Thursday, September 14, 2006

Careful what you wish for…

I woke up and smoked a fattie because I was in utter and complete denial that we were really playing this large festival in Hollywood. This type of thing doesn’t happen to my film. I get rejected from no-name festival that are screening films on the side of moving trains ( or maybe it was inside a moving train – I really don’t remember). There must be some kind of a mistake (not that I am going to ask them to correct it), I mean we are notorious for getting loud and obnoxious and all that shit… so obviously no one had done any research on Big Hit Productions.

We are screening at the Arclight, which is pretty fuckin’ cool. I mean generally I avoid all the high profile locations out here because it’s just people in superhero costumes and washed up TV stars and the A-List celebrity surrounded by large men in black suits who like to open doors – not really my cup of tea. But I was fuckin’ determined to make a statement here. This ain’t no country club – this is LA and I intended to let everyone know that we’re about to change a few things.

Ok so I get this email right before the festival starts, about being a filmmaker liaison during the festival. I had originally applied for this position because I knew we wouldn’t get in… I could sense it. Much to my surprise we got accepted and now I had this conflict of interest dilemma. The director of the Festival (let’s call him The Mayor cause he shakes a lot of hands)…has me come in for an interview. As I am waiting outside this guys office I have no real idea of what I am going to say to him other than my normal arrogant “I’m the best thing since 3-holed paper” speech. Well he was mad cool and he thought I was pretty funny. What did come across is that he has a genuine love for film… and that to me is pretty rare. He asks me if I can do my liaison and support my film – I lie and say yes. Well it wasn’t completely a lie…but I really want to see a lot of films so…I decided to play it by ear and not screw’em if the needed something.

Day 1: It’s opening night and there is a huge line. I have been instructed that filmmakers are not guaranteed entry and that they need to get there early. I have told so many people this that my jaw starts to hurt whenever I repeat it. Once night falls, it becomes real chaos. There must be 200 people in line, ok maybe this is a real festival – I should probably straighten up and fly right – yeah.. whatever. So I have a trump card. I have booked some models to come through and promote my film. We call these models the Z-girls and they are a bit notorious here in LA. So I know that when this concludes that the phrase “Sex, Love & Z-Parts” will be in people’s heads. So I mosey up to the registration table which is utter and complete madness. I mean I had worked the table twice during the week to help hand out the badges and man was it crazy. We were missing badges and mispronouncing film titles…I mean it was really eye opening because most festivals run off of volunteers and volunteers tend to get tired rather quickly. I have taken it upon myself to be really good to the select few of filmmakers that I am supposed to help. The problem with that strategy is I quickly became the answer man. I mean I’d be in the can droppin’ the kids off at the pool and I have to field questions – that should have warned me.

Back to the line (which has grown by about 50 people now) and the natives are getting restless. We are instructed to go through the line, find the filmmakers and give them their credentials. Only it’s not as easy as handing it out….oh…no… we have to make them sign a list and show ID and tell us what there relationship is to the film. Which should have been easy to do; only.. I was the only motherfucker really takin’ initiative on this day. I mean it’s quickly become a tense scene since all directors want to feel important. The opening night starts in 35 mins and I have been told on the DL that we don’t have enough seats for everybody and someone is going to get screwed. I was amazed by that statement, I mean this is how it happens…with an off the cuff remark and little thought and someone gets the bozack. I began to see it all in a different light. But I am determined to take care of as many filmmakers as possible…I mean it’s the least I can do.

I am blowin’ through the line as I am followed by 4 other staff members who all mean well but seem to lack the “I don’t give a shit” and the “fuck you, I am a rock star” attitude that makes me impervious to all the hatin’ and general nastiness that is beginning to sweep over the crowd. I am doing a pretty good job, I haven’t yelled at anyone, I haven’t alienated any of the volunteers and I have been straight for almost 3 hours which you know is a huge feet if you festival a lot. But then it happens “Cooprdog can you help this person”… “Cooprdog can you help that person”…I mean “hello!!!” there is like 6 of us over here…why am I being singled out. But you know what… I do the job. I fuckin’ smile and I am polite and I make lots of jokes. Though I have serious concerns about just what the fuck I have gotten myself involved into this time….I decide to walk the line.

The cool thing is like everyone knows me (now that might have to do with the fact that out of several hundred people I am one of like 4 black guys – but whatever) and they seem to trust me. Which is strange because normally I’d steal your car and fuck your sister – but I felt a compulsion to help. There were so many filmmakers who were in their first or second festival and just needed some basic info (of which I had none…but I seemed to reason and infer well enough to help people) so I had to help – right?

Yoda and Det. Budd and Lucky my attorney show up. I don’t really have a way to get all three of them in, but from what I am participating in, I can see that communication is not the greatest asset of opening night. I tell them to sit tight and not get into this line…because this is the line to hell (seriously).

So I am beginning to sign in filmmakers who purchased the “Top Dog” all access pass who don’t have a receipt. Let me just say that when you spend $275 for an all access pass and you are not on the list…that you tend to get ….oh what’s the word,….pissed! So now I am escorting people to the front of the line to resolve the situation at the sign in desk…only they look really confused up there, presently. I decide not to pass judgment and tell them that if they don’t get results to come and find me. And as I am walking away I wonder why I did that…I want nothing else than to forget all this shit and just get high and go to the opening ceremonies – but someone has to care right?

Ok so I flirt with one of the desk people and get an extra ticket. Now I just need one more ticket to get all my people in. I am thinkin’ I will do another little song and dance and talk about how hard I am workin’. When I inquire (during my dance number) about another ticket, the head-man of all us volunteers/liaisons/suckers appears, takes over the situation and tells me I can only get one. Then he informs me that they are not all getting in. I protest that some of these people are filmmakers and it’s really all for them…he says they should have got here earlier and walks off. Now I really wanted to point out that we were horrible behind schedule and unorganized with how we distributed the passes…but I chose to bite my tongue. So now what? Do I continue to pretend like all these people at the back of the line are going to get in? Do I lie on behalf of the festival – I mean normally I am just high and talkin’ shit… but now I know something… I have to do something.

As I approach the ticket taker I am followed by Yoda, Lucky and Det. Budd is somewhere near. I make a big stink at the ticket taker podium and flash my “Filmmaker Liaison” badge and tell them that I have been told that we are running out of seats and that I need to see how many filmmakers we can still fit…and she let’s me in. Yoda and Lucky have tickets so I wasn’t worried…but I can’t find Det. Budd…where the fuck is he? See, this is what I am talkin’ about, this is just like principal photography. Seconds later he emerges from behind a crowd of people and says “thanks for creating the diversion”. I say “no problem” and we all walk in.

Now it’s really bothering me that there are still filmmakers outside who are being lied to about why they can’t get in. It bothers me so bad that I have to excuse myself and see if I can remedy this situation. And realize that I had no Idea what I was going to do. I return out front and it has gotten nasty – it’s all “kiss this..” and “your momma that”. Certain staff members are basically ignoring the filmmakers as they protest that they flew from another country to be here. I tell a small group to hold on and I go back inside. This is so fuckin’ wrong I can’t believe it, but I see it now…why festivals do truly suck… I mean it’s really no ones fault…but that doesn’t make it any better.

Once inside I run into the director “The Mayor” I politely explain that I have several people in my entourage that can’t get in and then I lied and said I tried to buy a festival pass but that they wouldn’t give me the filmmakers discount…and you know what? He gave me a bunch of tickets and told me we’d figure it out later. I really couldn’t believe he did that. I rushed outside and handed out the tickets to the remaining filmmakers and we all went inside. They trusted me, they thought I was a stand up guy. But I had really lied about a lot of shit to make that happen…and I felt conflicted. When push came to shove I would represent filmmakers and not the festival?…and I knew that would eventually be my down fall.

I absolutely fuckin’ hated the opening ceremony. I mean I wasn’t going to rip it to pieces in the blog…but c’mon man.. that shit was wac! For starters they gave a maverick achievement award to Paul Haggis. And you know what, he is a nice guy. I mean I hated a number of things that came out of his mouth (because I am a purist)..but he was very open and very honest with his answers so I really respected him for that (even though I absolutely hated “Crash”)). What I had a real problem with was the audience. I mean one of the things about living here where the industry is, is that you are not enamored by them. You see premieres and A-list celebs (acting poorly a lot of the time) and really expensive cars all the time.. it doesn’t impress you…that’s just how it is. But I was in no way prepared for the ball licking session that was the opening ceremonies. I mean I didn’t hear one director act as a director. We work with writers and hence we don’t gasp when we meet them. I listened to question after question that started out like “I really respect you as an artist”…I mean come on! Who says that shit in Hollywood? – no fuckin’ body. We respect people who kill agents that are in the way and keep the body from surfacing long enough to get the thing shot. We respect people who went from the toast of the industry to filmmaker jail and then segued into a nice indie career. I couldn’t take all the praise from people who are supposed to be artists with vision burning in their veins. Too many of the question revolved around “what was it like to work with Clint Eastwood”..and shit like that. I’m sorry I thought we were going to talk shop here. I mean at one point Paul admitted that “Million Dollar Baby” was a first draft and the place erupted in applause. I was baffled. I turned to Det. Budd and I said “I thought writing was rewriting”…he chuckled. I mean none of them seemed to react to the fact that he was given a completely different set of rules than us. He is free to take whatever artistic license he wishes…while the rest of us have to deal with our scripts getting thrown in the trash for minor format problems or because we took a few liberties with a certain genre. But I was more appalled by the large group of people who felt it was a special night. I wanted to line them up and shoot them in their uncreative skulls…but instead I sat there and waited for the first short to show.
They were showing some legendary shorts like “Lucas in Love”…which everyone just loved. It made me mad. I mean I have long gone on record complaining about how the short filmmaker is not taken seriously…and now.. I am forced to endure cute shorts. Shorts that emulate and pay homage to other directors. I have a sick feeling that I am about to blurt something out…or throw something at the screen. They laugh at Lucas joke after Lucas joke and then when the lights come up the reminisce on how great a director this guy is. I wonder if I am the only one that wants to set fire to this place. I was really tempted to stand on my seat and say “viva la revolution” ( I don’t even know if all of that is a real phrase) with a shirt tied around my forehead and a fist in the air…

As they are gearing up for the next short (the lashorts fest does not put all the films on the same reel, so we have this gaps of time to kill) we have to talk again about how awesome Paul is. And maybe he is awesome…but I don’t want to fuckin’ hear it. Fuck him and fuck Eastwood…we are supposed to be celebrating all the broke motherfuckers who are lookin’ for a shot. I need a drink and a blow job.

I leave the theater in a huff and head outside to the jaded and nicotine addicted. To my pleasant surprise there is a small band of people who felt just like me. Ahh camaraderie…you gotta love it. So now I am having a real filmmaker conversation about who’s fuckin’ weirdo and which of these women you’d kill someone to sleep with…you know…director shit! We rip “Crash” apart frame by frame and shot by shot because we are all bored – we adjourn to the bar and start the drinkin’…only I have models arriving.

My festival coordinator “The Vic” has taken care of business and has them all arriving in a timely fashion. Only the screening won’t let out. Hello! I am paying these women by the hour…how about stickin’ to the fuckin’ schedule. So as my models gather and look cute people begin to wonder about me and my film. I laugh and tell them that I am in deep with the mob and the mob likes the hotties.

So the screening adjourns and everyone comes out. Only I am in the bar getting’ smashed when this happens. Yoda hits me up on the cell and tells me to get the models out front ASAP. So here I am stumbling out the front door, models in tow… and a pack of directors following me. When a few people ask who I am..I respond that I am an intergalactic time traveler and that I can’t talk about it.

So the reception had no alcohol. How the fuck are you supposed to get women drunk and take advantage with them with no alcohol…I mean who’s plan was this? I don’t need to drive to fuckin’ Hollywood to drink soda that “energizes” me – and for the record I don’t need energy… I need money…lots of fuckin’ money. Anyway I’m eating every h’ordurve (yeah like you can spell after you smoke a blunt) in sight and making loud jokes. I mean I’ll be lucky to be able to pay my rent after this little display that I am planning.

The night ends with all of us new filmmaking friends (a band of like 6-10 people looking for drugs and alcohol is more like it) going down to a bar on Sunset. We drank we flirted and told all kinds of jokes about why we hate producers and how it’s never a good idea to sleep with your lead (unless she’s really hot….no, really hot). I met some British chicks with a short about Phobias… (why are we such suckers for Brit’s what is the deal)… who wanted to get smashed and go to a titty bar. Now everyone was into it but me. I mean why do I want to pay money to get my dick hard and then leave by myself? I really never got into that.. I mean I’ll go if it’s a group thing and if you really make me… I smack a strippers ass…but it’s really not my deal. Also I learned in college that most women don’t enjoy titty bars…so when one wants you to take her to one….beware. Shit I actually had a chick make me take her to a porno theater on a first date. Now correct me if I am wrong… but if you want to be taken to an actual porno theater and watch some chick get her eggs scrambled and then have her ass decorated with white viscous material…then I am thinking you are kind of open to sex on the first date. Well actually not, and no I never went out with her again…but I did fantasize about spelling my name on her chin so I guess we are even.
All in all it was a cool night. I met crazy Aussie motherfuckers who like to drink and make fun of Americans – and I told them that I was here for the filmmaking and the cheese fries… nobody told me we were going to invade countries and start wars. They laughed and we all then got thrown out.



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