Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Supreme Thought on this Foolish Day in April

 With DOMA most likely repealed and the Feds then simply recognizing any marriages from any state that has a marriage in it, will it not be bizarre for the Feds to have two classes of marriages out there? Won’t they work on DOMA and then, logically get to the repealing of Prop 8 with some sort of thinking that goes, “Well, I mean, this is nuts. We’ve basically made gay marriage federally legal by repealing DOMA and now we’re going to let the states fill in the rest? Sort of silly. And yeah, this is not the same as Roe v Wade. No “babies” are being harmed with this one. So, yeah, we’re going to repeal Prop 8 on equal protection and then, we’re going to apply it all over the place.”   //   Then, Scalia finally comes out of the closet and the rest of the country agrees that High Speed trains are not only cool, but they are economy builders.   April Fools on those two.

But let's pretend it's April 2. How can you repeal DOMA and then say, "And yeah...let the rest of the states decide the rest of the gay population. We're too afraid to do it."  Nah. They repeal DOMA, they're going to equally protect all citizens of all states. And wisely, they will let the media do all the work. They will hand down DOMA first, quickly...then wait a little bit-- a brilliant gay fire. 

Move On Dot Org. Come on.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You Are Invited: Funny Pages, April 18 8PM, Brooklyn

Adam and I will be presenting at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn on April 18.

Perhaps you live in Brooklyn, have heard of Brooklyn, have dated someone who hales, heartily, from the borough or just wish weekend subway work wasn't so punishing.

Funny Pages is always a good time.

Adam is going to read a funny piece.
Marian is hosting and doing lots of funny things.
I'm going to do some funny songs.
And other funny stuff.
That's funny, six times already, in one invitation. Could this be overselling? Come decide.

April 18
Old Stone House, Park Slope, Brooklyn
336 Third Street, Brooklyn NY  11215
No rez necessary. Five bucks at the door.
Map to it

This is the actual venue. Nothing funny about it at all, right?
What if there was a plaque that read, "Washington thought about sleeping here?"
That's almost funny. If someone funny were to say it at the right moment, it would be funny.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pema Source

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.

                                                Pema Chodron

Well, if you know Pema, like I don’t (but have read a book or two of hers) you will understand that she means this with love and not with any judgment.

However, let’s get into when this applies, at least, when I believe it applies. Say, every time something happens you have a certain kind of negative response that is larger than is necessary. I think it applies there until you figure out why you are overreacting. Or, if you always ___________ whenever faced with _____________ and you really do not want that second ______________. 

However, I do not believe this applies to the victimized. Like, “You will continue to be victimized until you learn to endure it better.”

The problem with aphorisms—is they are often out of context. But what we must do, because aphorism are so useful, is apply them where we believe they are useful. If we take an extreme literal stance on all sayings, like, “You create your own reality,” and find while saying this that we are living in a Concentration Camp, that is probably not the time to apply that statement.

If you begin with a loving understanding, and presume you are heading in the direction  of love for others, the self, animals, the planet, something else, so many sayings are wonderfully useful.  If you in a very dark place, sometimes you just have to get the hell out of there in a primary way before Pema can kick in.

Lastly, what we need to know is never an intellectual thing. It is always one of those I-accept-the-truth-of-these-feelings-and-where-they-come-from thing. You can never really think your way out of a state. You can temporarily distract yourself, which is great. But you have to get to the bottom of it. And usually the feelings have something to do with primary reactions to original environment that gain momentum and heft. But when we know what it is, that can be reversed.

I have seen wealthy men in the hills of LA with terror in their eyes about fear of loss.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Husbands: Live in Brooklyn, April 18

Adam and I will be presenting at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn on April 18.
He's going to read a funny piece.
I'm going to do some funny songs.
Or maybe they won't be funny? Come tell us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Festival For Box. Please Join us on April 24

I Hate to Make it Personal

Maybe the days of American Exceptionalism are over.

Plus---it was German Romantic Nationalists who came to conclude that such a thing was possible to define. And we know what happens when Germans get too Romantic about defining a nation as being exceptional…maybe the worst example, ever.

Friends, we had our run.

What is left is a government that does not work, a citizenry that is cynical and exhausted and a television bill for 150 bucks per month, if you’re lucky.

Usually, domestic life becomes more meaningful when a country falls apart. Though, more households are single now than ever before, both in number and in percentage of total population. Domesticity becomes a mad dash to the computer for intimacy---like some sentimental scene from an old timey futuristic movie about a space man video-calling home.

We are divided, poor and alone. Not even the mega church down the street can fix that.

But on a positive note—if we eat enough humble pie, we might become more balanced. And if we become more balanced, we may look back on this time as a heaving great shift to sanity.

Sanity takes some doing.

Monday, March 18, 2013

NY: Best City on Earth

Left Florida--

Thank I could come back to New York to find my spirit animal.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Heading South can only mean one thing:


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Equal Please

It has been a while since I have written about the plight of my people: the gay suckers who continue to pay more taxes, spend more on legal fees and have less marrying rights than our straight counterparts.

Now, I know all of you readers of my blog are on the side of equal marriage rights. So not feel like I am wagging a finger.

This is what I am wagging:  There really is nothing left and almost no one left who is opposed to what is the obvious future. However, conservative energy--reflexively and oddly entrenched in the molecules of the minds of some supreme court justices (which is simply encrusted fear) could gum up the works.

People who do not adjust to change are alien to me. But I would be foolish to think that reason will always prevail in a species that is often overtaken by age old swollen brain parts.

From The Raw Story:

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives’ brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other “primitive” emotions. At the same time, conservatives’ brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate — the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

Of course, this is just mean of me to post...this little paragraph. On the other hand, it just feels to be so true.
I feel so calm when I talk about gay marriage and terrorism. I am not even afraid of guns that much. Hell, I'm a high school graduate and survived.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

TV is so Current

I am not a prude, they say.
So there I was---(And this is all a Spoiler alert about GIRLS…so stop here now if you care to).
And here it is.
I think it made sense for the excellent Adam Driver as Adam Sackler to make that annoying new girlfriend crawl on all fours to his bedroom so he could do her from behind and then shoot a good young load of cum on her tits. A nice goodbye to her.
It feels good to be able to write such a thing, that it is normal to have television shows depict sex in its many styles.
It was a surprise to me, to see such a load on T.V.  This show is very popular. The HBO people are not messing with it.
It is a true testament to your arrival as a creator when the gate keepers and distributors allow you to present spooge-boobs. (No relation to Sponge Bob).
I don’t know if close-ups on ejaculate are the future of television. What’s next? Female orgasmic ejaculate? Sure.
We were eating chocolate cake when it happened. It was delicious, from Amy’s Bakery on Ninth Avenue.
I can’t wait to see what happens next week. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Blog of Crazy Early March

Who can survive these endless gray days?

And now,   Winter Storm Saturn?

I was hoping more for    Need A Light Sweater Maureen.

And while we are on the subject of ridiculous names---I have come up with a couple new drag names that seem appropriate for these times:

Ann Bush

Angie O’Plasty

Language: We need it.  To convey meaning. To make ourselves laugh. To explode.

I need to learn German. Ich konne ein bischen Deutsch sprechen, aber…

My synesthesia just kicked in and I am enjoying the smell of hot pretzels with mustard. Oh wait, I’m delusional. I don’t have synesthesia. I just want to eat.

Does this blog post make me look fat?

Monday, March 04, 2013

Nancy From Now On

They Shoot Filmmakers, Don't They?

(Marathon Man at the Dam Short Film Festival)

My challenge, like a guy from a Jane Fonda Depression era dance movie, was to see if I could survive the ordeal: a Wednesday to Saturday marathon of doing almost nothing but watching short films. I was honored to have Box, a fifteen minute movie I wrote, directed by Chris Dolman, story by and produced by us both, included in the festival. I flew westward to test my wintry self in the warm desert. I publicly committed to watch 146 short films in 23 blocks in four days. Was this doable? What would I learn or win? Would the exhaustion and possible boredom drive me off task?  I think of myself as someone with limited stamina, a bad stomach and a questionable immune system. But even the weak need purpose. I was traveling alone to a strange landscape. This challenge could bring me structure and perhaps personal definition within a crowd of similarly eye-glassed filmmakers. Plus, once I began telling people I was going to do this, I could not retreat. Great integrity of word to deed? Self destructive compulsion? Does it matter?

The Dam Short Film Festival is in its 9th Season. It began modestly in an American Legion Hall in Boulder City, Nevada. The executive directors, Lee and Anita Lanier, escaped a few Gothams to settle into what is arguably one of the most pleasant towns in Nevada. Boulder City was federally built for the workers of the Boulder Dam. In a memo, a government official called this new wonder The Hoover Dam and that name erroneously and officially stuck. This was the 1930s. The town was managed with a rebar fist by Sims Ely.  There was to be no prostitution, gambling or booze, unlike what was happening just thirty miles away in the sinful city of Las Vegas. The dam was finished ahead of schedule and is one of the great manmade wonders of the world. It is quite something to behold. Today, there is booze in town, but Boulder City remains one of the only sizable municipalities in Nevada without slot machines. Prostitution, we can never know. But I certainly saw no signs of it.

Back to my goal: To watch 146 short films, completely, over four days. Each day began with an hour and ten minute block of films at 11 A.M. or earlier followed by six more 90 minute blocks with breaks of only 45 minutes between each.  That was 42 or 43 films each for three days. The last day would screen only 19 films to make room for the night time awards gala with a Post-Awards party.  The shorts were divided into narrative (drama, comedy, avant-garde), documentary, horror/sci-fi and animation programs. Interspersed were some student films. Box was in the avant-garde section, never a great sign when it comes to awards, but instructive in that my short was defined as wackier than most. Box, like my marathon attempt, was unusual. But like most unusual things, a bit of a head turner.

Day 1

Having slept the night before at my high school best friend’s house in Las Vegas, I drove the thirty miles to Boulder City and checked into the humble but attractive lodge-like Boulder Dam Hotel. Documentary A: Social Issues, began at 11 AM. I signed in for my credential from the lively and reliable D, volunteer and warm den mother to us all, and went about my business.

I cannot review all the films I managed to watch. You would stop reading this very moment if I were to attempt this, so instead, I will sing the reviews in this short musical arts section video I edited together here, on Vimeo: _________________ (To be completed after I raise 10K on IndieGoGo. Please return.)

As for the first series, I do not love short form documentary. This has been my opinion since I began to take notice of these things during my first Oscar pool in Los Angeles when winning a couple hundred bucks was worth learning a thing or two about dead children, overcoming diseases and the strange objects people collect.  However, I am certainly glad I did not miss this first documentary series. Love Hacking, which is described online in the filmmaker’s kickstarter campaign as A robot inventor falls in love online and journeys to Nepal to meet his fiance for the first time. They marry the next day, was truly moving and I cried a little, being in a lonely-man-in-the world mood.  An odd Mormon geek of a man needs a wife. A young, beautiful Nepalese woman needs a new life. It is the same old story. But this time told with incredible tenderness. One wonders, though, if this marriage will last much after the last Skype chat award by the filmmaker is delivered to the last Kickstarter backer. I hope so. I knew of one man from Santa Fe who scored a Filipino wife. She eventually left him and now has a kickass job working at Staples. I don’t know what will happen to our robot inventor. I cannot divine the future.

I was starving and decided to miss the second program. I was already questioning this marathon idea. In the soothing desert climate, it appeared to me the decision must have been made while I was enduring a manic episode. I no longer felt up to the task. Failure was becoming my close friend. In my gift bag was a coupon for a free lunch across the street at Dillingers. I ate a cheeseburger covered with bacon…and brisket. I was destroyed for the rest of the day as cow, pig and who knows what else sorted it out through my system. I took the time to see this amazing little town and visited every antique store. The locals were all friendly, warm, open and curious and reminded me why I love the west so much. I missed the Drama A: International Stories, but because of the brilliant work of John LaBonney, the director of the Dam Short Film Festival, the entire library is available online through their Film Market. The improvements John is making to the technical side of the film festival is part of the push to qualify the shorts of this festival for Academy Award nominations. After some thought and shame, I decided to make it part of my work to watch the five missed films online. This meant I had to grab an iPad in the filmmakers lounge in the basement of the Boulder Dam Hotel to watch these not-so-shorties—up to 19 minutes long each—during my downtime of forty-five minute segments between programs.

The day wore on and the brisket-bacon-burger competed within its tri-meat-self to maximize the free radicals attacking the cells throughout my body. I soldiered on, the K-cells of my immune system in pursuit, doing their job. I almost never fell asleep during the rest of the day’s screening which carried on until midnight. I liked many of the films I saw on the first day. This was not just first-day-itis. I will list my faves later, but for now it is important to note that my tastes vary greatly. Two very different shorts greatly appealed to me on that first day. One was a charming film from the U.K. called Lunch Date which has a younger brother delivering a message to a young woman that his older brother was standing her up. She becomes very upset and the younger brother sweetly and calmly builds her up by being very clear headed and positive. It is well acted and very human. Just before midnight, I got to enjoy Horrific, which was truly terrific. A man in a trailer dukes it out with a goat-eating, blood-sucking chupacabra. It is extreme, violent, specific in its antics and hilarious.

I survived the first day. I was delirious. Head pounding. Brisket barking. But I was extraordinarily impressed as so many of the movies were about human connection, not the least of which was Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope about astronauts being separated in space, each in their own pod, and reaching out on their screens to stay emotionally connected before they all died. The last shot was of two earthlings watching the last pod disintegrate in the atmosphere.

After a full day of viewing, it was clear that my joint, Box, was on par with or even superior to the look of many of these movies. In fact, our SONY F65 camera was quite a boon with Jendra Jarnagin as DP at the helm, making sure we had something that was visually lovely. Though it may have been projection on my part, being a lone business traveler, I decided that Box was included in the festival because the programmers are drawn to stories about human beings wanting to connect to each other. I was still feeling shy and weird and I dreaded having to watch 106 more shorts in the theater and 6 more on the basement iPad. I should have never said I would do this. I imagined the other attending filmmakers all agreed there was something wrong with me. And maybe there was. Is?

Day 2

On the second day I noticed three repeated story points in the shorts: Death by auto, death of a child and the wielding of knives. I compassionately decided that one or more of the festival pickers had experienced the loss of a child or the loss of a spouse by a car accident. The knives...steak eaters? Maybe there was something to this deadchild/autocrash/knife thing from an executive level or maybe a lot of shorts are made with these tropes. These obvious dramatics do not pull me in. I am not a great lover of full seriousness. I do not believe life is ever lived that way and find that on earth, people look for humor to work themselves out of pain. Car accidents and dead children make me want to belt out, “And then there’s Maudlin.” Google Bea Arthur.

When I asked Lee Lanier, the executive director, the reason for these repeated trends he said he had not noticed, that many movies simply had these plots. Lee is an affable animator. Having attended many festivals over the years, he was not pleased with his experiences of poor communications, bad projection, multiple screens making it impossible to see all the films, no backups of the films, a lack of support for the filmmakers and films even being out of order.  He and his equally affable wife, Anita, had plans for a better festival. Assuredly, none of the problems he mentions exist at the Dan Short Film Festival. Lee’s favorite task of the festival is overseeing the design elements. They are consistent on shirts, posters and trailers, with an old fashioned sense of what movies once were: playful and joyful. A few years ago, Lee hired John LaBonney to be the director of the film festival. John works tirelessly, all year long, to make this festival run. Being a bit of a task master myself, I was impressed with John’s ability to never let a single thing fall through a single crack. I imagine he is still sleeping off the festival (but heard later he is already busting it for 2014). Buoying the team are sponsors Carol Lane Patterson and Chig Foley. They spoke supportively to filmmakers, were great cheerleaders and made themselves available for smart, cultural talk on many subjects at all hours. Plus, they introduced me to Cathy Runyan-Svacina, a game presence who has the largest collection of marbles on earth. I have her business card here on my desk. It is a marble with  her name on it.

Because I had to catch up on the few films I missed the day before, I was strapped for time. Additionally, the programming was to last for fourteen hours. Beginning at 10:45 A.M. and ending at 12:40 A.M., I wore out my coccyx sitting through Curious Situations, Family Predicaments, Life Challenges, Sci-Fi B: Bending Time and Space, Found Footage (a comedy show really), the Viscera Film festival of Women Horror filmmakers and Drama:Fight to Survive. By the time I arrived at 7 P.M. at Found Footage, where the hosts, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, provided comedic commentary to instructional and homemade found vhs tapes and DVD’s, I was destroyed. I did not want to go on. I was cranky. I was alone in the dark and I wanted out. But had I not attended this festival interlude, I would not have seen the actual tape of a woman’s vagina spitting out a brand new baby in the back seat of a car. Should this not have been part of the Viscera program?

Talking Dog for Sale, 10 Euros was one of my favorite shorts of the festival. For length, maximum punch, clarity and humor, it told its tale (tail) with the greatest economy. I decided an 8 minute film was the perfect length for a short, though 12 or 13 minutes, if done well, is probably the fullest experience you can have while still feeling like things whisk by. By the second day, it was becoming clear to me that comedy is the door into the room of successful short film making. Brevity is the soul of (Joyce De) wit. Google Three’s Company.

I caught up on five of the International Stories that I had missed on the basement iPad. And gladly, since George Jones & the Giant Squid was so charming and so well art directed, with a boy defying the oppression of fear in a small seaside town, that had I missed it, well, I wouldn’t have known any better, but still…I am glad I did not. I enjoyed its wacky seaside charms. I swore I would not miss any more programs because it was so difficult to watch what I missed and to also eat. My compulsion was in full gear. My lone mission engaged.

I ate as I could, gobbling between programs. I fully survived the free hotel breakfast of a ham and mushroom omelet with a side of fruit and for lunch, a monster glob of tuna salad on greens at The Coffee Cup. I thought dinner was going to be offered at The Filmmaker Meet-n-Greet across the street from the theater, but it turned out to be nothing more than sliced apples with cream cheese and sweet crumble, homemade potato chips and drinks. Help us, patron saint of destroyed alimentary canals.

Watching the all-female Viscera Film Festival for 90 minutes was exceptionally enjoyable as these films were all very well made. The more psychologically bizarre, the more I enjoyed them. The M.C. was Shannon Lark, a plucky horror filmmaker who represented Viscera. My night blearily ended, but not before I had the chance to watch the wonderful Blood of Man—a movie that is about a child learning the harm of NOT lying.

To bed, to bed! Less than twelve hours before my movie was to be screened. I was excited but also still feeling shy and strange, alone for hours in a darkened room. Before I hit the Boulder Dam Hotel Hay, I raided the basement lounge for microwaveable macaroni and cheese. It saved me. In its way. By the end of day two, I had watched 80 films. Just 66 to go. There was a certain endorphin rush to exhausting myself. There was an end in sight and I had a feeling I could pull this thing off. But anything could happen. People often don’t make it all the way to the sea. Donner’s Pass can be snowed in at any time. My luck and my stamina might run out. And I could end up being someone’s lunch.

Day 3

This was my big day. I was still feeling like lone-weird-shy-guy-on-a-mission, but many people came up to me to say they were excited to see Box so I began feeling camaraderie, a member of the group. I also had this gnawing feeling that I was the only gay man at the festival. I thought, perhaps, one of the service workers in the town was gay. When talking to him, I sort of let my hair (such as it is) down some. He then added two words to the middle or end of every sentence he uttered: my wife. Sweet. It was feeling very 1959 around Boulder City. And sometimes a certain otherness can be exciting. I asked Lee about the paucity of gay and minority films in the lineup. He said they get the submissions they get, but additionally, the town likes what they like. It’s a hard call. I am not an affirmative action guy. I do not care much about the unheard voices. I am an anomaly in my Democratic Social Welfare State circle of friends. If the films that were meant to be were meant to be, so be it. The pickers also like films that have heart, that are not too slick, do not shimmer with the perfect surface glow manufactured in the hills and dales of Los Angeles, films that are, in effect, somewhat old fashioned. Fun. Why not? Many of the sci-fi movies had purposeful mid-century art direction containing clunky equipment with big, fun dials. A reflection of the gewgaws in the local antique stores and a non-regressive embrace of a more straightforward time. It was all pretty white and straight. If I had a film festival, what films would I be drawn to? Eric Rhomer knockoffs. Glib dark humor. Nonlinear dramas. Comedies of manners. Not anything classified by race, culture or sexual orientation, certainly. So onward.

This third morning began with my second ham and mushroom omelet. I was excited for the first public screening of Box. It sounded like attendance would be substantial. People knew my name. I was vaguely nauseous.

The first program was called Drama I:Lost Love. I do have a vote for absolute worst shot of the film festival. In this morning’s program, which began at 10:15 A.M., was a short about a woman who died but before she died, she was in a pickup truck with her husband who looked like the spawn of Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio and while this young couple was motoring along they hit an opossum full on, thuh-thunk. He stopped the truck. She got out with her guitar and sang a song, offscreen, to the dead marsupial. Damonesque hubby sat in the truck listening. (I thought that perhaps, then, was a good time to bring out a knife from day two.) Instead, he goes to his wife, offscreen, and all we see is a shot of the interior of the front of the truck cab, through a window, out to a field of grain. The camera sat there for a long time, still, before the husband sincerely says to the wife in response to her improvised opossum requiem, “I Love You.”  Note to self: No stills of grain through pickup truck windows. And if you have an actor that looks like Matt Damon and Leo, make sure he does not fall in love with a girl who sings to road kill. This short was heart felt and I do not mean to be mean. Plus, it was a student film, so much is to be forgiven. But this shot struck me deeply in its badness and some teacher should have suggested to this student to hack the length of this “still” by 66%. If the student would not comply, the teacher should have insisted, in a loud voice. In general, and I DO generalize, student films linger on everything almost too long. It is as if the young filmmakers are falling in love with an image for the first time and in their youthful need, do not want to let go of this joy and want to share it, fully, with others. Less is best. Even in movies with dead opossums.   

Avant Gard. 12:15 PM.
This means me. There were eight films in this section. We were right in the middle. Now, I can say this about Box. It is a dramedy. Which means it is serious but funny. Kind of like life. Also, the story has characters saying things that are true in the moment about what is going on in front of them, but what is really going on lies underneath the dialog. Which I like. Because of the SONY F65 camera wielded by Jendra Jarnagin, the short is beautiful. The acting is real and true. We were lucky to have Mink Stole, Lou Liberatore, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Dylan Chalfy and Andreas Damm (the next great thing in American film).  Chris Dolman works well with actors and they all got along like six sides of a cube. Box is about intimacy and its possible forms. We watch the characters struggle along as we journey with a box. The three sections are loosely held together but it all makes sense in the end, what this journey is. It was screened.

By some formula in an excel sheet, the largest percentage of audience votes in a given program will render that movie the winner of a certain audience category. I did my best to encourage many people to see Box. The short, Beyond the Deadend, must have been quite pleasing to film goers as it received the audience award for Best Drama. It was about a street guy in Iran who had a shoe problem until, of course, he met a man who had no legs. It was well done. But the greater truth, as someone who won no awards at the festival, is that more than in any other program, the audience in the greatest proportion voted for this dramatic Iranian joint. Allah be praised. It pulled on the heart strings. And who doesn’t like a story about shoes? Remember Sex in the City? Google Sex in the City.

I ate lunch with my friend from high school. He drove down from Vegas and even bought a festival T-shirt. We talked about getting older, music, our families, our futures. Collectively, we could probably lose 40 pounds. It was extremely sweet and I felt like I was sixteen years old again which was how old I was when I was sixteen, a long time ago. We ate exurb sized sandwiches. I have a picture. I think I gained three pounds in three days. But it didn’t matter much. No one was looking at me. Which is fine. We were all mostly in the dark.

I received many compliments for Box. People had quizzical looks on their faces, the kind I like. Not confused by the story, but curious as to why someone would want to tell this story. Yeah, my life story. Most said They got it. It reminded them of David Lynch in its mystery and an early Soderbergh short called Schizopolis. Wikipedia says of Soderbergh’s early celebrated short, “Although the film does not have a linear plot, a skeletal structure exists, telling the same story from three different perspectives divided into three acts.”

These filmmakers know every obscurity. I applaud. The day was moving on and I was about 100 movies in. I was getting closer to my goal. All I had to do was watch some documentaries, comedy films, films by Nevada filmmakers, a bunch of animation and I would be 127 films in before the third night collapse. I believe the most successful short of the day was the 13 minute comedic film, First Date. Completely mired in toilet humor, but presented in the style of horror, First Date begins with a scene of a first date going perfectly well and ends in a human waste disaster. Clever, hilarious and something I could never make but would love to watch again, this film delights in the shittiest way.

Day 4

19 shorts to go. It would be a wonderful late-in-the-second-act complication if I were to tell you that unforeseen circumstances on the last day threw marbles in my tracks or that the equipment broke down or that I had a wild 16 hour neurotic love affair that was never consummated with a female filmmaker who would not stop shaking her fists into the air screaming and crying, “But we make up fifty percent of the population! Why do we only make up seven percent of all filmmakers?” that kept me away from the screenings. None of that happened. I did have to eat at Milo’s for breakfast instead of the hotel restaurant because there was a car club in town. Studebakers. I spoke on the filmmaker panel, moderated for the first time by John LaBonney. It was not well attended and the usual questions about “mistakes” and “inspiration” were asked. I would have liked to have talked more about fundamentals of how to write a screenplay, but that is because I am more of a writer than a shooter. I did jump into it and suggested to the students in the seats that they should write things from an internal place. Even if they are writing genre, it is a very good idea to somehow infuse their inner life into the story, to write about what is really bothering them right now. I do not know if I got through.

The day’s viewing included three sections. We watched a program of animation, so much of it wonderful. Some documentaries. And John LaBonney’s favorite program of all: Love and Romance. There was some treacle about it. But what the hell! Most of us were out of town where no one could judge us for such simple pleasures. Plus, we got to watch Dame Judi Dench finger her way through love in the age of Facebook.

Getting close to the end, I was exceptionally tired. My stomach held up somehow. I did not get sick. In fact I felt healthy as a horse, but a much depleted one. But no need to shoot me. I saw all 146 films. It was a compulsive act and I was glad to have finished. It hurt my ass. I liked less than half the films. If I had to do it over again, I would. But I would not ever do it again.

According to the official festival statistics, this was another record year for them: 9% increase in attendance, record number of traveling films (42), highest number of submissions (400+), largest number of films programmed (146), and the most programs (25). Next year, they are going to increase the festival by one day. I will not do a five day marathon. Let it be known now. But I congratulate them on their success.

At  5:30 P.M. we lined up in the filmmakers lounge in the useful basement of the Boulder Dam Hotel to take turns as passengers in the two old limousines. By now, many of us had made friends and collected ourselves into intimate pods. We drove from the back door of the hotel a half block to the Boulder Theater which is owned by Desi Arnaz Jr. and his wife Amy. Amy runs a ballet school upstairs. Desi Arnaz, Jr. was often at the light board and proudly takes on any job that is necessary in his building at anytime, including, he jokes, janitor. Mr. Arnaz moved to Boulder City to maintain his sobriety and to be close to the headquarters of New Life Foundation. I know other Hollywood kids who have grown up into and out of addiction. Bravo. The entertainment industry is just like life, only more so.

Once we made our one-sixteenth of a mile limo trek to the theater, were interviewed on camera by I-don’t-know-who and had our publicity shots taken in front of a hanging white sheet with the Dam Short Film Festival Logo stamped all over it, we sat in the theater to see who would be handed audience and jury awards. The jury awards are new this year. Three years of these awards is another hoop jump that will satisfy the Academy Award grand masters for Oscar eligibility. Worth the effort. Who doesn’t want an Oscar?

The directors of the festival made short work of the announcements and handed out the prizes. The real statues were still in transit so they used replacements purchased at local antique stores. Ceramic cacti and the like. In attendance on the stage, in order that the event would have some extra sparkle, was Emilia Oscilowicz, announced as Miss Boulder City second runner up. Online research revealed she is actually the third runner up, however, things may have changed since the information was posted online. Someone must clean up the internet. Someone with a larger compulsion and a youthful, more driven mania than I possess.

Below, is a list of the winners. There were some upsets, as there always are. The audience awards were predictable and made sense. The jury awards made sense, too, except it is strongly agreed by most who watched that Harry Grows Up is a comedy, not a drama. Interview Date, which was fine, was not as funny as First Date. But no film is allowed more than one award, so I imagine that may have had something to do with it, though the hearts of men are fickle and it is best not to assume. Each film had a 10% chance of winning an award. Box won nothing but verbal praise in the streets and at after parties and later on by the film reviewer of the Las Vegas Weekly. No surprise I went home empty handed, but like all the other filmmakers who won nothing, you feel just a little bit uglier when the title of your movie is never announced. You can Google the review. Google Josh Bell’s Favorites.

All of the following winners are worth further investigation on the Dam Short Film Festival site and by any other means at your disposal:

Jury Doc
The Globe Collector    
(A man collects interesting light bulbs)

Jury Drama         
Harry Grows Up  
(A two and a half year old experiences most of what life has to offer)

Jury Comedy      
Interview Date   
(Mistaken Identities of a date and an interview)

Jury Horror          
Bunker 731              
(Post apocalypse. Or is it?)

Jury Animation    
Rose & Violet      
(Conjoined twins learn about bravery and love)

Jury Nevada         
(A newly married couple keeps killing each other. To no avail)                  

Jury Best Student 
Love Hacking            
(Intercontinental computer love connection)

Audience Doc     
The Last Days of Cinerama 
(The shooting of a reshooting in Cinerama)

Audience  Drama        
Beyond the Deadend        
(Iranian shoe trouble)             

Audience Comedy        
Jack to the Future            
(Incomprehensible masturbation time-travel movie)

Audience Animation   
(A fish learns to eat like a frog)

Audience Nevada       
Action! Action!       
(A car goes over a cliff. And more.)

Audience Sci-Fi/Horror 
(Chupacabra low class brilliance)

Audience Best Student
Beyond Belief                
(A magician down-on-his-luck cuts a move. Wonderful short.)

Audience Best of the Fest
First Date             
(Best toilet horror movie ever)

Additionally, these are my favorite shorts, because they had an original voice, got to the point economically, took some chances or were highly humorous are listed below. All of them, in my opinion, were especially complete if not exactly perfect. These do not include student films, Nevada filmmakers or documentaries. These shorts, in addition to the above winners, are also worth finding:

Talking Dog for Sale, 10 Euros            
(The title says it all, in the best way)

First Date                                            
(Toilet disaster, as mentioned)

George Jones & the Giant Squid    
(Super charming, mentioned)

Lunch Date                                 
(Also super charming, mentioned)

Error 0036                                        
(A Spanish After Hours)

Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope    
(Very sad space movie. Loss of connection)

(Funny horror trailer park movie)

Time Out of Mind                       
(I fell for it. Dementia.)

How to Rid Your Lover of Negative Emotion Caused by You     
(Ether and at-home surgery)

Blood of Man                             
(A kid learns about lying in harsh woods)

(Surprising Journey. Real Acting. I am biased.)

Showdown at the Hipster Saloon      
(A satire)

Harry Grows Up                            
(A two and a half year old experiences most of what life has to offer)

Friend Request Pending                  
(Dame Dench looks for love on Facebook. Great acting)

(An aging couple almost scare each other to death)  

Shanghai Love Market                    
(Matchmaking in China and a mother’s comeuppance)
Stand Up or Shut Up                      
(A stand up comic tells the scathing truth)
The Many Doors of Albert Whale 
(A handsome young man is bested by his victim)
I liked all of the animation which is also listed on the festival site. Google Dam Short Film Festival Schedule, 2013.

At the closing night party, unprompted, and possibly motivated by polite convention, Lee Lanier told me that Box was one of his favorite films of the festival, that he has seen thousands of films and that ours had an originality and freshness. This, of course, made me feel like I am still original and fresh. It is always nice to be complimented at this late an age. The short format begs for shortness. I would try to keep any future short no longer than 13 minutes, including credits. What I did do to positive effect was to hire a professional crew, professional actors and worked for many months, along with my director, Chris Dolman, on the screenplay. Being a little older meant I understood life in a particular way and was not afraid to present my take on things, plus, I knew other older people who would give me some of their cash to make this short.
Was it worth spending all the time (over a year) and money to make a movie, submit to festivals and then fly out to the desert to watch a bunch of strangers watch it? Of course it was. Because they laughed in the right places. Because people had that look on their face that they always get after watching things that I make: a bemused wonder.  Because what the hell else did I have to do? Not everyone can get a trophy and I was not expecting one. But the thought crossed my mind that they could have made a special gag category so I might have received an award, perhaps a ceramic lemon for “Most enlarged prostate of a first time filmmaker.”  Maybe next year.

Mission: Accomplished.
Conclusion: The Dam Short Film Festival is Damtastic and worth the effort
Sentiment: Making short films is worth the pain and expense.
The Future: Unpredictable. Short Films are part of that excitement. Make your movie. 

Next Year is the tenth anniversary. Get going.