Thursday, October 30, 2003

Good news! We won an award.

John called me late Monday night to inform me that we won the Defman Award. Defman is the name of the organization that runs the fest (Deep Ellum Film Music Art and... something. Nachos?). It's one of the top awards, although the name takes a bit of explaining - I guess I can just say "jury prize". They give this one out along with "Best Comedy" and "Best Drama" to a film that they feel defies normal genre categorization. Which, in my eyes, is a compliment in itself. The awards they're giving out are really cool, too, according to John - a drive-in speaker tricked out by a local artist named Artman.

A nice consolation considering the disastrous screening, which lasted almost three hours with the three fire alarm interruptions. I got an email from a friend of mine, and one of my earliest performers, who was there - Allyson (formerly) Treadway. A sweet Maine South cheerleader whom we cast as a prostitute and a gangster's wife and held at gunpoint (this massive, Clint Eastwood style thing; she very politely expressed some apprehension and we were like "it's cool, don't worry, it's just a bee bee gun!" ...being pointed at her nose from five inches.)

So, Allyson emailed me and said that it was actually going very well, the audience was laughing at the right places, etc. and then about forty minutes in there's a scene where some characters are pulled over by the cops. So, in the movie the siren is going and the lights are flashing and suddenly, lights start flashing in the theatre and the fire alarm sounds. She said they were completely confused; it seemed like some sort of interactive version of the movie. Now in SURROUND-O-RAMA! She overheard someone saying "I'm giving them points for creativity, this is amazing!"

But, alas, as the film continued, the interactive elements did not stop or quiet down for, say, dialogue. Finally a festival director entered and told them all to exit the theatre. I'm trying to imagine what it was like as the realization hit: Wow, this is interesting... Well, now it's going on a little too long... They really didn't plan this out very well, if they want to get this ambitious they should coordinate it better... oh, we're all going to die.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Getting ready for the wedding of Stephen Hicks and Maile Baird. Steve and Maile met during the making of 'Buttleman' - Steve was my assistant director and Maile, one of my producers. Just got this message from John Hawkes on my cel phone:

"Hey Frank, I'm here in Dallas at the Angelika Theatre where 'Buttleman' is screening. So far there have only been three fire alarms that have interrupted the movie. But, while people are filing in and out of the theatre, they seem to be enjoying it."

He also mentioned that he'll be doing a discussion panel after the screening with actor Gary Busey (?).

Monday, October 06, 2003

The screening on the 24th went very well. The picture quality was better than the last screening, I met a lot of cool people afterwards, I was more coherent during the Q&A... Most of all, it was nice to just relax and go to a screening of my film.

The interesting part was: it's a restaurant. A nightclub, really, and a pretty swanky one, but a place with a bunch of tables where people are eating food. Every attempt is made to accommodate viewing of the film: the tables are all positioned so that you can face the screen, etc. But it's still a test of a film's ability to keep your attention; I mean, the atmosphere just invites conversation.

I think "Buttleman" did pretty well, fortunately. I winced every time a waiter or waitress took someone's order in a quiet moment, but eventually I tried to just observe the whole experience and see how it plays out.

My food was "pizza". Everything had the stamp of Cali cuisine, and my pizza was a small, lopsided pyramid of bread wedges, tomato slices and chunks of buffalo mozzarella.

I read about a Roman emperor named Heliogabalus in a Kurt Vonnegut book who had a life-size iron bull constructed with a door in its belly that locked from the outside and a hole in the mouth. For dinner parties, a human being would be locked inside and then a fire lit underneath the bull, so that their screams would emit from the bull's mouth to amuse the guests.

It's practically impossible to imagine being a guest at such a dinner, and nibbling on cheese cubes while enjoying this droll display. What did they say? Did they smirk in embarrassment for the wretched soul experiencing a pain greater than anything anyone could possibly imagine? Did women blush, or scowl at their husbands for laughing too hard? Did anybody find this the slightest bit unfunny?

Conclusion: no matter what you think of "Buttleman", you have to admit it's a vast improvement in the arena of dining entertainment.

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