So our trip to and from Chicago was rife with airline disaster (not "oh my God, we're gonna die!" disaster; more like "your flight has been delayed, please remove your shoes and hat, turn your head, cough, provide us with a urine sample, we know you're white but you're wearing black leather, please hop on one foot and sing the Canadian National Anthem."). There were problems with tickets, a rush to find seats on other planes, a few inches of snow that made it impossible to return, etc.
I hate flying. It's not the crashing I mind; it's the inconvenience and wasted time.
But the show was terrific. We got there just as it opened, so there was a lot of mad scurrying to get checked in, cleaned up and downstairs to set up our table. We started selling things before we'd even gotten the suitcase unpacked! The place was a lot more crowded than the previous show in New York, which made it both more and less successful than before.
More: more people meant more money for us, of course, but also meant happier vendors all around. And happier vendors make for happier neighbors. Case in point: the gentleman next to us wasn't doing that well, selling vintage autographs and lobby cards, so he wasn't happy. This wasn't the fault of the show, and it didn't make him unpleasant. But he was bored and frustrated and we felt bad.
Less: because of the immense lines, Amy and I missed meeting Nathan Fillion. Creation has a weird set-up that we're not used to. They generally do Q&As with their bigger guests and then have autograph sessions with the guests hidden from view behind curtains in the ballrooms, preventing you from even getting a glimpse at your star. The Slither panel was packed and the lines -- with people called up row by row, starting with the expensive "gold pass" holders -- were tremendous. As far as I know, not everyone in line even got to meet Gunn, Fillion, Banks, Rooker, Henry, Fischer and the two sad and anonymous producers (they weren't anonymous; I can't remember their names and I'm feeling oddly lazy right now) before they were all shuttled off across town to a special screening of the upcoming gorefest.
Which left us feeling sad and empty inside. Fortunately, we were still basking in the glow of Rooker molesting Amy in New York, so it took the hurt out of it a bit (like urinating on a jellyfish sting). (BTW, become Grant Grant's friend and maybe someday Michael Rooker will molest you too!)
I did get to meet Stuart Gordon, however, and got both him and writer Dennis Paoli to sign my coveted Re-Animator laser disk. So that made me do a little happy dance. I also got to horn in on a conversation between Mick Garris (Riding the Bullet) and Paoli about the luck directors have if they're given the opportunity to write their own screenplays. It was a neat little inside tidbit that I wouldn't have had otherwise had I not been standing at the Anchor Bay table and waiting patiently for Gordon finish directing a trio of fans in a scene where one guy is eaten by another guy's hand (pretending said hand is a rat).
The highlight for me, though, was running into Robert Kurtzman again. Kurtzman, you may remember, is one of the founding members of KNB, who are responsible for nearly every special make-up effect in movies today. Bob took a liking to me somewhere along the line, and while I don't understand it, I'm not about to argue with him, either. We talked a bit about his new movie, The Rage, and we discussed Amy and I visiting the set when they resume shooting in the spring. Then he started introducing me around. Through Bob I met Gary Jones, who directed the fun "zombie pirate" movie Jolly Roger, for the Asylum (and he said nice things about Dead Men Walking, which made me happy), and Robert Dyke, who told me that the DVD of Moontrap would be long in coming. And that made me sad.
But with all these meetings, I finally turned to Bob and said, "Don't get me wrong - I really appreciate you taking all this time to talk to me. I'm a big admirer of yours and this means the world to me. But who do you think I am?"
Two-day shows are rough on a body. We spent most of Sunday commiserating with model Sofia Smirnova, who really hit it off with Amy because she wasn't immediately catty or bitchy to her upon their first meeting (which is more than can be said for a couple of "actresses" who were present at this show). We also got to meet Zoe Hunter, who was there promoting ("This time, it's Witchcraft 13really personal!").
A lot of time was spent hacking through Debbie Rochon's line to say hi, as we hadn't seen her since Genghis Con I. She'd been working herself to death lately, which is nothing new, and by the end of Sunday, we all felt like wrung-out rags. Dragging ourselves back to the airport, we'd actually volunteered to be bumped from our flight just for an extra night's rest. But that wasn't to be.
Fortunately, Amy had taken off on Monday, so we spent the day watching the Oscars (which I'd taped - yes, taped - on VHS yet!) - we cheered for Howard Berger when he won for Narnia (see KNB above) and cheered again when he mentioned Bob and Greg Nicotero in his speech. But beyond that, we remained pretty-much motionless for the day.
Returning from a trip usually means that the next few days are spent catching up. Emailing people you'd run into over the weekend, dropping lines to people you'd missed while you were away, getting work done that had sat for days while you were galavanting off doing God-knows-what.
However, while all the above is true, the last few days yielded satisfying fruit... For one thing, thanks to our new Executive Producer, we received an investment check that allowed us to upgrade our camera equipment. Amy ordered the package yesterday and we'll soon be the proud owners of an XL2 with three lenses! We also bought a Senheiser mic off eBay to replace our old and dying microphone. Add to that a new light kit, a C-Stand (yay!) and a near-future upgrade to Mac, and Happy Cloud Pictures will be a fully-functioning production company. To that end, we're planning on shooting three features by the end of the year. (Stay tuned for announcements.)
I also discovered, while capturing last weekend's footage for High Stakes, that the sound problem isn't as dire as suspected. Rich Conant, co-star of Absense of Light and a talented sound engineer offered to see if he could remove the buzz from some of the tracks, so we're eternally grateful on that end. And it looks like it's going to cut together pretty well, proving, yet again, that sometimes I know what I'm doing. I'm expecting to have this short finished (minus Scooter McCrae soundtrack) by the weekend.
Finally, a nice little blurb from Horror Web about The Undead, an anthology I contributed to last year (giving them "The Dead Life", a short story based on the Sister Bliss/Simon MacForman basement scene from The Resurrection Game. While the writer (who goes by "Bloody Mary" and not a real journalist name - something that irks me for some reason) was pretty cool to the entire book - writing the review as a 'Dear John' letter to the zombie sub-genre - she dug "The Dead Life" in particular, which made me smile. Says "Bloody Mary", " Stories that I thought were brilliant and creative, original and unique. Stories such as: "13 Ways of Looking at the Dead", "The Last Living Man", "Undead Prometheus", "The Dead Life" and "The Graveyard Slot". Oh, and Andre Duza's "Like Chicken for Deadf**ks", that was beautiful."
So there you go. Hooray for our side.
Look for a Film Threat piece on the con in a few days. In the meantime, please visit www.mike-watt.net and The Bastards of Horror.