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'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!


billoberstjr said...

I was at Viscera Film Fest last night and saw AFTERSHOCK. The audience loved it and so did I.

Lori said...

Thank you! I appreciate it! And it was great meeting you last night!

Jesse Kozel said...

Sounds like a great time Lori. So glad you're mixing with my LA crowd. I love hearing about all of them.

P.S. You sat with Erik Preston & Brandon Slagle, I imagine. Erik was in Halloween 4 & Brandon is the writer/actor of 15 Til Midnight among others.


Lori said...

Jesse: I've had pretty much nothing but fun when I go out there! Great people!

Nope, I sat with Tara Cardinal and Kevin Tenney on my right and Bill Moseley and Susannah Lo on my left. And much fun was had by all!