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!


NoelCT said...

Wow, sounds like a nice hike.

I never understood the argument "women can't do horror" (or, alternately, "women can't do action"). Admittedly, there are very few I can name off the top of my head (Kathryn Bigelow, Mary Lambert, Rachel Talalay, Mary Haron, Amy Holden Jones), but I think that has nothing to do with "gender quality" as it does offered opportunity. It does seem to be a tricky industry sell, which is disappointing.

How familiar are you with Ida Lupino? A popular and well respected actress in her day, with a career spanning 1931-1978, she was a filmmaker at heart and pulled whatever connection she could to get behind the camera. While most were television efforts, she did some well respected films, like the comedy THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, the drama OUTRAGE, and the noir thriller ON DANGEROUS GROUND (which she actually picked up when the initial director fell ill).

Her best, though, which she also co-wrote and produced, was THE HITCH-HIKER. A pair of buddies on a fishing trip pick up a hitcher who turned out to be a sadistic convict who just escaped from jail and needs a ride down to Mexico. He promises them that they'll die once they reach their destination, though he can't hold back on having a little fun while on the way. It's a tight, twisted psychological thriller about three men on a desert road, and I dare anybody to find me a man who could direct it better than Lupino did.

Lori said...

Gender and offered opportunity go hand in hand. If Jack and Jill are up for the same movie, odds are that Jack's going to get it and that it'll get properly backed by the studios. If Jill wants to work in the business as a director, Jill's going to have to do "women's work": dramas, comedies, romantic comedies, romance and even then, Jack may still get the film ahead of her. Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice, Terms of Endearment among others...all directed by men. I'm not saying they weren't good films because they're directed by men or anything like that, I freakin' love Miss Congeniality for one thing, I'm just saying that, well, film is a man's world and horror is especially so.

You'll notice though that the women you've mentioned aren't horror directors so much as they're women who've done horror and even some cases, not that spectacularly. Talalay probably has the most credits in the genre having worked on all of the Elm Street movies in varying capacities, but her director filmography is mostly hour-long dramatic television. Freddy's Dead is pretty cartoony and weak, though fun for a Freddy sequel.

Mary Lambert, well...other than Pet Sematary, I'm not familiar with her work, but I can tell you that for all of her genre offerings, I don't see her name in Fangoria.

Mary Harron and Amy Holden Jones aren't horror directors, either, but I should mention that I haven't seen Holden-Jones' Slumber Party Massacre yet. Slasher flicks and I don't really get along, but Brinke Stevens is one of my favourite Scream Queens so I'm sure I'll put that on my queue if I haven't already.

Kathryn Bigelow is lucky as well as talented. I'm not into action films, but I don't remember there being a commotion about her having directed Point Break or K19 and it's funny that she's recognized for these action films because she's a pacifist.

Oh, Ida Lupino...I'm only vaguely familiar with her work on both sides of the camera, but I adore The Trouble with Angels. I actually brought that with me to Virginia! I'll have to look up The Hitch-Hiker when I get home.