Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The guts of the story in all of it's bloody glory; Viscera 2012

Alright so I’m back from my trip to California which spanned not only L.A. for this year’s Viscera Film Festival, but also San Diego for the San Diego Comic Con. Chronologically, Viscera was first so that’s what this post is about.
I got in to L.A. in the afternoon and pretty much got right to work, heading first to drop off my bags at my kind host’s house then heading in to the Egyptian for the volunteer meeting. I didn’t have a film in this year’s festival, but that’s not going to stop me from coming out and supporting my fellow filmmakers! Since I was going to be there regardless, they asked me to shoot the weekend. 
I shot their Marrow event in February and learned a lot about live event sound -- remember, I shoot my brother’s band, but either don’t worry about sound or have my Zoom set up to capture it separately. For Marrow, I used my wireless lavalieres, thinking hey, they’re small, will travel well, and are really excellent. While all of that is true, lavs aren’t good for events involving lots of people speaking very loudly in enclosed spaces. Since I would have to check a bag for the week and a half I was in California, I packed my boom mic in that so I could take it with me, a HUGE improvement in the sound area.
In an attempt to be more like my brother, who had an accident while on a hike in Peru (sounds so exotic!), within an hour of arriving at the Egyptian, I...heh...fell and sprained my ankle. Spectacularly. I did this last weekend and I still have bruises and my ankle is still very sore (but I also limped my ass through all of Comic Con...) It was no one’s fault. I was hoping to get an interesting angle and knew where I was stepping, but my ankle decided that it didn’t want to go down that step and let me know...violently and painfully.
I would be standing still for most of the shoot anyway, so to me, there’s no real point in complaining about it so long as I could get my kind host to stop by a pharmacy before we went back home so I could get a wrap. I just had to knock my posture out of whack for a while as I supported my weight on my left leg. No biggie.
The rest of the volunteer meeting went well and I got to hang out with a couple of friends afterwards for a bit before the HOLY SHIT started. Then, we went and got me a wrap for my ankle and went to sleep. 
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012:
Friday was only jam-packed in that I’d made plans to spend some time with a very good friend of mine and then had to get back to the house and get ready for the MoHA dinner. My friend and I walked Lake Hollywood -- yes, with my sprained ankle...I don’t get to see this person very often and I’d never been to Lake Hollywood. Thank goodness for Tylenol through my entire stay! -- and then we had a great lunch at Aroma Cafe. 
When we walked up, there was a gentleman sitting by the entryway to the cafe. I instantly recognized him; it was Johnny Dark who is most famous -- to me anyway -- as Danny the owner of Danny’s Pizzaria in Just the Ten of Us. However, he was also in the surprisingly good Up Your Alley, a romantic comedy starring Linda Blair and the formerly Unknown Comic, Murray Langston (I used to be a huge Linda Blair fan.)
Part of me really wanted to go up to him and just say thank you, but the rest of me, the part that didn’t want to bother him, won out and I didn’t. This is a common motif for me...
After lunch, I made my way back to where I was staying and got ready for the MoHA Dinner. What is this MoHA dinner I’m talking about? It’s a gathering for the Mistresses of Horror Alliance, a new branch of Viscera headed by the fabulous Miss Maude Michaud. Where Viscera seeks to promote and encourage female filmmakers externally, MoHA seeks to connect those filmmakers with each other to encourage collaboration amongst our ranks. This is all a part of the message of Viscera, that we’re better working together like the organs of the human body (y’know...viscera.)
The MoHA dinner was at the Caña Rum Bar, a posh, exclusive, members-only joint in downtown L.A., and was catered by Anarkitchen. It was freakin’ awesome! I couldn’t film all of it, the lighting was pretty bad once the sun went down, but trust me when I say that it was a fabulous event.
After the MoHA dinner, it was time to get some rest for the next day was V-day, baby.
Up and at ‘em fairly early for it was The Big Day, the film festival at the Egyptian. Holy crap, you guys. You don’t understand. It’s the Egyptian. It’s one of the Holy Grails of film, one of the most famous and historic landmark theatres in the United States if not the world and they were allowing Viscera to be there. Not only that, but they welcomed Viscera with open arms into their gorgeous building and courtyard.
The carpet was rolled out down the middle of the courtyard leading to the front doors of the theatre. Blood spatters were still being added when we got there around 12:30 pm. The step and repeat banner and carpet were already set up and the lighting guy was putting up his lights, the raffle table was being loaded, and the MoHA table was raring to go. I was there a couple of hours early so I started getting B-roll almost immediately (B-roll is “extra” footage that will be intercut with, say, an interview or cut together to go under a voice-over.)
I loved shooting at the Egyptian, but I could’ve done without the curious stares from the Hollywood tourists. I stayed inside the courtyard most of the time, but I knew the sun would provide some interesting lighting to the Egyptian signs and eventually had to go out to the sidewalk for footage. I got some great shots, though, and at least the tourists weren’t so boggled by Something Going On that they tried to bug me about it. I did feel like paparazzi at one point when I was waiting for something out on the sidewalk. I’m the worst paparazzi, though.
I loved shooting the event and have to give a special shout out to the woman who did the actual interviewing part for me, Savannah Schoenecker. She did a great job!
There was a slight set-back in that the step-and-repeat set up had to be moved to another part of the courtyard due to a tiny oversight, but we still ended up finishing the carpet ceremony on time, if not a little early, and ushered everyone inside where the real fun was to take place!
During this time, I discovered that had one battery with full power whereas I had planned it so that I would have at least two. I shot director Mary Lambert receiving the Inspiration Award and the rest of the introduction, but because of the battery woes, I got to see some of the films as I needed to keep the one full battery for the intermission B-roll, the raffle table during the intermission as people came to claim their goodies, the formal MoHA announcement, and the awards / Q&A as the other batteries charged, painfully slowly, in the VIP section.
I loved pretty much every film I got to see this year. Some of the stand-outs for me were The Dump (about two serial killers who find themselves in an awkward position whilst trying to dispose of their victims), Escape from Hellview (a beautiful animated piece out of Israel), How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused by You (which was about accepting each other warts and all), and Barbie Girls (about friendship and obsession.)
After the screening was the presentation of the awards and, I’ll be honest, I can’t remember who won what. I know that Rebekka McKendry won something for The Dump (best director?), and that Bloodtraffick won (I think that was best cinematography), and The Night Caller won and I think that was for best film. I feel crappy for not being able to remember, but my footage is on my laptop and my laptop is in my room and my room is waaaaaaay over there and my foot is stiff and sore waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. /whine
Afterwards, we all headed over to Hotel Roosevelt for the afterparty. I shot a little bit there, but bars keep things dark for a reason. It was a great time talking to friends and seeing other friends who, for whatever terrible horrible no good reason, couldn’t make it to the main event. A few of us headed out a little early and got some rest for the next day was the brunch!
SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012:
The first official Viscera Post-Apocalyptic Brunch was held at the Wirsthaus, a German bar and restaurant. Delicious Bavarian pretzels for brunch? Yes, please. (They really were flippin’ awesome.) I was a little loopy and tired, not unlike my compatriots, but all in all it was a great day! After that, I climbed into the car of my next kind host for the trip to San Diego and my first Comic Con experience, but in the immortal words of the voice over at the end of The NeverEnding Story, that's another story.

Now that I’m at the end of my post, and you, dear reader, have made it this far, I want to send a special thank you to Shannon Lark, Heidi Honeycutt, and Stacy Hammon, the triforce of awesome behind the Viscera organization. My love and my loyalty are not easily won and these ladies have mine in spades. Thank you Shannon, Stacy, and Heidi for proving to me that I’m not alone and that there are others out there who want to nurture and support other filmmakers, too. Now, I just need to get the hell out of Florida (but not move to L.A. I want to live in Portland, Oregon.)

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