Archive for April, 2013

Cary Elwes Kisses O.J. – Final Day FFF 2013

April 29, 2013
Olga (O.J.) Gets an Unexpected Hug and Kiss From Cary Elwes

Olga (O.J.) Gets an Unexpected Hug and Kiss From Cary Elwes

[Editor’s Note:  Don’t miss the short video at the end of this post. It will make you smile! Part of the fun of the FFF is sharing the experience with your loved ones. Mrs. LanceAround and I love the movie, The Princess Bride. So when we heard that Cary Elwes, the star of the movie, was coming to the FFF on Sunday for a special 25th anniversary showing and brunch, we purchased tickets for everyone who works for us in our vacation rental home business (which turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds. You can read about it here.) It also happened to be O.J.’s birthday. We knew things in her life have been pretty rough lately, so I hatched a little scheme to make this birthday a memorable one. But here, let’s allow O.J. to tell it in her own words…]

It was my birthday–and these past few weeks have been filled with many ups and downs.

AnAwkardHug

An Awkward Hug

So nothing could have prepared me for the awesome experience I had this weekend.  As a birthday gift, LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround who own Florida Dream Homes (where I work)  gave me a ticket to have brunch with Cary Elwes at the Florida Film Festival.  It was my first time at the Enzian Theatre, and, of course,  the FFF.  I didn’t know what to expect.  There were a lot of people waiting in line to enter the theatre (as there should be considering that all the tickets to this show were sold out in under 30 minutes.) We got great seats with a good view of the stage and screen.

My favorite movie growing up was The Princess Bride.  If I  think of what true love should be it would be like what Westley and Buttercup had. I was nine years old when the movie came out and first saw it on VHS so seeing it on a bigger screen was really nice.  Funny, how I felt like I was a part of history in some way. It was also the 25th anniversary of the movie. I remember telling SunnyStefani that it felt funny to watch the movie with so many adults in a room.  It’s a movie I grew up watching and now pass on to my children. During the movie we got to order brunch. I had French Toast which was really good.

After the movie, Cary finally came out and took a seat on the stage to speak about his journey and to take questions from the audience. As one of the official bloggers for the FFF, LanceAround always asks a question.

I don’t remember what LanceAround was asking, I just remember hearing him say my name, “Olga.”

I was in shock and not sure what he was going to say next.  I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard him tell Cary Elwes that, for my birthday, all I wanted was a hug from Cary.

My Main Squeeze

My Main Squeeze

Cary’s response blew me away. He said, “Yea, it’s on, where is she?”

He got up from his chair in the middle of his Q & A session and started to walk towards where I was sitting in the audience. I was fighting with myself trying not to cry. I felt like I was going to faint. I got up, as nervous as I was, and walked towards him. I was trying to not keep my face covered, because I wanted to see where I was going so I didn’t fall on my face. Everybody in the auditorium was clapping.

Then, right there in front of me, Cary was standing with his arms wide open. It was the best hug ever. All I could hear was Cary wishing me a happy birthday. I kept saying, “Thank you, you are so cute.” Then he laid a nice big kiss on my left cheek and gave me another hug.  He also said “How about a picture?” It seemed like everyone in the auditorium was taking our picture. After all the flashes he shouted, “Let’s hear it for Olga!” and everyone was clapping for me. I wanted to die of happiness.

That was a moment and memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. That brief moment of happiness made up for all the ups and downs I’ve been having. Good things truly come to those who deserve it.  As Cary sat back down, I heard the moderator on the stage say, “A lot people are going to be jealous of Olga today.”

After the show Cary was signing autographs and taking pictures with all his fans. Of course, I was in line so he could sign my ticket to the show.  He greeted me with a warm smile, gave me ANOTHER hug, posed for more pictures and signed my ticket:

“To Olga, As you wish on your birthday.”

OJ, SunnyStefani, & NumberOneEmber with Cary

O.J., SunnyStefani, & NumberOneEmber with Cary

I have a younger brother who also grew up watching The Princess  Bride with me. When I told my brother that I was going to have brunch with Cary Elwes, he made me promise to say “As you wish” to him. So after Cary signed my ticket I told him of my promise and said it just like he did in the movie when he was pushed down the canyon by Buttercup. Cary was happy with it, thanked me, gave me his hand and said goodbye.  I must say Cary is as beautiful in person as he is on the screen. I was left on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

Best birthday ever!

And here’s a video of the whole thing:

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Best In Show – 2013 FFF Retrospective

April 27, 2013
The Best Movie of the Festival

The Best Movie of the 2013 Florida Film Festival

When you read our list of the best films of the 2013 FFF, there are a few things to keep in mind:

–Most importantly, we did not see every film! Time constraints only allowed us to get to less than half of the 170+ movies shown at the festival. This list is only the best of all the movies we did see.

–There is no comparison! How do you judge a 90 second experimental, short film as compared to a 90 minute feature narrative? How do you compare a documentary to a comedy? It’s impossible. So this picking the favorite becomes a simple matter of selecting the film that most touched us.

–Some people think LanceAround doesn’t have a clue! Yes, take everything I say with a grain of salt. Here’s a link to a post where, at the very end, one person will make a comment that says, in essence, I have no business reviewing movies! You may need to click on the comments tab at the bottom of the post to see his opinions.

–We all get something different out of each film! It’s not uncommon for Mrs. LanceAround, SunnyStefani, NumberOneEmber, NumberOneSon and I to all have different opinions on any film we see. Given that, how do we decide which film is the best? That’s easy. I pick it. (Well…it is my blog after all…)

With all that in mind, here’s the LanceAroundOrlando picks for the Best of the 2013 FFF.

Hysterical and Touching

Hysterical and Touching

BEST OVERALL MOVIE

Friend Request Pending
This creative short features fabulous acting by Judi Dench, a timely and hilarious script plus great production values. It’s just the right length and keeps you on the edge of your seat while simultaneously rolling in the aisles with laughter; the perfect comedy.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Well Edited and Very Funny

Well Edited and Very Funny

Backyard Jam
This film won the Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short. While the animation is rather simplistic, the script is hilarious and the precise editing really makes this film work. It’s the story of kids whose skateboards wind up in the neighbors yard–fiercely protected by his dog. Careful, there could be a trap!

Burglar Not Alone in Closet

Burglar Not Alone in Closet

Things You Don’t Joke About
Our runner up for Best in Show and the Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film, this little ditty was absolutely hysterical. Tells the tale of a burglar who gets caught during his last robbery attempt.

Does Love Feel Like This?

Does Love Feel Like This?

Head Over Heels
Winner of the Audience Award for Best International Short, this creative stop motion piece is the perfect allegory of the relationship between a man and his wife. The story is told without words, but the visuals leave an image that will stay with you for a long time.

Jeremy Workman of Magical Universe

Jeremy Workman-Magical Universe

Magical Universe
An incredible documentary that really moved Mrs. LanceAround and myself. A lonely artist spends almost all of his time creating artwork from the hundreds of Barbie Dolls he’s collected. Barbie is the perfect model because, after all, she never complains when you wake up at 3am with an idea for a new photo shoot. When a talented documentarian enters the artist’s life, things begin to change. Watching this change evolve like the pieces of a jigsaw coming together is poignant. The filmmaker, who is an accomplished editor, edits the movie in a way that is a homage to the artist’s work. While several filmgoers missed this point entirely, those who got it saw the underlying genius behind this movie.

BEST FOOD

Yummy!

Yummy!

Ethos Vegan Kitchen
Ethos brought samples of their delicious vegetarian foods and desserts to the opening night party. They were scrumptious.

BEST OF THE BEST

Cary Elwes
Wait, Cary is not a film. That’s true, but his presentation was so magnificent it deserves to be mentioned.

Sometimes the FFF will feature a famous guest and, after their talk, one realizes that they are very different from who you’d hope they would be in real life. Of course, it’s not fair to judge any actor based on what you see on the screen. But, really, some of them can be so disappointing.

Not so with Cary Elwes!

A Gentleman and an Actor

A Gentleman and an Actor

Cary turned out to be a real gentleman. He has a nice, easy going disposition. He speaks passionately about his movies. When he mentions other people, he speaks of them with grace, dignity and reverence.

One of the more touching moments in his talk was when an audience member pointed out that The Princess Bride had catapulted him to almost cult-like status and wondered how he felt about getting the kind of attention that comes with that. His response, “If they put ‘As You Wish’ on my tombstone, that would be fine with me!” was only topped by the last comment he made.

Someone from the audience asked him if he had any regrets, like “a role that you turned down or any…” Before she could finish her question, Cary responded forcefully yet politely and to the delight of the entire auditorium:

“I don’t live in regret.”

What a fabulous line!

BEST FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL MOMENT
Hands down, watching Cary Elwes give a hug and a kiss to Olga from Florida Dream Homes was the highlight of this year’s Florida Film Festival. That story, in its entirety, is coming up in the next post on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 10:15am EST. You absolutely want to read it. Guaranteed to make you smile and a great way to start your week! It even includes a video.

Don't Miss Our Next Post

Don’t Miss Our Next Post

Westley, the Dread Pirate Roberts vs. Saw’s Dr. Gordon – Day 10 FFF 201

April 25, 2013
NumberOneEmber Interviews Cary Elwes at the FFF

NumberOneEmber Interviews Cary Elwes at the FFF

The FFF was so close to the Easter Holiday (which is our busiest time at Florida Dream Homes) so I wasn’t as prepared this year as in the past. However, perusing the FFF website I came across a guest appearance from Cary Elwes, star of The Princess Bride. Although this movie is a classic and one of my favorites, it’s not the reason I’m so excited. It’s Cary Elwes, Dr. Gordon from the Saw movie series, and we all know my obsession with horror films. Of course at this point all the tickets have already been sold out. A little disappointed, I figured LanceAround would be able to snag a ticket or two . . . or eight! (See the description of how LanceAround managed this feat by clicking here!)

The Enzian Marquee

The Enzian Marquee

OJ and I arrive at the Enzian a hour before “A Brunch with Cary Elwes featuring The Princess Bride.” I had originally only planned on showing up a half hour before, but LanceAround said that wouldn’t nearly be early enough. When we arrived, I was shocked as to how many people were already standing in line. I was on the phone with Chris (my best friend in the entire world, additional post still to come) telling him how excited I was. He asked if people were dressed up. My response, “We’re not at a Star Trek convention!” We meet up with LanceAround and his family as everyone flocks into the theatre to find the best sets since it’s first come first serve. Somehow, we manage to score six seats together, in a very good section.

This is NOT a Star Trek Convention

This is NOT a Star Trek Convention

The Enzian has provided a special brunch menu for this show. LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround have offered to pay for everyone’s brunch, so we enjoy the French Toast, omelets, fruit & yogurt, bagels and other assorted foods. Although I was starving,  I’ve had better food at the Enzian.

The Princess Bride came out the year before I was born. I’ve seen it so I just assume everyone reading this has seen it as well. If not, I don’t know what your problem is. This movie is a classic and you should have seen it by now.

What I didn’t expect was how enjoyable it was to watch the movie in a room full of strangers who enjoy it as much as I do. And seeing it on the big screen is also a huge plus. Everyone in the theatre was really enjoying the film. They anticipated all the great lines and laughed long and loud at every joke.

Signing

Cary signs Autographs

The movie ends and it’s time for the Q & A session with Cary. I’m very antsy.  I know everyone is excited about watching The Princess Bride and celebrating the 25th anniversary with Cary, meanwhile I’m stoked I get to meet the famous Dr. Gordon of Saw.

Cary comes on stage and is welcomed by the sold out theatre with a standing ovation. There’s a moderator who introduces Cary and tells us that he was born in London. Questions from the audience, including LanceAround of course, pile in. I won’t tell you what LanceAround asked as his question was the highlight of the Q & A and OJ will write an entirely separate post on this. You won’t want to miss it!

Question: “Throughout your career you seem to play more hero type characters.”

Answer: “Comedies are more fun to make, you laugh your way through the role,” said Cary. “I take every role very serious and I try not to play the same role too often,” Cary continues to say. “I was drawn to comedy as a kid, it was a big influence for me.”

Cary Responds to Questions

Cary Responds to Questions

Question: “Do you ever still watch it (referring to The Princess Bride)?”

Answer: “I don’t really watch my movies much. I kind of have this thing . . . if I’m in it, I don’t need to watch it,” replies Cary. “The movie didn’t make that much money in the theatres. VHS is where the movie took off . . . it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Question: “This will probably be the role that you will be most associated with and remembered for. How do you feel about that?”

Answer: “Like I said, I’m blessed. If they put on my tombstone ‘As you wish’ I’m fine with that!” Audience breaks out into applause.

Question: “Do you have any regret stories, whether it was a role that you turned down or any regrets?”

Answer: (Cary answers quickly, before the questioner even stopped asking her question)  “I don’t live in regret.” At this point the audience explodes into applause.

After the Q & A, we follow the crowd outside. NumberOneEmber has gone ahead and is already standing in line for the meet and greet with Cary Elwes. It’s almost 90 degrees outside and the line is wrapped around the sidewalks. (Here’s a short video of Cary signing autographs with the Florida Dream Homes and LanceAroundOrlando Teams.)

All the hundreds of people inside at brunch are now waiting for a picture and autograph from the man in black, Dread Pirate Roberts. Luckily, we were well within the first twenty people in line so the wait wasn’t more than thirty minutes. Of course, after I made fun of my best friend Chris for asking if anyone was dressed up, there ends up being a woman dressed as “The Man in Black” standing in line.

Everyone Wanted to Meet Westley, But I Knew I was Meeting Dr. Gordon

Everyone Wanted to Meet Westley, But I Knew I was Meeting Dr. Gordon

The next thing I know, we’re up next! I’m with NumberOneEmber and OJ and we’re taking a group picture with Cary. He is so sweet, caring and spending time getting to know each and every one of us. We take individual pictures next and he signs our tickets and press passes. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet him and he was such a great sport. I know everyone had a great time and enjoyed themselves. It was definitely an amazing way to end the FFF. I look forward to what next year has to bring.

Cary Writes "As You Wish" on my Ticket and Press Badge

Cary Writes “As You Wish” on my Ticket and Press Badge

Cary Elwes – Day 10 FFF 2013

April 22, 2013
Red Alert...Red Alert...Red Alert...ALL TICKETS HAVE BEEN SOLD!

Red Alert…Red Alert…Red Alert…ALL TICKETS HAVE BEEN SOLD!

[Editor’s Note: At the end of this post is a short, seven minute video of Cary Elwes’ talk at the 2013 FFF.]

I am in a panic…

Cary Speaks at the 2013 FFF

Cary Speaks at the 2013 FFF

It’s several weeks before the FFF and as I look over the guests list for this year I notice that Cary Elwes is going to be in town for a special 25th anniversary showing of The Princess Bride. This is Mrs. LanceAround’s favorite movie. I have to make sure she can attend this event.

As an official blogger for the FFF, my press badge allows me into all movies, provided there are extra seats. The Platinum pass holders are let into the theatre first. After them goes the regular ticket holders. Then journalists with an official FFF press badge are allowed to take an empty seat. After that, any FFF volunteer can take a seat. However, for really big events, I know every seat in the theatre will be filled. So if I want to make sure I don’t miss an event I have to buy a ticket.

I go to the FFF website and click on the “purchase ticket” icon for “A Brunch With Cary Elwes Featuring The Princess Bride.” As I’m humming to myself and thinking how happy Mrs. LanceAround will be, I encounter the following message:

This event is now on stand-by. Since we must reserve an allotment of tickets for our VIP pass holders, we have a limited number of tickets available for general admission. Once those tickets have been sold, a program goes on stand-by until the day of the program.  On the day of the program, we will have a stand-by line at each venue.  15 minutes before the start of the program, we will do a seating assessment to determine if we have any additional tickets available to sell.  We will then sell them to the individuals in line until the venue has reached capacity. You can take your chances, or secure your spot at this unforgettable event with a Platinum Pass or a Movie Star Pass.

Panic!

What do I do?

I consider purchasing a Platinum Pass just so I can make sure we get into this event. Not a bad idea, after all the money supports our favorite film festival. In addition, for the rest of the festival I wouldn’t have to wait in the press line and I could get the best seat in the house.

No, I decide that the service I provide the FFF by working all day and night using my LanceAroundOrlando blog to get the word out about the festival is more than enough. Besides, I would feel uncomfortable being the first one into the theatre and getting a good seat while the people I just interviewed for the LanceAroundOrlando blog are standing at the back of a long line in the pouring rain.

Cary Greets FFF President Henry Maldonado

Cary Greets FFF President Henry Maldonado

The first thing I do is corner Henry Maldonado, president of the FFF. “Henry, I need your help. Can you pull some strings and get me a ticket to see Cary Elwes.” Henry puts his arm on my shoulder and gives me a sympathetic look with his trademark impish smile. “Sorry, LanceAround, I don’t think even I could get an extra ticket.” I love Henry even when he’s not exactly being totally honest with me. He goes on to tell me that the Cary Elwes event sold out in 30 minutes–the fastest in the history of the FFF.

I run into Matthew Curtis, the Programing Director. “Can you get me into the Cary Elwes brunch?” I ask while fluttering my eyes and trying to look desperate. Well, that technique might work when it’s done by Mrs. LanceAround, but Matthew just grunts that he does the programming and has nothing to do with ticket sales.

I consider putting an ad on Craigslist…bartering with a Platinum passholder…bribing the person working at the ticket counter…Wait a minute! None of these ideas sound like something LanceAround would do!

I know I’m getting desperate!

As Suspected, the Line was Long

As Suspected, the Line was Extremely Long

Finally I resign myself to the fact that I will simply have to show up to the theatre early and be first in the standby line…What’s early?…Let’s see, the program begins at 10:30am…The website says 15 minutes before the show, but I’ve seen the standby line for popular shows and they begin to get long AT LEAST one hour before the show…Perhaps if I came TWO HOURS before the show…But this is Mrs. LanceAround’s favorite movie, maybe I should line up THREE HOURS before the show, hmmm, that would be 7:30am. WHAT! 7:30am??? I’d have to leave my home at 6:30am…get up at 5:30am…No, that’s not going to work. Hmmm, maybe I should just camp out after the midnight showing Saturday night…But by the next morning I would probably smell bad, which might put off the people I try to interview for my blog…

I’m telling you, I spend several days agonizing over this.

Flash forward to April 9th. It’s now five days before Cary’s event. At 10:30am I get an email from the FFF–A LIMITED NUMBER OF TICKETS ARE BEING RELEASED FOR CARY ELWES AT NOON TODAY! I look at my watch. It’s now 11am and I’m getting ready to hop on my bicycle for the hour long ride to my office. I immediately call Mrs. LanceAround at the office. “Please have OJ and yourself on the computer at 11:50am ready to order tickets from the FFF website for the Cary Elwes event.”

I get on my bike and pedal hard. Dang, of course this is the day when there is a huge headwind. Normally when I pedal this hard it takes 35 minutes to get to my office. Today I pull in at 11:52am. As soon as I walk in the door I see OJ prepping some flyers and Mrs. LanceAround casually reading Headline News.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?,” I shout. “WHY AREN’T YOU ON THE FFF WEBSITE TRYING TO ORDER CARY ELWES TICKETS?”

The Theatre is Packed Full

The Theatre is Packed

Turns out they tried to order tickets on the website but it kept telling them they couldn’t. I leap into my office chair, login to my computer, encourage it to login faster (It doesn’t seem to help) and finally I get to the FFF website. It’s now 11:55am and the website message says that all tickets are sold out. But it looks like the old message.

I use three screens on my computer, so I open the FFF website on all three screens. For each one, in turn, I click on the “Purchase Tickets” link. From 11:55am to 12:02pm I get the same message–all sold out…

THEN…

I get a dropdown box, “How many tickets?” I have a choice of one to twelve. I click on six. It takes me to a credit card screen. Quickly I input all my information and click the button. Waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…ORDER CONFIRMED! It worked. I now have six tickets.

Wait a minute…what if NumberTwoSon wants to take a date? What if NumberOneEmber wants to bring a friend? I’d better get some extra tickets. I click on “purchase tickets”…ALL SOLD OUT. I do it again, rotating between my three screens. I must have clicked on the ticket button another 20 times until, once again, I see the message, “How many tickets?” This time the dropdown box only allows 1 or 2. I guess there’s only two tickets left! I click on the two, input Mrs. LanceAround’s credit card information (I don’t want there to be any confusion) and I hit the button. Waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…ORDER CONFIRMED again!

NumberOneEmber's Ticket and Press Pass Signed by Cary

NumberOneEmber’s Ticket and Press Pass Signed “As You Wish” by Cary

And that’s how I was able to take the entire Florida Dream Homes Team to see Cary Elwes at the 2013 Florida Film Festival. Later, Henry Maldonado will tell me that when they released the extra tickets they sold out in 20 seconds. I asked Henry how many extra tickets they released. “60.” Hmmm, I decided to not tell him that I had purchased over 13% of all the available tickets as soon as they were released!

So, how was Cary?

Well, below is a short Seven minute video of part of his presentation. In addition, SunnySetfani will provide her perspective of the event. Then, OJ will write a post and tell you what happened when she met Cary…Stay tuned, it’s a heartwarming story that you won’t want to miss. I promise! And I even have two more videos for you–one each for their blog posts…Enjoy…

British & Animated Shorts – Day 9 FFF 2013

April 16, 2013
The Funniest Movie of the Festival

The Funniest Movie of the Festival

British Shorts Now!
I don’t recall the FFF ever doing a separate selection for just British Shorts, but as soon as I saw the listing I knew I had to go. I love British humor and witticisms. Like most males my age, I was enthralled with Monty Python’s Flying Circus. For my father, it was Benny Hill. And to this day I believe the British versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Office and House of Cards are far superior to their American counterparts. I know it may be apocryphal, but rumor has it that when Dustin Hoffman worked with Lawrence Olivier, Dustin had a scene were he was supposed to be tired without any sleep so he spent days staying awake to prepare himself for the role at which point Sir Larry is reported to have said to him, “Have you ever tried acting, dear boy.”

Mrs. LanceAround and I are surprised and delighted to discover that the theatre is packed with barely an empty seat. It always comes as a shock to us that the FFF doesn’t sell out every single performance. In a large, metropolitan area where the arts are well celebrated and supported, one would think that the FFF would be a crowning jewel with an overwhelming draw. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very long and diverse festival with 1500 submissions, 10 days of movies, at least three full time movie venues and a small army of staff and volunteers that make it work. According to Jeremy Workman, a professional editor and filmmaker, the FFF has a stellar reputation in the indie film world as one of the best festivals in the world. Still, we often wonder why every show isn’t a sellout and whether or not something can be done to help spread the word.

Certainly that’s one thing the LanceAroundOrlando blog team attempts to do–spread the word about this magnificent festival and help make it even more popular than it already is.

Friend Request Pending
Absolutely hysterical short film about two women who use social media back and forth to try to impress a man and ask him out for a date. Problem is, they are a little unsure of how to use social media as it’s a somewhat new phenomenon for these two ladies who are, at least, well into their 60’s or 70’s. A delightful script with a brilliant performance by Judi Dench makes this film one you do not want to miss. Or, as they might say, be sure to poke a friend and invite them to see this movie. It’s filled with LOL. (That does mean “Lots of Love,” doesn’t it?)

82
Who’s the most knowledgeable person in any neighborhood community? Undoubtedly, it’s the postman. Just the envelopes on every letter he delivers gives him information about the person at that home. And what does he do with all this information? Watch this film for one possible scenario. It’s not uncommon for short films to suffer from a lack of good editing; too many scenes or too much information. This is not one of those films. Short, tight and just the right touch makes for a good story with an unexpected result.

I Am Tom Moody

I Am Tom Moody

I am Tom Moody
A brief stop motion film dealing with the desire to be onstage and a singer but first the need to overcome childhood fears. Cute little film done with passion and creativity. Good use of symbolism and flashback.

Mozzarella Inc.
Delightful inside look at the fresh mozzarella business in London; a difficult place to introduce fresh mozzarella as British pub patrons don’t have the same affection for this delight as the Italians who work daily to make it fresh, tasty and with just the right touch of whey. it’s an insightful documentary.

Storming Out
True to life story about the family dynamics when a young man comes out to his parents. Good script, good production values, very engaging movie.

The Pub
Creative black and white animation with a touch of surrealism that helps to deepen one’s understanding of the characters. It’s the kind of technique where the animation is done over top of the live action film. I’m not sure what the name of that technique is. But it allowed the filmmaker the freedom to create atmosphere and images that enhanced the subtext of the story. Well done and it held our attention.

The North London Book of the Dead

Mom?

Mom?

There’s something about the wry wit and understatedness of British humor that has always resonated with me. This short has it in droves. Mom dies, or does she? Why is she now living in a suburb of London that’s most known for how difficult it is to travel to it since there’s no tube? Why is she now volunteering at a local class for the recently departed? And why hasn’t she called her son? Or are we just hallucinating? After the movie, someone in the audience asked if she would go to that neighborhood if she died when she was travel ling to London. Or did I just imagine that and the movie is still going on? This one is original and fun.

Pitch Black Heist
Fabulous production values wonderfully shot in black and white with superb cinematography. It’s an engaging story about a heist that has to take place in pitch blackness because the alarm is light activated. Michael Fassbender’s performance is, as we’ve come to expect from him, extraordinary. Very engaging film. The sound editing during the scenes of pitch blackness keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Q & A British Shorts

Great insights From the Filmmakers

Great insights From the Filmmakers

Jake Lushington, director and Shelley Rubenstein, producer for The North London Book of the Dead along with Robert J. Francis, writer, producer and star of Storming Out, were available for questions after the movie.

Q: How long does it take to make a short film?

A: Very. Filming took four days, the whole process took two years answered jake, Robert said his was a stage play that was filmed over a weekend.

Q to Robert: It was very authentic, is there anything you want to tell us?

A: That’s what happened to me. It was my very own experience of coming out to my parents. My parents said the things that were said in the film; almost word for word. My mom was shocked and upset. My dad was more supportive but he said we’ll keep it to ourselves. As they watch the film now, they love the film. They think it’s fantastic. My mom says, “well, I apologize for those thoughts, opinions. At the time I was really ignorant. I didn’t understand. A lot comes from fear.” She was frightened of the unknown. She had no experience of homosexuality and had a complete misconception of what it was. I thought it was an important story to tell and I wanted to share it with other people. Everyone who is gay has, at some point in their life, come out and told people. No one has to come out as “straight.”

Q: In your opinions, why do British people do so much better at theatre than Americans:

A: I don’t know what you mean by that. I think there’s a very strong theatre tradition in London, but there’s a very strong tradition over here. I think the history of it is very strong. There’s a very strong history within the regions of what’s called regional rep which is often part of an actor’s first training. I think it has to do with training.

Q to Robert: How long ago did you come out. I thought the kind of reactions we saw on the film are from like 20 years ago. (groans from the audience indicate that the questioner might be a little out of touch with this question.)

A: That’s quite a common question and a common reaction. This happened 10 years ago, but you might be surprised to learn that scenarios like that are being played out all over the place. In England I can guarantee that something like this happened within the past year. People still have that fear, they still have that anger, they still have that resentment, especially when it’s in their own family. It’s OK if it’s someone elses family.

Q to Jake: Do you have any plans to make it into a feature.

A: I haven’t, but not because you couldn’t. But when I looked at it, the less is more. It fires the imagination. But if you showed it in a feature it might become repetitive and milk the concept.

Responses From the Audience
A young male begins to make his way to speak with the filmmakers along with an older woman who I assume is his mother. I stop him to ask his opinion of the shorts program: “I thought it was really good. Pitch Black Heist was my favorite”. “If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?” “I’m 14.” “How can I identify you in the blog?” “I’m Brandon Israel.” I now address the mother figure, “You OK with that?” “Yes.” back to Brandon, “What was it about the last film you liked the most.” “I thought it was really clever and I enjoyed the beginning, watching the training they went through. I liked how he played the man along making him think, ‘oh, you’re my friend,’ but he just used him as a decoy so he could get out.” “You are the youngest person I’ve interviewed at the festival this year. Kind of unusual to have someone so young here. Tell us a little about what’s attracted you to come here today.” “I have an interest in film. It started about the start of the eight grade after I came back home from camp. I made a horror film at camp.” “Camp?” “Yea, I went to a performing arts camp.  A lot of people liked my film. I started experimenting with just cameras I found around the house. I really liked it.” “What do you hope to be when you get older?” “I want to be a filmmaker when I grow up–a director and a writer.”

Sounds like this young man is off to a good start!

International Animated Shorts

One of the things that makes SunnyStefani and LanceAround such a good blogging team is they often have very different perspectives on the same event. So it’s not uncommon for them to give completely different reviews of the same movie. Today, they watched the International Animated Shorts Program together and, sometimes, provide polar opposite reviews of the same short. It’s almost as much fun as watching reruns of Siskel & Ebert.

LanceAround
International films often provide a breath of fresh air to the American theatre-goer. I find some commonality among international movies that you don’t often see in the America cinema. These include:

Environmental Concerns–Often international films will explore issues related to the environment whereas Americans often appear much less concerned about environmental issues.
Casualness About Sex and Nudity–Americans tend to get uptight regarding anything about sexuality and nudity. Many international projects don’t seem to give it a second thought.
Focus on Relationships With Other Countries–Perhaps it comes from having so many countries located so close to one another and sharing international borders. In our country, our borders only touch two other countries and, in my opinion, we seem very out of touch with how other countries think and feel.
Substance Over Form–I find many international movies to be very story driven with a depth of characters and a larger willingness to artistically experiment that is a far cry from the American love affair with the big budget action/adventure formula.

Today’s international animated shorts provided the usual amount of delights as our friends from other countries provided many films that were unique, experimental, thought provoking and just plain enjoyable.

SunnyStefani
All-in-all the international shorts were very risque and provocative compared to the US norm; some good, some bad, overall sexual. It’s always nice to see art forms from many perspectives; luckily for me, I don’t get offended easily.

TRAM

Tram

Tram

LanceAround
Sexually charged little short about a woman tram driver and how she found the “sexperience” (according to the closing credits) of driving a tram quite, uh, stimulating. Funny, well paced with great film and sound editing. But don’t bring your children to see this one.

SunnyStefani
This provocative short is about a female tram conductor that takes her daily routine and turns it into a sexual desire for her male passengers. Repetitive at times and a little longer than I think it needed to be, but who hasn’t thought about sex on a tram…

La Viande + L’Amour
LanceAround
What are we really but an assembly of flesh, blood and bones? In this very, very short film it brings that point forward in no uncertain terms.  Nice little experimental film, just the right length with a unique filming style that made it worthwhile. Mrs. LanceAround just corrected me saying it wasn’t raw meat, it was uncooked food. The meaning to her was the concept of love–carnal love–and how…whatever…this review has now gone on longer than the actual film.

SunnyStefani
A pile of flesh kissing face muscles really says it all. Creepy!

Head Over Heals
LanceAround

Upside Down Love?

Upside Down Love?

What a beautifully symbolic piece of stop motion that looks at relationships/marriage/men and women in a unique way. As I’m contemplating what to say about this movie, SunnyStefani leans over to Mrs. LanceAround and says, “That was so cute!” Perhaps that says it all. And, if I say anything else it might spoil the uniqueness of this film. You definitely want to see it. Mrs. LanceAround says it’s very tender.

SunnyStefani
I’m sure every husband and wife has thought about splitting up the house. In this case the husband has the ceiling and the wife has the floor. [Editor’s Note:  Well, so much for trying to protect the spoiler…LanceAround] What seems as a grumpy, worn out elderly couple really turns into a sentimental, cute and enduring film. Since I can’t give away the ending, click on the link below to watch it yourself. http://youtube.com/watch?v=n45Yij2hmM4.

663114
LanceAround

LA Loves SS Hates

LanceAround Loves
SunnyStefani Hates

A lone cicada emerges from a 66 year hiatus in an attempt to shed his shell and propagate the species. Beautiful animation. Unique in that one of the main features of the film was the incredible sound work that made one feel the walk of the cicada. It contained a surprise ending with a very important message about an issue near and dear to the hearts of the Japanese people. I liked this short so I will give you a YouTube link so you can enjoy it for yourself. (Though you might want to watch it before you read SunnyStefani’s review and she changes your mind)…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pdkQY9SReU

SunnyStefani
This weird and drawn out short was about a cicada who puts its life at risk every 66 years to mate. One of my least favorites by far. In fact, I was relieved when it was over and then it started back up with a second part…disappointing!

Topo Glassato Al Cioccolato
LanceAround
Black and white sketches of a surrealistic nature looking to explore the interconnectedness of various disparate elements. I had to look up the translation of the movie title and it means Frosted Chocolate Mouse. There was nothing I saw in the movie that was frosted, I also didn’t see anything chocolate and, while there were lots of birds, fish and even a bunny I never saw a mouse. Mrs. LanceAround (who has an advantage over me because she grew up in the 60’s and I didn’t) surmises that the filmmaker must have been on acid when they made this movie. Reviews of the film on YouTube also suggest that ingesting controlled substances prior to viewing would be an advantage.

SunnyStefani
Visually amazing drawings that would morph from one thing to another. A Rubik Cube into a childbirth; a guy getting shot in the hear and breaking open into a flock of birds flying, for example. I only wish I could draw so well.

Bendito Machine IV–Fuel The Machines
LanceAround

Beautiful Imagry

Beautiful Imagery

Beautifully animated little fable packed with tons of symbolic references from historical to futuristic societies. It traces the evolution of mankind as he travels through his own world and others; the good, the bad and the ugly. Somewhat surrealistic art. Very well done. The more I think about this short the more and more I like it. So I will post a link to this film for you: http://vimeo.com/44428210

SunnyStefani
This dark, shadowy film reminded me of a childhood book, Where the Wild Things Are. A hero sets out on a demon bike to a roller coaster which leads him to travel the sea by seahorse in a polluted, plastic bottle and oil infested water. From there into an x-ray scanner, a hot air balloon then rocket ship which ultimately leads him to an encounter with a baby alien. All of which left me puzzled as to what just happened.

Body Memory (Keha Malu)
LanceAround
What a fanciful animation this was–box full of humanoid creatures made out of strings struggles against something that’s pulling their strings. Then, another scene of a train that turns into a slithering snakelike, sluglike creature. Beautiful images evocative of coming to terms with the struggle against whatever it is that you’re made of.

SunnyStefani
This whole short was about string people in a box that can’t escape. Almost instantaneously I was reminded of the concentration camps during the Holocaust so I was put off a little. Not amazing, not horrible, just left me wondering.

Irish Folk Furniture
LanceAround

If Furniture Could Talk

If Furniture Could Talk

Ever hear the expression, “If walls could talk…?” Well, what if the old furniture in your Irish Folk Homeland could talk and tell the tales of what it was, how it was made, why it was created and how it was used by the people who used it. That would be worth restoring and, in the process of restoring, remembering, recounting and keeping the tales alive. A very touching film which explored that very adeptly with the use of old photos and stop motion filming.

SunnyStefani
Such a basic and simplistic film about refurbishing old forgotten Irish furniture.

Chambre 69
LanceAround
This one was a crowd pleaser using stop motion to explore the concept of…gosh… this one’s kind of hard to describe what it’s about. Look at the title, that’s a hint. There are also blowup sex dolls, that’s another hint. Just take a look.

SunnyStefani
A blowup doll in room 69 of a roadside motel makes for a fun night and an unexpected ending.

Benjamin’s Flowers
LanceAround
Fanciful tale about a man who escapes from his mundane life using erotic fantasies and his faithful companion often bringing him back to reality. Very well animated and fascinating to watch.

SunnyStefani
This sick and disturbing story distorts reality with fantasy.

Rabbid
LanceAround

Mixed Media

Mixed Media

Contains elements of live action with animals and a distorted sense of scale. Fun little experimental film.

SunnyStefani
A hyper bunny gets skinned, fur turned into yarn. Oddly dark yet still held my attention.

Gum
LanceAround
When you were younger, you were probably told to not swallow your gum. This very short film takes a look at dangers that occur if you should do that in a very over-the-top and dramatic way.

SunnyStefani
Based on a true story.

Oh Willy
LanceAround
Beautiful stop motion where all the characters, sets, props and background were made out of cloth, textiles, threads, material of some kind. Told the tale of someone who had lost their mother and traveled alone until they found a replacement. It was a valiant effort. The concept was very creative. It could have used some editing to make it a lot shorter and tighter. Basically it was a five minute film in a fifteen minute movie.

SunnyStefani
Ever wonder what happens at a nudist colony funeral? When Willy’s mother dies, he goes through a series of events that leaves him in the mountains with Big Foot. Both long and odd; an awkward way to end the shorts.

Audience Reaction to International Animated Shorts
We caught up with a few theatre goers after the shorts and here’s what the Hendersons, a married couple, had to say about this program:

Her: I liked a lot of them. I liked Folk Furniture. I liked the last one. I’m still trying to think about it. I liked Tram. And Head Over Heels I loved. It was just beautiful.

Him: For me it’s the story. I wasn’t sure about Oh Willy. She mentioned that it was a dream.

Her: Well, he was conflicted about where he belonged in a nudist colony. You know, he had to conform at some point. I think that whole whipping thing made him conform. Now that’s become this beast. He has to love himself. I know that’s kinda weird and out there, but I think that’s what’s going on. He has to make peace with that pain.

Him: I liked Rabbid.

Her: I even liked Body Memory. I don’t know about the string thing, except that you’re sometimes pulled and you can’t stop. I don’t know. I don’t know what the symbology is, except that they can’t do anything about their fate.

I Declare War
The other day, SunnyStefani wrote a positive review of the movie I Declare War. Then, two different people I encountered in the queue for The Birds mentioned I Declare War as one of their favorite films. Although Mrs. LanceAround and I were exhausted from having just watched 21 films, we decided to treat ourselves to something that was guaranteed to be a relaxing evening of enjoyment. We sat down to watch I Declare War and got up 94 minutes later literally shaking our heads and wondering what all the fuss was about. For me, this film was disjointed, slow moving, relatively one dimensional and, most of all, boring. Mrs. LanceAround wasn’t as negative about the film as I was.

Was I just too tired from a long day? Or too grouchy from a strenuous week of work and FFF coverage? Was it simply a matter of three people getting my expectations so high that the film was really okay but for me far below what I was led to believe? Or maybe Clint Durbin was correct when, in a comment he made on the blog the other day, he called me “myopic,” “contemptuous,” “borderline offensive” and someone who dismisses movies out of hand “without even making an effort.”

Whatever is going on with me, I certainly dismiss I Declare War. There was some nice acting and good production values. But, for me, story is paramount and this full length movie had enough story for about a 10 minute short.

Mud – Day 8 FFF 2013

April 15, 2013
Matthew McConaughey Stars in Mud

Matthew McConaughey Stars in Mud

This intense and emotional film is about two teenagers who venture off to explore an island off the Mississippi River. It is rumored to have a boat high up in the trees which was caused by a flood some years back. Mud, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a rough yet charming felon wanted for the murder of a man. He befriends the two teenagers, Ellis and Neckbone, to help him fix up the boat and secure a getaway with his one true love, Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon. “Ain’t that something’, a boat up in a tree. It’s a hell of a thing ain’t it,” says Mud.

This family, friendship based suspenseful film is a “good ole Americana,” said audience member Ted. There’s a lot of trash that flows down the river; you have to know what’s worth keeping and what’s worth getting rid of.

Matthew McConaughey put on a spectacular performance; I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s put up for an Oscar. Although the film could probably have been cut down removing some unnecessary subplots, it’s a must see; a true art form with great acting and directing.

Tippi Tells of Hitchcock Day 8 FFF 2013

April 13, 2013
Tippi Hedren Speaks of Difficult Times

Tippi Hedren Speaks of Difficult Times

At the 2013 Florida Film Festival, Tippi Hedren spoke during a Q & A after a screening of her 1963 classic Hitchcock film, The Birds. During her presentation, she spoke candidly about having to live under Alfred Hitchcock’s “obsession” of her. Here’s a transcript of what Tippi said just before I began rolling the following video. She was speaking of the HBO & BBC TV film The Girl which tells her story about the obsession …

Tippi: “That is, unfortunately,  a very true story. It is very true. I can’t tell you how it saddens me because it was a horrendous time for me. I don’t know how many of you women have been the object of someone’s obsession. But it takes your life away from you. I’m talking about the fact that Alfred Hitchcock became obsessed with me. It’s a horrible situation in which to be. Absolutely horrible. I was not the first one this had happened to…” (click on video below to see and hear the rest of Tippi’s story.)

After speaking of this, I asked Tippi this question: “I really appreciate the honesty and courage with which you talked about the obsession. Of course, that happened way back in the 60’s. I’m wondering what advice you’d have for women today if they feel like they’re in a similar situation .”

Tippi: “You mean about the obsession?”

LanceAround: “Yes.”

Tippi: “Well, you know, I had a very great gift that my parents gave me. They were really fine examples of being honest, being true, being strong. Know your values. Much of that came from my Lutheran upbringing. I found that those values have served me very, very well all my life. For anyone who is in a situation like I was, and it is at time overwhelming, I think I could write a book about getting out of situations–maybe I should–because it was at times absolutely horrendous. You know, there’s always a point where you just have to say, “Get me out!” and, you go! From then on you are free and it’s the best feeling in the world! That would be a very simplified reaction as to how to handle this kind of a situation. But no matter what, and I knew I was going to lose a lot. And I did! BUT, I walked out with my head held high and I’ve never regretted it. And the hell with it all, otherwise!

At this point, the entire audience in the Enzian Theatre where she was speaking broke out into spontaneous and thunderous applause.

Tippi Hedren Stars Day 8 FFF 2013

April 13, 2013
Tippi Hendren Shares About Her Career and Her Life

Tippi Hendren Shares About Her Career and Her Life

Today was a day filled with Tippi Hedren at the FFF. She appeared in the movie Free Sample, then again in her classic role in Hitchcock’s The Birds, after which she did a Q & A With the audience.

Free Samples

A Real FFF Sleeper

A Real FFF Sleeper

What an unexpected charmer. Frankly the description sounded a little inane–a young lady gets stuck handing out free samples of ice cream from a food truck all day. Perhaps I loved this movie because it exceeded my expectations so much.

The script was so witty and the performances so genuine this one turned out to be a real sleeper. Humorous, insightful and touching with an incredible cameo performance by Tippi Hedren.

Q & A With Director Jay Gammill
Q: How were you able to put together such a talented cast?

A: Very lucky, very, very lucky. This film began when I was in film school in USC and I met the screenwriter of the film. I knew we wanted to work together. At that time, Jesse Eisenberg was involved in another project with that director and it fell through. He read this script and said that he would do a small part in it. So that was the beginning of the snowball that became the cast. We knew we wanted Jess Weixler to play the lead and Jesse knew her and ran into her at an audition one day and said, “Hey I know these guys and they want you to be in their movie.” She read the script and she liked it and that’s what it comes down to. You can get people to play roles if they’re actually challenging. Jason Ritter was also someone who, if he said yes, we’d find a place for him. And he did! He also worked with Jess and Jesse before. Tippi was someone I wanted for the role. I didn’t think it would be possible. But she went for it. She really liked the script.

Q: How similar was the script at the end of the movie to what it was when you first started shooting?

A: We had some improvisation on set, not a lot, but some here and there. Some of the Jason Ritter scenes was just him riffing a little. Overall the script is what it is. We cut a few scenes and we moved some things around.

Q: What did you shoot on?

A: We shot on the Red One Camera with the MX chip and the Panavision lenses

At this point, Jay introduced a special guest star–Tippi Hedren came to the stage to answer questions

Q: Was that the first time you saw the film?

A: No it isn’t. I love this movie. I could see it over and over. I have the DVD and I watch it often. I really like it. I like all the actors. I think you’ve done a superb job on directing all of us, Jay. Just amazing. I hope that you will all see it again and again and pick it apart because it’s perfect. And tell your friends.

Q: There was an opportunity, perhaps, to play yourself in this movie with a little script adjustment. Was there ever any discussion of that.

A: No, I would never do that. I think the script as it was was absolutely perfect. I think that would have ruined my part.

A From Jay: There was never any consideration of that. I think it would have shifted the focus a little bit and made this world a little less “right.”

Q: Was the relationship with the woman what attracted you?

A: First of all, I thought the writing was absolutely brilliant. But I liked the fact that I was playing with a younger woman. There are decades of differences in the actual lives of the characters. My character totally emphasized with Jess Weixler’s character and put a little spin on looking at an older woman and her being able to remember all her romances. And that’s a fun thing to think about (audience laughs) and it’s fun living it, too. (Audience now laughs and applauds.)

Audience Comments While Waiting to See Tippi Hedren and The Birds
“This is a great damn Florida. It’s a beautiful afternoon and we’re looking to see great movies. We’re seeing The Birds. I wanted to scare my wife.” “And where’s your wife?” “She’s right here,” indicates woman behind him. LanceAround addresses the wife, “You have my condolences.” (At this, the group they are with all laugh.) Back to the man, “And how shall I identify you in the blog?” “Jason A.” Then to the woman, “And how shall I identify you?” Jason A’s wife, “Please don’t!” “Ah, so you don’t want to have any acknowledgement of the man to whom you are married, is that correct? Did I get that right? And you’re OK if I put that on the blog?” Jason A’s wife (laughing) “That’s fine.”

LanceAround, “You’re here to see the film? I assume so because you are standing in line. But you have a drink in your hand, so you might not be standing for long.” “Yea, it’s a Mint Julep. The festival is going great. I think this is film number 16 for me. It’s been awesome. I just came from the other film.” “Free Samples?” “Yea, Free Samples, it was great. We’re definitely looking forward to this.” “And how shall I identify you in the blog?” “Debra.” “Debra, the one with the tall glass that appeared to be relatively empty by this time.” (Debra laughs as she take another sip of her drink.)

“I try to do at least one movie every year and I chose this one,” says Roger.

“Any comments for the blog?” asks LanceAround to a patron standing in line. “I’m actually on a committee.” “Oh, which committee.” “International features.” “And which international feature was your favorite–Or are you allowed to have a favorite as a committee member?” “No, I think you’re allowed to. I Declare War.” “What did you like most about it?” “It just reminded me of childhood. Playing outside. It doesn’t seem like people play outside anymore.” “As a member of a committee, how many films did you have to watch, approximately?” “That is a good question. I watched less this year than when I was on the Docs committee when we watched, like, 300. It might have been 100 this year.” His female companion chimes in, “It might have been more than that.” “What was the criteria that you would use in your mind to help choose between films.” “Something with interesting characters. I really like to focus on characters. I Declare War had really interesting characters just because they’re all kids going through something and it just worked really well.” “And how shall I identify you on the blog?” “You can just say Mike.” “Mike it is!”

“Tell me why you’re here to see this film.” “I absolutely love Alfred Hitchcock. I love his movies. And I remember when I was pretty young seeing The Birds and being scared to death.” Mrs. LanceAround chimes in, “Ditto.” “I really wanted to meet, at least see, Tippi Hedren in person.” “And when you say ‘pretty young’ you were about how old?” “I think I was about 10.” “And you’re older than that now?” “I am, well, a little bit!” (Everyone in her group laughs.) “And which Hitchcock is your favorite?” “I don’t know if I can narrow it down. I really liked Dial M For Murder.” “That’s my favorite one, too. And how shall I identify you in the blog?” “My name’s Elaine.” “And how do you spell that?” “E-l-a-i-n-e.”

“Any comments for the FFF blog?” “I’ve enjoyed it.” “How many films have you been to?” “four.” “Which was your favorite.” “I Declare War.” “You’re the second person who said that. What did you like about it?” “As a male growing up we used to play war.” “That’s exactly what the other person said. It’s amazing. How shall I identify you in the blog?” “The newcomer to Orlando.” “How long have you been here?” “A couple months.” “And where are you from?” “Portland, OR.” “Portland? Could you have picked a farther place to go in the US?” “No, 3005 miles.” “3005–did you walk it?” “No, my son drove my car.”

The Birds and Tippi Hedren

Tippi

Tippi

With that last comment, the long lined filed into a jammed Enzian Theatre to enjoy The Birds and have a Q & A afterwards with Tippi Hedren. As for the movie, it’s such a popular classic that I can’t add much to it’s legacy; except to say this: There is something very special about watching a classic film on the big screen with an audience that truly loves film. During the movie, Mrs. LanceAround would lean over and whisper into my ear, “This group really knows how to appreciate a movie.”

Yes they do, dear. Yes they do.

When the movie ended, Tippi was introduced to a thunderous standing ovation. Rather than tell you what she said, just click on the link below to hear her in her own words…

I Declare War – Day 7 FFF 2013

April 13, 2013
General PK in I Declare War

General PK in I Declare War

This childhood war based game, I Declare War, consists of Generals and their teams in a combat like make-believe battle of capture the flag. A neighborhood group of friends use real guns and dodge grenades whizzing past them, at least in their imagination. In reality, they’re using grenade launches made from branches and air riffles.

IDeclareWarOne evening, the game takes a serious tone as the battle to win overcomes one of the boys, Skinner. The kids would torture and beat each other up; they even set someone on fire. This intense and suspenseful film pushes friendship to its limits as it blurs reality with fantasy.

I was amazed with the acting of the cast as they were all younger pre-teens. It was also very well scripted and the special effects were much better than I was expecting. Jess, the only female in the war, tried to out smart everyone by using strategy like when she plays chess. Although it was all children in the film, they had a very pre-teen mouth making comments like, “Sorry about the asshole thing.” “When did you call me an asshole?” “I didn’t but I was thinking it.”

This was my first film that did not have a Q & A session afterwards which is always depressing. However, I talked to moviegoer Mike from Orlando after the film who has seen numerous films at this years festival thus far. “I really like it; the different twist on childhood games,” said Mike. He continued to talk about specific parts of the film which I’ll leave out as to not spoil it for everyone but ended with “friendship is hard to come by.”

Unlike this film, true friends can stab you in the front.

Best Feature Documentary Day 7 FFF 2013

April 12, 2013
Mrs. LanceAround Chats With Jeremy at the Fountain Outside Enzian Theatre

Mrs. LanceAround Chats With Jeremy at the Enzian Theatre Fountain

For the hour long ride home from the FFF tonight I go over and over in my mind how I’m going to write about the documentary Mrs. LanceAround and I just saw.

Incredible…Tear jerker…Touching…Realistic…Emotional…Raw

None of the normal adjectives seem to find the right chord. In fact, it was a pretty straightforward, relatively simplistic film about a man–and a documentarian–that tells the story of the man’s compulsive need to create works of art and write collections of philosophical thoughts and fantastical dream-like worlds and store them in every single room of his home.

And yet, something about this film so touched Mrs. LanceAround and I that we almost find ourselves at a loss for words. This movie affected us.

But, alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let me tell you about the preceding documentary.

Mr. Christmas

Lighting Up Christmas

Lighting Up Christmas

The afternoon began with a short documentary entitled Mr. Christmas. It’s about an older gentleman in Concord, CA, Bruce Mertz,  who has been putting up more and more Christmas lights at his home for the past several decades. Ironically, Bruce grew up on a farm in South Dakota with no electricity. In fact, the first time he had electricity was when he left home to study electrical engineering. He has wired his entire home with timers, switch boxes, loud speakers and homemade lights that put on quite a show every year from the day before Thanksgiving until January 2nd. He wears a specially made jacket and baseball cap that is also wired for lights.

It was a very well made documentary about a tender man with a big heart and a creative spirit. Simply a joy to watch!

MagicalUniverseBannerMagical Universe
As good as the short film was, up next was the main event.

It is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. The documentarian took the unusual step of making himself part of the movie. In doing so, he created a bond with his subject that was as much a part of the movie as the main subject himself. The title is Magical Universe.

Albert at Work

Albert at Work

In 2000, Jeremy Workman, an accomplished film editor and filmmaker, was on vacation in Maine. A friend called and asked him to stop by the home of an elderly artist to shoot some video. The friend was writing a newspaper article about the artist. Jeremy and his girlfriend discovered Albert Nickerson Carbee (rhymes with Barbie–which is significant.) Albert has lived alone in his large house ever since his wife passed away.

Al was born and raised in Portland and Saco, ME where he lived when Jeremy met him. He studied art at the Portland School of Art (Now the Maine College of Art) and at his uncle’s Scott Carbee School of Art. After a stint in WWII, Al worked as a commercial artist, mural painter, photo-editor, portrait artist, GoKart Salesman and Photomat employee.

But his passion was creating art. And create it he did–for years. Most of his artwork consisted of photographs and collage art. Almost all of it featured part of his collection of hundreds and hundreds of Barbie Dolls. Al claimed that the best part of having a Barbie Doll as your model is that they never complained, even if you got up at 3am with an idea for a new photo shoot.

In addition to the artwork, Al constantly journaled about fantastical ideas he had such as new planets where everyone only said positive things. After Jeremy’s first meeting with Al when he took the video for his friend, Al would write letters and letters to Jeremy; probably over 1000 of them. Most of them contained long and rambling pieces of information, original artwork, collages–sometimes several sheets of paper were taped together creating a massive school of thoughts and ideas.

Albert Carbee Collage

Albert Carbee Collage

As this documentary progressed and the audience got to know Al, it became clear that this man was special. At first glance you think this is just an eccentric old man. But as the movie progresses you realize there is a great soul there. Yes he was kind of strange, he hoarded all his photos and artwork, he was a bit of a recluse and his ideas were somewhat disjointed and weird. But he was also, obviously, very tender and sincere. It was difficult, at times, to understand his thoughts. But as you watched him go from Barbie display to Barbie display and talk about each one, it became clear that he had an artistic eye, a good sense of composition and, somewhere in his mind, a concept he wanted to explore or express even if he couldn’t communicate it articulately.

Several times during the film he would say that he was creative–and that a creative person had to keep on creating. So that’s what he did…all day and all night…filling his home with his creativity and his personality.

As the documentary continued, unexpected things would happen for Al. He accepted them as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that were meant to come together.

To see just how that puzzle came together, you have to see this film. And Mrs. LanceAround and I mean that. You HAVE to see this film.

Q & A With Director Jeremy Workman

Jeremy During the Q&A

Jeremy During the Q&A

After the film, Jeremy took questions from the audience.

Q: At what point did it transition from “who is this?” to an appreciation of this man?

A: If you look at the movie, it represents a 10 year relationship. Like the movie, at first it was, “What the heck is going on.” It took three years, four years before it started softening.

Q: Did you look for the cave under the home?

A: I did. The man next door claimed he had been in the cave and I begged him to go on camera. I looked for it. I heard other people talk about it. I never found it.

Q: This film reminded me of two movies, Broadcast News and Adaptation, the reason is…

A: I can see Adaptation, but I don’t get Broadcast News

Q: Because a big part of that story had to do with “The Story” and “The Reporter” and whether or not it was okay for the reporter to put himself into the story. And, of course, Charlie Kaufman totally wrote himself into the movie for Adaptation. Other than Michael Moore, there aren’t a lot of documentarians who write themselves into the story. Can you tell us about why you made that choice? Do you do that often in your films? Tell us about the creative process that made you make yourself part of the story.

A: Great, I appreciate that question because people have been asking me that a lot. I’ve done other films and I’m working on films now. This is the first time I ever DARED put myself into. This is the first time I ever DARED even to narrate my film. The story of Al became so intertwined to my relationship with him and it became so much through the prism of me that I felt I was so hung up on, I can’t tell this story without putting myself into it. It was such a bond for me. Until I sort of accepted that I had trouble pursuing the filming. But, you know, besides Michael Moore there’s a lot of other filmmakers who don’t get a lot of recognition who put themselves in their films. One of my favorites is a filmmaker named Alan Berliner whose films sometimes pop up on PBS. He does some really interesting movies that might be the closest thing where he kind of puts himself in, he does narration, say about a quirky subject. He’s not the only one. Ross McElwee from Sherman’s March and there’s some experimental filmmakers that do put themselves into their films though it’s not necessarily mainstream. I thought that was the way to tell this story.

Q: I just thought the outfits were gorgeous and I know that Barbies don’t come in those outfits. I was wondering if he made them or did he have someone make them.

A: He made a lot of them. He has some that he got from older Barbies that are no longer around. He would sort of put them and change them. What he did a lot is he would take some existing stuff and he would cut it and dye it and change it and put it back and that kind of put his stamp on it. Sometimes he was adding cutesy stuff like sparkles and things like that. One of his inspirations was magazine art from the 50s. That was a big inspiration for Al. Beautiful women, beautiful clothes lots of stuff from the 50s.

Q: I found the way he viewed his life and the universe was more fascinating than his art itself. What impressed you the most?

A: Yea, that is a good question. His worldview was very much what I was trying to capture with the story. He was a guy who thought everything was for a reason. When I walked through his door, he thought there was a reason for that. Everything for him was connected. The universe, the magic of how the universe comes together and it will come together like a jigsaw puzzle. There was a reason that I knocked on his door that would maybe not materialize for a decade, but it was going to materialize. I loved the art, but I quickly saw there was a lot more to him than just the art, there was this very interesting world view and kinda hard to pin down and put your finger on him.

Responses From the Audience
Outside the theatre, several patrons stopped to express their opinion.

Harriet: I loved it. It was very surprising I heard some negative comments about it earlier, but I really enjoyed it.

Sybil: I thought it was a very inspirational film you can create with no money. Some of that artwork was unbelievably beautiful and who knew, just from a photograph of a Barbie Doll. It was a really good film. I almost was not going to see it and I’m really glad I came to see it. It turned out to be amazing.

Kate: I know a lot of people didn’t quite care for the movie and I don’t think those people understand that he’s a film editor. He’s an editor. He does trailers and everything else. He’s a very good editor. But I think the whole film itself, the reason people don’t like it is that they don’t realize it’s an homage to the artist himself and the way that he does it. The way he pieces it together. Little bits of everything–it’s a collage itself. I don’t think they realize it. The more times you watch it, this is the third time I’ve seen it. Each time I pick up more and more and that’s why I made that association. The second time I’m like, I get it now. The people who loved it l-o-o-o-o-v-v-e-e-d it!

Christopher: I loved the look of this film. It’s not pretty. It’s kind of rough edged. It’s real. I loved it. I think it’s fantastic. I love personal docs. I think it’s bold. It’s daring.

Private Interview With Documentarian Jeremy Workman

Jeremy Chats With The LanceArounds

Jeremy and Mrs. LanceAround

Outside the theatre, Mrs. LanceAround and I caught up with Jeremy. He graciously allowed us an interview herein transcribed:

LA: So is this the World Premier?

JW: It is.

LA: Tell us about yourself and your history.

JW: I’ve been making films for a long time and different kinds of documentaries; all different kinds but many of them about sort of obsessive personalities. I have kind of a demanding industry day job in that I edit movie trailers for indie movies.

LA: And you own the company?

JW: I do.

LA: How many editors do you have?

JW: I have around five and I’m the creative director as well. My background is actually in editing. I edited a number of fairly big Hollywood trailers and then I sort of left that world to do trailers for indies.

LA: Let’s go back a little further, how did you get involved in the film industry at all?

JW: I grew up in LA. My father’s a filmmaker. He’s a documentary filmmaker. He exposed me to a lot of really cool stuff. I started do stuff for him. I started helping him edit. I started going on shoots with him. I saw that world. Then I always knew I’d be going into film. Even when I went to college I didn’t feel a need to go to film school. I was already making films. I studied English, but I was making films all the time on the side, usually on my own.

LA: You went right from high school to college.

JW: Yea.

LA: Which college?

JW: I went to Columbia University.

LA: Wow, so you’ve got some game.

JW: I was an English major and I graduated in three years.

LA: Wow, you’ve got a lot of game. So when you were in Columbia, would you make films there about things going on around the campus?

JW: Yea, I was always making films. I made a film right out of college that I started when I was a junior in college and that ended up being on PBS that was a documentary on the filmmaker Henry Jaglom. I sorta did that while I was in college. I was making films all the time and also just writing and what not.

LA: Then from college did you get right into the editing business or did you start in the film business…I mean as a filmmaker?

JW: I was given a rare opportunity to edit trailers for Hollywood movies. I joined a trailer company and I edited the trailers for Life is Beautiful, Shakespeare in Love a number of big movies in the 90s. I was 25/26 I was very young…

LA: Orson Welles-ian

JW: Well, I wouldn’t say that. That’s going a little too far. I was very young and I was editing these big Hollywood trailers. Eventually I got burned out of that. That’s when I started doing my own thing and doing movies on the side.

LA: I’ve always thought that editing trailers is almost more of an art form than editing the actual movies.

JW: I’m not saying if I agree with them or not…but the trailer editors view themselves as the most elite editors, the Navy Seals of editing, that it is the highest level of editing is trailer editing. Again, I’m not claiming that, but I know many trailer editors that feel that and many people that support that.

LA: I would agree with that. It’s a phenomenal job. You’ve got 90 seconds or however long to convince someone to see this film without revealing any spoilers but show enough of the film to get people interested. I think it’s hugely difficult…

JW: Yea, you also need to tell the story, really define characters in a short time. But now my trailer work is different because I don’t do Hollywood anymore. I only do indie movies. But in the last couple years I’ve did the trailers to a lot of the films that won, like, Best Foreign Film. I did the trailer for Separation, Amour, The Secret in Their Eyes and a number of big documentaries.

LA: So you’re saying if I’m watching TV at nine O’clock at night and a trailer comes on for Amour, that was your work?

JW: Yes.

LA: Extrapolate on the statement, “I don’t do Hollywood anymore, I do independent,” and all that means.

JW: I really got burned out doing Hollywood trailers. It was really very difficult and it’s really just a situation where you’re cranking out trailers, you’re cranking out versions and there’s a lot of extra curricular stuff like focus grouping and testing…

LA: For the trailers…

JW: Yes, a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Very sort of challenging work…

LA:  All the things that filmmakers say they hate about Hollywood…

JW: Yea, exactly,  and I had sort of come up through the fire on that. I was doing trailers for Harvey Weinstein and Miramax in their heyday. It was definitely extremely difficult and it just kind of burnt me out and it made me forget why I like editing in the first place. I love editing. I love what editing can do.  Just in terms of talking about my movie here. With bad editing that would be just a mess of a home video movie. But with good editing you can sculpt it into something that’s kind of a neat movie. I love the power of editing. After doing a lot of Hollywood movies I’ve given that up a little bit so that’s when I went and starting doing indie movies. And now we only do indie movies. And with indie movies it’s a lot more interesting for me as an editor. I have much more authorship in terms of how I edit those trailers. My expertise is valued more.

LA: Tell me about the financial end of this business. When a filmmaker chooses to make a documentary like this or a short film, is there ever any money at the end of the rainbow.

JW: Most of the documentaries played at this festival will find a home. Will sell…

LA: When you say sell, sell to whom?

JW: Either to broadcast or they’ll sell to distributors. They’ll most likely get on Netflix. There’s now all these different venues for these movies: Amazon Instant, Hulu, direct sales…There’s a number of ways these movies can get out. A lot of them will get some money out of it. Not all. I think that a lot of people who are making film festival films are in it for the art and they’re not necessarily trying to sell it.

LA: Now, when a filmmaker sells a film to a distributor is that the end of the game as far as they got that money and that’s it or do they get paid every time it shows?

JW: It depends on the deal. A lot of the time it’s like a car. You’ve got this car and you’re carving up chunks of the car and you’re stripping it down and selling pieces. And there’s a lot of pieces. There’s domestic distribution, there’s TV, there’s video on demand, there’s foreign sales. It depends on the movie and the deal. It’s what they call the waterfall of money flows. There are scenarios where you get paid every time someone watches it. Every time it sells on iTunes you get a dime or whatever it is.

LA: How is it FFF became the world premier for this movie?

JW: There were a couple of festivals vying for it. I wanted it to be a festival that had a lot of quality, integrity, intimacy. It’s a strange, quirky offbeat movie. I didn’t necessarily want it to be a movie that would play at a giant festival  and just be like not really received. I was always angling for a smaller festival that would fit it right. Florida has a glowing reputation. You might not know it living down here in Florida, but outside, especially in the independent film industry FFF has a glowing reputation for quality, integrity, intimacy and all that. When I was offered the opportunity to show here it made a lot of sense for me.

LA: What else would you like for my readers to know?

JW: They could check out the trailer for the movie. They could go onto the website www.MagicalUniverseFilm.com. Maybe there’s a link to that…

LA: Did you edit the trailer?

JW: I did, of course I did. In the trailer I played up the strange, weird sickness a lot. I felt like that was the best way to go on the trailer to get people interested in looking at this weird guy with this weird story about Barbie Dolls and played down the personal side of it. So I’ll probably do a second trailer that plays up the relationship side of the movie as well.