Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"...and it SUCKED!"

Bobina Super 8 Agfa desenrolla parcialmente
Image via Wikipedia
OogieRah and I had been talking about making a movie together for years. Many a late night phone call would involve scenes with the intent of shocking/pissing off an audience, and how fun it would be to get away with it. Around mid September, word started to spread on Facebook and Twitter of a Super 8 film contest in New Orleans; one 3 minute reel of film, in camera edits, see the film for the 1st time with everybody else - very dangerous, very cool. Opportunity given, we signed up.

Now, the original idea for our short was a bit more our liking; a guy makes a sandwich, walks upstairs, opens a bedroom door to reveal a female's foot tied to the bed. The End. No explanation, no resolution. Not being able to cast a foot model in time, we went with a more lighthearted idea; me, setting up a movie screening at a college campus, alone. Not bad, as I had done this very task several times before. And so, without permission to shoot on SLU campus property, we went ahead with production on "Screen This!". It only took a few hours to shoot. Next door to a heavily occupied student government meeting, we risked getting kicked out, but it's not like we were doing anything REALLY wrong.

About a week or so later, we made our way to New Orleans. The film had already been dropped off, and supposedly developed without incident. Along with his girlfriend, we arrived on time, for what was called The Yeah Brah & Woah Dee Festival, The NOLA Underground Super 8 Film Festival, and The One Reel Super 8 Contest. Without a clear name, I turned to my friend and said, "I hate this already".

After a short assemblage of local shorts, we were treated to an obnoxiously long parade of DJ music, rap, and the stylings of MC Chris Lane. Not to say that the musicians were horrible - far from it. But excuse me for expecting FILMS at a FILM FESTIVAL (to be fair, the musical performances were announced in advance, but who knew they would last so long?). The three of us sat on our bench, uncomfortably, for several hours, waiting...

Finally, it was time for the screening we were waiting for. The super 8 shorts were shown on what I'm guessing was a DVD, and for the most part, were pretty clever. But one short in particular caught our attention; announced as Lori Tipton's. It was black. 3 minutes of black. A rough image here and there, but nothing distinguishable. Pure blackness. Part of what made the contest interesting was that if the filmmakers messed up, there was no going back; it would be shown, no matter what. Clearly, something didn't go right for this person. "Sorry, but that last film was not by Lori Tipton, but by Bill Arceneaux and Patrick Simmons. And IT SUCKED! IT SUCKED!"

We were shocked. Was that really our film? Sure we only spent a few hours making it, but it was ours. Nah. Maybe they made a mistake. We stayed until the last short of the screening to make sure - but it was, indeed, our film. Our mistake. We tried to figure out what happened; Did we load it in wrong? Did we remove the film incorrectly? Was it improperly developed? One of the festival promoters was just as surprised as we were. We left One Eyed Jacks not as entertained film enthusiasts or as trophy holders, but as self disappointed amateurs. I picked up a Mountain Dew Voltage, and they got some McDonalds afterwards. "We could always say we intended it to be all black. You know, to mess with people". That made us smile.

Note - please don't take this as a diss to the festival promoters TimeCode:NOLA. The comments made about the festival were just to describe how out of place we felt. When films were being shown, we had a blast (except for when ours was shown), and may show up again if another festival is planned for next year. Just leave Chris Lane at home.

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