Friday, May 04, 2007

To Baltimore we go...

Not two weeks after the Arizona debacle I was on my way to another festival…two actually. I have to be in Baltimore in a matter of days to participate in what I think is going to be a huge festival. I should point out that I think that every festival is going to be a huge festival. This is my only weakness as a filmmaker (ok, maybe that’s not exactly true) and it keeps biting me in the ass. Hey all you “think positive”-people, all of you that espouse beliefs like “you get back what you put out in the universe”…I’ve got a question for you. Why is it that no matter how optimistic I am, now matter how much I am looking forward to screening, no matter how much “positive energy” I emit……that these festivals still continue to suck hairy dick? I mean what’s the deal? Yeah I know I’m not thinking positive anymore…but at what point do you stop looking for the positive and say “what the fuck dude?”… that’s what my question is.

I think I got 45 min’s of sleep. No, that’s not a joke. Since I wasn’t coming back to LA for nearly a month, I had to make sure I had all my shit that I was going to need (which really means I had a bag full of video games and gummy colas).

As the Super shuttle van drove up my street I tried to pretend that I was having a déjà vu and then tried to direct the rest of the déjà vu in a feeble attempt to control my own life. Now in the déjà vu that I was pretending to have the Super shuttle van is full of large breasted women who aren’t wearing bra’s and really wanted to a firm huge to calm their nerves. As the van slowed to a stop I really wanted to see what the power of thought was...and man was I disappointed. I mean maybe my Déjà vu antennae is fucked up. Maybe I spanked my dick one two many times while fantasizing about my postal workers...who knows; but the old ladies in the super shuttle with me were not what I had in mind.

We arrive at LAX and I’m the last person to get dropped off, and I swear to fucking god no matter where I am flying to…I am always the last person dropped off. It’s a conspiracy, you heard it here first.

LAX has not changed at all. It’s still a collection of vaguely interested employees that might get around to searching you after they get a burrito and a smoke. I negotiate the e-ticket kiosk bullshit and I’m on my way to clearing security. Every time I fly I get looks from people like Lincoln just freed the slaves yesterday and they can’t believe that I learned English, booked a flight and got a blackcherry all in time to connect to the east coast. Not like I care what these people think. I’m a fucking celebrity….you guys are support staff.

I can’t tell you much about the flight cause I slept the entire way. Well that’s not entirely true. I couldn’t really get to go to sleep initially because in the seat right behind me was a 10 yr old who had a broken arm and the air pressure from the pressurized cabin was killing him. This is what I ascertained from monotone, dull whine that he continuously moaned for FIVE hours all the way to Baltimore. I mean can I be notified when shit like this is going to happen. I should be notified that there is going to be a screaming child kicking my seat and given the opportunity to self-medicated to my desired catatonic state…but I guess that’s too much to ask for when you fly coach.

At some point the plane landed and they made me get the fuck off (yeah cause I was really enjoying the small seats and the half an ounce of peanuts I get for every 2000 miles that you fly.)

It was a mad dash as soon as I got to BWI. I’m lugging this huge hockey back and another bag that is full of promotional materials and I had to pick up my rental car. It’s always such a fuckin’ joy to pick up the rental car. I mean I swear there would be less paperwork involved if I wanted to get my brother out of prison than is required to rent a car and I don’t even have a brother. And they don’t ask the kinds of questions that I think I’d want answered if I was running a rental car agency.

Do you often roll blunts while you are driving?

If you were to have sex in the back seat with someone who’s sex organs have more miles than an 1980’s Toyota and whose body fluids have been know to take paint of the front fender of a Peterbuilt 5th wheels diesel....could you be counted on to wipe down the seats and buy some air freshener?

Are you more inclined to run from the police because it’s not your car?

..well that’s what my concern would be, but hey….who the fuck am I?

So it’s initial here and sign this and photocopy that and I’m already ready to go…and then comes the million dollar question…

Would you like the insurance?

..hmm would I like the insurance. I am I willing to pay another $30 to insure a car that I’m not really going to drive…no thanks. She asks me if I’m sure and then I sign another 200 forms in triplicate.

They gave me a Saturn Vue which has to be the worst automobile I have ever driven. I’ve been on skateboards with rusty ball bearings that handled better than thing. I mean this thing is all over the road and it has the turning radius of an oil tanker (I’m not kidding). The ride of the Saturn Vue at 65 MPH is akin to a shopping cart barreling down the street. I mean this thing has the drag coefficient of a Barn door during re-entry and I am not feeling it. The only redeeming quality is the auxiliary input for an MP3 player. Of course there is no amp attached to said input and hence you’ll be lucky if you can hear your tunes over the sound of the steel belt radials.

First of all Baltimore is not easy to drive around…bunch of fucking bizarre streets that start and stop and street signs that you can’t read at 80 when you’re packing a bowl…this place is not filmmaker friendly.

I rented a room at a bed and breakfast for the first time in my life and I was really excited…that was until I realized that there was no fucking elevator and that I’d be hoofing it up 4 flights every time I wanted to get some blunts….I need to do more research in the future.

I drop my shit in the room and boogie back to the front desk. I cop two maps and I’m out the door. It’s overcast and looks like it’s about to rain…which is bullshit. I’m from So Cal…I don’t get wet!

I’m screening in two days and I need to turn this place on it’s I was trying to get a head start. It took me about 25 min’s to find the campus (I was like a block away and I still couldn’t find it)..and man was I shocked. See I was thinking that this was your normal college. So I thought I’d see a bunch of people blowing off class and partying all the time. Yeah well I guess that kind of thing doesn’t really go on at these small, affluent schools. In the 90 min’s I spent doing recon. I was shocked at the lack of shenanigans going on on this campus.

When I get to a festival I have three basic tasks that I wish to accomplish. The first is to scope out the screening venue and see just where I can hang my shit and how I want to dominate the publicity of the festival. The second is to ascertain how tight security is and where the closed-circuit cameras and the most inconspicuous way to litter this campus with my promotional materials…and lastly I have to find a weed hook-up. This venue is the largest in the state of Maryland and I hoping that that means something.

As I circle the campus I am haunted by the fact that I don’t see a single poster advertising the festival. Not on the campus, not in the city blocks that surround the campus. This is not a good sign. Also there is security, and lots of it. Two foot patrols per block, campus police vehicles that circle once every 6-10 minutes and I also have Baltimore PD just driving through to check things out.

The first day of the festival:

I’m up early…it’s maybe 8am. I am a one man promotional team. This will be my 15 or 20th bombing run to promote my film. This ought to be a good game of chess.

Before I left Los Angeles I downloaded the campus rules on hanging posters and advertising on campus. They’ve banned mostly everything that you would want to do to promote….so I have to go for it and feign that I don’t know about the rules if I get caught. Now I know you are wondering why I would bother with reading the promotional guidelines if I am just going to break them? Well you have to know exactly how much trouble you are in if you get caught of if people begin to take notice of what you are doing. If you know the rules, you can argue about loopholes and parts that are unclear. Above all else you’ll confuse the security officer who hasn’t looked at the rules in question since he got hired….so my advice to you is do your homework…if you want to be fly like me.

I should point out that this campus has less black people on it than the Country Music channel. I couldn’t get much more conspicuous unless my dreads caught fire …this is going to take some finesse.

I’m carry my satchel over my shoulder which if full of promotional materials and a box full of posters.

Now it’s time to see just how aggressive security really is about people hanging posters and shit. The best way to assess the vigilance of the security staff is to throw up 3 or 4 posters and about 10 postcards in and around the same intersection and then wait to see how soon they are taken down.

I had a lot of ground to cover and I knew that I couldn’t spent a great deal of time attaching my media because it will look very suspicious. The first thing I did was to pull out my roll of packaging tape. I ripped off about 15 pieces of tape and stuck the carefully on the side of a newspaper box so that most of it was still exposed. I then rolled up each piece of tape so that the adhesive side was exposed. I then put this 15 rolled tabs of tape on my right arm and shoulder.

I then put about 50 postcards in my left back pocket. I then began to walk towards a busy intersection. When I came across something that I wanted to tag with a postcard, I pulled a card out of my back pocket…I smacked it against my arm to adhere tape to it...and then with the tape firmly attached to the back of the postcard I smacked it on the object I wanted to tag.

I can throw 10-15 postcards as I walk through a block and not break stride. I then stop next to a newspaper box and pretend to tie my shoe…when in actuality I am hanging a pre-taped poster on the side of the box. And in case you are wondering, one of the advantages to being a minority during this activity is that no one will notice you, you seem like you are homeless or crazy…which is the best cover.

10 min’s later I’ve lit up this intersection that is at the edge of the downtown campus. 45 min’s go by and not one of them is taken down…I didn’t even see a security officer take a look at the posters and such. This is going to be easy.

But it’s still kind of early in the afternoon and I don’t like to work in sunlight (it’s not like a need a fucking tan). I decide to hit the students where they live and hit up the campus bars and eateries.

Well let me tell you I should have gone to one of these schools. Because no matter what you ask, the answer is yes, I had 12 bars agree to hang one of my posters. That’s amazing! You can’t do that shit in LA…nobody cares that you are screening and they ain’t hanging shit in their bar.

I compliment the bar presence by placing a poster on the side of every newspaper box that is near each of the bars. The goal is to get them to see the poster three times before the screening date.

After the bar crawl I headed towards the campus itself; I had to see if they were bluffing or if they really had a zero tolerance policy.

I began by being very discreet. Only hitting every other widow and column with postcards and posters as I passed them. After about an hour I started gettin’ bold. I was hanging posters on the side of trashcans and on the glass of the doors of buildings. But my stroke of genius was to go to a local florist and to get 100 of those pitch-fork looking things that you put the card in when you give someone flowers. I spaced these about 75 yards apart and put a postcard on each one. I looked for the most traveled areas and bombed those throughways.

As approached the actual venue I realized that they were setting up a carnival down on the parking lot next to the quad...and on the quad there are lots of people with camping equipment setting up tents and shit.

This is almost too good to be true. With this much activity I’m almost completely invisible. I blend in and plant another 50 postcards all around these “campers”.

The festival starts in about 2 hours and I’ve yet to see anyone from the festival…I mean can I get a fuckin’ festival badge or something.

To kill time I went back to my room and dropped off all my promotional shit and got ready to be outrageous at this screening.

As I left my hotel room I has mad hungry. So I decided to hit the diner across the street. It’s a nice place with tons of Indian cats workin’ there. I don’t think much of it and I get a cheese burger. I make small talk with my waiter who gets rather excited when he finds out I am a filmmaker (I know, I know…you can’t believe it’s me). He eagerly tells me that he has a friend who’s a filmmaker and wants to move to LA. I’m nice and polite and really not trying to have this conversation….cause they rarely go anywhere. I pay my tab and bounce.

Back at the screening venue it’s packed. There is nearly 100 people in this theater and they are a little rowdy as we await the first film of the festival…and what do they screen? Drawing Restrain 9 by Matthew Barney. I should know this guy because Filmmaker magazine did a huge spread on the guy like 3 years ago. I didn’t like the article so we’ll see how the film goes over.

Now, I am a filmmaker. I’m not really a dick about it but I am really enthusiastic about American Independent film and I wish it was taken more seriously.

I was forced to watch Barney’s movie. All 2 hours and 45 minutes of it. Here’s what you need to know… there is not a single line of dialogue for the first 90 minutes. No, that’s not a typo. Just lots of exposition about a bunch of cats on a whaling ship, making a giant mold (I’m totally serious) and then there’s Bjork. Now I like Bjork…I mean I think she’s funky...but when she’s in an acting role…you know it’s gonna be some wild shit, and this did not disappoint.

Now I don’t even know if I should complain about this self-indulgent “film” that has no respect for its viewers (can I get a driving soundtrack? How about an explosion?). Hey maybe the guy is totally fucking brilliant…yeah, I fucking doubt it. I mean yes, I get the whole fine arts thing that he is doing….but you know what, this is the cinema. You have to entertain them at some point. I mean Jesus fucking Christ.. are you really just going to show us a guy cutting fish for like 15 minutes….no way, are you serious?

Here’s what you need to know about this film. A bunch of motherfuckers on a whaling ship spend 3 days waiting for a 200FT Jell-O mold to set (maybe they are having a huge party)…and then this other boat snares a 300 ft giant turd and brings it to the first boat. And then they cut out a part of the mold and put the giant turd in the center….then I fuckin’ passed out. I woke up and now there are like 50 little kids on the boat (I guess they fixed the teleporter) and at some point the kids run to the giant turd and then mix shrimp with cement and make a base to support the giant turd (cause you know…you just can’t have a giant turd rolling around on the ship, that’d be weird). So just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder… Bjork shows up with some bearded dude and then the really weird shit begins. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that she winds up in a bathtub totally naked (not that we got to see her titties – which is bullshit!).. and she’s in the tub with about 20-30 tangerines which she corrals from time to time. This tangerine/water sex shot last about 10 minutes and then we cut away from it.

Look.. I’ll cut to the chase….Bjork and this dude wind up in this room that is filling up with water (please let this boast sink and kill everyone) and what do they do? They take turns cutting off each other’s flesh with a machete (I really wish I made that up, but I didn’t…it’s in the film). It’s pointless gore and it’s hella slow.

I was the happiest man alive when it ended. I literally dropped to my knees and wept with joy that I was finally free of a 3 hr movie with long takes and no dialogue….yeah he’s brilliant. Now get his brilliant ass the fuck out of here!

In the aftermath of the screening I mingle with the undergrads and try to make friends. I don’t succeed at first at making a lot of friends...but then I see this woman. She’s kind of cute and I’m about to make my move.

I get kind of close and make a joke about the film we just say.

Man that was just fuckin’ awesome wasn’t it?

She chuckles as she looks at me…

Yeah, that was…uh…interesting.

See, here is a perfect opportunity to talk shit on another director and to get this chicks number. The next thing I know she is talking to this other chick that looks a lot like her…no, I mean a lot like her….they are twins.

Now you may not know this, but hookin’ up with twins is pretty high on the freaky activities scale; I have to see where this leads me.

So I’m chatting this chick up and she wants to be a filmmaker and she wants to move to LA and she doesn’t drive. That in and of itself would have been completely fucking amazing because she really didn’t see a problem with her approach at all. Then her cell phone rings and she’s talkin’ to some guy. And then she looks right at me and says “is the Title of you film Sex, Love & Z-Parts?” I wanted to fuck her right there!

“As a matter of fact, yes”…and then it turns out that the guy that waited on me in the diner is her friend and he is on the phone. This is the chick he was telling me about…man that’s trippy.

So one of the twins is aloof and skittish.. the other is very direct. They are with a large group of people and talking about going to a party, which I really want to tag along to – cause this campus is dead. So as we negotiate as to what we are going to do, a difference of opinion arises and then the remarkable happens..

“Well…why don’t you go to the party… and I’m going to go have a drink with my new friend here”….are you shittin’ me? When the fuck does this kind of shit happen?

…a few pints later and we’re gettin’ cozy. I don’t know if I have a shot… I don’t know if she’ll call her sister and ask me which of them gives the best head… hey… maybe they’ll ask me to fuck both of them to settle once and for all who has the tightest pussy.

Yeah well we wound up in my room for a hot 30 sec’s before I took her home. I mean did I play this one incorrectly? Who knows.. but I’m not gonna spend a lot of times chasing a 20-something that might get distracted by shiny objects in the front yard of her house.

It’s my first day and I’m not impressed…I hope tomm is better.


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