The Narcissist Factor in the "WTF! Film Festival"

I have mixed feelings about the idea of “film races.” They have become very popular. Usually they demand that the filmmaking teams complete a short movie (script to finished edit) in either 24 hours or 48 hours. Some push it to 72 hours. The first such event I witnessed was a 24 hour film contest connected with the Dallas Video Festival. This was back in 2001 … maybe 2002. There were several hours of movies screened. I believe that the maximum run time was three or five minutes. And though my memory is shaky, I think that there were over 70 teams. Hardly anything sucked. This amazed me.

Flash forward a few years. San Antonio has had three years of our home-grown San Antonio 48 Hour Film Experience. What's up folks? Each year, worse than the last. There were eight films this year. Two were solid — good work! Two more were watchable and entertaining. That left four that weren't watchable. I'll not make enemies by being specific, but you can access them online. And if they aren't posted yet, keep trying the links through the blog site:

I want to give high marks for Drew Mayer-Oakes, our film commissioner, for running this event. Even if I'm on this blog grousing about the quality of the work submitted, it shouldn't reflect poorly on Drew. His SA48HR Film Experience is the real deal — a gift to the film community in this city. We can choose to use it how we wish. (Though my hope is that we'd decided to shine, rather than flounder — I can't really make a stink here 'cause I decided not to run a team, so shame on me.) As for the other similar and more recent film event, the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Project (which is connected to the national organization), I think it's not so near the honesty of Drew's grass-roots SA48HR. Let's see if we can kick SA48HR Film Experience back up to speed in 2008.

And one more thing I want to say about the SA48HR Film Experience is to express my thanks to — this organization has been brilliant in hosting the online presentations of all the films produced for the three years of the SA48HR Film Experience. This is one of the more overlooked resources of locally produced San Antonio films which are available on-line.

There were 75 people at the downtown library for the screenings tonight! That's great. Lee Hurtado greeted me when I came in. He posited a rhetorical question when he wondered why all these people didn't show up for the free monthly summer film forums. I muttered something about the “narcissist factor” (how people love to show up to film events if the project they worked on or appeared in is being screened). Before Lee could make a reply, a certain local actress cheerfully greeted him with a hug and a milk and honey greeting: “It's so nice to see you, Chris,” she said with a purr. I slumped down in my seat and pretended to make eye-contact with a fictional friend on the far side of the room.

You never know who might think you're important.


The downside to a large crowd at the downtown library is that there is only one lane out of the parking garage. It was a bottleneck. After the crush subsided, I headed out.

I met Pete for a drink at Ruta Maya Coffee House so we could compare notes and perform our little postmortem of the event. I explained that if only I knew how to send a text message I would have treated him (he was seated six rows in front of me) with the standard thought that goes through my mind whenever I'm subjected to a painfully boring movie: “If someone doesn't start fucking a corpse pretty soon, I'm out of here.” And, sadly, it never happened. It never happens.

I then blurted out my thought of creating the “WTF! Film Festival.” I can't recall if this occurred to me during the first or the second film of the evening. But occurred to me it did.

As we were leaving Ruta Maya, I spotted one of the poets from the other night at Urban-15. Nick, I want to say is his name. Anyway, he was one of the strongest readers. Very impressive. I stopped to thank him for his wonderful performance.

And then I realized who he was seated with. I hadn't been able to tell, because he had his back to me. But it was Joel Settles, of Comedia A Go-Go fame. Joel and the poet whose name might be Nick told me they're planning a show at Ruta Maya on December 29th. I might have the day wrong. When I get better info, I'll try and put it here. But it will undoubtedly be worth attending. I can't imagine either of these talented young men involved in something that isn't of great interest and importance.

Anyway, when I arrived home tonight, I checked my MySpace page. I had a bulletin from Comedia A Go-Go. It looked like the comedy troupe had another comedy video posted online.

Check it out.

I watched it. It won't change the world. And a year from now I might not even remember it. But it's funny, playful, well-produced, and the perfect salve to my ordeal of watching local crap.

Comedia A Go-Go's video's are, I believe, often dismissed as a kind of YouTubey viral marketing sketch comedy. But their secret is that they are solid writers, solid performers, and in the technical realm they edit tightly, light adequately, shoot smart, and collect sound like they know what they're doing.

And you know, I think they know what they're doing.


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