Burning AnnieClick for a surprise


East Coast Premiere

October 24 * Fri * 1:30pm
October 25 * Sat * 2:30pm
United Artists Theater, 30 Main Street
East Hampton, New York

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writer Zack Ordynans

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"Hangin' with the Hoity Toity"
The Journal of Dave Bernstein
(Executive Producer)

Zack "Max" Ordynans,
Tom "Tommy" Roy,
and Dave "Sam" Bernstein
 Randy (el produciore) has been bugging me to write a review of the Hamptons International Film Festival. I'm Dave Bernstein, or “Sam” in the Burning Annie universe. I was roommates with both Zack and Randy at Clark University (at different times!) and am now an Executive Producer on their film. I was only in town for two days because I couldn't leave Wisconsin until Friday and had an important meeting on Sunday. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, off we go!

 The film festival was in East Hampton, NY, which is a town straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. It was once THE place to go for the super-rich New York crowd, but it has been invaded by the pretty-rich riff-raff, and for one week a year, the likes of us.

The Farmhouse,
site of BA party number one
 Friday night was the first Burning Annie shindig. It was held at a great little bar and restaurant called The Farmhouse which sported a fireplace and flaming beverages. The crowd was lively (especially as the evening wore on) and there were many friendly faces, from Randy's mom to Tom ("Tommy") Roy's WPI volunteers. I got to meet people that I only knew from e-mail or rumor. Van (the director) turned out to be a warm, soft-spoken guy with a dry wit. This is probably why he is so quiet during our post-production email “discussions” about the questionable taste of putting “woody” in the tag line or the virtues of “white space” in posters.

L to R: musician/designer
Rock Savage, Randy's back,
Exec. Producer Dave Bernstein
 Speaking of posters, both of our poster designers were present. Tony Machin is an aspiring writer and does some graphic design work on the side. Rock Savage has an eye for color and the hair for Poison. He turned out to be the exact opposite of his name (which is a compliment). Best of all, I got to meet Joanna Rudolph, whose connections to the movie are both varied and oblique. She's interested in working on Zack and Randy's next movie and I'd known her only through email. We hit it off pretty well, even though she refused to acknowledge Bad Religion as punk. In addition to clarifying the subtle, and not so subtle, differences between the adjectives hoity-toity, chichi and hoi polloi (which actually means “common people”), she wound up being a great help throughout the weekend. Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Cathy O'Brien and one Ari Herzog were in attendance. These were two of the most storied people during our time at Clark. While they didn't make it into Burning Annie, perhaps they'll appear in another Ordynans or Mack production at some point.

At Saturday's Laundry party,
Cathy O'Brien admires
Tony's BA poster
 The next morning I breakfasted in Amagansette with my parents. This was a one street suburb of the three-street East Hampton and boasted a Mexican breakfast cafe. Interestingly, the upscale diner had not one Mexican menu item. I checked in with Randy to make lunch plans and discovered that all our hard-won tickets for friends and family had disappeared. Not to worry, Randy was on the case. I called Zack but he was foggy about the ticket trouble. Zack is a bit of a nervous person in general, and these film festivals can really get him going. Best not to make problems of problems before they become problems. While leaving the diner, my parents and I observed an Amagansette native in his natural state; neat bundle of wood in hand, scarf tied just so, getting into his shiny BMW. Our parking spot was taken by a brand new mini.

L to R: Zack Ordynans,
Mrs. Ordynans,
and Mike "Charles" Dorrian
 We met up with the Ordynans clan in “downtown” East Hampton and chatted while the Burning Annie group assembled. Just arriving was our own Mike ("Charles") Dorrian and his girlfriend Moniko. It was great to see Mike, and achieve a quorum of roommates from Clark. Only Tom ("Scott") Gibson and Dave Reed were absent. We lunched on $10 tuna salad and $12 omelets in a happily chaotic cafe and I got to meet our Producer's Rep, Steven Beer, in person for the first time. He is very different from Michael Moore type I imagined.

The Bernstein parental units.
 Joanna and I broke off from the group to meet my parents at a panel discussion about science in film. The panel wasn't that great, except for Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan's wife). She was the only one of the bunch who could really bridge the gap between the two worlds. I would have liked to stay for the whole event to lament the “scientist as nutcase” stereotype so prevalent in movies. Everyone seems to think that scientists are crazy, driven people. There are some characters, but most are just regular people who work hard and have slightly poorer than average social skills. The only movie I can think of that has normal scientists is Contact (which Ann Druyan co-wrote). Alas, the Burning Annie screening was fast approaching.

Pandemonium as the crowd
surges into the theater for BA.
 We arrived at the theater about a half hour early so that we could stand on the special line. The tickets were still lost, but Randy had talked the theater manager into letting a group of us in anyway. He could talk his way out of a 100 MPH speeding ticket-- in fact, he's done it twice. I only got a brief look at the hubbub outside, but it was invigorating. Thirty minutes before the screening there was already a snaking line of people hoping for standby tickets. I felt sorry for them because the ticket holder line was already down the block. My mom, Zack, and I stood in the back to give seats to some of the hopefuls. I actually enjoyed standing. There are some scenes in the movie that are sort of embarrassing for Sam, and somehow they're easier to watch standing. Maybe it's because I'm in position to run.

Saturday's Q&A with (L to R)
Van Flesher, Gary Lundy,
Zack Ordynans, and Randy Mack
 The question and answer period started off slow, but soon the rapt audience wouldn't let Zack, Randy, Van, and Gary Lundy leave. They were finally rescued by the festival organizers because they needed the theater for the next screening. On the way out, I took a picture of Steven Beer with a distributor [right].

Steven Beer talks to a
distributor as the wowed
audience leaves.

After the flash, he gave me a look that could be interpreted as, “ooh, this is a promising offer” or, “that was a really bad idea.” I'm going with the former.

 After the screening we were off to The Laundry for a cool-down cocktail party. Joanna and I wound up carrying a bunch of Randy's stuff so he could get the distributor a DVD. We got things set up for the party and then enjoyed the great food and drinks (though the beer selection was poor-- after living in Wisconsin for 5 years, I've come to appreciate a quality of beer not readily available on the East

The Laundry,
site of BA party number two.
coast). There were a lot of new faces at the gathering; I met some members of the press, locals, and other film people. Later in the evening, I got to chat with Joanna's friends and discovered that they knew some people I went to high school with. It's a small world after all.

 My parents and I hit the road when Zack and Randy left for the closing banquet. We had an important meeting on Sunday morning in New Jersey with The Boss. We got a call on the way home from Zack. We didn't win the Starfish award, despite the reviewers' predictions. Zack sounded cheerful and it was a great weekend, so not to worry. To cap it all off, the Yankees lost the World Series as we entered the Lincoln Tunnel!

 -- Dave Bernstein

More photos!

[ photos by the Ordynans family, Dave Bernstein, Eric Pope, and Mike Dorrian ]

Street team members Chad and
Calvin dutifully add our drink specials
to postcards that have candy glued
to them courtesy of Dave Bernstein.

Writer Zack Ordynans with
director Van Flesher,
right after the mushrooms kicked in.

Zack and Tom pose for
the poster of a forthcoming
Merchant-Ivory film

Director Van Flesher catches up
with BA star Gary Lundy.

Producer Randy Mack tries to
deal with all the BA merch.

Actor (and inspiration) Tom Roy
(2nd from right), with his
crack street team of (L to R)
Calvin, Eric, and Chad, who
drove down from Worcester, MA.

The "Rush line": all the people
who wanted BA tix but
couldn't get them wait outside.

Eric and Chad try to blend in at
one of the BA Hamptons parties
by getting pretentious

Writer Zack Ordynans and FOBAs
Tom Roy and Joanna Rudolph
lead a BA team cheer.

Producer Randy Mack
warms the crowd up
before the Saturday show

Friday's Q&A with (L to R)
Van Flesher, Gary Lundy,
Randy Mack, and Zack Ordynans

Saturday's Q&A with (L to R)
Van Flesher, Gary Lundy,
Zack Ordynans, and Randy Mack
[ click to see video ]

Producer Randy Mack
shows off an "Annie"
(see recipe)

Writer Zack Ordynans chills at
the Farmhouse with Tom Roy & the
rest of the Wormtown Street Team

L to R: writer Zack Ordynans,
actor Gary Lundy,
director Van Flesher

Roommates reunited! L to R:
Dave "Sam" Bernstein
Mike "Charles" Dorrian,
Zack "Max" Ordynans

writer Zack Ordynans and
Mike "Charles" Dorrian

Exec. Producer Dave Bernstein
and writer Zack Ordynans
take inspiration from
the Blair Witch Project

writer Zack Ordynans
Exec. Producer Dave Bernstein
and Mike "Charles" Dorrian

L to R: Dave Bernstein,
Mike Dorrian, Zack Ordynans,
and Randy Mack

Writer Zack Ordynans
talks to rabid BA fan Isabelle
Pedraza before Saturday's screening.

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