Monday, June 06, 2005

Yes, that's right, The Resurrection Game took home the Pittsburgh Film Workers' award for "Best Film" at Saturday's festival. Which was a real honor, by the way, as we were competing against the marvelous Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots (which I and Amy and Charlie Fleming are also in, in case I forgot to mention a million times previously). No hard feelings from Paul Scrabo, though, as Dr. Horror's won "Best Production" and got its own hefty trophy.

The actual festival went pretty well, I thought. There was some confusion throughout the week as to in what order the films would play and what time the actual event started (some said the doors opened at 6:30, some said 7:00... those who said 7:00 were right), but all-in-all most things went off without a hitch.

The hitch, of course, was provided by me and my miraculous Karma.

I was not looking forward to watching this movie again. The anticipation of dread from seeing The Resurrection Game in a live audience made sitting through Dr. Horror's difficult enough. Worries ran through my head: "I just hope the disc plays all the way through." "I just hope the audio isn't too hot."

I had brought 12 DVDs with me, each containing the new cut of the movie. For some reason, the thought struck me that there might be an errant Spicy Sisters Slumber Party hidden amongst the unlabeled DVDs. But what were the odds that I would pull one of these out of the 12? Add to those odds the fact that I grabbed four out of the box and stuck them in the plastic bag to be brought into the theater with me. 20,000-something to 1 against, by my calculations. But still, I had to narrow those odds down to 112% by vocalizing this concern in the form of a joke. To wit: "Watch: I accidentally stuck a Spicy Sisters in one of these cases and that's the one I gave them."

Which is precisely what happened.

Now, the fine folks at the Rex Theater had been doing soundchecks all week. They knew which DVDs would play right away. There was no guesswork involved.

Except that I didn't know this when I gave the co-ordinators a copy of the new cut.

And the Rex guys didn't know that the disk was a new cut, apparently, so just popped the disk in and walked away.

And then The Spicy Sisters began to play immediately.

And this was followed by some running around and frantic searching for another Res. Game DVD.

The emcee, our own Tim Gross, laughed it off and re-introduced us. This did wonders for my nerves, of course.

Add to all that the fact that neither Amy, nor I, nor Bill could sit still long enough to watch it for any length of time. So we hung at the back of the theater with Cameron Romero and Jason Ralph, pacing back and forth and wincing... wincing primarily because the levels were so damned loud! The opening gunshot rattled bottles in the lobby.

Five people asked the guy in the soundbooth to "bring the levels down". Sound guy was a hippy with a long beard (in which, I'm sure, were hiding several Japanese soldiers unaware that the war had ended), who usually responded with "Huh?" and then "No, man, they're fine. I checked them on Tuesday."

After the sixth person, ears bleeding from treble and intestines ruined from bass, begged him to "bring it down", he finally brought it down. A bit. A hair. I didn't notice much difference, but then my ears were bleeding too.

A few seconds after person number six had made the audio request, I feel someone touch my shoulder. In a crowd, it's not advised that anyone do this. I don't like it.

I turned around and saw hippy sound guy. "You the filmmaker?" he said.

I confirmed this.

"Some of the dialogue is only coming out of the left channel."



I did. I couldn't tell if it was or not, standing, as I was, to the rear and left of the theater.

"Okay," I repeated.

"Thought you should know."

"Nothing I can do about it now," I said.

"You should know, though."

Then he went away. Then came back a few seconds later, touching me again to get my attention.

"Hear it?"

"What do you want me to do about this?" I asked, shouting to be heard.

"Well, you're gonna have to re-mix it if you want this to be a serious film."

"You can hear that it's coming out of one channel?" I asked.

"That's my job, man."

"But you can't tell that it's too fucking loud?"

"Hey, you needed to know."

"There's nothing I can do about it. Go turn it down and leave me the hell alone."

And he did. And walked wide of me the rest of the night.

But I fumed for the rest of the night as well. "If you want it to be taken as a serious film??" Yeah, I'll tell the two companies that are currently bidding on it that the dialogue needs a stereo mix. I'll get right on that.

If my head doesn't cave in from the over-modulated and distorted levels. Thanks, hippy guy. You made my night.

Now, I realize there was probably an infinite amount of better ways to have handled the situation. One, possibly, would have been to borrow a gun. Had the awards been given out already, I could have beaten the hippy to death with it. Or I could have thanked him and turned away from him.

But I was nervous as hell. I had my own crew giving me shit the whole way through the movie because they were nervous about seeing this thing too. I had family and friends and peers I hadn't seen in close to a decade in the audience. My blood had turned to straight-pins in my veins because I was viewing the fruits of seven years for the first time and it was too fucking loud and I couldn't make out half the dialogue through the distortion.

And I really needed criticism from this man, who was undoubtedly annoyed by six people asking him to do his job just...a...little...BETTER!

Everyone's a fucking expert.

But the movie seemed to go over really well with everyone. There was ample applause at the end. Because we were so far back, assaulted by distortion, we couldn't really gauge how the audience was reacting, though. They all jumped at two crucial points at the end, so I took that as a good sign. I couldn't hear laughter over the raging bass, so I'm not sure how some of the lighter moments went over. I was assured, however, that it was not that loud from the center of the audience to the front. It was louder the further back you were. Which indicates a crappy sound system to me, but what the hell do I know?

I only know that, at the end of the night, people were coming up to us and congratulating us on making a great movie. And the award really started to mean a lot on the drive home, when I looked at the back of the program and saw some of the movies that had been submitted, by filmmakers I knew or had heard of, that hadn't been accepted for the festival. There were some top-notch guys in that list, people who I'd gone to school with, people I'd met at fests and conventions. And The Resurrection Game had beaten them all for a top slot in the first annual Pittsburgh Filmworkers Association Film Festival.

So at the end of the night, Amy and I went home with a "Best Film" award --represented by a heavy statuette of The Gill Man (either Ben Chapman or Ricou Browning... I forget who did the swimming) from The Creature from the Black Lagoon sculpted by Eric DeLaVega and cast by Chris Pirt (both terrific artists and instructors at the Savini School).

And looking back, yeah, maybe I should remix it, maybe I should replace a couple of sound effects here and there.. but refer to my last post. I ain't gonna. The Resurrection Game is done. And folks seemed to like it.

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