a snack, I took a three hour nap, woke up in time to watch the new Mythbusters and the Mythbusters from two weeks ago that I missed, and then went to sleep until around 8 so I could get a big breakfast in preparation for the first day of the festival, which is today.

There are only 22 short films in the four day event, plus special presentations from local artists. All of the short films will be played every day, by the looks of it, but today being the first day, I should be there for the whole shebang. I’m wearing my Call of Cthulhu shirt (not the video game, the brilliant silent film from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society), this is traditional for me, now. I’ve worn this shirt on the day my film shows since Without/Within at ShockerFest in 2008. I can’t wear it all weekend, though, but this is the first day so it works. I’ve got my I Am Nancy pin on my bag, though...maybe that’ll be part of the tradition now.

I’m still pretty tired, but I’m not as exhausted as I have been over the past couple of weeks. I had a good night’s sleep and plan on sleeping well over the next few days, too, because as soon as I get back, it’s back to work. Oy.

Anyway, the festival starts soon and it’s a twenty minute walk to the venue from the hotel so I’d better get going. More to come later!