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.

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