Friday, November 10, 2006

I Screen Therefore I am

I didn’t sleep which should come as no surprise because I my future hangs in the balance…and you really can’t get good hotel porn in Atlanta…not that we didn’t try.

I am up early. I have postcards to sticker, EPK’s to make…tons of shit to do. See I know you think it’s all drinking and lace panties at a festival (uh...I prefer boyshorts…BTW) but there is some real work that gets done. I wake up Budd., scoop up Dr. M. and we get to the festival in record time (if you don’t count the 40 min detour on the surface streets – great city layout you have here).

We get to the convention center and the place is packed. The gate isn’t even open and there has to be 50 people lined up. This is a good sign.

Det. Budd and I go into promotional mode. That means we stick posters and postcards everywhere. Postcards on the railings of the escalator, posters on every wall in sight. Dr. M. seems a little pensive at the blatant vandalism and defacing of private property. She questions about if this is wise and Det. Budd sums up our collective position by stating “fuck ‘em!” When the open the gates and let us in, we rush to the hallway where all the screening rooms are and litter the place with Sex, Love & Z-Parts posters. We are like an infection on the convention. We are illiciting strange looks from the other filmmakers. Like we have no right to do this, like we are cheating or some shit like that. Well kiddies here is the first rule of filmmaking – there are no fucking rules! If you are going to fill out an application and send in a check then if you get accepted you have the right to deface as much property as you see fit to promote your screening (FYI – the back of police cars are NOT a good place to put your stickers). And what is the deal with the other filmmakers? Hello? We are all in competition for money. Apparently no one told them that this is a full-contact screening (meaning we are about to knock you on your fuckin’ ass). 35 min’s later we have hung 35 posters and positioned 150 postcards in strategic places (like every single courtesy phone stool).

The other filmmakers hate us. I can see them crying their eyes out on their blank DVD cases with a handwritten title on the disk (oh yeah, that’s about as professional as writing out your resume in crayon) because they didn’t bring any promotional material or couldn’t afford promotional material…whateverthefuck excuse they want to use…to justify their copious consumption of hater-ade. I have no sympathy for you suckers. Making the film is the easy part, all this shit is where the real work is done.

The festival begins a few min’s late and hence the screenings are delayed. Now normally this would cause me anxiety, but what it really did was trap 200 people in the hallway waiting for screenings to start. And all of them looked at our posters (cause no one else hung a fuckin’ thing in the hallway). We became the defacto film to see, because we were promoting so aggressively. Once again we have proven that you don’t need to be able to break the world record to win at the special Olympics (not that this is a festival of retarded people – I mean I have only seen like 6 -7 retards tops…ok 10, but two of them were working security so they shouldn’t count).

We have been very strategic at this festival. We scouted our screening room the day before and made the convention center staff swap out digital projectors cause we saw some flaws in the image the day before (you’d be surprised what you can get if you ask for it – uh nicely…you have to ask nice, asshole!).

My screening is beginning in 20 min’s. It’s actually a section but I my mind we are the only film screening (you need to develop this kind of arrogance if you are gonna smash motherfuckers). And low and behold the two associates who don’t love me anymore have appeared. They seem excited – which means our screening environment is contagious. Now don’t get it twisted, there is a lot at stake here. We have a tremendous presence (Mostly because my DP is a big loud white guy at a black festival) and name recognition of the film. It’s not a coincidence. This is the seventh time we have screened this film in 9 months...so we kind of have this shit down. We come with all the promotional material a filmmaker could want (but no models this time) and the correct attitude. And that attitude is “I’m not arrogant, I am just better than you”.

I am making small talk with the aforementioned associates. But I am rarely looking them in the eye. I am watching people who are looking at my posters and from time to time I say things like “it’ll change your life”… and “I mean what-the-fuck-else you gonna do at 12:10 pm but see my kick-ass short”. I know that they think that I am being impolite as I basically ignore them in favor of potential audience members, but this is my job; this is why I get my cock sucked a lot (ok.. maybe not a lot…but more often than you so shut the fuck up). It’s always all hugs and kisses before the start of a section. I mean it’s really amazing to watch. Intellectually the prescreening environment is closer to the vibe at a mixed-martial arts bout than a friendly gathering. I mean it is really a tough thing to do; be nice that is…when you really want to sabotage other peoples screenings just to make yourself look good (no rules remember). But I am an honorable man (at least when I haven’t had anything to drink).

There is only one problem, one major problem; WE HAVE NO FUCKING WEED! You can file that under “end of the world-type of emergency”. You see it’s a rule that we are high when we screen. I mean we can’t be sober. If I am high and during the Q & A someone mentions something that they would have liked to see in my film, I would reply “fuck what you like”...and move on to the next question. But if I am sober…well I am liable to pull a Ron Artest and make a motherfucker apologize (“look at me, look at me…I’m the one that did this to you”. I have made several unsuccessful attempts to find drugs since I’ve been here (..and it’s another reason to hate religion…bible thumpers always get rid of the drugs). I even hit up the bathroom attendant (now in most major cities this in like Mr. Connection) but he had no leads…plenty of halls with vapor action...but no leads.

Suddenly I get a text message that makes my eyes light up.

DET. BUDD
“What , what is it. What did you just get texted?”

COOPRDOG
“The dog is in the yard”

DET. BUDD
“When…can he come now…tell him to come now.. and we need a lot”

COOPRDOG
“We’re getting’ on a plane in 36 hours”

DET. BUDD
“Do you have any idea how many people you can kill in 36 hrs….that’s plenty of time to be depressed…see if he has a Z (oz=zip=gator=ounce)”

COOPRDOG
“Ok, but this isn’t like the bomb shit we’re getting here”

DET. BUDD
“What are you a fuckin’ connoisseur? Exactly what part of “I need to get really fuckin’ high until I get back on the plane” are you not understanding?”

COOPRDOG
“Ok…I copy”

I convey the wishes of Det. Budd and text my reply. I am then given a series of instructions on where to go in the convention center. A left here, a right there and next thing I know I am in a dark corner. It’s a friend of a friends of a friend cause apparently the word of our drought has gotten out. Low and behold it’s my old friend Shelly…

SHELLY
“Hey Suga...how ya been?”

COOPRDOG
“aw you know… more of the same shit….so what you got”

Shelly removes a huge bag of weed. I mean this is felony weight in any state let alone in the south. I normally would be a little terrified to do a deal in broad daylight…but fuck it… I don’t live here.

She opens the bag and tells me to reach in and grab a handful of weed but instructs me to keep my mitts off the inner sack…that’s the good shit (see…everyone has special occasion weed). Fuck this is better than any present like ever….I think this should be a new Halloween tradition “Trick or treat, I got weed…It’s so dank it’ll make it hard to breathe”. I grab a nice hand full and she gives me a plastic baggie to hold it in.

SHELLY
“Ok are we done? ‘Cause I got to get the fuck outta here, goddamn rent-a-cops are giving me a rash”

COOPRDOG
“Yeah...thanks”

SHELLY
“No problem…just give me a little more notice next time and I’ll have some shit ready when you land…and stop asking the bathroom attendant for a hook-up… this ain’t Cali”

..and with that she was off…


The screening is starting in minutes…and I have to find Det. Budd. When I do he’s frantic.

DET. BUDD
“How did it go?”

COOPRDOG
“Mission accomplished”

DET. BUDD
“Sweet...let’s blaze”

COOPRDOG
“Dude we have no blunts and no device”

DET. BUDD
“What??!!.. this is a fucking nightmare”


..see there are few things are frustrating as not having weed…one of them is having weed but nothing to smoke it in. Now fear not, me and Det. Budd have fashioned pipes and bongs out of several objects but we need time for that.. and time is not what we have here.

We decide that we need to concentrate on the packed house that we have waiting to see our film and we return to the theater (uh…theater room). The place is packed, the initial head count is 51…fifty-fucking-one. That makes this one of our largest screenings ever (festival screenings are lucky to attract more than 20 people since there are films screening simultaneously). Det. Budd is in the front of the room making sure that the projector and the sound don’t do anything strange while I am manning the door (because you have to make sure people don’t continually walk in and out at your screening. We have walked around this room several times and checked equipment so often that people think we are with the convention center staff…please.. this is our future we are baby sitting here.

I approach the projectionist (uh…yeah.. I’ll go with that term…this is a good festival) and try to see if he’ll play us last.


COOPRDOG
“Hey, can I ask you a question”

FESTIVAL VOLUNTEER
“I’m not a programmer I’m just here to play the films”

COOPRDOG
“Yes, I know. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind playing Sex, Love & Z-Parts last”

FESTIVAL VOLUNTEER
“I have to screen them in the order that they are listed in the program”

COOPRDOG
“Are you sure I can’t persuade you with some federal currency?”

FESTIVAL VOLUNTEER
“That’s unethical….I have to start the screening now, excuse me”

Just my luck I find the only ethical festival employee in the history of film screenings. But no worries, I was thinking of the other filmmakers when I asked him to do that…my film IS the bomb.”

We are second in the line up. I don’t remember the first film, I never remember any of the films in my section…well except for one.. “Lark & Cher”…but more on that later. My former film foster parents are here to see if I really pull it off. I think they are wishing I was one of their filmmakers now that they have seen that I can put the asses in the seats…but still no honest acknowledgement of our predicament…and the charade continues. One is standing next to me, the other is hidden in the audience. I know what they are doing, cause Det. Budd and I have done this many times. This is know as scouting the screening. Putting people in different parts of the room to judge the overall reaction. But since we are filled to capacity, they are having trouble finding places to sit….and man did that feel good.

The Big Hit Logo comes up and I hold my breath. I have only been nervous once in all the times I have screened this film – that was the first time I screened this last version…at a festival.. when I hadn’t let anyone other than Det. Budd and my editor see it. I am hoping that we get a fair shake...and that they give the film an honest chance to entertain them. Well, the crowd bites on the first joke, and the second, and the third. They seem awed at the first dream sequence and from that point on… it’s all gravy. ( well we did lose a mom and her son…but when they came in … I knew they weren’t going to enjoy hearing the work fuck every 22.4 seconds –yes I did the math...it’s my fucking film asshole!)


The film is really well received. Amid the handshaking and the atta-boys Det. Budd and myself exchange a single glance…acknowledging to each other that we just killed this screening. To add icing to the cake…the aforementioned associates are screening their right after our section. They tried their hardest to keep the crowd but start their screening almost immediately as ours let out. But we took 46 of the 51 people with us into the hallway and out of the screening. It was the most powerful I have ever felt. I do not have the money, or the expertise of many of my peers; but I do have the popular vote…and that means a lot at a festival.

Dr. M. approaches me, here comes the moment of truth. She really liked the screening, she said it’s a different film when projected (fuck, she should see the Digibeta projected…it’s totally fuckin’ tasty). She then informs me that her screener DVD would get stuck and when she would screen forward….she missed part of a scene…so this was totally enlightening. She says I will like the essay and that she is glad she attended. …now that’s what I am talkin’ about.

As a side note, my former mentor was really amazed at the film. He said that he had not seen this version (you mean the one that I have had picture lock on since January? Now what does that tell you people?) He’s really enthusiastic about the whole screening…I could care less…..if he was in the position to help me, or my film…he would have done so already…

We came, we saw, we screened…..

So we are out of the screening and on our way to our case study (that’s right we got a case study you hatin’ motherfuckers) to enlighten the masses. But before we feed the children, we need to take care of something. Dr. M questions me as Det. Budd flanks me as we walk quickly to the exit.

DR. M.
“Where are you going?”

COOPRDOG
“I’m not sure I know what you are asking me”

DR. M.
“Why are you walking so quickly and acting like someone is following you?”

COOPRDOG
“We have work to do”

DET. BUDD
“We are on a mission from God”

DR. M
“A what…..?

COOPRDOG
“We have duties to perform as principals of Big Hit Productions…that have to remain off the record”

DR. M
“Yeah whatever….just remember to come get me when you are finished.”

COOPRDOG
“Copy that…”

We skate out of the convention center. I mean I probably should have invited her. I’m not being a good friend, but it’s for her own safety. This is full contact weed smoking that we are about to partake in…and the learning curve is steep when you smoke the good shit.

Me and Det. Budd bound down the escalator with our ATL buds in possession and make hasty moves to the Impala. We’ve found an empty Guinness can that is now going to be a smoking device. Now this seemed like a really good idea at the time. I mean you just make a hole in the site of the can stuff some buds in there….and blaze Johnny blaze. Only, it didn’t occur to us that if you suck hard on the can, you’ll create a vacuum that is strong enough to collapse the can as you inhale. And yes it was cool to see my strong weed smoking lungs crimp this beer can. The problem comes when you break the seal and the can snaps back….and shoots the now burning bud into the air and then onto the carpet of the rental car (followed by yelling and screaming and “dude...what the fuck?”).

So see if you can form a picture of me and Det. Budd hot boxing a car in the garage and then jumping around like idiots as our high-asses attempt to lift a burning cherry off the carpet with our bare hands (you must concentrate grasshopper). It was not a pretty sight and let me tell you, it took lots of concentration to get high…I mean it was like work damn it!

But when I got that smoke in my lungs…that sweet…sweet taste of “I’m about damage my short term memory”.. I couldn’t have been happier. We sat there hidden in the parking structure, getting’ faded, listening to underground beats and reflecting on the fact that we screened extremely well and that we are beginning to become permanent fixtures in the indie film circles.


We’re out of the car now…stumbling…yelling at filmmakers in the distance. Making our way to the case study. We get strange looks from bystanders as we approach the elevators….apparently the locals don’t walk around faded (how do you survive?)

We skate into the main hallway in no time and get I couple of “hey, hi’ya doin’s ” was we pass through and make our way to our presentation room.

Well we had a whopping 6 people in attendance (but that’s ok…I hear the first Guns & Roses show was really scarce) and I could care less. And you will never guess who’s presenting in front of us. It’s one of the associates that doesn’t like my film. Well lookee here, lookee here. I mean I just can’t get the fuck away from you guys (no really, I like you – I just don’t fuckin’ trust you). He’s going over his time limit and that kind of shit is not going to be tolerated. Me and Det. Budd stormed in and walked behind him and started hanging our posters on the back wall.

He seemed happy to see me (yeah… shocked the fuck out of me too)…I guess we have all come to some sort of understanding during this festival (yeah it’s called “at a festival, need to play nice”). I mean I guess I understand that it’s getting awkward seeing ass Sex, Love & Z-Parts just tore the roof off the motherfucker. I don’t know if it was a compliment or not, but he mentioned that he used my film as an example of aggressive marketing and getting your film talked about. That was really the most unbelievable thing that could have been said to me during the festival. I mean you personally don’t like the film and persuade people to overlook it because you don’t like what it represents – yet to make yourself and your panel look good and to seem more effective, you site my film as an example. That’s classic. Hey.. dude me a favor dude – “Keep the name of my film out of your fuckin’ mouth!” Don’t speak on me, Sex-Love or any of my peoples. We are an embarrassment are we not? We are not worth supporting, are we not? I must say, it’s truly a sign that you are making headway when even people who don’t like your film, want to be associated with it for one reason or another.

We keep the case study very informal and just try to communicate as much information as possible and answer as many question as possible. Not a single fuckin’ one of them saw the film (where is the love Sun?), but they still had some good questions. I break from the script and give them real practical advice. Like “you will never have enough money…so stop using that as an excuse for why you can’t get what you want”.. and “you need to understand that if you don’t shoot your film, that you are a failure”. We tell them that it is doable if you plan well and pick your spots and understand how the festival circuit works.

We spent about 90 min’s spelling out the “how to get it done” plan and I think we did help a few people. Now enough of my civic duties….let’s get blasted..

COOPRDOG

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Entertainment Blogs - Blog Top Sites My Zimbio
Top Stories