Indie Film Theatre Promotion

August 30, 2001 - Death Faces intro at Deja-Brew

One of the last things I needed to shoot was the goofy intro to the "Death Faces" tape that Todd (John Horrigan's character) was showing at the first Amanda party sequence. (Filmed on September 2, 2000) This was supposed to be a take-off of the ridiculous intro to the real video called "Faces Of Death". In that, the narrator guy of the video does this spiel about how death has always been his obsession, while standing in some badly lit room that's supposed to be a morticians office. I was going to mimic it as closely as possibly, but I couldn't bring myself to light the scene in such an amateurish manner...and no one would believe that anyone could deliver dialogue so poorly.

I had asked Andy Ihnatko if he'd like to be THE GUY. Never have seen him act, didn't know if he could act..but he got the job. Couple of reasons why I went with him. Andy is very intelligent (professional writers tend to be at least literate...and Andy was clever and literate). I felt that he got the gist of what I was trying to do. (Pompous presenter who has way too much self-worth.) I could also exploit Andy's notoriety within the Macintosh community. The film is filled with computers and computer references..and the guy who looks like he would have the least to do with computers (in the film) is one of the most famous personalities within the Macintosh community!

I then needed a location. I wanted to shoot this in some place that looks like a morgue. In fact, a morgue would've been perfect (even though I've never seen a real one...I'm assuming they look like the ones in the movies.) Therese and I started calling a couple of places locally and got no where. The few morgues that exist are at major hospitals, major hospitals want to know WHY you want to talk to people in the morgue. People who run hospitals don't have a big sense of humor when it comes to things relating to death. We tried contacting some funeral homes. They have even a less cheery outlook on the subject, since we would have to film at their place of business, and they have to take death way too seriously for their cliental. We tracked down the one school that teaches mortuary science in Boston. I imagined they must have young students playing with body parts when no one is looking. (I know *I* could think of all sorts of funny things to do with body parts if left to my own devices.) No go, some person starting quoting all sorts of rules and regulations on filming anything dead, or even near someone who is dead, even though I had no intentions on filming an actual cadaver.

During this time, Jim Barron had been whipping up vats of beer for himself at Deja-Brew in Shrewsbury, MA. Deja-Brew is one of those self-brew places where they supply all the necessary stuff for you to crank out a keg of beer of your own choice. He noticed that they had a large metal table (for bottling beer) that looked like something you might find in a morgue to do autopsy's on. We asked the owner Ray Schavone, if he'd be interested in having us turn his brewery into a morgue. He was all for it! They had a sink near this "autopsy" table and everything. I just had to cover the large Three Stooges poster (of the Stooges holding beers) with something that looked medical. We scanned a couple of things out of Greys anatomy, printed them up large and stuck 'em on the walls. Vola...one morgue!

The last thing I needed was some kind of apron (with fake blood on it) and a jar with some kind of internal organ in it. In the original "Death Faces" video, the stupid presenter holds up a specimen jar and makes a comment about how when this organ ceases to function, death occurs..yada yada yada. I found this butcher shop where the owner had sold me one of their aprons/lab coats and a cow's liver for 20 bucks.

Andy worked out great for this sequence. He came up with some over-blown dialogue for his character "Dr. Frank Osirin" We even got the owner Ray to play the role of the corpse on the table. That's his feet sticking into the frame. I shot this sequence with my BetaSP rig. I noticed that I was getting an error message when I started recording (which usually means a head clog), but I didn't see anything in the playback within the B&W viewfinder. Once I got home, I found out that the heads were clogged enough just so that I would lose the color information. Oh well, I guess the sequence will be in B&W. I can't believe how much work and effort went into pulling this stupid little sequence off, just for a lousy 25 seconds of screen time.

During this time John and I have been going crazy getting the rest of the graphics done for the showing at the Coolidge Corner on September 8th. It's still amazing how much work we've done just to have these quick, insert shots ready. In one sequence, I needed to create this fake smut video cover that John Horrigan was supposed to be working on. It was going to be called "Boobs Galore", but realized that I didn't have any good shots of any sexy women with their tops off. (That either John or I shot ourselves...I guess we just never got around to these types things.) John had a friend who got into stripping, so he had done a shoot where she wore all this lingerie for her "body shots". The tape was now called "Leg Obsession".

September 8, 2001 - Coolidge Corner screening

After going crazy for the past month, John and I finally got a final cut together with almost all the elements we needed to include to finish this puppy. We were working up till midnight the night before getting everything together. Earlier in the week I had started to bump up the resolution of the video on my Media 100. The larger the video files you make, the more likely you will have problems on getting everything to playback smoothly. (at least on my older Nubus Media 100 system) This is what started happening. Some scenes had almost 8 tracks of audio that had to play in time to the new higher resolution video. It couldn't handle it, I started to get skipping frames all over the place. I had to do a bunch of mix downs of many of the audio tracks to get everything to play back fine. The last thing we added was the closing slide show credits that John was pounding away the day before.

The screening at the Coolidge Corner was scheduled for 3 pm. I got there around 12:30 to hook up my BetaSP deck and run some tests. (Their BetaSP deck was being fixed, I thing I saved $75 by using my own deck.) It looked really nice once we had it up and running. The audio was incredibly clean and in my face and with a much bigger bottom than I had expected. (I had never mixed the soundtrack at that volume or EQ...you could hear EVERYTHING.)

The plan was for Dan to show up at 1 pm so we could find a restaurant locally so we all could have a place to go afterwards. While waiting for Dan, I had gone into the theatre that was showing "Apocalypse Now Redux". I nearly shit my pants when I saw the color popping off the screen, compared to what I saw on my video projected image next door. Then I realized that I was looking at a real Technicolor print and you won't normally find this projected anywhere. (They stopped using the process year ago due to the cost.) Dan finally showed up and we scouted around a bunch of local joints and threaten them with our entourage of 45 unexpected guests.

I had a guest list of 45 people (I was determined to fill EVERY seat for my $150) and we just about had it packed. (A couple of people had bagged out on us.) Dan and I gave a little speech before hand and then started the show. About half of the audience were cast members who have seen most of it in one form or another. The other half were mothers, wives and musicians (who had their songs in the film) who had not seen any of it.

Damn, I don't think I could've had a better reception! I got big laughs through out. The audience was almost too enthusiastic near the beginning because they were practically laughing at every little gesture anyone did. (I knew the first few scenes weren't THAT funny.) I got applause right after the intro/title sequence when Johns computer crashes and it goes to black. No one had seen any of the computer animations that John and I had been pounding away for the past few months and boy they seemed to work. The first big reaction came with the "Up the Skirt" cam scene. It seems no one was expecting it and I got gasps. (For the past year I've been showing it without what they were looking at, and most people were just scratching their heads on what I was trying to do.) All the women did the big "aaaaahh" when they first saw my Shih-Tzu dog Mei-Li. (HA! They fell for my pat, easy manipulation.) Sparky got laughs throughout his sequence. (It's an interesting kind of laugh, it's sorta like random gun fire...you laugh at the point where it gets to YOU personally, and not when everyone else says it's funny.) The nightclub sequence worked great...the music cues out to where Johnny plays with Mei-Li worked great. Deirdre's money dress worked...I got applause when I appeared as the clown in the beach scene. (I'm assuming most of the crowd knew who I was.) The Bond boys Siamese twins sequence worked great (and I had the most trouble with it personally...I didn't think it was working.). The board room sequence REALLY worked. Cara's last line (I'm wearing fishnets) popped...and this was surprising..the ending title sequence got cheers! An usher stuck his head into the theatre when they came on because of the 45 people that were making so much noise. (He then noticed that it was only the title sequence, then left.) It was absolutely fucking amazing.

I got some unsolicited e-mail from a few people after the showing:

Tony Annesi wrote:

Eric, Thanks for the alt.sex premier! What a big improvement over the wrap party video! the music and the graphics really made it work! good job!


Tom Hauck wrote:

Eric - Thank you for inviting Kim and I to the screening of Alt.Sex. Congratulations! We were probably among the very few in the audience who had never seen any of it, and didn't know anything about it, so I am happy to report that we both found the film to be very entertaining. Great script, vivid characters, lots of laughs, wonderful direction, and -- most importantly -- not a single slow moment. The hour and a half seemed like fifteen minutes. This film has that rare quality, a protagonist that anyone can identify with. A perfect date movie for anyone who has ever worked in an office - and that includes just about everybody. "Lonelyhearts" sounds great, too. Good luck, and once again, congratulations to everyone involved. - Tom

Sparky said:

Wow what a great job you did! Funny from beginning to end. It flashes across the screen like a moment which means like a pretty girl you talk to for hours seems to go in a second. the way you did the timing and the montages gave this whole movie an uplifting experience even when livestock is at risk.

Eric Bloom wrote:

"As for the alt.sex "premier," I found the film to be a tour de' force. Of course, it's no GONE WITH THE WIND; but, of course, it isn't suPPOSED to be. For what it's supposed to be, it very well may eventually become known (by some audiences and some critics) as one of THE best films of its particular genre'. [This statement reminds me of the scene in MOD ROMANCE, when Mary and Robert are eating, and Robert says the film was "saved in the editing," and Mary asks if he believes such because HE did the editing, and he very bluntly says "...of course!...." It isn't that far-fetched to believe my enthusiasm is partly due to the fact that I am IN the movie, and that it was created by MY friends. HowEVER, I DID watch it on the big screen, and attempted to divorce myself from any personal attachments to it as best I could. The fact that a majority of the actors involved are strangers to me helped me to do this. And when all was said and done, I honestly felt I had just seen an extremely well-made piece of cinema. What makes me believe my own opinion, in light of the potentially undeniable bias, is the fact that all throughout the film, I found myself laughing, and laughing hard. I smiled, and smiled because I was very much surprised, and, at times, despite the kind of view Eric has of life and the world, was even moved to a beautifully subtle sentimentality! A lesson was also learned by myself, because when I was shown several scenes back in the first part of the year, I was genuinely unimpressed, and almost scared for John and Eric. Last week, I was literally blown away, and told myself once again (as this theory applies with most judgement of art), that to decide on a work of art's quality and worth by seeing or hearing PARTS of it, is a very awkward and often dangerous way to do it. These kind of decisions almost HAVE to lack what is one of the most critical aspects of any work: CONTEXT. You know the rest...

At this point I don't know what to think. I agree that this will be the best audience I will ever have. The thing is, you don't HAVE to laugh at anything..and they were cackling at everything. I can't think of any sequence that really landed with a thud. I insisted that people give me feedback...what should I fix? A couple of people complained about the sound mix, they said some voices seemed to have gotten lost in the music. The theatre has a surround-sound set-up, and I've never even heard what it does in a surround sound environment. I guess too much of the music and ambient was coming out the back where some people were sitting. After the showing a bunch of us ended up back at Phils house to watch some out takes and drink beer.

Now that we have something to show, Dan and I are ready to unleash this puppy on the world. John still has to finish the end credits and I've got a couple of graphics that need fixing. If we want to apply to the Sundance Film Festival, we've got to get a tape out to those guys by September 28th. The following Monday (September 10th) Dan had started to make some initial phone calls to a list of potential agents and producers reps that I've assembled over the past year. Most of them were at the Toronto Film Festival and wouldn't be back until the the next Monday.

Then the world blew up on Tuesday. (September 11, 2001)

Eric directs in lobby

Eric, Bloom & Dan

Robin & Sparky

Tammy & wife

Shelly & Eric

Lauren & Phil


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