Waking the Dragon

So it’s been a little bit since I had a real post. And it will be even longer than that.

Just to recap: the movie, “As Good as Dead or: I Was a Teenage Prom Queen!” has gotten into Dragon*Con’s 2010 film festival. This is exciting news for several reasons, the chief of which is that this has been my goal from the film’s inception.
Shortly before Katrina, I came up with the germ of the idea for this movie before a Brown show, back when it was still at True Brew Downtown. It was a simple idea: there are never pretty zombies. Not necessarily unscathed, just attractive. From there, a title and a quote immediately popped into my head: “Attack of the Killer Prom Queens” and “Is it still necrophilia if they can move?” Of that idea, two things survived into the final product, that of the latter bit of dialogue and the idea that geeks would be the only ones left to stop the zombies.
Ironically, I had not seen Shaun of the Dead yet, though I had seen Spaced–Pegg, Frost, and Wright’s BBC series that led to Shaun and Hot Fuzz–Clerks, Pulp Fiction, and a shitton of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of which informed the writing of the movie. After Katrina, recently dumped and finding myself living with a much earlier ex-girlfriend in Denver, with no job and nothing to do all day, I wrote until it was done.
The next year, I went to Dragon*Con for the first time. For those not in the know, Dragon*Con (which btw is a bitch to write with that asterisk every time, but I’m obviously OCD about words) is the largest mixed science fiction and fantasy convention in the country. San Diego ComicCon is the largest convention of any type, but technically is supposed to be about comic books (although it is now more a Hollywood event and a bit of a catch-all itself). Dragon*Con is intentionally a mix of comics, anime/manga, science fiction and fantasy television, movies, etc., and it has yet to be invaded by Hollywood producers. Most of the TV and movies promoted there are not popular or already cancelled/bombs in the eyes of the public. But for the attendees, these are fandoms that are very close to their hearts — little clubs that are usually just them and a few friends, and combined with the little clubs of others, a sort of cross-country family occurs. You know you’ll probably like somebody if they love the same stuff as you. You know you probably don’t want to talk to someone who doesn’t like Firefly. I knew at once that with a script like mine, if I ever made it, I wanted it played there, and played there specifically. A Manga/Anime con would get the anime joke and the video game jokes, but get most of the others through periphery. A comic book con would get most of the tone but miss a lot of references. A mixed con on this scale would have someone laughing at every point. And geeks get so little respect and attention, we love things that pander to us in the slightest way. My script went out of its way to not just bring up the things we love, but respect my characters. Just because they’re weird does not mean they’re inhuman. Just because they’re caricatures does not mean they’re stereotypes.
I ran into the right people, made the right friends, and with their help, we started making a movie I had never intended to make myself. I thought, “Maybe I could sell it. I’d still like it to go to Dragon*Con.” Since I was 8 or 9, I had wanted to be a film director/writer, but I had let the director part lapse over the years, and had to find my eyes again over the course of the year or so we filmed it. We had no money and at times I went to sleep and dreamed about the film. It consumed my life. I’ve held very little real jobs during the process, and was a bit of a burden on my friends. But I always was that. Now I was doing something they believed in, something we all believed may be our ticket to the lives we want, or at least slightly cooler ones.
Now we’re in the festival, and I couldn’t be more excited. I sent off the DVD today, and I’m working on making the one that will be for sale, as well as a Blu-ray edition. Life is getting stranger and cooler by the second. I’m trying not to wait for the other shoe to drop and just enjoy the ride.

random stuff

The Breakthrough Novel Award contest entry period is over. I got in with about 50,750 words with the title “Paved Paradise,” although that was just to avoid any legality whatsoever. The world is still called Underland the entire time. The story could definitely use some fleshing out, stuff could be set up earlier or brought up a lot more while we’re in the other scenes. It has a lot of room to be a massive book with loads of description and lots of time passing, Clive Barker long, but right now it’s about as short as you can be while still being a novel. But from what I hear, editors like wiggle room for their suggestions. I think this is the first one of my books to have a clear market, as well. Even if I don’t win, I’m likely to start sending it off to publishers right after. 
I am inching closer to having a finished product with regards to the movie. Still need sound cleaned up, still need a score, but I’ve done some of the shooting I needed, the last couple of shots should be easy, and I’ve got an inventive solution to the last missing bits.
Christina Aguilera should learn something from how amazing “Falling in Love Again” sounds. She won’t, however, because who’s going to buy The Spirit soundtrack, or accidentally download the song trying to get something else like I did?
I have watched the trailer for (500) Days of Summer about eleventy billion times. My life is one of a young bisexual girl who hangs out at coffee shops discussing the interpersonal lives of Saddle Creek artists.
Another vampire show will be premiering, this one on WB, from the Gossip Girl guy and one of the Smallville producers, based on yet another trashy teen vampire book series. The collective horrible may just add up to amazing. Here’s crossing the fingers.
Battlestar is taking too long to get to its ending. I think overall SciFi was right about holding the rubber band on the episodes — when you look at their ratings, they’ve gotten a spike — but was it worth it? The eps suffer from the waiting, in the long run. Expectations were ridiculously high, some of the surprises died due to too much conjecture, and the pacing is off (I keep waiting for every episode to be the last of the series, and when I get a regular episode I’m more bored than if I was experiencing this more as a middle of the season episode). I think it’s going to come off a lot better on DVD, watching this season Razor through the End in one chunk instead of spread all around like this.
Heroes wasn’t god awful. More on that as it develops.

Movie Criticism

Through no fault of their own, movie critics have a shelf life and eventually become horribly gnarled little cynics who are useless, because they hate movies. They can’t enjoy enjoyable films, they can only enjoy the most startlingly original works or the weirdest shit they can find…why? It’s really quite simple: Movie Critic should not be a job. One shouldn’t take something one likes and O.D. on it, and then tell people your opinions about the normal experience of said thing. Reading a movie critic’s opinion of a movie is like force-feeding a fat man mountains of every type and quality level of food for YEARS, and then asking him how his hamburger is. It’s awful. Of course it’s awful. You know how many hamburgers he’s eaten? You know how many ways there are to make hamburger? Like 5. He’s eaten like a million burgers, and eventually, they all just suck. Eventually, the only thing you can stand is “different” — the monkey brain patte in a light trouffle oil on a bed of llama cheese grits will be amazing, if only because it’s not a hamburger or pizza or a bag of chips. 

In other words, when you have to sit through every movie, movies are work, and you’re basically pissed when you have to watch a movie, and you’re waiting through all of them for one that doesn’t make you wish movies had never been invented. So why would I ask you if a movie is good or not? Of course you hate it, you’ve seen every movie remotely resembling it in style for the past eighteen years. It’s like asking a porn star if he’s enjoying the hand job. 
I’m a normal person. I still go to the movies because I feel like going to the movies, and I pay my money (I don’t get paid) to enjoy myself, and so I want to enjoy a movie when I walk in. I do some of the work for them — I suspend disbelief, I don’t walk in skeptical, I don’t walk in like I’m working, I don’t look for things to hate. I can tell you that Paul Blart is not worth seeing, but I can also say that I enjoyed the fuck out of Repo, because I wanted to see that movie. Movies don’t anger me. I don’t see a reason to put down shittons of films that aren’t made for people like you, or the people who read your criticisms, when you could be screaming from your makeshift internet mountaintop about how amazing a film you liked was.
I don’t wanna know how shitty a movie is. I want to know how good one is.
You wanna know how good a movie is? Don’t ask somebody who’s been critiquing for 20 years. Ask the guy who just saw his first movie after 20 years in jail.

Repo! the Genetic Opera

There’s a review I read awhile back that was reposted for the DVD market recently that upsets me to no end that I must address.

It amazes me how blind to themselves critics can be, although, when I think about it, I suppose that’s the main reason they aren’t simply writers. One has to be painfully honest, particulary to oneself about oneself. Critics do not appear self-aware, so much as self-deceitful, which only produces art that doesn’t know why it isn’t worthwhile, like Hitler’s dog. It looks like a dog, so he’s good at drawing. But who wants to see a drawing of a dog, Adolf?

Repo is not a good movie. It is not Slumdog Millionaire, it is not There Will Be Blood, it’s not even 28 Days Later or Boogie Nights. It’s an awesome movie, like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Big Trouble in Little China or Hudson Hawk or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s not meant for mass consumption; it’s meant for one specific audience to find and love the shit out of it, and I hope that it does.

I say critics aren’t self-aware, because they like to bring up Rocky Horror in their scathing reviews of Repo, saying it doesn’t even match up to the cult classic way of Rocky Horror, which is like saying “Repo doesn’t have a specific audience that a general audience knows about.” Repo has an audience, it just isn’t 30-something blog critics. It’s actually pretty obvious from the trailer, the soundtrack, the title, the cast, and the subject matter, all of which were available before entering the theater. This is for people who like wearing black. This is for people who like Buffy, specifically Once More, with Feeling. This is for people who love Jesus Christ Superstar even though they aren’t Christian. This is for Rocky Horror fans.

Rocky Horror Picture Show was a disaster when released. Critics panned it and people who walked in expecting something broad received something specific and walked out. Now that it’s a cult classic, critics, particularly younger ones, have it as a part of their movie-going background noise. Rocky has accumulated respect over the years, so now it isn’t horrible, because we were raised on it. But all those things can be said of Repo. I honestly believe there will be a generation brought up that will recognize Repo‘s orginality and postmodernism accurately. Cults are built over time, and if you don’t like the movie, then you’re not part of the club. That’s all I wanted you to get when you write a review. But people who aren’t allowed into clubs tend to get a little snippy when they talk about said club, even if it was a bunch of people they wouldn’t hang out with usually. I get that. Also, I get how no one wants to like a movie with the Hilton in it, and if you walk in with prejudice, it is very, very easy to hate this movie. But if you let it in, you will be loved by it.

Cult is just that — it doesn’t find you, you find it. But in return, you don’t have to get it. It gets you, it got you before you walked in, and is giving you what you want. Repo does that — it gives people who love WTF casting, musicals, Industrial music, and humorous horror movies with tons of fake blood exactly what they’ve been waiting for. And some who only like a couple of those things.

There have been many bad reviews, and you don’t need me to tell you that any critic who says the words, “Worst movie ever made,” doesn’t deserve his job, simply because it implies he did not see Plan 9 from Outer Space or Ishtar, or possibly thinks those movies were good and not in that awesome way. Plus, he actually thinks there’s a “worst movie ever made.”

Here’s what I don’t understand, and what is actually the patently stupid part of the review I was telling you about. Paraphrasing: Repo touts itself as daring and original, but all of its parts, all of them (he then lists “rock opera (Tommy), horror musical (Sweeney Todd), gory slash-fest (Dead Alive), killer surgeons (Dr. Giggles), even dystopian future (Blade Runner)” as examples) have been done before. Of course they have, jackass. But they haven’t been done together, asshole. I dare you to name a gorefest dystopian slasher metal opera with killer surgeons. Go on, I’ll wait.

You do understand that ideas don’t just come from thin air, right? Tell me you understand this. You do get that “originality” comes from combining pre-existing ideas, tropes, archetypes, plot elements, in ways that we haven’t seen before. Let’s go into a couple of these examples, shall we? dystopian future (1984), rebelling robots who may be developing human traits (any robot movie ever), film noir (Maltese Falcon). Does this mean that Blade Runner had been done before? No. No one had done a dystopian future noir with all the tropes of a Bogart movie (including the voice over which, despite Scott’s objections, reinforces the detective story by simply existing) and all of the tropes of a robot movie. Original. Samurai movies and space movies and movies about farmkids getting into adventures and The Odyssey and Lord of the Rings had all been done, but Star Wars was original because it was something we’d never seen before — all of those things put together.

I’m not saying Repo! the Genetic Opera is Star Wars. I’m saying it’s original. Too original to be easily digestible by anyone except the very specific audience it’s meant for, and too much a labor of love to be pissed on by people who don’t even understand where stories come from, much less how to tell them. Repo isn’t going to change your world, but if you’re someone who saw the trailer or heard the title or the cast and said, “I have to see that movie!”, it will make you feel like you’re not alone in your little, unchanged world. And in that way, your world will have changed, and in a more profoundly postmodern, “someone understands” sort of way than seeing another arthouse movie skip over its climax so that critics applaud the emperor’s new clothes.

new cheese

So, Westerworld is an alternate world in an independently published children’s series, and out of respect for the author (not fear of legal ramification), I’m changing the name to Underland, an Underworld/Wonderland pun.

It’s coming along nicely, if slowly. Two Rabbits and Allison are great foils for one another, and I’ve come up with some Gaimanish ideas already. Law of Ironies is an immeasurable source of material.

“I Was a Teen-age Prom Queen!” RealmsCon rough cut is online on Veoh.com on my Channel 23. It got a very good reaction at the Con, according to Matt and Des.

Suicide Solstice (or how I learned to stop loving myself and worry about the bomb)

It’s The Teen Age Waste Land, it’s pretty much finished. It’ll be here, and on Amazon.com when I’m done proofreading it. The same goes for The Divine Apathy.

Production on I Was a Teenage Prom Queen! (or: The Girl Who Ate Prom!) begins in the end of January. I’m dotting my fingers and crossing my eyes that the people I have surrounded myself with on this project are reliable and that I can get this done in a quick manner, in time for the next festival circuit.

I love you all, and remember, suicide rates are highest during the holiday season, but that’s because this is solstice, and you want to die and rise again three days later, like the sun does from the 23rd-25th or so, so just ignore those pesky messianic thoughts. You’re not that important.

Now playing: Envy on the Coast – Green Eyes Don’t Lie
via FoxyTunes