Friday November 22,
I GOT SEA MONKEYS
gets some Belgian love
AFI Fest is over. Man, that was fun. The festival organizers did an
outstanding job of making it a filmmaker-friendly event. Arguably
the best aspect of the festival was the Kodak Connect program, which
provided filmmakers with the opportunity to meet various industry
people over a four-day period in the middle of the festival.
ArcLight Theatre was a great venue with all the theaters in a single
location, lending the festival a market-like atmosphere which can
only help the AFI Fest achieve its presumed goal of becoming a
serious player in the overcrowded calendar of annual festivals. And,
not incidentally, there was a cafe in the theater courtyard which
became our primary source of sustenance and lubrication throughout
I get into the details, I'll answer the most burning question first:
yes, all world rights to EvenHand are still available. It seems that
in spite of our carpet bombing postcard campaign and Fat Cop
Cypress Chick-a-palooza, no distributors actually showed up at
the screenings. But, I have received calls or emails from several
major indie distributors since the screenings expressing interest in
seeing the film. Time will tell where and when that will actually
happen. There has also been a steady stream of invitations to submit
EvenHand to other film festivals.
having a festival in Los Angeles does not, in fact, guarantee that
the distributors will show up. Arguably the opposite is true; when
studio or distribution execs are attending a festival in another
city or country, they are a captive audience and can be expected to
do nothing but attend screenings. What else is there to do?
Conversely, when they're in their own town, they just want to go
home to the family at the end of the day.
Postcard #3 can now be revealed
Yeah, okay, enough of the industry hoo-haw. Here's
the fun stuff:
JON GETS ARRESTED
At the airport in New York, Jon
went through the usual long security line. When it was his turn to
go through the metal detector, he stepped forward, only to have the
security woman ask him if he had been given permission to enter. Jon
replied that he wasn't aware he needed permission. She eyed him
coldly, made him take his baseball cap off and put it on the belt,
then waved him through. Once through, he was told to go see the guy
with the wand.
He was instructed to take his shoes and socks
off, then spread 'em. The wand beeped over the front of Jon's pants.
Wand guy said "Sir, is there any reason this is beeping
here?" Jon, sensing that he was getting the full treatment,
said "Well, I'm wearing a belt." "Sir, remove your
belt." Jon took off his belt and wand guy waved his device
across Jon's waist, again producing a beep. "Sir, is there any
reason this is still beeping here?" Jon said "Well, my
pants have a zipper." "Sir, undo the button of your
pants." At that point, Jon was so fed up that he pulled his
pants down to his ankles and mooned the guy.
Needless to say, the cuffs were instantaneously
slapped on him and he was whisked away, grinning like the Cheshire
cat as the crowd roared its approval. The security woman yelled
after him: "Sir, you're not going to be flying today."
Jon's reply was: "You want to bet?" After a complex
negotiation with the airport cops, which ended with them basically
becoming pals, Jon was allowed to board the plane. The humorless
security people wanted to press federal charges, but the cops
evidently saw the absurdity of this. What's the federal charge for
showing your ass?
THE CINEMA LOUNGE
The AFI headquarters at the ArcLight Theatre featured a gaily
decorated room called the Cinema Lounge. The lounge was a full-time
refuge for filmmakers and other badge holders and the site of an
Absolut-sponsored cocktail party every afternoon at five-thirty. I
always attended, never missing an opportunity to meet other filmmakers
(and drink free booze).
One of the most intriguing of the filmmakers was a
young animator named Nirvan Mullick. He wrote and painstakingly
animated a short film, The Box Man. We had a long chat about
his other, very interesting animation projects.
Click on the Vincent poster for a link to HELADO,
Gert's very cool website.
Nirvan early as a talent and a good fit for the EvenHand crew.
Seeing him promoting his film with a cardboard box on his head pretty
much closed the deal. The Box Man went on to win a special jury
prize for animation and the audience award for best short, both
encountered in the Lounge were the "Drunk Belgians," Thomas
and Gert (above). Now, in truth, they weren't always drunk, or even
any more drunk than we were, for that matter. I guess it was their
fun-loving attitude that earned them the title. Their film, Vincent,
was a delightful, whimsical fairy tale about a boy with one ear. It
was a beautifully shot HD short, proving that digital doesn't
necessarily mean crap.
film I really enjoyed was West Bank, Brooklyn, a micro-budget
Super 16 feature written and directed by Ghazi Albuliwi, a first-time
filmmaker and clearly a talent to watch. It's simultaneously a
personal, surprisingly balanced and complex look at what it means to
grow up as a Muslim in Brooklyn. It was shot pre-September 11th, yet
it deals frankly and presciently with many of the issues we have all
been grappling with since then.
is an engaging documentary, co-directed by Angela Christlieb &
Stephen Kijak, about film buffs in New York. These people don't just
go to movies, however, they plan a trip to the cinema like generals
plotting an attack on fortified battlements. Each has his or her
particular compulsions, but all share an almost disturbing passion for
film. A must-see for all film buffs.
films I greatly enjoyed were Journey Man, a short drama by
Dictynna Hood, Family, a very personal documentary by Sami Saif,
Fits & Starts -- possibly the most brilliant film ever made
by a Stanley Kubrick protegé -- and Prom Night in Kansas City,
a very funny documentary.
highlight of the festival, for me, was the premiere screening of EvenHand
on Thursday (no big surprise). I was really nervous going in to the
screening, although I had enough confidence in the film to be
reasonably assured that the audience would probably like it. It's
still a big leap, though, showing your film to an audience of 200
people when the biggest prior screening was 8 viewers watching it on
an Avid. The reaction was as good as I could have hoped. Immediately
after the Q&A, Bob Hawk, one of the great Indie film gurus,
approached and said some very nice things about the film.
Friday screening went well, too, although the energy of the audience
was very different. One theory is that it was later (10 PM), although
I think it was the weird guy who laughed really loudly at everything.
Have you ever experienced that in a theater? It's kind of off-putting,
as if he's trying to force everyone else to laugh at stuff that just
isn't that funny.
Staffers Joanna and Shaz get down
next big event for the Cypress crew was the EvenHand party on
Saturday night. Mike
Doughty, who wrote four songs for the film, performed on the
terrace of the ArcLight upper bar. It was a kick-ass show and made for
one of the best parties of the festival (not just my opinion). Even
the Drunk Belgians rocked out (they saw Doughty's show in Antwerp,
too). After three events to manage on three consecutive nights, I
predictably woke up sick as a dog on Sunday morning.
charts a path to Hollywood
COSMO GETS ARRESTED
On the way home, Cosmo sat
next to an old guy on the plane. The two of them chatted
intermittently throughout the flight. When the plane landed in New
York they said their goodbyes and Cosmo was promptly arrested.
Apparently, some other guy claimed he overheard Cosmo and the old
geezer talking about storming the cockpit of the airplane. After
prolonged cop conversation #2, and threats of bringing in the FBI,
Cosmo was finally released without being charged. The cops got
discouraged because the FBI couldn't even be bothered to show up and
their seemed to be no real evidence that Cosmo had said anything of
the sort. He's an interesting looking guy (now sporting a platinum
blond mohawk), but hardly a threat to National Security.
right in on Venice Beach
JON GETS ARRESTED AGAIN -- ALMOST
At the LAX security counter, the man behind the X-ray machine sternly
called out to Jon: "Sir, do you have a knife in your bag?"
Jon thought, Jesus, what the hell is it with these people?
"No." "Are you sure you don't have a knife in your bag,
sir?" Jon was feeling his blood pressure rise. "No. What are
you talking about?" The guy stared at Jon for a beat, then broke
into a huge grin and pointed to Jon's T-shirt: "I
AM A LIAR." "Got ya!" he said and Jon got on
the plane. We're not allowed to joke about it, but I guess they are.
& Thomas share a special moment
yes, I did get sea monkeys. They were in my gift bag from one of the
Kodak Connect lunches. They are flitting around in their plastic tub
on the dining room table, now almost big enough to be visible to the
naked eye. Just a few more months and we'll have homegrown popcorn
- Joseph Pierson
- The EvenHand Variety review is posted in the next
To buy our original September 11th memorial
T-shirt, CLICK HERE.
All profits go to charity.
© 2002 Cypress
Films, Inc. All rights reserved.
All photos of drunk people courtesy of Gert Embrechts.