Thursday, August 30, 2007

There is no time like the present

Musicians say you’re only as good as your last release and I’m assuming the same can be said for filmmakers and since I’ve yet to have a film released that means I’m only as good as my last festival…meaning this festival. See that puts it all into prospective, I’m only as good as my last festival screening… which is this screening… so my entire career and reputation as a filmmaker is at stake…well, good thing I got some sleep.

What sleep? I was totally lying; how-the-fuck could I sleep with all of this shit going on? Let’s recap shall we… my new manager and possible EP…yeah I spoke to him the day I landed… ain’t heard shit from him since. My publicity jaunt here in NYC… nada… a bunch of nothing going on. Sure, maybe indie film is too slow and too impossible to effectively generate publicity for….whatever…another waste of capital. All of my local contacts have kind of washed out… save the one meeting I have in about two hours…. But we’ll get back to that.

It must be 8am…9 at the latest…and it’s raining. Well that’s just fucking wonderful. I can really tell you how amazingly it makes me that it’s raining on my screening day. I swear to Christ it’s rained on me more times when I’m about to screen that anyone. I should change the name of the production company to Cinema Rainforest Productions.

The rain presents two basic issues…number one – it’s raining and I don’t get wet, I live in Southern California… we have laws against spontaneous rainfall. Number two – all the hanging surfaces for posters and stickers are now moist.. .and hence non-adhesive…that’s just fucking awesome.

I get about another 90 min’s of sleep and then I pack my shit and I’m out of the door. This has to be like my 300th bombing mission. And once again I’m tired, hungry, alone and behind enemy lines….at least soldiers get paid for this shit.

I’m not too worried because this is Manhattan, there are literally thousands of people doing what I am doing and there is a real murder rate going on…how can I get noticed?

Now, I know I’m supposed to take the subway and be a real new Yorker…yeah well, I’m carrying 50lbs of posters and stickers and screeners and I’m not about to lug this shit onto the subway…the key is not to sweat. Cause when you sweat you look nervous. And when you look nervous people look at you because you look nervous. This of course will cause you to act nervous… and then the cops come. So you can see, it’s all in your approach.

This is going to be a standard fly-by mission which means I stand on a corner and look down two streets that are perpendicular to each other. I then pick out my spots to put posters and such. The goal is to move only in one direction and work on whole side of a street and then go around the corner, wait a few minutes and then double back on the opposite of both streets. It’s very effective and since you actually turn corners, people tend not to complain that you are bombing their street.

My plan would have executed nicely, if it wasn’t for all the goddamn wind. I was having to use extra tape and two use to hands to steady the poster…that really slowed me down. I then resorted to taping the postcards to the sides of parking meters which is really too conspicuous and will most likely get the parking people to call the cops… but I needed the presence.

You see when you don’t have the time or the ability to get to a lot of people as a potential audience...then you do a controlled fly posting concentrating on the 3-4 blocks that lead to your venue. Your goal is to be visible but not recognizable. And limiting yourself to a few blocks really saturates the message and provides you cover from graphitti accusations.

I ran through about 90 postcards and 30 posters… it was a decent job… taking into account the late start due to the rain and it being a smaller venue.

Next I had to get to this meeting so I hailed a Taxi (which really took like 45 min’s….gee I wonder why?) and was off to meet this guy.

My entire trip is easily resting on how well this meeting goes. I mean this guy is supposed to be connected to some serious money people…and he’s meeting with me as a personal favor to a mutual friend. Now that’s not always the best circumstances to meet someone under because they are only obligated to take the meeting, they don’t have to talk to you or acknowledge your presence or any shit like that.

I’ve got my headphones on as I make my way through the enormous crowds on the streets of Manhattan. I will say this much, living in LA you kind of detest tourists, but in NYC you really hate them. Always standing in the way, looking up a street signs… a fuckin’ eyesore if you ask me.

Next thing I know I’m in front of this little restaurant/eatery that we are meeting at. Suddenly this laid back 30 something dude comes over and shakes my hand. We do the normal pleasantries and such when people meet for the first time and then we get down to business.

MONEY GUY
So I hear you have a film you wanna make?

COOPRDOG
Yes, a feature…and I have to make it.

MONEY GUY
Why do you have to make it?

COOPRDOG
Because everyday that I don’t my audience stumbles astray through the fields of filmed entertainment looking for some sort of sign or direction to direct their attention towards to give themselves some fulfillment.

MONEY GUY
(chuckles)… so is that a sincere answer or something you’ve rehearsed hundreds of times to get the desired effect.

COOPRDOG
Well, since I’m the genuine article I’d say it’s a little bit of both. Because Generation X really is a lost, wayward child and I have been practicing my entire life to pitch you.

He looks me dead in my eye with a sort of sinister smile to see if I will also smile, but I resist.

MONEY GUY
Well, your balls are big enough….let’s see if your film is any good. Why don’t you tell me about it.

And with that prompt I launch into my Generation X-high production values – competing on a professional level spiel to see if it wows him. I’m about 4 min’s in when he stops me and says…

MONEY GUY
Ok, ok… you know your shit, and I like your trailers. But if we are really going to do this, I’m going to need a screener of your short.

I pull a screener out of my bag and place it on the table.

MONEY GUY
(he smiles)… I’m really gonna need two..

I put a second screener on the table. The dude looks right at me with a half smile-half stare

MONEY GUY
Three is really the number I need so when you get back to LA

COOPRDOG
Do you need another screener?

MONEY GUY
You don’t have to give me another screener.

COOPRDOG
If you want another screener, I can give you another screener….cause I got nothing but screeners.

The dude bursts out laughing as he takes the third screener from me.

MONEY GUY
Ok, you’re outta hand. Anyway I’m also gonna need your epk

I reach in my bag and quickly toss 5 EPK’s on the table.

MONEY GUY
…and a copy of your feature script

And then I pulled a copy of the feature out of my bag and dropped it with a thud on to of the stack of materials.

The Money Guy is kind of taken aback at my ability to produce so many things from a small bag (my mother was part clown)

MONEY GUY
(beat) So, you’re ready

COOPRDOG
My whole team is ready. You just got to give the word.

The Money Guy gives me a hard look with a hint of a smile.

MONEY GUY
Alright dude. I’m gonna run this buy a few people.

COOPRDOG
That’s what I’m talking about!

MONEY GUY
Don’t get your hopes up cause I still got to see your film, but if it’s as good as you say it is… then we may have to do the deal.

COOPRDOG
That’s what’s up.

MONEY GUY
That’s what’s up.

His celli begins to buzz furiously..

MONEY GUY
(Looking at his celli): Oh, I need to speak to this one. You still got my celli?

COOPRDOG
Mos Definitely

MONEY GUY
Well hit me up after you get back to LA. If your shit is hot, I may have some people for you to meet.

…and just like that the meeting was over. These EastCoast cats don’t fuck around…so if you find yourself heading to one of these meetings… you better be prepared!

I got to the venue a little before four pm. The door was open and there were only four people inside, two of which were bartenders. There are no signs or advertising about the festival anywhere in the establishment.

I walk up and introduce myself and it turns out that this guy and his wife (assistant) are charged with hanging the movie screen. Now I’d like to point out that “screen” is really not a good term to use to describe this thing…. Cause it’s really like a huge white trash bag that they plan to hang on the red walls so that we can see the images.

At this point there is no need to complain, this is what I have to deal with. So I became really helpful and made sure that we hung the screen as quickly and correctly as possible. That initially seemed to really surprise the guy….you know, that I was willing and eager to help. I suspect that Marilou warned them about me…..and by my being nice…makes her look even worse….yes, I can play the game….oh yes, I can play the game.

So the screen was up and then I sweet talked the manager into letting me bomb the place with my posters. Again, I’m branding the screening…that’s what it’s all about kids! I’ve got my shit hanging in every possible sightline and still I wasn’t satisfied.

I then proceed to strategically place postcards in as many places as possible as well as put a few of my give-away CD’s (cd’s with MF DOOM beats and some JPEG’s on them) on some of the booth tables.

Next thing I know more filmmakers are showing up. Only they aren’t real filmmakers and by that I mean the had their own way of doing things. Like the guy that showed up with a blank, white DVD in his hand and then removed a sharpie from his back pocket and wrote his name and the title of the film on the disc before handing it to the “festival representative”. I really don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a blatant disregard for the presentation and visual identify of a film….and this was the film’s director. After that I met a woman who had a documentary…only it wasn’t a documentary; it was more like footage of people performing in a club (note to filmmakers: just because it appears that you can shoot in low-level light situations like a nightclub without additional lights…doesn’t mean that you can).

So as I chat up the other filmmakers we begin to discuss the start time of the event. It’s about 3:50 pm and things don’t look assembled.

DOCUMENTARY CHICK
What time were you told this was going to start?

COOPRDOG
I was told I was screening at 4pm

GUY WORKING WITH WHITE PLASTIC SHEET
..Uh sorry to eavesdrop; but we were told to be ready by 7pm.

Now that’s just awesome. Not only is it another poorly run festival that no one is attending…but it’s not even on schedule (what schedule??)

It’s times like these that you find out what you are really made of. I mean, it will take a lot of control to not physically harm someone when this is what you are presented with as a filmmaker. The rest of the filmmakers seem to want to take their cues from me. The Doc’ chick even strikes up a conversation.

DOCUMENTARY CHICK
So, is this your first festival?

COOPRDOG
No, it’s like my 14th.

DOCUMENTARY CHICK
I hope the rest went better than this.

COOPRDOG
Uh, no….sadly; this is what it means to play a festival.

DOCUMENTARY CHICK
Always

COOPRDOG
Pretty much, so I suggest you develop a drug habit and get used to it…that’s what I did.

She seems unnerved by my comment and then she seems to turn on me.

DOCUMENTARY CHICK
You sure like to advertise you film.

COOPRDOG
Yeah, I’m funny like that…you know… wanting a career and people to know my work. I must have caught something.

She seems to misunderstand my sarcasm, not that I really fucking care, but what the fuck? Why is she coming at me… I’m trying to help.

The next thing I know the start screen for SLZ is being projected on the wall. It’s an ugly image because 1) it’s projected on a plastic bag. 2) There is still way too much Daylight to screen in this bar. 3) the wall isn’t exactly flat and the “plastic screen” has been stretched over a few lighting fixtures (I’m fucking serious).

So here I am, looking at this thing. With a really nice bar staff trying to appease me. I should like to point out that the management and employees of M1-5 really tried their best to make it a good screening. They aren’t a screening room, they weren’t given the correct materials (screen), they aren’t used to working with filmmakers, and weren’t told what time all the filmmakers were showing up.

They push play and the film sounds awful. Not because something is incorrect, but because this is a bar that holds about 600 people and the sound system is way up in the ceiling…and the sound is echoing in the empty space. Which means there is no way to correct the sound without a few hundred people added to the mix.

It is with this realization that I ordered a pint of Guinness and let it all unfold. If an investor called or something like that, I’d highlight the good…like the number of posters I’ve hung and the fact that we are the only film with onesheets in the actual venue.

So Sex, Love & Z-Parts has never looked worse than it did up on that plastic screen….I mean it was just a horrible image. And still people loved it, and still people approached me to ask me about how we captured certain shots and how we got it to look so pretty.

And then I realized…that that’s the cool thing about film. Even under these circumstances, it’ll still look half-decent (as compared to DV content) no matter how you screen it.

Of course after that I proceeded to get really drunk as the bar slowly turned into a real party after about 4 -6 hours. And then guess what happened…Marilou showed up. Now you know you’ve made an impact as a filmmaker when you keep the festival director from appearing at their own screenings…but whatever.

For the rest of the night I mingled, flirted, told lies and handed out some screeners and T-Shirts. I was a one man publicity team and I had no competition.

Then I looked over and saw a photographer. She was a hottie and she wasn’t taking my picture…this is all wrong. So I decided to approach her and see if I could get myself some publicity.

COOPRDOG
So, I see you are a photographer

PHOTOGRAPHER
And I see that rocket science degree is serving you well.

COOPRDOG
It is as a matter of fact. I’m wastin’ tax dollars and killin’ astronauts like it’s going out of style.

She laughs.

PHOTOGRAPHER
What’s your name?

COOPRDOG
Cooprdog

PHOTOGRAPHER
And what can I do for you?

COOPRDOG
Well I see you’re taking pictures of people so I thought you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to take my picture.

PHOTOGRAPHER
And why would I want to take your picture?

COOPRDOG
Cause I’m pretty.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Did your momma tell you that?

COOPRDOG
As a matter of fact she did.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Yeah well you Momma really loves you. I mean really, really loves you.

She begins to smirk at her own comment

COOPRDOG
Oh, what is that your stand up routine.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Don’t get mad…

COOPRDOG
Listen baby, I’m way prettier than that chubby brother in the Granimals shirt.

She laughs again.

COOPRDOG
Why you hatin’? I’m like a real filmmaker and shit.

PHOTOGRAPHER
You’re a filmmaker?

COOPRDOG
Yeah can’t you tell by the lack of money in my pocket and the pain in my face

She laughs again

PHOTOGRAPHER
So what do you want from me?

COOPRDOG
I want you to marry me…I mean I want you to take my pic, because I have an ego to support.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Oh, well….at least you are being honest.

She quickly turns her lens towards me and begins to take snaps of me. I respond by starting to Vogue and shake my ass like a gay model. She laughs as I make face after face with each pose

PHOTOGRAPHER
Oh, I think you’ve done this before

COOPRDOG
Only when I need rent money…but don’t tell my friends.

I spend the next hour chasing her around the bar and asking her to marry me (yeah I was drinking…do I sound like I want to get married?)

But then I saw a video crew…so I had to dump her.

Instead of the “I’m too cute not to cover” angle… I opted for the “I’m about to be famous” angle and no, it wasn’t working at first.

INTERVIEW HOST
I’m sorry, what makes you think you are about to become famous.

COOPRDOG
Baby, I’m about to blow up

INTERVIEW HOST
For what reason?

COOPRDOG
I’m a filmmaker

INTERVIEW HOST
You’re a filmmaker?

What is that the $20K question. I smoke weed everyday, eat gummy candy constantly, drive an old car and am convinced that I can only have a successful relationship with a stripper….of course I’m a filmmaker.

INTERVIEW HOST
Can you prove it….tough guy?

Tough Guy…. Whatever missy…you know you want to fuck me!

I point to the SLZ poster hanging on the wall next to her and her entire attitude changes.

INTERVIEW HOST
That’s YOUR film?

COOPRDOG
Yes

INTERVIEW HOST
YOU...shot it?

COOPRDOG
Well my DP physically shot it. But they are my actors, my scenes and my direction.

INTERVIEW HOST
Ok, I want to interview you…

Next thing I know we are in the back of the bar getting’ cozy as the camera man lights me.

INTERVIEW HOST
Hello…hello…hello… welcome back to M1-5 and we are at the afterparty and I have with me the legendary Cooprdog. Director, writer, best friend of money guys…. So Cooprdog… tell me what it’s like to be a director.

COOPRDOG
Director? I’m not a director

INTERVIEW HOST
I thought you had this impressive short film.

COOPRDOG
Man…some dude told me if I came over here and talked to you he’d give me a pint. I don’t know shit about no movies…

She cracks up on camera as I start to smile..

COOPRDOG
I’m sorry did you ask me something, I’ve been drinking…you’ll have to forgive me.

From then on she thinks I’m really charming and the interview is awesome. They shoot like 8 minutes of me talking shit and selling the film.

I was made to do this for a living.

Now I would really like to tell you how the night ended but I really don’t remember. I can say that at some point I did wind up in the bathroom smoking weed with a few member of The Wu-Tang Clan before security threw us out. I did hit on every single bartender in sight; including the really religious one who was really stand offish at first.

COOPRDOG
Hey baby, are you married?

RELEGIOUS BARTENDER
I’m married to God

COOPRDOG
(beat) Well… if I pretend to be God, will you pretend to be my wife?

She smiles and walks away.

COOPRDOG
What? What? Where you going?

DUDE SITTING NEXT TO ME
You’re way to drunk to pull that off. Sounded good though…you got hella delivery when you talk shit, kid!

I took that as a sign that it was time to go home… although I don’t remember home.

All I can really tell you is that I did make my 7:05AM flight back to LA…and man was I hung over.

So there went my premiere in NYC. No awards, no pussy, spent way too much money but I did meet a web designer and get high with WU Tang… can I really complain?

COOPRDOG

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