Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CineVegas is different than some film festivals – it has less movies! Ah, but the parties….

There were less than thirty movies this year. With working my real job (this!) and volunteering, I was under the gun to see the hits. I was pretty lucky. I saw three of the top festival films (Etienne!, Easier With Practice and Winnebago Man) and the almost impossible to get tickets to see closing night film, World’s Greatest Dad.

Winnebago Man was an odd film. I was unfamiliar with the sensation. Seems that everyone (except me) was familiar with this crazy guy who spits and swears while making a twenty year old industrial film about how wonderful Winnebago’s are to own. A man named Jack Rebney is Winnebago Man. These are the outtakes and tirades pieced together by the video crew that Mr. Rebney had hired to assist in making a promotional video for marketing RVs. There are several versions of the original on YouTube. This one runs over 4 minutes and features Winnebago Man's hatred for flies and several long swearing and cursing montages. . It has millions of hits.

I did not quite get it. I think this because I was unsure through the first third of the film if it was a documentary or a mockumentary. It took a while for me to realize the scope of the impact of this “found” footage. To me, the film lacked structure. On the other hand, the audience certainly responded. It got the audience favorite. There was a Vegas connection in the film, also. Although the featured subject of the film was not at the festival, his best friend came. Turns out he lives in Vegas. I met him, but it took a few minutes for me to realize who he was. We chatted for a while. He is quite an interesting character in his own right.

I was not particularly impressed with Robin William’s World’s Greatest Dad. I spoke with the director, Bob Goldthwait in the theater after the Q&A. He felt the Vegas crowd was too mature for the film. Having been a comedian, only he could put Vegas and mature in the same sentence and still keep a straight face. He said he had just shown the film to a young audience in Maryland in a theater with 700 seats. They went wild and gave him a standing ovation. He was surprised at the cool reception the film got that night.

The highlight of the festival was the real closing night film. On Monday, after the festival supposedly ended, CineVegas set up an outdoor “drive-in” to show the 1958 sensation, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. It was a rare opportunity to see this B-film sci-fi classic the way the creators meant it to be seen. With popcorn, soda (unless you smuggled in a couple beers – and many did) and the balmy Vegas night, it was an only at a film festival treat! The after party at the Sidebar nearby capped a wonderful evening. Sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka and Stella Artois (read lots of free alcohol), the vibe was going strong in this festival wrap up.

I met Jim Turner at the party. He is the founder and director of the independent Film Society of Colorado. As a self-professed addict of independent cinema, he has worked at Sundance for a number of years. He leveraged that love of film into yearly festival in his hometown. He dismissed his day job (as a government contractor) as an excuse to fund his real love – festival films. He uses his limited vacation to work both Sundance and CineVegas. Working at these festivals has afforded Jim the opportunity to make contacts with filmmakers and film professionals from around the world. Check out his website, . He is kind of proof that you can work your day job and still be actively involved in the industry.

There was also a party Saturday night at the Playboy Club, but for some reason, even after spending hours at it, I don’t really remember much. There are some pictures posted elsewhere on this blog. Apparently, I took them.

CineVegas is over and I had a great time.

CineVegas is over and I had a great time.

It was a bit shortened this year, and this made it more difficult to both volunteer and participate in the festival. I did work the box-office for the third time in my ten years of working the festival. It seemed the lines were longer at the box-office, but the loading of the theaters went smoother.

I made a point to see the picture that Trevor Groth was hot on at his presentation at the Coffee Bean a few weeks ago. I have to say that it was the best hamster mover I had ever seen. The basic plot was after a young finds out that his best and only friend, a dwarf hamster named Etienne, has terminal cancer, he decides to take his pocket pet on a bicycle road trip to show him the world before he has to put him to sleep. It was a terrific student film, but hardly a major motion picture as the credits suggest.

I spoke to the director, Jeff Mizushima, in the CineVegas headquarters. He ended up winning the Filmmaker to Watch Award for his film. I complemented him on getting the film made – this is a tough thing for young filmmakers – and asked him about his plans. Chris Gore joined us. He is a writer, filmmaker, speaker, television host and commentator who has built a solid reputation as an outspoken voice in the independent film world. His original site is Check his (outdated) personal website I have heard him speak at the a couple years ago.

We discussed why young filmmakers are at a loss as to using their project to make money. It is a challenge to just get the film made. Actually using it to make money is a very difficult concept. Since he did not have distribution for his film, I suggested building a marketing program. He might start with a video. He should build videos as DVD extras. He had an original song in the film performed by a local band. They were performers at a party at the festival. I suggested that he reedit the footage into a music video and use it to get a lot of hits. He could also reedit the scene of bike crash into the car with the unused footage about the bike into a tree that he discussed in Q&A after the film. This would be a kind of outtakes reel. He nodded. I later checked that indeed he had posted a video to almost a year ago. It was dull. At the time it had about 1000 hits. Check it out if you want, He needs to work harder to get some buzz to pre-sell his film. The student videos (of varying quality) on THIS blog have gotten over two million hits. Getting noticed is possible. Making money is OK. You can use it to do more of the things you like to do… like make movies.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tough to get a Job now-a-days!

As the downturn persists, U.S. employers flooded with résumés increasingly insist that job hunters jump through unusual hoops."Job seekers frequently face a process that makes the Spanish Inquisition seem tame" because management sees the sour economy as a golden opportunity "for upgrading talent," says Jennifer Berman, a Chicago human-resources consultant.