Tuesday, April 04, 2006

And the wheel goes 'round

Sometimes, I wonder if I ever have a "light" stretch of time. It seems like we're always busy with something -- usually several somethings -- resulting in eight-day weeks that leave our heads spinning.

Two weeks ago, we hit the I-CON SF convention in Long Island, at the invitation of genius artist Michael Apice. While it gave us the opportunity to briefly catch up with Mike, fellow artist Romik Safarian and Debbie Rochon, none of whom we'd seen in some time, it was three long days spent out of our element. We realized halfway through the weekend that we don't fit in real well at Science Fiction shows. Though I am a huge SF fan, some of the hardcore fans are just too intense, refusing to even consider something outside of their particular subgenre (the anime fans are only fans of "this" series, the various Doctor Who folks only like Tom Baker or the current incarnation and are suspicious of anything Not That Thing). However, we had the pleasure of meeting J. Corsontino and Donny Ha, the artists behind "The Time of the Fairies"--two of the coolest people I've ever met.

Nine hours later, we were back home and playing catch up for the next four days, while at the same time trying to get ready for Cinema Wasteland in Cleveland. Wasteland is our hands-down favorite show, so we were really looking forward to hitting it. Thus, the four days leading up to our departure were ridiculously long. (Which was spent recording ADR for the worst parts of High Stakes and starting the layout for Sirens of Cinema #4.)

Friday finally reared its ugly head and we were able to make our trek out to Cleveland. Even though we'd started our con season last month with Fangoria in Chicago, Wasteland felt like coming home. We know virtually everyone there so it was like a three-day family reunion. Plus, we have this enviable spot right up front between Wasteland's creative team, Pam and Ken Kish, and Ultra-Violent Magazine.

We took it easy on Friday, still feeling drained from the previous week. Saturday, however, is always party-time. We roamed around a lot, hanging in the bar with Tom K, Thor, Necro and Lucy from B-Headed.com before heading up to the room occupied by maniac writer Joe Knetter, his wife Nicole, their (our) friends Stacy and Julie, Joel and Libby, Veronica and Sonny, etc. We were soon joined by Roland Pena and the immortal 42nd Street Pete (who became the voice of Wasteland for the weekend), Kevin Barberry from Rock 'N Shock, Jeremy and Meredith of Dark X-Mas fame, Jungle Gym Kim of Satan's Sideshow - and numerous others who, unfortunately, alcohol has erased from my memory.

Then... the lights went out.

There was a weird brownout earlier in the evening, but then the full-scale black-out hit about five to Midnight, like some sort of odd Mayan Y2K. The whole hotel was thrust into darkness, save for emergency lights in the corridors. With no air conditioning and non-opening windows, it was too hot (not to mention dark) in the rooms. The hallways were filled with people sticking their heads out of the doorways like bizarre, vertical groundhogs. Finally, we just camped out in the hall, hanging with Toe Tag's Shelby and Crusty who'd had their photo-shoot ruined by the sudden dark (though that didn't quite stop anyone from taking pictures - the flash arching down the halls).

Downstairs, anarchy erupted. Without lights, the conventioneers went feral. The anxiety of our electric generation thrust into darkness was compounded by the bar going dry. Without the computers, the bartenders refused to serve alcohol (darkness must effect math skills as well). So people were forced to entertain themselves. These activities included impromptu parking lot fire eating, a mock crucifixion, table dancing and some indecent exposure. Little time expired before the cops arrived. They claimed they'd been summoned after someone was offended by a young woman found topless in the hall. This could very well be true, or it could have been a convenient excuse (although the most far-fetched explanation for the blackout I'd heard was that the hotel wanted an excuse to bring drug-sniffing dogs in to bust up the various weed parties. Highly unlikely. And ineffective if true).

Ultimately, we did feel very sorry for anyone who was in the hotel but not with the convention, as the lights didn't come back until almost 4:00 am and the noise level was constant until then. Add to this the dirty trick of Daylight Savings Time ending. Everyone was extremely disoriented come morning.

Because of all of the above, Sunday was an "off" day. It was difficult to remain "on", particularly for Amy, who has to smile and make eye-contact with everyone through the door. Things felt odd and surreal. At least we were productive. I managed to finish up ADR for High Stakes with Nic and Charlie and had interesting meetings with a couple of producers/distributors. As soon as something concrete comes up, I'll share the info.

But we still stuck it out, almost to the bitter end, because, frankly, it's difficult to leave Wasteland. To give ourselves a sense of closure, we met up with Henrique Couto and his friend Lisa for dinner afterwards before we made our way home.

So now we're home and gearing up for another long weekend. We officially start shooting Abattoir on Saturday, kicking off the production with a sequence involving most of the cast of Chainsaw Sally and a big church in Baltimore. It'll be the first major production of ours in three years.

Until we leave on Friday, though, we'll be spending the rest of the week catching up, getting things ready, hoping not to forget anything and trying to be professional, even when we feel like amateurs. And for the next five weekends after that as we continue to shoot.

Keeps us off the streets, though, right?


GCR said...

Hey Mike!

Good luck with the shoot. We all hope it goes well.

What camera are you shooting "Abattoir" on?

Mike said...

Coincidentally, a "GCR" originally recommended an XL2, which we picked up thanks to a generous investor. This'll be our camera for the next three productions we have scheduled this year.