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!
Zack "Max" Ordynans,
Tom "Tommy" Roy,
and Dave "Sam" Bernstein
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
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.
site of BA party number one
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.
L to R: musician/designer
Rock Savage, Randy's back,
Exec. Producer Dave Bernstein
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.
At Saturday's Laundry party,
Cathy O'Brien admires
Tony's BA poster
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.
L to R: Zack Ordynans,
and Mike "Charles" Dorrian
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.
The Bernstein parental units.
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.
Pandemonium as the crowd
surges into the theater for BA.
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].
Saturday's Q&A with (L to R)
Van Flesher, Gary Lundy,
Zack Ordynans, and Randy Mack
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.
Steven Beer talks to a
distributor as the wowed
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
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.
site of BA party number two.
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