Monday, March 12, 2007

Cinequest - Day 12 - The Un and the Fathomable

Last night at the closing ceremonies for Cinequest Film Festival 17, Blood Car won its category. BLOOD CAR WON AN AWARD! THE NEW VISIONS AWARD!

Before I get into all the gory details, I must go back and start at the beginning like in Double Indemnity. The Blood Car team has a collective gunshot wound in its belly and I'll do my best to recount to you the story behind this momentous, wonderful day. I hate to compare the winning of an award to a gunshot wound, but it was that unbelievable, that shocking, that triumphant. Just imagine the greatest, feel-good bullet wound you could ever receive and that's what it was like.

Now you're probably saying Alex and Katie were supposed to fly back to Atlanta on Saturday night. Well, for some reason, they decided to stay an extra night and complete the Cinequest 17 cycle. Let's call it guilt. They'd been there the entire festival. What's one more night? A no brainer. Adam and I were in San Francisco on Saturday night when Alex texted us and said he was going to stay for the last day of the festival and the closing night ceremonies and parties. He said we should come back down. Another no brainer.
This brings me to Sunday. Adam and I awoke in San Francisco and walked to a breakfast place to get a bite to eat before heading back down to San Jose, which everyone calls San Jo. I snapped the first two pictures in this blog during the four or five blocks it took to arrive at this breakfast nook. The first has a key cinematic parallel to our trip which for my mother's sake I won't delineate. The second picture, of the phrase carved into the sidewalk, was taken on a whim. I didn't realize I had captured a prophecy for that night's revelation.

Tova, our SF friend and Blood Car crew member, drove down with us to San Jose, which took about a hour and was very calm. It made me sympathize with people who move to Atlanta and complain about the drivers there. There was a palpable sense of safety on the road. Maybe it's because everyone rides bikes in SF and you generally have to be more cautious. I also think they drive slower to indulge SF's scenic vistas and fashionable citizenry.

Now we hadn't expected to win anything at this festival. We hadn't expected Blood Car to win anything ever. Period. Around day 4 or 5, we talked about the possibility of winning an audience award but once we saw some of the other films and the audience reactions to them, we pretty much wrote that off. After each film you receive a ballot and a pencil and rate the film you saw as either poor, fair, good, or excellent. Cinequest then determines the audience award based on an average of all the ballots received. I've heard our film really offends some viewers and I suspect they gave the film a poor rating. Even though I shouldn't be surprised the film offends people, I still am. I don't want to ruin anything for any virgin eyes, but Blood Car is first and foremost a comedy and one way to make people laugh to is offend them and follow the mantra, "Nothing is sacred."

6pm - We lined up at the California. I should have tilted the camera down just a tad to catch Alex's shoes. He bought a pair of cool looking Vans that today. Inside we sat with all of the other filmmakers from the festival. There was one other Blood Car t-shirt in attendance, worn by one of Cinequest's greatest ambassadors, Chris G. He was dressed very similar to Adam as a matter of fact with a green jacket, BC shirt, and jeans. If you put a long, light brown Gandalf beard on Adam and took away his glasses you probably have a pretty accurate picture of Chris G. Picture it...right now.

Before the awards I became terrified and nervous. I know many people have liked our film and supported us. Cinequest has been very good to us. Still, I didn't know if we had a chance. But what if? What if? Things were flashing before my eyes and I began to think I needed therapy.

They brought all of the filmmakers in attendance on stage for the awards presentation. Adam was positioned behind the speaker at the podium and the award plaques were sitting inside it, face up. You could only see the very top plaque.

Reader, he peaked!

It was for Blood Car. We had won. I smiled, but remained nervous. They announced a few other winners before ours, one of which was for Best Maverick Documentary. This was probably one of the happiest moments of the entire festival. Just thinking about it right now nearly makes me cry. Monster Camp - Winner! Cullen Hoback - Winner! You should have seen the look on his face. I'll never forget it. Emotion strengthens memory. He was a good friend of ours at the festival. We would see him nearly every single hour of every day we were there. We promoted our films together, drank together, talked about movies together.
When they announced Blood Car, I covered my mouth with my hand. It's something my friend John Dixon used to do when he would laugh really hard. I'm not sure why. I guess he didn't want people to see into his mouth when he laughed. I picked it up involuntarily over the years. But I wasn't laughing on the other side of that hand. My mouth was wide open in shock. I wanted to scream or swear or invent a new sound, but I didn't. Alex said he tried to think of a joke to say if he won an award, but if he did, he never said it. He humbly accepted the award to applause. He was gracious and kind and dressed like a 70s lounge singer. It was a shell shocking experience. Our friends from Indestructible also won an award, which was very gratifying.

We stepped backstage for a few photos. Stephen Baldwin was there. He co-starred in a film that won an award. They started the closing night film while we were back there, so we missed the beginning and decided to leave and go to a bar. Before we left, I took this picture of Katie. It's like the last shot in an Antonioni film.

At the bar, Adam and Katie were pretty relaxed and cool about the win, while Alex and myself were a bit more introverted, quiet. It means so much. It means we have something to give to the cinema. We always knew we had something to give, but to have someone take it was another story. What followed that night included dancing, free booze, open bar tabs, laughing, theft, threats, injuries, congratulations, gaiety, flashing the A-town hand signal, and two mysterious lewd pictures. For more details, you'll have to ask me in person. I must protect myself.

Today was the last Cinequest blog. The daily blogging will cease, but you'll hear from me again whenever there's relevant Blood Car news. It's a busy time for Blood Car so I imagine the gaps won't be too long, but I do need a break. Check for updates.

Many thanks to Cinequest for hosting us and putting on a fabulous film festival. I hope to be back.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting Blood Car and Fake Wood Wallpaper Films. And thank you for supporting the cinema.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cinequest - Day 11 - Final Engagment?

There's a gift book published every year that's called 365 things to be thankful for. Here are a few excerpts: No. 13 long warm baths, No. 49 birthdays, No. 171 long weekends to catch up with your family, No. 210 fridays. I'd like to propose something for next year's book. No. 366 Checking out of the Clarion Hotel in San Jose, CA.

130pm. Camera 12 Cinema. Our final engagement here at Cinequest. Alex and Katie leave tonight. Tony and Julie left before the screening. Adam and I leave for San Francisco today for the final leg of our trip. To be grandiose a temporary Blood Car diaspora. How cruel. I'm sorry to see it come to an end. I'll miss the San Jose sun and the harmless light rail system, the Pita Pit and congregating filmmakers and film lovers. Tall palm trees, new places, new people, new transit, overcrowding cabs at 2am, free drinks, free internet, putting up posters, trying to convince complete strangers to see our film. Cinequest is a planet. Every film festival is. Where no one does anything except eat, drink, sleep, watch movies, talk about movies, how they're made, how they're painful, how they're fun, how you have to fight for them, die for them, love them and kiss them, and sleep with them and give birth to them. The cinema is an ecosystem, a civilization. There should be a board game called Cinema, that's equal parts Life and equal parts Risk. Milton Bradley, are you listening?

We passed out postcards before our 130pm screening, trying to fill the seats but worrying we got too late a start beginning at 1pm. Well, we hoped for the best and saw people lining up at the box office. The lines were long and we overheard, "One for blood car", "Two for Blood Car", "Three for Blood Car, two adults and one child."


It was a gratifying end to our premiere festival engagement. So wonderful. So fantastic. Katie watched the movie with her sister Rachel, but Alex and Adam left to play bocce ball at the Hotel Montgomery. I went to St. Joseph's Cathedral Basilica to try and light a candle for the great filmmakers who are no longer with us, but they're weren't any candles there. So I sat down and admired the beauty of this place. I sat and sat...

Alex triumphed in bocce ball over Adam and we returned to watch the end of the movie and participate in the Q&A. A few things amazed us about this screening. There were about a dozen people there who had already seen the movie once. They came to see it again. Again. Twice in one week. And there was a child in the movie theater with his parents. Age range 9-11. What kind of child are these parents raising? A sociopath? Perhaps. But remember, Quentin Tarantino saw Deliverance with his mom at age 8. Sociopathic? Well, close. Someone asked what my next project was. I told them and I'll tell you I'm in talks to play a seventeen year old mentally challenged boy whose medication is a time machine. Most people wait a while in their careers for this kind of role, but I'm going for broke with this project. Wes Craven is set to direct.

Since our show was a matinee, our after party was calm and contented with just a small group of us. Here's Alex. Everyone had sunglasses except Adam. Here's Adam. After this, we parted ways, Alex and Katie to the hotel to wait and hang out before having to drive to SF for the airport and Adam, Tova and I to SF to hang out and see the sights. We hugged and said, "See you in Atlanta."

Once in San Francisco, Adam and I were showed our humble quarters. The view from the kitchen took our breath away. This is a real city, like something from a storybook. As the sun set over the Mission District, where we were to stay, we went to a place called the Sky Terrace, which is a rooftop patio with Mediterranean fare and a gorgeous view of SF. Unbelievable.

But greater than the view was a restaurant next door called Foreign Cinema. Yes, a restaurant called Foreign Cinema. It didn't seem real at first. It just looked like a wall with movie graffitti from Breathless, Lady from Shanghai and Rear Window, but through the door was a hole in the wall restaurant. Well, the rear of the restaurant is an open air patio at street level. At the very back is a white wall where they project movies while you eat. And this was no small wall. Think drive-in. Tonight's movie: Breakfast at Tiffany's. I am not lying. Again, like something out of a storybook. I credit Adam for this discovery. I was at the bar waiting to buy a glass of overpriced wine when Adam came up to me and said, "Can you come over here for minute? I need to show you something." The latter sentence is probably one of my favorites sentences. It's so loaded and romantic and suspenseful. We watched a little of George Peppard and Audrey from our rooftop patio next door. It was unforgettable.

The night's most comical moment came just as we were about to leave the Sky Terrace. The busboy approached our table and was clearing our glasses. He was wearing a black t-shirt with the metal band Dragonforce's name emblazoned across it. I yelled and pointed to it, "Dragonforce!" (The song that plays on the BC trailer is by Dragonforce.) There's a little piece about them a few blogs back. Apparently, Dragonforce fans are few and far between because he seemed surprised we knew who they were and were so excited about them. But as he walked away, Adam said he heard the busboy say, "You guys made my night." He must think we're big fans, though if Adam and I ever showed up at metal show looking the way we usually do, we'd probably be murdered.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cinequest - Days 9 & 10 - The Cinequest Movie Experiment

Thursday, Day 9 - I woke up screaming this morning. I had this dream where I was in my apartment and there was a strange cat hiding behind the couch. I crept up behind it and smacked it on the butt and it started attacking me, clawing my arms and locking its jaws on my wrists. When I saw the cat leap for my face, I shrieked and woke up myself and Katie. Alex slept through it. The cat in my dream wasn't this color, but the expression matches. That's not my caption by the way. Though the last time I was in Brooklyn, a dog jumped on me, which I misinterpreted as an attack.

Rachel, Katie's sister, flew into town to take her into San Francisco for a few days. We lunched with her at IHOP. Tony and Julie drove out to the coast to see the sights. They probably saw something like this during their trip, minus the Adam Pinney who looks like he's about to walk out into the ocean and not return.

We coasted into town in the early afternoon and saw the Animated Shorts program. Tova, our production coordinator on Blood Car, met us at the theater. She lives in San Francisco now. All the varieties of animation were represented, from Pixar style to claymation to hand drawn stuff. One in particular stood out called One Rat Short, which reminded me of the Secret of Nimh, not in animation but in story because the film is set in a laboratory full of mice. It's had a pretty impressive run on the festival circuit. There were a few more good ones and some bad ones and only one that I slept through.

Right after those shorts ended we hopped over to the California to see a film that had a palpable buzz about it, Outsourced. The theater was packed to the gills. That experience was akin to being in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It was a comedy and the crowd absolutely loved it to death, guffawing at each and every joke in the film. Adam and I seemed to be the only ones NOT laughing. It wasn't our kind of film, but I once had a similar though converse experience with The Big Lebowski years ago when I saw that in the theater. My two friends and I seemed to be the only ones laughing during that entire film, and boy did we laugh. I guess suburban Alpharetta wasn't the prime market for that movie.

Our final film of the night was Military Intelligence and You, an army training film parody with touches of Dr. Strangelove. Alex, Adam and I had each just done two movies back to back and weren't sure if we wanted to make a it third, but we thought we'd give it a chance. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, but what grabbed us even more was a short film before it entitled Der Ostwind, which was a student production at BYU. Incredible. The best thing I've seen at Cinequest. Check out the website and watch the trailer. It played Sundance this year.

Day 10 - Friday - Not day of the locust, but day of the writer. Forums on the art of screenwriting were held most the day. The first was an admittedly abbreviated but in-depth look at Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and its themes, structures and storytelling techniques. It was really fascinating and the speaker happened to be a fan of Blood Car because of a couple of narrative similarities to Kubrick's film. Namely, there is a similar arc to Alex's character and Archie's character, where both men start outside a fascistic system of government rebelling against it and end up becoming part of it.

The middle forum wasn't bad but it gave credence to the often cited idea that most screenplays' weakest points are their Act IIs. The third was absolutely fabulous. Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, was interviewed by Lew Hunter, a published author on screenwriting. Lew didn't really need to be there because McQuarrie is an amazing storyteller and basically talked for 90 minutes straight about writing and making The Usual Suspects and his many other personal writing experiences. It wasn't so much about the craft of screenwriting as about the craft of being a screenwriter with all the boring parts excised. He talked about some of his future projects and other story ideas he's come across during his career. He's actually working on writing a movie called The Stanford Prison Experiment, which could be incredible in the right hands. I remember hearing a friend of mine talk about wanting to do a film about that, but it looks like McQuarrie will beat him to the punch. One of the most memorable events of the festival.

After the forums, I went for a nap to prepare myself for a screening of the silent film Pandora's Box. History tells me that it is usually not a good idea to watch a silent film going on five hours sleep. Alex tried to nap as well, but couldn't, but when I woke up I snapped this picture of him. It's my second in a series of pictures of Alex by himself in movie theaters. Notice the American flag outside the window. America is outside, the movies are inside. Hmm...
We wanted to pass out some postcards for Blood Car on the eve of our final engagement at Cinequest, but we were just a little too exhausted and we wanted to go see Pandora's Box. (On a side note, I think Blood Car has ruined the word 'box' for me.) From now on, I'll refer to it as Pandora's Parcel. If we had promoted outside the theater, we would have had some stiff competition from Monster Camp, Long Pigs, Indestructible and some movie involving burlesque. Cullen H., director of Monster Camp, told us that the 2nd weekend of Cinequest is usually brings in greater audiences, so we hedged our bets.
In line at Pandora's Parcel, we handed out a few postcards but soon realized that the silent movie crowd is not the same as the Blood Car crowd. I had seen the film once before in college but didn't quite remember much about it. Gorgeous film, both in lighting and in Louise Brooks, who is probably the most beautiful woman I've ever seen on screen. Sit down Stanwyck, Monroe, Hayworth, Loren. Ingrid, Audrey sit do-...okay, you ladies can remain standing. I loved the film. It's great. And there was a live accompaniment.

That night at the bar fate or coincidence reunited us with an old classmate and filmmaker, Evan McNary, who is a Bernardo Bertolucci fan from back in my GSU film school days. He lives in LA now and has a short playing at the festival. He showed up at the festival with no place to stay, but a pillow in his car. We hosted him at our hovel, The Clarion, where he slept on the floor.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cinequest - Day 8 - Treaty of Nepenthe

Versailles. Potsdam. Camp David. The geography of truce knows no boundaries when leaders join together for peace. The West Coast Brunes and I, the East Coast Brunes's ambassador, along with our moderator, Adam P.(pictured at left with a gift from Dan and Christy) visited coastal California in hopes of carving out a common ground on the divisive issues which have plagued our family since it crossed the Atlantic so many years ago. Our first stop on the peace trip was the bohemian city of Santa Cruz, home to the film The Lost Boys and the banana slug. We kissed the mollusk's image on the t-shirt in keeping with the Northern California legend that it brings good luck. We broke bread together before venturing off down the coast, first stopping at the home of the West Coast Brunes.

There were several family heirlooms in their home and also the gun that fired the shot that the Brunes heard 'round the world. I guess it's time to explain how the rift started. When the Brunes first immigrated to this country, they brought with them the family dog. It was to be the first in a long line of domesticated animals to serve as anchors to the sanity of the Brune family. This beloved dog was nearly as cherished as the children of our family, an avatar of loyalty, duty, quickness, luck, good nature and iconoclasm. One fateful day in the gently waving grasses of our Kansas plantation, my great-great grandfather was shooting recklessly at a swarm of locusts whilst my great-great uncle was playing nearby with the children and the dog, whose name is either Terrific or Abraham depending on which side of the family you ask. Well, as you can imagine, an errant shot felled the esteemed canine and all tranquility vanished from the Great Plains that day. Words were spoken that cannot be taken back. My side of the Brunes soon ended up on the East Coast, swearing on the good book never to own another pet again. That's the feud's origin and there were many wars and skirmishes in between then and now, but I don't wish to reopen old wounds.

From their home, we drove down the coast of Monterey Bay, watching the waves lap against the rocks. We came upon a peaceful sanctuary with friendly animals that came right up to us. They would have shaken our hands if they knew the custom. Dan was like St. Francis of Assisi with squirrels crawling up his legs. Of course he was feeding them, which the posted signs warned against, but beneath his lawlessness was a plea for conciliation and it was working. Our next stop was the famous 16 or 17 mile drive which spans a good part of Monterey Bay and covers the Pebble Peach area and the city once mayored by the great Clint Eastwood, Carmel. It was also the filming for the movie A Summer Place which I have not seen. We drove around Carmel looking for Clint Eastwood, the man and the memorabilia. We found neither. Apparently, he does not license his image in that fashion. We find locate one memento to the man on the menu of a restaurant he owns or used to own.

It's a little pricey for a meal named after a cop like Dirty Harry. I seem to remember him eating hot dogs all the time. We set off to the beach of Carmel, the sand of which couldn't have been finer. Dan said it reminded him of the sand you find in cigarette butt cans. Just sitting on the beach watching the Pacific, I kept thinking we should put this familial schism behind us. Talks would have been accelerated if Adam, our moderator, wasn't on the phone the entire day. Every time I tried to snap a picture of him with the marvelous coastal vistas behind him, he'd have his Motorola to his ear. Maybe he thought he could hear the ocean if he listened hard enough.

Our final stop was a restaurant 800 feet above sea level on the cliffs of the coast called Nepenthe. It used to be the summer home of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. It was a tough place to photograph, but we watched the sunset over the Pacific as we dined outside in the calm, cool air. It was incredibly memorable and over bread, lamb, wine and french fries, we made peace overlooking the Pacific. The Brunes are united again!

Back in San Jose that night, we read the most recent article in the Metro venerating Blood Car. It was a wonderful article and I have no doubt it will help pack out our final engagement on Saturday afternoon. Please check the Blood Car site or FWW site to find a link to that article. The Metro has been so good to us.

But with every piece of good news comes some bad news. We've heard from a few more festivals and our current average has dropped to .250. It's hard to reconcile all the positive press and encouraging personal feedback from audiences we've received here with some of this news. I have a feeling some of these people will come around.

We didn't see any movies on Wednesday(I'm a day behind in the blog.), but our journey was given a cinematic name, mostly due to the exploits at the after parties. It was called Fear and Loathing in San Jose, but please don't let your imaginations get carried away. We didn't have any wide angle lenses on that night.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cinequest - Day 7 - A car that runs on...animation?

So, it's been a week here in San Jose. Adam and I have about a week remaining while Tony, Alex, Julie and Katie are all planning on departing on Saturday after the final engagement of Blood Car at Cinequest. The festival has slowed down a little, but it continues to pull in respectable crowds. Monday's crowd for the doc, The Third Monday in October, with the filmmakers and subjects in attendance, was excellent.

At the rental car place at the airport, we spotted a red Blood Car. I wonder who drives this thing, and if they know what their engine can really do if they let a vegan tinker under the hood for a few hours.

Today was our trip to Pixar Studios in Emeryville, CA. There was restricted access because they're working on a new film, but Ken Huey, our host, showed us a wonderful time and was quite knowledgeable about all things Pixar. There were beautiful pastels of concept art from past films on the walls. Everything for their films is done in house, from storyboards to striking prints of their films to sound recording. Everything. "It's a movie studio," Alex said, "with no cameras." Pretty extraordinary. Robert Bresson would blow his top. There was a wall next to one of the sound recording studios where actors signed their names. We saw Lindsay Lohan's signature, Owen Wilson's, John Ratzenberger's, Rob Schneider's. Jeremy Piven wrote, "Poll Position Bitch" and signed his name. We ate lunch in the cafeteria, which was delicious. Outside, the grounds smelled of cinnamon. Some say there is a bakery nearby, but we nodded knowingly at each other. They must have some secret, cinnamon fragrance pump that constantly scents the air. As we were leaving, there was some sort of broad sword training session being conducted in the outdoor amphitheater. What an amazing place and an amazing company. If you have any doubt, check out this restroom sign.

Next, since we had rented a minivan for the day, we drove up to San Francisco and headed straight(no pun intended) for Lombard St. We walked around Fisherman's Wharf for a little while, chasing seagulls and playing in The Musee Mecanique, the antiquity of which reminded me of my current favorite book, The Invention of Hugo Cabaret. It's a great big warehouse with arcade machines and games that only cost a quarter. Some work, some don't. Some appeal to the prurient interests and some are just bizarro. You can also play Ms. Pac Man and REAL Skee Ball, not that Ice Ball b******t or whatever they call it now.

Driving around SF, I reenacted some of my favorite scenes from Don Siegel's Dirty Harry. I've been lucky enough to read Mr. Siegel's autobiography and Alex reminds me of him: sarcastic, passionate, objective, knows the business very well and doesn't give or take much bs. Cinequest is a great place for people like that, like us. It's a filmmaker's festival. There are enough industry panels and networking opportunities to sate your appetite, but not overwhelm the purpose of the festival's existence - movies.

We left SF and proceeded into the great green north, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (a little foggy), snaking through the coastal hills and crags until we reached Muir Woods National Monument. "Here I was born, and here I died." Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton said this to Det. Scottie Ferguson in Vertigo in Muir Woods looking at a cross section of a great redwood. Reading about John Muir, the park's namesake, I think he probably said the same thing sometime in his life. Muir was a die-hard preservationist and Theodore Roosevelt visited him in Yosemite during his presidency in 1903 and asked John to show him the 'real Yosemite.' They split off from the presidential entourage and camped out in the open air for days, talking about nature and enjoying its beauty. The President of the United States of America did this. He slept outside in Yosemite only to be covered by snow when he woke the next morning. When I was walking around the Muir Woods, smelling the aromatic air, I kept wishing to have some revelation about myself and my life. It seemed like the perfect place for epiphanies, but usually mine just come while I'm at home lying in bed or brushing my teeth in my bathroom or something, not in these prehistoric nature preserves. I have so many questions. I just pine for an equal number of epiphanies. Now that I've had time to think, perhaps they will come.

We left Muir Woods regrettably after only a brief stay and paused for a moment of reflection on the road overlooking this beautiful area. We filmed Adam yelling, "Beardman!" into the rolling valley. Alex forgot the beard otherwise we would have shot more Beardman stock footage. We had to get back on the road to make the final showing of our friend Francois's film All the Days Before Tomorrow at Cinequest. On the way back, I tried to nap, but instead we just talked and laughed a lot, which seems to happen quite a bit when a nap tugs at my heels.

Back in San Jose, we walked to our respective theaters to see our respective movies. Adam went to see Zodiac and I went to see The Pacific and Eddy. One of my other favorite things about being here is that when people see us, they don't address us individually with "Hey Alex" or "Hey Adam"; instead, they say, "Hey Blood Car." It's our collective name.

We marked off another piece of our intinerary last night as well: Write graffitti on a bathroom stall. Here is the evidence. The panty hose is supposed to be panty Jose.

Most people are on the world, not in it... - John Muir.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cinequest - Day 6 - Games hotels play.

Monday. A day of rest for us. We slept in, missing continental breakfast at the Clarion Hotel. In life, there is a can-do attitude in the service industry which we all know brings smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. On the other side is the can-don't attitude, which is the Clarion Hotel incarnate. It's like a hotel in a horror movie with a pleasant facade but a seething evil permeating its walls, employees, and amenities. If you ever come to Silicon Valley, do not stay here. Alex said he'd rather stay in a whorehouse. Having never stayed in one of those, I'm not sure I'd want to, but I'd certainly consider it if it was like the whorehouse on the pier in the Marquez book Love in the Time of Cholera where Florentino Ariza loses his virginity. Not that it sounds particularly cozy, but it is romanticized.

Downtown, we discovered the glory that is the Cinequest Hospitality Suite. Furnished with free Red Bull, snacks, hot coffee, and a bank of laptops with high speed internet, it became our HQ for the day. We saw a really interesting film called Slumming which featured a portrayal of drunkard homelessness unlike anything I've ever seen. I was a little worn out watching it so I think I missed a little of its power, but it was nonetheless a fascinating and stimulating piece of work.

We didn't completely shirk our promoting duties. We put a poster in the window of this Vegan Cafe. The owner said he's heard of our film and is going to try to make our 'Final Engagement' on Saturday. He was cool, and by cool I mean he cursed enthusiastically. It definitely seemed like a place Archie would frequent. San Jose is actually an Archie kind of town. Lots of casual bike riders.

We had a interview with one of the editors(or THE editor) of the Metro here in San Jose. He saw our WP on Friday and loved the film. As we were waiting for him in the Paragon bar, a server informed us that some people wanted to buy Katie, Alex, and I a drink. Pinney and Tony were also there, but the server made a point of saying it was just the three of us that were to be treated. The journalist arrived right then and we had to go somewhere quieter to conduct the interview so we didn't really have a chance to take advantage of those drinks, which I feel bad about. I hope those folks don't think we were rude. Back in the Cinequest Hospitality Suite, we sat around for about an hour talking about the film. He has a weekly column in which he writes about whatever he wants, usually a cult movie topic. It felt very comfortable and friendly, like he was a fan of the movie first and a journalist second. I usually feel like I choke during press events, but I think I'm improving based on my experience with this one. I look forward to reading his piece. I learn things about Archie just talking about scenes in the film and talking about the character more and more. I love relating stories of the production to the press. I feel like Blood Car is a fairy tale story in the middle of its writing.

Regretfully, I have to tell you that Alex and Katie seem to do nothing but fight these days. Just the other day on the light rail platform, I snapped these incriminating photos. Alex's temper is boiling over and he's destroying everything in sight from the ground up. I think Adam is next and then maybe me. Look at him smiling. He thinks it's all fun and games and he should be proud of violence. He's a basket case. (JOKE)

A little game for you blog readers below. We reenacted some famous paintings. You can make your guesses in the comments section. Difficulty level: 2.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cinequest - Day 5 - A Grand Slam

Our 2nd World Premiere approached quickly so we took to the streets early with our best Blood Car sales pitches. Some samples:
-Blood Car: More sex than Caligula!
-Save gas. Drive the HILARIOUS Blood Car.
-Double Fist the Double Feature: Monster Camp and Blood Car.
-75 minutes of funny-funny fun fun.
-If the state of the state gets you down, BC will get you up.
-Blood and laughs - BLAUGHS!
Our screening was across the street in a different theater this time, the Camera Cinema 12, which seats about 300 people. We stood in front of the theater from 1pm until 830pm handing out postcards, chasing down wandering San Joseans, convincing complete strangers to step up to the box office and buy tickets to our film. We were committed to packing out our theater. Our great Metro review was like a revolver we used to squash any vestiges of uncertainty. "Favorite film of the fest" - Can't argue with that. Though it was exhausting, I had a blast pitching our film to anyone and everyone. Many people we accosted already said they were going. Some, in broad daylight, whipped out their tickets with, "Leave me alone. I'm already going." Some people ignore you, but most are pretty receptive. We handed out Blood Car keys and postcards and buttons all day long. Day turned to night and Alex pulled people into the theater up until show time, stealing customers who were standing in line to buy tickets for Hollywood films like Zodiac and Breach. David Fincher, we're not sorry.

8-830pm was a nerve wracking thirty minutes until I walked into the a FULL HOUSE. People could not find seats. A few folks sat in the aisle. 300 seats. FULL HOUSE.

It was what Friday night should have been. Again, the short film If I See Randy, warmed up the crowd with laughs. Our film started with no sound, so we scrambled to find tech people and Cinequest volunteers. We nearly had a collective heart attack. Only about a minute or two went by before they shut the film off and fixed the problem and restarted the film. From then on, we just waited for the laughs, which came in droves at all the right moments. People loved the film. Katie, Adam, Tony, Julie, and I watched the film from the hallway while Alex whiled away on his text messenger like a GI radio operator sending out word to our friends and family back home in Atlanta.

About half the crowd stuck around for the Q&A, and after that many people approached us to say wonderful things about the film. The most common question seems to be "How did you come up with the idea?" A couple of audience members commented on the Woody Allen reference in the film, so I'm sure that made Alex very happy. I was little surprised he couldn't remember what film it originated in, but the audience members knew(Love and Death). I think he was just nervous. When asked about Alex's influences for Blood Car, the only director mentioned who received a cheer was Takashi Miike. It was a group of three friends, but our common bond to that Japanese filmmaker is the cult aspect and the envelope pushing. We passed out some posters and autographed them and were interviewed by the Cinequest spokeswoman, who in official videos wears a shirt that looks like a film slate. We also did another interview that was recorded directly onto an ipod mini. I don't remember her name but she asked some good questions.

During the film I found myself very impatient. I just wanted to hear the laughter of the crowd so I kept waiting for the jokes or the killings, which in some cases are synonymous.

When Alex arrived home to his computer after a southern breakfast at the 24 hour Denny's, he found a litter of lionizing emails from people who saw the film that night. To all those who attended the screening, thank you very much. If you liked it, tell your friends. If you didn't, tell your enemies.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cinequest - Day 4 - Triple Feature

I went to three movies yesterday, so I didn't take a lot of pictures, so in the interest of glasnost, you'll be seeing this picture from Day 1. I saw Shoot Down, All the Days Before Tomorrow, and Monster Camp. I enjoyed all three of them. If you're at Cinequest, they're worth seeing. What I loved the most about these films were the Q&As with the filmmakers following the screenings. I was quite impressed with each of the directors and producers. They were well spoken, polite people, all passionately driven to make each of their films. I know Shoot Down and Monster Camp were self-financed by the creators and their detailed stories and thoughts about each film's production, story and message reaffirmed my belief in independent filmmakers spread across the world wanting to tell personal stories through the cinema. Cinequest is spoiling me with all of these Q&As. When I go to see Playtime in April in Atlanta, I'm going to close my eyes tightly and wish for Jacques Tati to step out in front of us and tell us about the uphill battle of that picture. But, alas, he's dead.

We hit the pavement yesterday with swag promoting our Sunday Night Screening, which is in the smaller theater. We're hoping to really pack it out. The three films I saw yesterday at the Camera 12 Cinema were all well attended with numbers like 150 on the low end and 250 on the high end.

It was really wonderful to spring break it with the FWW/Blood Car crew. I wish everyone didn't have to leave on Sunday. It's been so memorable, but I know the smell in the hotel room of Chris A., Chris C., Hugh B., and Adam P. can be measured on a Geiger counter by now. I'll miss them and Anna C. and my brothers, too. They're in the air or at the airport as I write this.

Check out Blood Car on Seventeen people have rated the film. Our arithmetic mean is 8.8. Both women who rated it gave it a 10.0. I haven't thought about the film's portrayal of women too much, but the two main female characters are quite strong. Lorraine and Denise are both young entrepreneurs and small business owners. Unfortunately, they mistakenly become mixed up with Archie, a young inventor, and it leads to their demises. What's the message here? You mix yourself up with a man and you are murdered in cold blood? Perhaps. Denise falls in love with material things and that is her undoing. Lorraine is the good hearted person who loves Archie for who he is, but cannot quite see that he is really unavailable and uncertain about his own desires. Are things doomed from the start? Is it a tragedy? Perhaps.

Archie doesn't really know what he wants. He needs someone to tell him what he wants. He's a green flunky who is sucked into America's bloodthirsty government machine. There seem to be a few parallels here to Bertolucci's The Conformist. Marcello Clerici and Archie Andrews should have a chat sometime in a busy kitchen with a swinging lightbulb. See picture at right, which is copyrighted and I do not own or claim to own. I typed in swinging light bulb in google image search and this is what I found. I hope I meet Jean-Louis Trintignant before he dies.

Art imitates life, though Oscar Wilde said the reverse was more prevalent. I'm sure he's right.

Time to hit the pavement and promote Blood Car. Save gas, drive Blood Car.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cinequest - Day 3 - The World Premiere

Day 3 was history. Une histoire, en francais. A story. It began at cinema's birth over 100 years ago and gained its independence on March 2, 2007 in the USA's Silicon Valley. I took this photo to commemorate the forefathers of filmmaking. No need to run screaming from this blog. It will not hurt you.

Chris C., our co-dp and a producer on the film, arrived at our hotel in wee hours of the morning after spending all night on a plane and all morning in the SF airport trying to catch a ride to San Jose. My brothers arrived. Chris B. tasted the Pacific for the first time and had this to say, "It tastes just like the Atlantic, only colder." Chris A. wrote a poem today entitled "Horse Cop" which I will print in the next day or so. Anna Chlumsky arrived from NYC, which brought our grand total to 14. 14 members of Blood Car in San Jose.

Yesterday reminded me of a song, mostly joyful but with some disappointment. Looking back at the photos it seemed to have a soundtrack. It was sunny and cool and it's starting to feel like we're in the right place for once. We were dressed to the nines in the geography. There were short movies and long ones, quiet talks and grand speeches, anxiety and anticipation, gains and losses, fans and lines, questions and empty seats and even a couple autographs.

Most of us attended a couple of the panel forums on distribution topics in the morning and early afternoon. The one I attended was staffed by a handful of journalists and media personnel from various magazines batting around ideas and suggestions on how to promote your film to journalists, fans and the media in general. They pointed out a number of great ideas that I, amongst many others, had not considered and will certainly come in handy for the next festival. There is definitely a learning curve to climb for the distribution side of this industry. At this forum, we marked off a very important item on our itinerary, which I have yet to really touch on yet. This itinerary I made, based on the ideas of Brad K. and Damian D. in Atlanta, GA, includes a list of all the attendees, their San Jose names (My brother Greg's San Jose name is Senator Toughasnails.), and a list of activities. It's a bit hard to explain concisely, but the item we checked off today was "Steal another filmmaker's film idea." Now, I don't know if this person was a filmmaker, but he wrote about film, so that's pretty close. Here it is:

A woman, someone's Aunt, crashes in the Yukon and is trapped for 40 days, struggling for survival. Lord of the Flies meets Castaway meets General Motors. The twist, it's the Chevy Yukon. That's right, a woman trapped in an SUV for 40 days. Will she survive? Check your odometers this summer!

After the forum, we walked around downtown San Jose passing out postcards, keys, and sticking up posters in every storefront that would allow it. We trekked around the San Jose State campus putting up posters and basking in its coastal glow.

I was surprised at how generous a few of these stores were, especially this antique store to the left. From there, we returned to our hotel to rest up before the World Premiere. Today marked our first encounter with San Jose law enforcement as well, courtesy of Chris C. On the light rail system here, the honor system is king. No one takes tickets, you just buy one and hop aboard. However, law enforcement officials periodically check the tickets of people at random and if you haven't purchased one, you are fined $100 or something. Well, Chris C. thought he could outsmart these men and you know what...he did. This officer approached him, asked Chris C. for his ticket, which he did not have. He issued him a ticket, but as the officer was writing it out, Chris C. said, "I'm with Blood Car." He handed the officer a postcard, which seemed to delight the officer, explained that the film was having its World Premiere tonight, illustrating his entire predicament in a charming fashion. Not only did the officer degrade the ticket to a warning, but he issued Chris C. a free day pass for the light rail system.

Back at the hotel, more swag was awaiting us in the form of little buttons, which we all sported on our snappy sport coats, dresses, ties and lanyards. I spent some time resting in my bed trying to sleep as the tv broadcast an endless loop of The Bourne Identity/Supremacy. I become pretty loopy when I'm tired. I had wanted to see Buster Keaton's The General that night before the BC WP, but it would just be cutting it too close, so I became quite irascible and said some things to Katie and Alex about one of the hotel's maintenance men that I probably shouldn't have. I'm not going to apologize, but I am remorseful. All dressed up, we made our way to the lobby to wait for a couple cabs to take us to dinner before the WP. Check us out.

We had a wonderful dinner together and made our way to the World Premiere. Going in to the screening, there was a gaff in the festival's program about our WP screening. In the daily quick schedule, our film was not listed at all as playing on Friday at 1030pm! However, in the alphabetized list of films with synopses in the program, all the information was correct. I also didn't like the fact that you couldn't buy tickets to our film at the San Jose Rep's box office. One had to buy tickets at the main Cinequest box office, at a theater across the street. Those things aside, as we approached the theater, we saw the line. A line of people outside the theater waiting to see our film, our first feature film. From afar it looked like 300 people. Our imaginations and hopes were running away with us. I wish they had taken us on a marathon instead of just a jog around the park. To be frank, I think we were all disappointed with the turnout. Given the generally positive write-ups we received and 'buzz', we expected to sell out the SJREP. We did not. A little over 100 people showed up for the 1030pm show. The theater seats 584, including the balcony. In our favor, Cinequest did move our screening from the Cinema 12 to the SJ Rep because they expected a bigger turnout. We would certainly have packed out the Cinema 12, which is much smaller. Nevertheless, I'm happy our film screened there. I watched it from the balcony by myself, waiting for the turbulent nervousness to fade away, which it does when that first big laugh hits. After audiences see that pornographic pencil drawing of a bj, we pretty much win them over. Thereafter, I sat back and enjoyed the film much more than I did at the cast and crew screening in Dec. I commend the technical staff at the San Jose Rep as well, because the projection and sound were technically flawless. BC never looked better. Thank you. And nice work to Cinequest for our lead-in short film about a lumberjack who doesn't know his face has been sliced off. A funny short.

Even though the quantity of the crowd did not meet our expectations, the quality of the response certainly did. The empirical evidence was overwhelming. People laughed a lot. Alex spotted a journalist laughing during the film, so maybe that will bring us additional spoils. I learned a great deal about Blood Car from this WP by talking to people who loved the film. We have a cult film in the making. Our Q&A was short because they wanted to close up the theater, but we did announce my candidacy for President of the USA in 2008. And that's not a joke. We videotaped it. Hopefully you'll see it soon. I'd like to thank each and every person who attended our WP. Hope to see you on Sunday night at 830p for our 2nd World Premiere.