Saturday night was another great video slam. NALIP does these things quarterly, and they never disappoint. This was one of the best yet, and I've been going to them for at least three years. I learned early on that is was a good venue to get a guaranteed second local screening of the short films I've done for the Short Ends Projects group.
I'd like to thank Lee, in his blog, for already writing about the event. Not only did he have a few warm words concerning the short documentary I screened (thank you so much, Lee), but he also seems to have been taking notes (or in possession of a great memory), thus saving me tortuous minutes trying to recall what was shown.
The evening started out with my friend Jorge Lopez, screening a music video of the band Frequencia. I had seen some of an early edit, and he's really tightened it up. Good work, Jorge!
Then my piece screened. And all my fears of my home-burned DVD freezing up, turned out to be nothing more than my own empty paranoia.
Bryan Ortiz showed Goodbye Digital. A clever, simple piece, perfect to be shown on Valentines Day … or Halloween. It's pretty much a tightly edited monologue of a harmless geek tossing his bait of love into the incognizant waters of internet dating services. Bryan is the only actor in screen. His comedic timing is impeccable. The filmmaker / producer team of Bryan Ortiz and Michael Druck is poised to knock this town on its ass.
Next was PrimaDonna Production's poetry video (a music video, but with a poem being delivered by founder of the local Sun Poet's Society, Rod C. Stryker), Rio Grande Odyssey. Chadd Green directed this one, and it's slick and polished. I remember Nikki and Chadd asking if I could help them shoot it. I was otherwise employed or swamped. And so they got AJ Garces to shoot and edit the piece. Good call. I wouldn't have done such a stellar job.
Nunca Sabes, by Bryan Ramirez of Irez Productions, also screened. This was the third time I've seen this one. The first time I was a judge for the Cine FEstival at the Guadalupe. We judges unanimously said yes. And I saw it later when it screened at the festival. And it held up quite well on a third viewing. This time around I took the time to concentrate on the excellent acting, especially of the brutal security guard.
Some guy by the name of Jon Simpkins (again, Lee, thanks for all your attention to detail — I wanted to remember this guy's name), did a hilarious short narrative comedy called 2 x 4s and Time Machines. It was a perfect example of the strength of a good story, even if you don't have a budget or scads of cutting-edge equipment. A guy builds a time machine in his garage with planks, duct tape, and a double A battery. Very wry, goofy, deadpan humor.
Then there was a meditation of the history and cultural significance of Chihuahuas by a woman whose name eludes me. I first met her at the Adelante Film Forum. Anyway, it was a very warm, engaging documentary / essay piece, superbly edited and structured. TJ Gonzales (our Master of Ceremonies), pointed out to the audience after the credits rolled, that this was her first film. Very impressive.
And there was another piece by a filmmaker whose name I didn't catch. He edited comedy routines by Bill Hicks and Denis Leary, showing how shamelessly Leary stole Hick's material. It was too long, and hardly the sort of thing you could try and sell (a nightmare with regards to clearing copyrights) — but the truth is, if all the films screened Saturday had been posted on YouTube, this is the one that would get more hits than all the others together … by a factor of a hundred.
Vincent Moreno was a new artist to me. He showed us a work in-progress titled Mankind's Odyssey. He introduced it by saying that he only recently got around to watching Kubrick's 2001. He did his own take on that film's trippy visual journey beyond the physical universe. There was a series of kaleidoscopic images set to a piece of music by Ligeti. It was that sort of over-blown pretentious stuff I love, and so rarely see these days among filmmakers. The swirling colorful abstract images eventually gave way to coastal shots of Mexico, distressed with color-shifting, negative images, solarization, et al. I loved every second of it. And the applause that followed encouraged me that there was still an audience for smart, aesthetically rich experimental video work. Moreno answered a few technical questions by some of his envious fellow filmmakers. Swirling galactic clouds? Easy. Video tape soy milk slowly poured into a glass tank of water.
The evening closed with The Second Coming by Ya'Ke. I missed the opportunity to see Hope's War last year, which received nothing but high praise. This film was a student piece he did at UT. It's a powerful, spare piece. A simple direct story perfectly executed. It has a violent scene that isn't bogged down with that sort of shit seen in so many other films by young, beginning filmmakers; it's honest, integral to the plot, with no kung fu or zombies.
Bryan Ortiz and Michael Druck won the best of the night. TJ presented them with some sort of big chocolate easter thing, wrapped in pastel cellophane.
A very inspiring night of films and videos.