Week 7 is done for the COWTOWN FILM SERIES. Each week I get happier and more nervous. I’m still not done with my documentary, even though I’ve made some progress. I’m just looking forward to the end of the run. What the hell was I thinking? TEN WEEKS! What a dumbass I can be.
We had a technical glitch to start the show. I had bought John Whitney’s JVC deck that plays DVCAM tapes. I used it the week before for the main show and it worked flawlessly. This week, during the trailers, the audio was dropping in & out every other word. I waited until the trailer ended, then already had the other Sony DVCAM deck waiting on standby underneath it (as I don’t trust technology 100%). I got the S-video and audio cable switched out in less than a second, got the tape to eject no problem. I inserted the tape into the new deck and hit PLAY. After a second, it immediately powered off and showed me an ERROR MESSAGE – ERROR C32. I unplugged the deck and plugged it back in, holding down the EJECT button (an engineer’s trick I learned is that eject gets a priority if you are holding it down when the power comes up). Nope. No tape. I tried this 6 times and eventually it spit the tape out. Not eaten (thankfully). Pushed it back in and then it played flawlessly for the rest of the show.
Now that was in all about 3 minutes, but that is an ETERNITY with a live audience sitting in a dark theater staring at a black screen. Now, my backup is to have a DVD player on standby with the whole show on a DVD-R just in case I lose both decks, but that’s triple redundancy and NEVER a bad idea. People are paying MONEY ($) to see these movies, so I owe it to them, as well as the filmmakers, to ensure that their movies play, and look as good as they can. I’m not some wannabe punk that pretends to be a filmmaker; one day I want to be the real deal, so I try to present like the real movies as close as I can.
John Whitney’s MEASURED SACRIFICE got good reactions, as it’s a high end piece. I wish more of these pretend wannabe camcorder jockey’s could have seen this. It’s the kind of movie they think they’re making, but actually surpasses expectations. John has vision and skills. So few people actually understand and know what it is a DIRECTOR does. They are WRITER/PRODUCERS who think they are WRITER/DIRECTORS, but are completely clueless as to what DIRECTING actually is. In some ways they think just photographing the scene is enough, or worse that “cool shots” are what make a director. The INTENT and MEANING of the camera as a storytelling tool get wasted on these fools, and their “films” are little more than sad attempts. I only wish these types of beginners had a respect for seeing people’s work and being able to talk to them about HOW they achieve the same goals only at that much more professional level. We’re talking about similar budgets and yet one looks like a real movie and the other looks like a junior high talent show, yet they both strive to be “professional”. To have the opportunity to see these kinds of movies and then TALK to those filmmakers, and NOT do it seems to me to be as ludicrous as not learning from cinema history. Some people are ignorant, so what can you do? NOTHING, or blog about their ignorance.
Since we had a ton of SHORTS before THE FUNNY MAN from Mike McGraner, I played most of the TELEMARKTERS and UNCLE PETE’s and that’s the last any of these will play at the COWTOWN series. Again, UNCLE PETE killed, and the TELEMARKETER shorts played well, in fact the ending with the crying telemarketer got the first public reaction I wanted. It’s a risky ending with showing a cute (very very cute no less) Telemarketer crying her eyes out. This ending usually meets with silence as the audience doesn’t 100% know how to feel since we’ve been bashing these fairly off screen anonymous annoyers. This screening, after seeing most of those shorts play interspersed with other shorts and genres, the ending bit with the crying was met with laughter, but that specific guilty, almost politically incorrect “Oh Oh Ohhhh” laughter, and as I recently discussed – the laughter is infectious so more people joined in with those giggle-starters. I was complimented a lot on the UNCLE PETE shorts, as I didn’t take credit at any point or do any kind of Q&A for those. More and more people said they want to show people those online and spread the word. So my goals of going VIRAL may still happen, just taking even LONGER than I expected to occur.
I finally got rid of WINDOWS VISTA ™ on my basement computer. Unlike the last desktop that had that atrocity, this one was easy to remove with my XP discs. The last time, the Windows XP disc didn’t recognize the VISTA ™ partition and I had to get the hard drive manufacturers disc to format the drive and nuke the partition before I could install. I hate WINDOWS VISTA™. I think it’s a piece of Shiite and a waste. I do enough processor intensive work that I need a workhorse and I couldn’t care less how pretty the desktop is. I clear off any color, black background, with the most basic, unobtrusive work areas and I need every ounce of memory and resource to go towards my video and film work. On the same machine, my editing computer in the basement, with 2 gig of RAM, I saw over 1.5 gig of RAM being used just sitting there with WINDOWS VISTA ™, but the exact same machine using WINDOWS XP ™, it only uses 344 meg of RAM. That’s around 20% of the memory being used otherwise. The machine now runs literally 4x-8x’s faster depending on the process. Needless to say, SCREW VISTA™.
Now that some of the posters have started to come in and seeing how the designs look in print, I’m happy. We’re going to get some HORRORS OF WAR posters printed for the screening, but I had so much trouble with the IN THE TRENCHES poster, that I almost gave up. I wanted something classy and minimalist. Thanks to Photoshop ™, people tend to “over” design. Simple sometimes equates to elegance. There are so many people out there claiming to be graphic designers with no eye for composition or colors or just a general concept of aesthetic. I wish I could do more, but alas, I’m just not that interested. I only do what I have to do out of necessity.
My first attempt was mediocre to ugh.
This to me is precisely what I described above. Too busy for the same of being busy, like I have to use as many images as possible to get the idea across because I like each of the images individually. I was NOT happy with the design. It simply wasn’t what I wanted. I can’t explain it beyond the fringes of describing why you prefer one color over another or a flavor of ice cream. I didn’t think I’d have it in me to do what I wanted. As I have said, I am not a graphic designer, nor am I particularly proficient with Photoshop ™. Then I saw this DVD design that reminded me of some old MILES DAVIS album covers from the 1950’s and 1960’s, that I got deeply inspired and took a shot. Here it is:
And I came up with this because I was inspired by the truly elegant layout:
NOW I was happy. This was simple and what I feel is iconic for what the documentary is about. Neither John nor I are in the picture on the poster, but it’s not about ego. I wanted to show a photo that I felt encapsulated the idea of being “behind the scenes” of a low budget film. Jason Morris’ photo was perfect. To make it hold up to being poster sized, I chose to “stylize” the photo so that at its magnified level, it would have sharp, clean edges on everything. I dig it for its simplicity.
For the upcoming film ACCIDENTAL ART, I wanted very much to have a SAUL BASS style poster. In the year since that poster was made and designed, I’ve started to see posters that are similar and greatly inspired by Saul’s stylistic designs, IE BURN AFTER READING.
Styles and interests are cyclical. What goes around comes around, and this is true in popular culture over and over again. Geek becomes sheik at some point. The trick is riding the wave whilst being true to one’s self.
That’s all I got for now my dear readers.
Your faithful narrator,
Peter John Ross