Monday, August 27, 2007

I’m sorry what did you say?

I woke up with an uneasy feeling in my stomach…and no, it wasn’t all the Guinness and cheese popcorn. Something wasn’t right. I was like a mother who knew her child was in trouble and begins this mammoth effort to save a child that she has no evidence of being in danger; and that was where I was at.

I called Marilou just to say hello (as if a director ever calls someone for a casual reason)

MARILOU
Film festival

COOPRDOG
Hello Marilou? This is Cooprdog from Sex, Love & Z-Parts

MARILOU
Hi, how are you?

COOPRDOG
Chillen… but I was calling to see if I could get confirmation on my screening time. We are screening tomorrow and I’ve yet to get a definite time from your festival.

MARILOU
Your screening around 4:30.

COOPRDOG
See, what does that mean? Does that mean at 4:30?

MARILOU
No, you’ll be screening closer to 4 o’clock

COOPRDOG
Well Marilou, here’s my deal. I have some money people and some attorneys coming to my screening and an approximate time is unacceptable.

She cuts me off as she speaks to other people in the room with her, there is a little bit of a commotion as she returns to our conversation.

MARILOU
Cooprdog… I have to deal with these insurance people. I’m pretty sure you screen in the first section which begins at 4pm. But you should really check the site.

COOPRDOG
I was on your site two days ago and you did have a screening program listed, has it been updated.

MARILOU
It was updated this morning

COOPRDOG
To be honest with you I’m kind of troubled that you have no idea when I screen.

MARILOU
I’ve told you that it’s about 4pm, but I’ll go check it. I tell you what, if I don’t call you back, that means that you are screening at 4 o’clock.

COOPRDOG
Yeah, that’s really not going to work for me because your festival is poorly run and you have never gotten back to me. I need to know from you when I am screening. That’s all I am asking for.

MARILOU
Cooprdog I have to go. Check the site and call me back if there is a problem.

COOPRDOG
Ok, thanks…

As I pressed the end button on my Blackcherry I had a bad feeling. Kind of like the feeling I get when Citibank credit cards calls me on my celli…kind of like when your Z mechanic says “we need to talk”…yeah… it was on of those feelings..

So here I am in Brooklyn with just my Blackcherry and a burning desire to find out what the fuck is really going on. After a few threats and some bribes I gain access to the PC at the computer center (it’s like a 56K dial-up and a turtle with a cord tied around it’s tail)

I load the Urban Vestige site and to my surprise it has been updated. I mean there is actually text and all other kinds of shit going on... on this page. Ok, maybe this is a good sign. Then I go to the schedule page and guess what? Sex-Love is not scheduled for 4PM… or 4:30. As a matter of fact my film is on the schedule…because it hasn’t been programmed.

I don’t think it’s possible to describe to you the aggressive and violent thoughts that were flowing through my mind at a million miles a minute. Death, dismemberment, global-thermo-nuclear-war (“would you like to play a game?”) knife wounds, acid used to remove all identifying characteristics.. yeah, that’s where I was at. Sure, I can take a joke; I can even deal with catastrophic-act-of-God type shit (and that’s an amazing statement for an atheist to make) but just out and out incompetence…where my film is concerned? You must be fuckin’ high if you think that’s gonna fly. I have three lead actors to appease, not to mention a 40-man crew and all sorts of equipment houses and vendors who did us a solid cause we said we could bring the pain…and they read my emails….and.....let us not forget my investors; my very patient investors who have dealt with Final Cut Pro crashes (never again, I’ll raise the money to cut AVID), being kicked out of competition in a festival (“…actually we promised to get noticed, …not to be liked so how does this constitute a violation of our articles of incorporation and if you shoot me, who’s going to do the Q & A?”), typos in the credits (yeah, that’s always an awesome phone call), believing me when I refused to allow the film to be shown on TV because it would destroy its meaning, trusting me when I said that selling the short film outright was a sucker bet……what I am trying to tell you is that I have lots of people to answer to…..She needs to answer to me!

So I’m pacing, breathing hard, my heart pounds as I gnash my teeth and dial her number. It’s times like these that you find out if you’ve really got what it takes to produce.

MARILOU
Film Festival

COOPRDOG
Marilou, this is Cooprdog.

MARILOU
Is it important… I’m kind of tied up right now, it is possible this can wait till later.

COOPRDOG
Well seeing as how my film is not programmed in your festival, it’s kind of a fucking emergency!

There is an ominous 4 seconds of silence before she responds.

MARILOU
What is the name of your film

COOPRDOG
The name of my film is “Sex, Love & Z-Parts” …just like it was 15 minutes ago, just like it was yesterday, just like it was three weeks ago when you contacted me to play this festival and I use the term loosely.

There is some paper ruffling as she begins to respond

MARILOU
Well Cooprdog, you were a late entry and it seems that we don’t have enough screen time for all the films that we’d also like to screen so I’m afraid that…

COOPRDOG
What the fuck are you talking about?

MARILOU
Well you’re film arrived less than a month ago and I’ve tried really hard to find a place for you to…

COOPRDOG
Have you lost your fucking mind?!?!!! I wasn’t a late applicant. I wasn’t an applicant at all…you recruited me to play this festival!

MARILOU
Really at this late date I don’t really know what to tell you the schedule has been finalized.

COOPRDOG
What do you think I’m going to just lie here and take this ass fucking? I’ve spent nearly $1500 to fly out here last minute and promote this festival because you asked me to. And what? You think I’m going to go quietly? Do you honestly think I’m not going to sue the fucking pants off you.

MARILOU
I don’t think there is a need to get nasty

COOPRDOG
Nasty? This is a day’s ride from nasty sister. Ok, listen to me. I don’t know what your deal is and I don’t know who the fuck you think you are…but if you think you can ask me to fly across the country to play your festival…your bullshit sorry ass excuse for a festival….with no notice what so ever mind you – and then not play me!...when I had initially declined the offer and then you talked me into it…you’ve got another thing coming! I’ll get every attorney I know to harass you and believe you me sister girl... “The Diary of an Unchosen Film” will serve no other function than to sullen your name and your festivals name.

MARILOU
(beat) What do you expect me to do Cooprdog?

COOPRDOG
I expect you to honor the terms of our agreement when you made me the offer to screen.

MARILOU
Well that spot is already taken

COOPRDOG
Then I suggest you call the motherfucker up and tell him that bad fucking news! Because if I ain’t screenin’…then nobody’s fucking screening. Cause you know what Marilou. I already paid for another two days at this sorry excuse for a hotel and since I ain’t fucking screening in this festival. I’ll be able to cause a problem at every single screening till no one’s film is seen….you feel me!

MARILOU
How does the four thirty slot sound.

COOPRDOG
It sounds perfect.

MARILOU
Ok, your playing that in the M1-5 bar in Manhattan.

COOPRDOG
Thank you very much.

Don’t ever take shit from a festival director. I’m not advocating being hostile towards the director or the festival staff, but I don’t think you should grant them some kind of diplomatic immunity either. The film festival is a for profit enterprise and will grease you handily if given the opportunity. In my experience festival people generally love film and watching film. But they seem to understand very little about filmmakers. They seemed surprised that we are obsessed with the small details. And that we check things over and over again. But that is our psychosis that makes us filmmakers. For me film the most pure expression of my obsessive compulsive behavior. So I make no apologies for my eccentricity. But the festival…seems to take the actual “playing the film part” for granted.

Why is this? Why is it that so many people think that playing a film means just pressing play on a DVD player? Is this the result of the On-Demand world? We all can agree that the prevalence of having the technology to pause or rewind any film or TV program has caused the cinema-goer to lose the ability to sit through a narrative and watch it as one continuous piece of art. We can agree that the “modern” viewer worries not about missing information or key pieces of dialogue…because he can always rewind. Then has this not translated into “showing a moving” and not “screening a movie”. Has not the ubiquidity of media players and flat screens and hand held cameras and Youtube video not reduced all of filmed entertainment into “this thing” and not “this complex thing that is intangible”.

To speak to the laypersons among us…how can we expect magic when we screen when the people who screen us are not magicians but even more shockingly don’t even believe in magic. We go from a thriving society of media artists to becoming a caravan of nomadic idealists.

I would say to you then that we will always be outliers. Assimilation is not possible for any of us that are true independents. The vision and opportunities offered by the conventional film festival pale in comparison to what is really needed. I want you to laugh with me and at me and truly enjoy this artform for all of its ludicrousness …but please don’t lose sight of the fact that it takes a lot of time, effort and money to produce a film…and as a filmmaker you deserve better than what has been passing as a film festival in recent years

COOPRDOG

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