Bottled Grasshoppers and Heavenly Blizzards

I stopped at Alston's place this morning. She's been working on a painting that I can use as a logo, poster, and general image for promotion of the up-coming 48 Hour Film Project. I love the iconic film projector — it is, I believe, a 1940s era Bell & Howell 16mm.

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The “Coming this August” bit is something I did with a basic graphic program. The rest is on the canvas. Alston's painting has developed in some wonderful directions in the few short years I've known her. She's been really busy lately, and her little studio room has some very striking canvases in various stages of completion. I can't wait for her next show.

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Yesterday I was anticipating our final day of shooting on Christy's Melancholy dance film. Everyone's schedule seemed to fit together. And around 2:30, Kristen (the dancer who will be portraying Joy) stopped by to pick me up. We car-pooled to Canyon Lake. The sky seemed fairly friendly. But the further north we moved, the darker things got. As we passed the Snake Farm on I-35 we began to get some rain. Throughout the rest of the drive, it was off and on. I decided to remain optimistic. These sorts of weather patterns are so often on the march, and as such, subject to change.

But by the time we reached Comal Park on the shores of Canyon Lake, it was hard to remain optimistic. When everyone had arrived, we began setting up equipment. And just when it was all set for our wide cover shot, we could no longer pretend that the mist lightly falling had not turned to rain. We gathered up all our equipment, props, and wardrobe, and headed back to the cars.

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As we waited, Christy broke out the snacks, and Kristen and Martin headed out to the nearby Dairy Queen. We took our basecamp to a covered picnic table. And when Kristen and Martin returned, they were lugging a couple of beverage carry-cases filled with Blizzards. As I reached for mine, I wondered aloud just what a Blizzard was. Martin gasped, flabbergasted that I could be so ignorant. “It's simply heaven, that's what it is!” And as he removed the lid from his cup, he sighed, and whispered to himself: “Simply heaven.” It wasn't too bad. It's like an ice cream shake, but thick so you need a spoon. They grind up treats to make it more rich … or, perhaps, more heavenly. In our case, it was Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. A nice combo.

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Just as we finished our picnic, the skies began to clear. We moved fast (well, was fast as possible — there were those blizzards weighing us down).

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When me and Russ had re-set the camera and found a nice composition for the wide master shot, some motorboat assholes (two big boats) swung into anchor not sixty feet offshore from us. That wouldn't have been so bad (I understand, folks are curious when they see a film crew), but these boisterous sots were listening to dinosaur rock from the seventies. Loud. Crap that sucked back then. Boston and Rod Stewart. They were shouting to each other over the music. Because we were shooting without sound, we tried to ignore them. But it was hard because, once we began shooting, I realized they were making peanut gallery comments about Christy and Andrew going through their dance moves. Stuff like: “Oh, yeah, that's what I'm taking about!”

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Eventually Russ couldn't take it anymore. They were fucking with his concentration. He yelled out to them. They pretended to ignore him. So he started screaming, and eventually they had to acknowledge him. The group on the two boats was maybe about eight, guys and girls. And the more obnoxious of the guys didn't want to look like wimps around the girls, so they finally had to respond to Russ.

He was rather polite. They weren't. And when the “it's a free country” came out from the speed boats, I began laughing. That's the best they can do? They made a few bitchy comments — including a belligerent explanation as to their pathetic behavior: “Hey, man, we're drunk!” — but finally a modicum of shame crept into their collective consciousness, and they motored off … to bedevil some poor saps elsewhere on the lake. We went back to work.

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All the scenes with Andrew have been shot. But, sadly, we weren't able to get Kristen's scenes. The rain stole our daylight. We'll just have to reschedule.

Once the sun was gone, we began to pack up equipment. Martin made sure to get his water bottle which he had filled with live grasshoppers so he could feed the spider who lives on his porch.

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And then, Russ had us all line up for a group photo. He finally got to use the timer feature on his new Canon point and shoot digital camera. After a few of these shots, we all got to see Martin grab his stomach and mutter something about how he should have avoided that heavenly blizzard because of his lactose intolerance. Kristen, Russ, and myself — we all exchanged glances — mentioned how we felt so sorry for Christy and Andrew driving back to San Antonio with Martin's emerging intestinal disturbances, and got the hell out of there.

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This afternoon I stopped by Urban-15, and me and Herman went over all the judging forms from Saturday. We're at the second phase of a three-stage film festival judging format. By tomorrow or Wednesday we'll have a list of which films will screen on which days. The nice thing is that each of the three days of the festival will offer a unique program of films.

As I was shuffling through the judging forms, I got a call from Jessica Belasco. She's doing a piece for a new San Antonio weekly free tabloid. It's called 210SA. (The same publication did a piece on the last film event I organized.) She asked quite a few questions, and I hope I gave her something to work with. I offered her George Ozuna's phone number. George was Josiah's high-school film teacher — and George's students at Harlandale are well represented in this first annual Josiah Youth Media Festival.

It's definitely coming together.

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