July 26, 2003
Laemmle 4plex, Santa Monica, California
-- Diaries from the big night...
-- After-Party excitement
-- DancesWithFilms ceremonies
*** ALL PHOTOS EXPAND WITH A CLICK ***
*** ALL PHOTOS EXPAND WITH A CLICK ***
text & photos by
I strapped myself into my Toyota 4x4 and blazed down the I-5 corridor to see the L.A. premiere of Burning Annie, and to show my support for Randy [Mack, producer]. When I got there, I saw him standing outside the theatre (I'd never met Randy before, but I recognized him from pictures on his website). I hesitated to introduce myself because, well, it looked like he was peddling little white envelopes to some kids. Sure, I was there to support Randy and his film, but I certainly wasn't going to endorse the sale of mysterious stuff in envelopes to kids. But I was conflicted because I didn't want to see Randy go to jail, either, especially right before his shining moment and the premiere of his first movie. So I turned my back, slyly blocking the view of passerbyers until the transaction was complete.
Boy, did I have it wrong. Turns out one of the "kids" was Zack [Ordynans], the original writer of the film. Seeing Zack (he writes taller than he looks) made me feel good about myself. Oh, yeah, sure, he had his script made into a movie and all that, but I towered over him by, like, an inch or so. It's the little things that inspire me, and it's good to know I can probably beat at least one other writer in an arm wrestling match. I never did figure out what was in the envelopes.
I had already seen the film-- Randy had sent me a tape after I designed a logo for the website. At the theater, Randy told Zack it took me six seconds to design the logo. I think that comment was a compliment. If it was, I'm a little embarrassed, then, to admit it actually took eight seconds to create the logo.
It was awesome seeing Burning Annie on the big screen, with a filled theatre, no less. It's also the first time I've been to a movie where the audience applauded afterward. Of course, I had to assume the applause was because they like the movie and not because it ended. I'm pretty sure it was the former, since most everyone laughed throughout the film. Then again, that could lead to another assumption. But my gut reaction is that everyone was quite pleased with Burning Annie. I was. It's a good story filled with remarkably witty dialogue and wonderful characters played by talented actors. Keep an eye out for actors Gary Lundy, Sara Downing, Kim Murphy, and the goofy looking but very funny Brian Klugman.
-- Terry Jacob
by Macneil Shonle
Saturday, July 26
We approached the theater guessing that the big neon 4 on the side of the building was the fourplex. Anna (my fiancee), Ben (a high-school chum), and I were confused about what to do when we got there. A woman with a splint on her leg, who was also waiting outside the theatre, told us that "Will call for Burning Annie is at 9."
The crowd outside the theatre got larger, and I overheard people mention "the producer of Burning Annie has the tickets." Another voice said that Burning Annie didn't have a will call. The person mentioning Randy [BA's producer] was actually the maker of the film short to appear before Burning Annie (called "Warning Sign"). Eventually Megan [Randy's girlfriend] showed up with the tickets and we bought an extra ticket for Ben. I made sure to announce to the other people that, indeed, "the tickets are here." It was at this time I started to worry that there were a lot of people showing up for the short. I didn't know how long it was, and I worried that maybe people would start leaving after giving BA only a five minute chance. Could BA's beginning keep them in their seats? It's still very strange to me that complete strangers want to see the film.
We went inside where it was less chaotic to stand in line. Another film was playing in the theatre they have reserved for DancesWithFilms (the rest of the theatre was showing Whale Rider, Lucia Lucia, I Capture The Castle, and some other indie type of movie). The previous feature was then in the Q&A session. Some of the guys at the fourplex were kind of rude and liked to shout orders. This disturbed my friend Ben every time they said to him "be sure to have your ticket out or you won't get in," and "stand aside so the other people can leave."
Indeed, the last film's crowd was leaving. I overheard someone look at the line for BA and say "Wow, that's a long line!" Maybe it was because BA had the perfect Saturday night, 9:30pm time slot. Or maybe it was that Entertainment Today had a review of BA that said "it may just be the best movie I've seen this year (for real)." In contrast, most of the other EntToday reviews weren't so glowing and tended to point out the flaws they saw.
As we were waiting in our seats I saw Zack [Ordynans, writer] and Gary Lundy [star] in the back, talking to each other. I figured it would be the perfect time to introduce myself, so I did. I said hi to Zack and he introduced me to Gary. It was kind of weird because he looks exactly the same in real life, perhaps a little shorter. His hair has grown out what looks like a months' worth, in comparison to his hair in BA. I got a chill as I realized my Kevin Bacon degrees now shrunk to three. He was a nice guy and I told him I liked what he did and he was the main reason I decided to invest.
Waiting back in the seats again I was looking at the projected preshow images. This made me a little nervous again because the images looked pixilated. I was thinking that they had the budget projector and it would look like projected TV. At least I was mostly wrong about that, though text (like in the credits) looked pixilated still. But the good part was the film short... it too was being shown from the digital projector. It might give people a chance to get used to the pixilation if it was going to be a problem.
But back to the short-- it was music video style, set to the Coldplay song "Warning Sign" (from "Rush of Blood") which strangely I played for Anna that morning. It was a relationship story and it was very saccharine. It was this guy looking over love notes and moping on his bed, as the song says he misses his love. It would then flashback to him and his girl having a good time together. Then it seems that the two of them got back together and had more good times. Anyway, with some clever cuts of the two trading drivers in the car (she was learning a stick or how to drive in general it seems and couldn't do it, ergo they switched)... it showed only the guy getting in and placing flowers into the other seat. He then parks at a cemetery and takes the flowers with him. That she died in the end seemed to justify all of the sentimentality of the previous minutes. I'm not really sure what the song Warning Sign is about, or what the short was supposed to be, but it served as a perfect warm up for Burning Annie. It was short. It looked a little lower quality visually. It was about young people in a relationship. And, just like the ideal in comedy clubs, it was worse that the big act it was preceding. They gave us cards to rate the short and the feature on a scale of 1-5. I gave BA a 5 of course, and made sure Ben and Anna did the same.
BA started and it got applause during the opening lines, eg. "it was around high school that I decided to stop fitting in." There were many laughs through out the whole film. They seemed to like Max the most, though Scott got some good laughs like when he said "he has one ball" and "yeah." When the credits rolled everyone applauded.
The image quality was not much of a problem. The film ended up looking better than TV, but not quite as sharp as other normal films are... I think the projector plays the biggest part in that. Either way, on screen BA looked good, despite an old beat up screen.
They brought the filmmakers on stage to talk-- for BA it was Randy, Zack, and Gary; for "Warning Sign" it was two other guys. One of the festival directors was on stage asking questions. First he interviewed the short people (the film short, not Zack and Gary). The filmmaker at one point wanted his girlfriend to stand up, because she was the actress in it, but she seemed embarrassed and didn't want to stand up. I saw her shake her head no when she was prodded more.
Then came the interview for BA. I'm not sure if it was the interviewer or someone from the audience who asked Randy how BA was able to get all of that music. I guess it was something I didn't really think about, but in comparison to some of the other films BA seemed all the more professional and polished for its music. Randy's answer was similar to what's in the usound interview with him: basically, we were lucky to know so many talented local bands, and it helped that local meant NY, LA, and Boston (et cetera). Someone asked what it was shot on and how long it took to shoot (24pHD, 22 days).
Interestingly, a woman then asked who did the song during the closing credits. Randy seemed to hesitate and looked like he was flustered, as if he forgot who it was. But then the truth came out: he wrote it. (He had said earlier that he was a musician, which lent more credibility to his answer.) When realizing this, the audience applauded again. Someone asked where he found the actors. His short answer was "LA" and then explained the casting director and how many talented people are in LA (a ridiculous buyer's market he called it).
Overall it seemed very well received and even Anna liked it-- I was concerned she'd be only supportive and such, but not her kind of movie, but actually it seemed to be exactly what she liked. As we left the theatre, there was a very good feeling in the air.
-- Macneil Shonle
by Megan Dexter
(at indie rock club 14 Below, Santa Monica)
Assorted DWF Events
photos by Megan Dexter
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