Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Days of the Dead; or Thank God This is About a Convention Because I’m Droppin’ Names!

While most people were getting ready to fire up their bar-be-ques, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and set fire to colourful explosives in celebration of America’s freedom from the tyranny of British rule, I and thousands of others descended on the Wyndham Indianapolis West in Indiana for the very first Days of the Dead convention which boasted one of the most impressive guest lists this side of a Weekend of Horrors with genre luminaries such as Reggie Bannister and his wife Gigi, FX guru John Carl Buechler, P.J. Soles, Linnea Quigley, and Heather Langenkamp.

I was there to see I Am Nancy with the fans for whom it was made. I’ve seen it by myself. I had the honour of co-presenting the West Coast premiere at BleedFest so I got to see it at a film festival, and I showed it to friends of mine who weren’t fans before (and they loved it), but there’s just nothing like the energy of watching it with other fans. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself, however.

I arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday, the day before the festival. The hotel is within walking distance of five other hotels...and nothing else. Well, almost nothing else. I was given a room on the first floor which I didn’t think anything of because I did a quick walkthrough and discovered that it was far enough away from the majority of the action to not be a bother. So then I realize that I hadn’t eaten since a granola bar that morning so I order room service. No answer. Huh. Okay, so I go to the restaurant. No one’s there. Apparently, one needs to be a semaphore to get food in this joint. I go back to my room and try to call room service one more time. No dice.

The Wi-Fi in my room was brilliant, though, so I was able to find a restaurant near by that received some pretty good reviews on Yelp. After some troubles with GPS, I found the proper directions to get to the restaurant, a car race-themed greasy spoon that I don’t want to name. The food was...okay. Very greasy, surprisingly enough (or not at all if you could hear the sarcastic voice in my head), and the chocolate shake wasn’t nearly chocolatey enough.

After an unsatisfying dinner, I went across the street to the gas station and bought some water and went back to my room where I almost promptly passed out and slept solidly until 8 the next morning.

Friday, the first day of the con. Doors didn’t open until 6, 5 o’clock for VIP pass holders (of which I was one of 100) and eventually, I discovered that you could pick up your VIP badge at 3 pm. I went to the restaurant for breakfast where I ordered Belgian waffles and orange juice. There was a buffet, but I’m not a big fan of communal food. The orange juice was so tart I thought my face was going to fall off (and I love tart / sour stuff!)

With HOURS of time to kill, I went back to my room and watched some Death Proof (but actually stopped before the best parts because I have this habit of picking up accents and didn’t want to pick up Zoe Bell’s accent in advance of meeting her...)

Finally, three o’clock rolled around and I got my VIP badge and swag bag, took them back to my room, and went into the lounge / bar thingie for lunch. I grabbed a corner seat and order fish and chips which, on the face of it, doesn’t sound like a great idea considering Indiana is, for all intents and purposes, landlocked, but whatever. I live on the edge.

I was joined soon thereafter by a nice, talkative gentleman named Jewell. It turns out I hijacked his spot, but we got on well and decided to hang out during the con. After a surprisingly delicious lunch and great conversation, I went back to my room to retrieve my bookbag and a surprise to show Heather Langenkamp and I met back up with Jewell and we headed into the convention.

Our first order of business was to walk around to see who all had arrived. Some folks were late due to weather or buggered up flights and the vendors were still setting up. Once the reconnaissance was done, I got ready to see Heather, but the line was a bit strange. For whatever reason, it was in front of Amanda Wyss and Thommy Hutson. I actually stood back because I didn’t get that that was where the line was, but I was able to help a few fellow fans out by taking photos of them with Heather.

Then, it was my turn! I got an I Am Nancy poster which I asked her to sign with her line, “I’m into survival!” and took out the surprise to show her: my St. Auggies’ sweater. Her face seeing it was priceless! She asked me if I wanted her to sign it, but I demurred because I actually wear it! I’m afraid of losing her signature in the wash! I know, I know...that’s supremely geeky of me. I embrace it. It’s a really comfy sweater!

After Jewell got to meet Heather, we went and got into line to see Reggie Bannister. I wanted to meet him because I got to see / ran a film he was in at my festival called Walking Distance (the film has since been picked up by Lionsgate and is now known as Psychic Experiment) and wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his performance. We met a few more people like the lovely P.J. Soles and Ginger Lynn and then, when Jewell got into like for Roddy Piper, I went over and met the amazing Zoe Bell, a Kiwi stunt performer who doubled Lucy Lawless in Xena, Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill flicks, and herself in Death Proof among others.

I admire stunt people intensely. They’re willing to do the crazy things I and other writers dream up that most Stars are unwilling (or unable) to do. Stunties do NOT get paid enough and absolutely do not get enough recognition for their efforts (think I’m joking?)

/ soapbox

We had a nice, but quick, conversation and then I met up with Jewell again. He decided to get out of the Roddy Piper line because the other VIPs kept using their line cutting perk. He was a VIP, too, but neither he nor I took advantage of that particular perk during the weekend (actually, I think he did for Ace Frehley, but I can’t blame him for that...)

That night was the midwest premiere of I Am Nancy so we went in early (now that's a VIP perk I can get behind!) and grabbed seats in the second row from the front on the aisle. Superfan and Nancy cosplayer Diandra introduced the film and Heather, who sat in the chair in front of me to watch it with the rest of us.

It was so fantastic to see the film with the fans, with the people who understand. The energy was wonderful! At the end, we gave her a standing ovation, then she thanked us all for coming and headed out pretty quickly so she could personally thank everyone as they walked out.

If I didn’t already adore her before that, I certainly did after.

After the movie, Jewell and I headed over to Quincy’s (it’s a bar inside the hotel) for An Evening with Roddy Piper which was billed as a stand up act, but was really more like a stream-of-consciousness recitation of his early years in wrestling. Think of An Evening with Kevin Smith, but less scripted and well-rehearsed. You can’t fit all that on a poster so stand up act it is. I’m not a fan of wrestling, but when I was a kid, I did watch the show every once in a while. Plus, They Live is one of my favourite John Carpenter flicks.

It was HILARIOUS. I’m so glad I didn’t miss that! He was refreshingly up front in the stories he told and I think there were quite a few minds blown wide open by the stories he was telling. There were a few rude people in the audience who kept shouting names out to him, hoping for stories about these people and other than veering off the story he was currently telling, he handled that pretty well. If he were to release an autobiography, I’d most likely pick it up. Considering I have no interest in wrestling, I think that says a lot.

The party was over at that point so I went back to my room and went to sleep. Well, tried to, anyway. It turns out that Quincy’s backdoor was across the hall from my room. Yeah, I didn’t sleep very well that night. People kept running up and down the hall and shouting and all that great stuff. The next morning, Heather was kind enough to ask me how I slept and promptly admonished me for not getting a room higher up... I’ve learned my lesson, Heather!

The next day was the Big Day, the one most people show up for. Saturday. I got in line for Heather first, of course, adding a Just the Ten of Us photo to my increasingly excessive collection of autographs. My current count is now ten (two of which were not attained in person) including one I got from her on the last day of the con. But, but, but...Just the Ten of Us!

Anyway, I roamed a lot on Saturday and got more autographs than I normally have any interest in...says the girl with ten autographs from one person (but two don’t count!) I also walked the vendor room and thought about what I wanted to get, if anything. I had to keep in mind that I was flying home. Of course, I didn’t think about that when I bought the I Am Nancy poster. Thankfully, I was able to carry it onto the plane and home without damaging it, but it was dicy for a while as I thought about actually *gasp* folding it.

Saturday featured the panel I was super excited for: Scream Queens! With P.J. Soles, Linnea Quigley, Heather Langenkamp, and Mark Patton. I can hear the cliche record screech now. Mark Patton played Jesse in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a role which would be, stereotypically, played by a girl. There are so many good ideas in Freddy’s Revenge that, for me, simply didn’t work in execution, not to mention how it simply doesn’t fit in the canon. The make-up and score, in particular, are fantastic. And the actors are better than the material they’re given. The film just didn’t work.

Anyway, the scream queen panel was fantastic! There were thoughtful questions asked and some really insightful answers from the panelists. YouTube has some video of the panel. (Just so you know, I’m the one who asked about the panelists’ favourite/least favourite practical effects.)

At the end of the panel, the participants were good sports and screamed for the crowd, even in spite of having just said to everyone that you really need to prepare your voice before doing the scream queen thing. By the time they did that, I was already on the way out. I had my VIP pass and was able to sit up front (and without a camera other than the one on my phone), it was time for those who didn’t have one to come up and get photos and stuff.

After an incredible lunch with a surprise guest, it was time for photo ops. Originally, I’d planned on using my VIP voucher for a free photo op with Tom Savini. I mean, he’s Tom Savini for crying out loud! My point n’ shoot had crapped out before I went to the con and I’ve since replaced it with a camera that has a viewfinder on the front as well so I didn’t get any photos with anyone at the tables. My next con or event, whenever that will be, I can take photos and not worry that most people really don’t know how to take pictures (not to mention that I’m pretty picky.) I found out for sure that Savini had to cancel due to car troubles which was a bummer...maybe the third time our paths cross will be a charm.

I used my photo voucher to get a picture with Heather Langenkamp. She’s one of the very few people I get really geeky over so it’s hard to walk that line between fan and filmmaker. However, I recently heard a quote from Guillermo del Toro from when he was at the San Diego Comic Con that makes me feel a little better about loving this genre and the people in it: “I don’t know how many years I’ll direct or be able to produce but I know one thing. The one thing I can finance is I’ll be a fan my whole fucking life.”

I love him.

The photo op line ran a bit long (which makes me incredibly happy for Heather! Her lines all weekend were really long which means a lot of work for her, but at the same time, how awesome is that?!) so I thought I’d missed the Return of the Living Dead announcement that was supposed to happen before a short film package that I wanted to see. Luckily, they hadn’t started yet and while I had guessed what the announcement was going to be about thanks to a few clues that were dropped, I was still incredibly excited to see the trailer.

Thommy Hutson and some of the crew behind the incredible Never Sleep Again documentary are putting together a retrospective on The Return of the Living Dead 1-3! The trailer they showed was amazing and I can’t WAIT to see it! The trailer’s been pulled from the official website, but definitely keep your eye on it for more information.

I stayed for the short film package and then roamed some more before heading back to my room to put my stuff down and then head to the VIP party. Luckily for me, I found a seat with Jewell and two awesome people he met that day, Nikki and Randall. There were a hundred VIP passes sold for the weekend and the majority of them were, for lack of a better term, camped out by the door. Plus, there were mountains of muscle men standing at the table behind me so I couldn’t see a bloody thing.

The VIP party seemlessly transitioned into the Girls and Corpses Beauty Pageant which was totally not my thing so I headed out of there around ten thirty or eleven to try and get some sleep.

Sunday was the most chill day. In fact, most of the guests arrived late or had left early and the vendors were packing up by four. I saw Heather Langenkamp again (big shock) and asked her to sign the photo op picture of us with "Be Nancy," the slogan from I Am Nancy. I'm a fairly introverted person and I've been working really hard on that because you can't be introverted and make movies, especially when you're the one doing everything and you have to prove yourself worthy the trust required to work with actors. I haven't had to pursue funds yet, it'll be fun when I go to get money for the feature. I always have to remind myself that if someone says no to a question or request, I'm no worse off than before I asked so I just have to jump in with both feet and hope I land without spraining something.

I also got to meet Mark Patton. I may not like Freddy’s Revenge, but I started to really admire him after seeing Never Sleep Again and I like him even more after the Scream Queen panel. I didn’t meet Amanda Wyss...she’d had shoulder surgery fairly recently and I didn’t want to bother her or make her sign anything. I thought it was incredibly awesome (and brave) of her to come anyway, but I just couldn’t put her in any more pain than a weekend of signing and photos and accidental brushings had already. I will meet her at some point! Besides, I have to tell her how awesome she was in CSI (as Donna Marks AND as Tina Vincent!)

Afterward, I went to the Fango Film Festival to see the film Dead Genesis. This was a flick that I’ve been waiting patiently for since I saw a clip which turned out to be the first five minutes of the film. The first five minutes were the best of the entire run. It was pretty good, not the game changer a lot of people seem to be touting it as, and it’s very clear that the director doesn’t understand found-footage or mockumentary-style filmmaking.

After the film, I went to the vendor room and was disappointed to see that the vendors were packing up so early, but I was able to buy a couple of prints from Chris Kuchta - a beautiful print of his painting of Bub from Romero’s Day of the Dead, a print of Hellraiser’s cenobites for my friend Rickey, and this amazing print of this Night of the Living Dead painting which I then had signed by John Russo (producer), Russell Streiner (he plays Johnny in the original film), and George Kosana (who plays the Sheriff in the original.)

With the convention winding down, I went to say good-bye to Heather, but she was already gone, and then I went to my room to relax for the rest of the night and came home the next day! A weekend later, I shot my short film JustUs, the trailer for which you can see here. The weekend after that was Viscera (which is two entries before this one...) Just trying to put everything in context since this post is so bloody late.

This was an amazing festival and, unless you knew beforehand that it was their first time out, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. They did a fantastic job and I hope that maybe I can return someday! The hotel was a little too isolated, I suppose, but if I do get to go back, I'll know that ahead of time!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

L.A. Trip Four

While Viscera was the reason I was in L.A., it wasn't my only plan. I stayed a few extra days because the wonderful Mr. Eddie Izzard was going to be playing the Hollywood Bowl and being the huge Monty Python nerd that I am (does that surprise you?), I knew I had to go! He's practically a Python anyway! But that wasn't until yesterday. I still have two and a half days to talk about.

I made plans this day to hang out with Brenda and Lis Fies, the directors of BleedFest. We had lunch at Buddha's Belly in West Hollywood (I can say that's where I was staying since I'm not there anymore) and then we decided to check out the Tim Burton exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, colloquially known as LACMA. It's amazing; the collection of work spans pretty much his entire creative career. If you're in L.A. before the exhibit is over (which is Halloween), I highly recommend going!

The only thing that made me sad was that we couldn't take pictures of the exhibits. I understand why, but these things are far too cool...I really wanted an image of the small collection of Jack Skellington heads. I'm not as into The Nightmare Before Christmas as my fellow Goths, but I do love it. And some of his Polaroid series images are heartstoppingly gorgeous. But there are no prints or anything available in the gift shop...at least, not from anything I really liked. Even the exhibit poster, which features an image from the fantastic short Vincent, was kind of lackluster. I got a couple of magnets that happen to be two of my favourite pieces, at least, and an Alice in Wonderland sticker book.

Lis and Brenda had to leave early to do some errands so when I was finished gawking at the products of Burton's wonderful mind, I decided to do something far out and I grabbed the bus to the Santa Monica Pier. I thought it was where're they filmed The Lost Boys, but I have since discovered that I was wrong, they filmed at the Santa Cruz amusement park. While it's small, the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park do have a Lost Boys flavor to it. Should I ever make it to the San Francisco area, I'll have to go!

There was at least one notable thing about the Santa Monica pier: it marks the end point of the famed Route 66, where one could apparently get their kicks.

After I got back to West Hollywood, I got something to eat and called it an early night.


I had made plans to meet up with an actress for coffee around one. I spent most of the morning looking at things to do and writing down directions to take the bus to Disneyland the next day, if I decided to do that, so most of the day slipped away from me while I waited for her. And she was running late. Hours late.

While it was fairly irksome to have spent most of the day waiting, I understand that things happen.

I decided that since most of the day was gone, that I would do something at night. My choice? A movie at the famous Graumann's Chinese theatre. It was a half hour bus ride away from my hotel. Not a big deal at all! And, the bus let out right in front of where I was staying, too, so I felt a little more confident in riding the bus at night.

I hopped on the bus and then discovered that Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off. What? Why? Once I navigated the detour and got to Hollywood and highland, I saw why: the Captain America premiere was at the El Capitan which is right across from Graumann's. They'd roped off a block to accommodate all of the limos for the stars.

Lis Fies was kind enough to join me, but we said we'd meet there. I let her know right away about the traffic issues and told her that one of the side streets was open. Then I went and bought our tickets.

Traffic was a nightmare, of course, and I had to switch our time to a later show, but we got in and I was so excited! It wasn't the main theatre, that was reserved for another screening of Captain America for all of those who weren't important enough for the El Capitan.

The seats are nice and comfy and I like the way they let you into the theatre. I wish there had been more leg room, but it's all good. It was also my first time seeing a masking system that goes up and down! Alright, it's show time! The lights go down! The film starts!

What the hell?

Let me preface the following by informing you, dear reader, that I was a projectionist for a big theatre chain, one that prides itself on their presentation. And my former direct boss was very careful about our own presentation.

This was one of the worst digital presentations I've ever seen. The sound was phenomenal, but the visual aspect...oh my God. I would be embarrassed if I were a projectionist here. The screen was filthy. The digital bulb flickered. And the image was badly distorted by the worst keystoning I've ever seen on a digital system that had been there for a long time. If I hadn't liked their staff so much, I would've complained right then and there. I decided to wait until I was home and on a real computer to write them a letter.

It was so bad that I texted both my former boss and the boss of the theatre proper to snicker at the lack of care taken in the presentation of a movie in HOLLYWOOD. They're making the idea of direct-to-video look better and better if that's the kind of quality I can expect from movie houses in L.A.


I'd made tentative plans with some transplants to L.A. and decided to not have a repeat of the day before so we talked, they said they'd call back, and I went about my business. I decided to not go to Disneyland, but I decided that the Warner Bros. Tour sounded like fun so I hopped a couple of buses and headed to Burbank. I hadn't heard from my friends until it was almost time to go on my tour (we first talked around 11 in the morning and my tour started at 2:20), but they lived in Burbank so it was all good.

I have mixed feelings about Warner Brothers. They have the best short format cartoons (Looney Tunes, baby!) and a lot of my favourite movies, but they dissolved New Line as an independent studio and cancelled Just the Ten of Us to appease Miller-Boyette and their terrible shows.

The tour was pretty cool, somewhat typical of what you'd think a studio tour would be like during the summer hiatus. They took photos of everyone in the car museum (I'll share mine when I get home) and during the tour, the guide asked young girl and one other person to "volunteer" to explain how a one hour drama is made. Guess who he picked.

Me. The filmmaker.

He said they only did three set ups per scene and then proceeded to say that they shot a close two shot, medium two shot, and long two shot. I made a face and he looked at me like, "What?"

"Umm...they do the master and then close-ups." Blank look. "I'm a filmmaker."

Then he said that he wasn't done and then clarified that they do nine set-ups, three per shot. Seems like a huge waste of money to me. Isn't that what pre-viz is for? During the rest of the tour of the set of Pretty Little Liars (damn kids, get off my lawn), he kept checking with me to see if he was right.

I didn't mean to hijack your tour, dude, but I didn't want you to give people what I thought was bad information either.

Also on the tour was a tour of the costume museum which had a section dedicated to Harry Potter. Other than a crystal ball, there was nothing Emma Thompson related, but the sorting hat put me in Slytherin! I'm not ruthless. I have ruth. I think I'm more Ravenclaw than the rest, but I LOVE the Slytherin house colours... :D

At the end of the tour, I asked the guide if he knew which soundstage housed Just the Ten of Us. I got that blank look again. Poor guy. He said it may have been shot at the Ranch since he'd never heard it referenced around the studio.

After that, I. Met up with my friends and hung out for a little while, but I had a ticket to see Eddie Izzard. My friend kindly braved the Highland Avenue traffic to take me to the Hollywood Bowl. If I'd had to park, I would've been late, but in reality, I was right on time and the show started about fifteen minutes after I arrived.

He killed it! He was all about the Pythons having played there (and later said that Eric Idle was there! ZOMG!) and referenced them a couple of times. The majority of the act seemed different from when I saw him in Tampa a few years ago. A little tighter, in that Izzard kind of way, even though the topics were the same. Great, great show and more than worth the price of admission. And, I got to replace my Izzard shirt which I bought a hundred pounds ago! Yay!

After that, I rode the bus back to the hotel and got some sleep!


I know it's Comic Con weekend up in San Diego, but I'm heading home with plans to come to next year's event (I can't talk about that yet, you know how things go, but I can tease it!) but I leave with memories of another fantastic trip to L.A. There were a few things that didn't happen or that I didn't get to do, but that just means I'll have to come back!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Viscera Film Festival 2011 (L.A. Trip Four)

I remember hearing about Viscera at my very first festival back in 2008. After winning the Director's Choice award at ShockerFest for Without/Within a woman asked me if I was going to submit it to the Chainsaw Mafia event and I grabbed a flyer with the full intention of submitting, but ended up not doing it because I was rather disappointed in how poorly Without/Within did on the festival circuit.

Viscera popped up on my radar again last year, but by that time, I was honestly a little intimidated by the prospect. It's so...freakin' cool!

Finally, this year, I just decided to go for broke and I sent those poor judges all of my short narratives. Luckily for me, they liked one and they chose aftershock, my three minute zombie movie with no zombies. I made it right after Without/Within to vent some frustrations I had with that last project and because my work could've potentially gone in front of George A. Romero's eyeballs. I talk a lot about how Heather Langenkamp and her work have influenced me and mine, but the second part of my trifecta of main influences is Romero's Dead Cycle. The third part would be Lucio Fulci, surprisingly enough.

aftershock didn't do all that well either. It's three minutes and submission fees to a lot of these festivals are exorbitant so I didn't submit it to very many venues. And, it didn't do very well in the contest, partly because it was a MySpace likes contest and I don't have that kind of network and also because I managed to stick my foot in my mouth, angering a few of the members of the community. Sometimes, I don't phrase things properly and that just happened to be one of those times...

I love aftershock, if I may be allowed to love my own work. It's so simple and speaks to me on a primal level. I'm so glad that it's finding an audience, having played BleedFest (and won!) in February and now playing Viscera (where it also won! I should note that if your film is accepted to Viscera, it's an award-winning film. :D)

I flew into L.A. on the first day of the famous Carmageddon of 2011 (this being L.A., there will be a sequel in 2012, but let's hope it's not plagued by the same problems that plague other part twos in this business.) I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, I was up until 2:30 in the morning trying to tweak the sound mix on my new short like I know what I'm doing so I could keep my word to Brinke about hand delivering her a copy. When I land, I decide to take the FlyAway to Union Station, just like the transportation authority suggested, and refill my TAP card while I was there. I figure out that I can take the Metro and grab one bus to get to where I'm staying. That's no big deal!

Honestly, though it was going to take forever, everything was going smoothly until I realize that I got on the right bus on the wrong side of the street. I didn't realize this until I was about half an hour out of the way. Once I got off the bus, I crossed the street to wait for the return, but it never came. Time was getting short, I had a Mistresses of Horror dinner to get to, dammit (Janet!), so I called a cab.

I made it to my hotel and checked in with enough time to wash my face and walk down to where we were meeting for dinner! And I was only a little late! Not L.A. fashionably late, though. That will take far more practice than I have patience.

The dinner was fantastic! The table was full of amazing and inspiring women and wonderful conversation! I loved every second of it, and to be included in this group of women is mind-blowingly surreal and awesome! I was exhausted, but I could've stayed up a little longer just to talk to everyone some more! Alas, the evening had to come to an end. A few of the directors were also helping Heidi and Shannon Lark put on the event and they had a long day ahead of them so we all called it a night.

The next day, I woke up (zomg early...6:30, which is 9:30 for me, but still) and wished my brother about fifty happy birthdays and Heather Langenkamp about forty nine happy birthdays (You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I like to cover my bases: Shawn got a text and four Facebook messages, semaphore and a telegram, two Tweets he'll never see and smoke signals to be on the safe side.)

Then, I decided to go on an unguided walkabout. Thanks to my Wilderness Explorer GPS, otherwise known as my phone, I can find my way back to where I started! I eventually found myself at an outdoor maul called The Grove. I'd heard of it before, but nothing can prepare you for the reality.

It reminded me of Universal Studios in Florida. There's loud music piped into outdoor speakers that surround the mall (there it's the Jurassic Park theme, here it was jazz), it's preternaturally clean and strangely off-scale, and the merchandise is horrifyingly expensive.

From there, I walked through the Farmer's Market. That was pretty awesome. I didn't look at the prices, though.

From there, I went back to my room to get ready because I was going to have lunch with Miguel from Monster Island Resort podcast, which you can download from iTunes. As usual, I was early, but then again, so was he! He came down from San Diego and it took him an hour and forty five minutes because traffic was so clear!

After lunch, we went to the venue (pictures will be coming, once I get home and get them off of my camera) and he interviewed me for his podcast! Teehee! It's still a little weird to me, being interviewed. Hopefully, I don't sound like a complete idiot (work your editing magic, Miguel!)

This is my first time getting a swag bag from a festival as a filmmaker. And what a swag bag it was! There was a Night of the Living Dead tanktop (which I already know will look a horrorshow on me so I'm not even going to attempt it which makes me sad...), and some awesome jewelry, a keychain I can't take on the airplane, and a DVD! Guess what the DVD was! NEVER SLEEP AGAIN! Hahahahaha! I find this to be HILARIOUS (and awesome, of course!) It would only have been funnier if it was I Am Nancy! I wonder if the bonus interviews are keyed or if they're the initial printing's green ones...

Miguel and I head out to the back patio and people were just starting to trickle in. They'd separated the patio into two areas: the Commoners and the VIP. I was hanging in the Commoners section, as I tend to do, but it started to get really crowded. Y'all know I don't do well with an oppressive press of people. So I headed over to the, at that time, not so crowded VIP section and saw how the other half lives. Yeah, not that much of a change.

I've been working on my shyness lately and while I tend to feel really goofy trying to be more extroverted, I've gotten better. I had the honor and the pleasure of meeting some really incredible people yesterday in addition to all of the fabulous women at the Mistresses of Horror dinner the night before!

The always lovely Brinke Stevens was there and she introduced me to David DeCoteau (director of Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama among so many others), Bill Moseley (an incredible actor whose most notable roles are Chop Top in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Otis in The Devil's Rejects), Danielle Harris (Halloweens 4 and 5 and reduxes 1 and 2) and Ken Hall (who created the Puppet Master series and does practical special effects.)

I also got to hang out with fabulous filmmakers Dave Reda (director of the great short Horror of Our Love) and Kevin Tenney (director of Witchboard and Night of the Demons. The originals, people,) and, of course, the lovely Miss Tara Cardinal.

I always miss the red carpet at BleedFest. It's not by design...it's just luck. This time, as stupid as I felt, I was going after the red carpet! I got in there, got my picture taken, and did four quick interviews. Not bad for someone who feels uncomfortable doing that stuff!

One of my interviews was highjacked by another filmmaker. That was kinda funny, in a way. It's all good because later on, Bill Moseley and Susanna Lo (the writer and producer of the upcoming Manson Girls) and asked me to take a picture with them on the red carpet! What an honour!

Finally, the show was beginning so they ushered us into the beautiful, intimate theatre. They had really comfy couches reserved up front for the filmmakers and guests and I sat with Tara Cardinal and Kevin Tenney on my right and Bill Moseley and Susanna Lo on my left!

To say that I am blown away by the films I saw last night would be an understatement! And to say that I'm blown away by the response to my film would be an even larger understatement! To be included in this group of women is a huge honour and I hope to live up to that honour!

The films ended and the Q&A began! Normally, that's my least favourite part of the whole thing. I get so nervous and I kind of...word vomit. It's not pretty, but luckily there were a bunch of us up there and there was a lovely, supportive vibe!

Then, we were all presented with our rewards! It's beautiful! There's a picture buried in my Twitter, but I'll post a better one when I get home.

After the Q&A was done, it was after party time! The crush of bodies was so oppressive, I ended up hanging out with the smokers out the back. Quite a few non-smokers joined us and so I got some quality hang out time with filmmakers Nikki Wall, her husband Creep Creepersin, Rachael Deakon, Dave Reda, Miguel Rodriguez, and Kevin Tenney.

After they kicked us out of the Silent Movie Theatre, the party moved down to the Rosewood Tavern where I sat with actress Devanny Pinn, her friends Eric and Brandon (I gathered they're actors, but I didn't catch their last names so forgive me that I'm not being more specific), and Hart Fisher. I heard a lot about the seedier side of the business and while it's not the way I would've wanted to end the night, the perspective is good.

All in all, it was an incredible night! I'm so honoured and so thankful for the opportunity! Thank you Shannon Lark, Heidi Honeycutt, and everyone at Viscera for such an amazing time! You're all so amazing! A special shout out must go to the Viscera volunteer staff. I don't want to miss or mangle names so I'm not going to list you all, but my love and gratitude go out to you!

The statistics of women in film suck. It's well beyond time to change it! We can do everything a man can do and men can do everything a woman can do. Let's work together to bring incredible stories to the screen!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Long-overdue review: I Am Nancy

For those who don’t know, I Am Nancy is a documentary about the place of the hero/ine in horror from Heather Langenkamp’s unique perspective as the actress who plays one of the genre’s strongest female characters, Nancy Thompson, in the film series A Nightmare on Elm Street. In the original Elm Street, Nancy was just a regular teenaged girl-next-door thrust into a life or death battle with a paedopheliac child murderer who had been lynched by her parents and the other adults of Elm Street an unnumbered amount of years prior and had come back in the dreams of their children to avenge himself. She defeated this dream demon, the infamous Freddy Krueger, by herself and without the aid of special powers or high calibre machine guns. She only had her wits and the strength to face her fears.

Heather begins the documentary with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek as she establishes who Nancy is for the non-fans who might be watching, then asks the question “Why Freddy and not Nancy?” Through the course of her journey, she discovers that Nancy means a lot more to people than even she previously knew.

By the end of the film, the viewer sees the original Elm Street in a whole new light and with a whole new appreciation, especially after hearing her conversations with actor Robert Englund (Freddy himself) and Elm Street writer/director Wes Craven, and Nancy herself is seen in a different light after hearing the handful of stories that could fit into the slim 70-minute runtime from fans about how she inspires them in their daily lives.

The fact that the film is made by Heather and her sister-in-law, director Arlene Marechal, makes the film so much better and so much more honest than if some random fan, such as myself, had made it. There’s an integrity and humour in the film about the Freddy phenomenon and the relative lack of a Nancypalooza (if you will) that can only come from someone who’s lived with it since its inception.

Heather is an engaging and refreshingly honest host. Even though she has lived with the shadow of Freddy looming over her for a long while, there are times during the film where it’s as if she’s discovering the loveliness, and occasional insanity, of fandom for the first time. It’s a breath of fresh air to be honest, because while I love how informative Never Sleep Again is, it's also a bit stale. I Am Nancy never gets stale. The majority of its vibrancy comes from the fans who know and love this film and this character so much.

The film is available on Amazon.com or on the website at I Am Nancy. They’re also selling posters (I have one!) and photos (I have the original poster of the Freddy and Nancy go to the prom one, but I actually don’t have any of the others she’s offering! I’m not a complete nerd after all! Okay, nevermind, I am...) and you can have personalized autographs! (Details are on the site.)

A SLIGHTLY MORE PERSONAL REVIEW and a FULL DISCLOSURE (for those who don’t already know):
This film expresses everything I’ve known and felt about Nancy for years. I love that now I can tell people to go watch this movie if they want to understand my love for Elm Street and Nancy or for Heather herself. No matter how disparate my characters are, I always try to put a little Nancy in them.

I tried to get this film for my own festival last year, but things just didn't work out. I hope that I run a festival again sometime, even if it's a couple of years down the road, and maybe Arlene and Heather will let me run it then!

I am a huge fan of Heather Langenkamp. I had the honour of meeting her at Spooky Empire (which was my very first horror convention) and I had the honour of co-presenting the West Coast Premiere of I Am Nancy at the BleedFest Film Festival in L.A. last month. I also had the honour of attending the MidWest Premiere of I Am Nancy when it played at the inaugural weekend of Days of the Dead (my post about that is forthcoming, I promise.) Surprisingly, I’ve seen I Am Nancy only four times so far, but every time I’ve been home, I’ve made a music video, I’ve been sick, or I’ve made a short film. After Viscera, I hope to sit down and watch it again! Or...maybe I’ll put it on my iPad for the trip to L.A.

I can go on and on about how much Heather meant to me as a young girl in search of a role model in the midst of chaos and how much she and her work means to me now and how she continues to inspire me as a grown woman and a filmmaker. And all I can say to her is thank you, which seems so paltry...which is why I’m writing this review even though it’s been a while since I got my DVD. I realized today that, for a while, I was Twittering incessantly about the DVD and telling people to get it, but I never wrote a review for my website!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New short film!

I've been so busy that I haven't been able to post about anything, much less the fact that I was making a new short film! Those posts will be coming before I head back out to L.A. this weekend for the Viscera Film Festival where my short film aftershock will be playing alongside some of the best female directors in the genre!


So here's the teaser, I hope y'all enjoy!!