Dreams, Nightmares, and the Moon … in a Box

Thursday

Perhaps I should read my own blog. I was all set to watch the full lunar eclipse tonight (Thursday, Feb. 21) — hell, I even went so far as to tell people today to look to the heavens. And at 10pm tonight I wondered, hmm, just when is this thing supposed to start? And I looked back at my last blog entry.

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The answer? Well, here's the short version.

It was supposed to start yesterday, dumb ass! You missed it.

Jeeze! Oh, well. I did get a nice quote. I was walking across the parking-lot behind Casa Chiapas with a certain Ms. Y- and I pointed up at the lovely full moon. “There's going to be a total lunar eclipse tonight. You might want to take a look at it later.” She smiled and drifted back down the years. “I remember when I was a little girl,” she said wistfully, “and we'd watch the eclipse of the moon through a box.” I looked over at her. “You mean the sun, right?” “Pardon?” “Oh, never mind.”

Of course, I don't come out any better in this story. Off by a whole damn day. Shit!

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Members of the local chapter of NALIP met Thursday night at Casa Chiapas.

(For those out of the loop, NALIP stands for the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. I really wish NALIP would replace the word “of” with “for.” Having grown up around feminist activists, I became sensitive at an early age to the fact that NOW stands for “National Organization FOR Woman,” and I continue to be amazed when people who should know better mistakenly use the word “of” rather than “for” — it changes things quite a bit, doesn't it?)

One of the items on the agenda was the election of a new board of officers. Roger Castillo was running things. He was functioning as the interim president for the second time in a year. 2007 had been a rather tumultuous year for the leadership of NALIP-SA. However, we'd still kept close to the planned schedule of events.

When the question of a nomination of for the executive chairperson came up, Veronica Hernandez was nominated. I thought that was appropriate enough. She accepted. There were no other nominations for that position. Roger then explained that we would go through a process where members in attendance would nominate the rest of the officers. NALIP-SA has been functioning with a board of four officers. Executive Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. We would all nominate a slate of potential officers, and then each member would cast a ballot for their three favorites. The three with the most numbers of votes would, in essence, exist as officers at large, until they met together and decided who would fulfill each position.

Veronica jumped in and took me by surprise by nominating me, one of the very few token guerros on the roll of NALIP-SA. I was tempted to politely decline. But the reason I joined NALIP and the reason I attended all the meetings and events was because I wanted to help out in an organization whose mission statement fit so well with what I have been doing and wanted to continue to do in the media world. So, I said, sure, wholly expecting not to win enough votes.

There was some confusion when both Dora and Manuel were nominated. They have been the heart of NALIP-SA for years. But, as husband and wife, with kids, projects, and day jobs, they took a moment for a mini confab. They decided that only one would accept a nomination — the idea, I assume, was that someone would have to look after the kids. Manuel accepted the nomination.

Laura was nominated. She's been at the center of this chapter for years — she's worked tirelessly to program years worth of events. I could see she was really conflicted. She's in the midst of some very ambitious projects which are already enjoying a great deal of attention. She finally shook her head, no. She just had too much on her plate.

And then someone nominated both Victor and Sandra. They had actually showed up to pitch the CineFestival. They been conscripted to run the festival this year. They are long time NALIP members, but recently relocated here from California. Of the many things they do, they help run the media program over at the San Anto Cultural Arts Center. I'd meet Victor and his wife Sandra (AKA, Pocha) while running the JYMF as well as the 48HFP. They're great people. (Check out Aztecgoldtv.com for some of the video madness they create as a side project.)

And that was it. There were four nominees for three positions. Me, Manuel, Victor, and Sandra.

I felt pretty confident. I mean, there was no way I could win this. In fact, I was tempted to cast my three votes for Manuel, Victor, and Sandra. They were really good choices. But then I realized, 'tis a jackass who doesn't vote for himself.

And so, I teased two out of those three excellent choices and added them to the my ballot form. Then wrote my own name on the final line.

As Roger tabulated up the results, I turned to Dora and got up to speed on her feature, Dream Healer. It's still in post, being edited by her DP down in Mexico.

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Eventually, Roger cleared his throat. The room fell silent. My name was mentioned first. Fuck. I was selected. Oh, well, it's always nice to be wanted. The other two names were Sandra and Manuel.

On the plus side, I'm now in a group with three people I feel comfortable working with, and with whom I feel confident we can continue the great work that Dora, Laura, Lisa, Roger, TJ, and all the other hard-working key members brought to NALIP-SA. I'm glad that Manuel made the cut. He will serve this new board with an important element of continuity.

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Last night it took forever to get to sleep. I kept drifting off, and then some noise would wake me up. What was it? A scratching — a sort of clawing, rattling noise. I pulled back awake, and waited breathlessly in the dark, listening. But, nothing. And as I began breathing again — dammit, there it was! The noise was coming from my lungs, not some squirrel scrabbling around in the walls. Too much mucosal fluids in the old bronchial tubes. But, you know? Nothing I can do about it. At one a.m. I sure as shit wasn't going to get dressed and drive four miles to fucking WalMart to get some NyQuil. So, I opened that deathly dull Chesterton short story collection from the library I still haven't read. I hoped it'd serve well as literary NyQuil … sans the expectorant. Actually, it turned out to be pretty fun, once you got into the rhythm of his prose.

Eventually I managed to fall asleep.

I had a series of strange and vibrant dreams. One of the images that stood out was of a nighttime scene. If it were a movie, it'd be a point-of-view shot. It was like I was sitting in the front seat of a car, at night. The car was driving through a forest (and I'm still not sure if we were on an actual road, or if we were like just, you know, driving through a wild forest). The trees were huge and old, like redwoods. But they were lighted — the trees were — brightly and irrationally. This was not light from headlights. Do you remember that montage of the night driving scene in Thelma and Louise? They're going through the desert and the distant buttes and mountains and huge rocks were lit, in a weird moment of fantasy, by magnesium military flares floating to the earth by parachute. These trees were similarly lit by some unlikely and powerful source.

Around six in the morning I must have coughed myself awake. There was a bit of weak sunlight coming in from the windows. I got out of bed and walked into the bathroom and choked down a couple of aspirin. My throat was raw and sore and my head wasn't feeling too great either.

I crawled back into bed.

I soon drifted into a dream where I was sitting in a conference room with several well-dressed but skeptical men.

“This is a visual set-piece,” I was telling them. “Visual and visceral, and it's a killer. Actually, it came from a dream I had. We have this main character in the passenger seat of a car. He's exhausted, and he keeps nodding off. Finally, he pulls back, wide awake, He sees through the dashboard these huge Sequoias — you know, California pine trees. But they're lit powerfully from something more heavy-duty than headlights. Is there, perhaps, some bright-lit UFO hovering over the car? I mean, damn, it's an aesthetic moment! How can we make this dream come alive, gentlemen? How?”

I don't recall how this Hollywood pitch session ended. Most likely the dream morphed into something fundamentally unrelated, such as moo shu pork or Evel Knievel's house slippers. But this is the first time I have ever recalled where I had a dream which referenced a previous dream.

Freaky.

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Friday.

Today I headed over to Urban-15 for a quick up-date with the Josiah Youth Media Festival. I also wanted to see about using the courtyard for an upcoming shoot for my short piece commissioned for the Luminaria arts festival, March 15.

It's going to be very very good.

And the festival shouldn't be too shabby, either. Try and make it out.

Later in the afternoon I drove over to the auditions being held for Sam Lerma's four part PSAs for the second annual SAL film festival.

(The current issue of Connexion features four local filmmakers: Dora Pena, Pablo Veliz, Laura Varela, and Bryan Ortiz. They are all excellent artists, involved in some promising work. But it's sad that the man who is perhaps this city's best filmmaker, Sam Lerma, is mostly known only by other local film folks.)

I was there to help out Dar, and also because I'm on-board as unspecific crew for the video promos. Sam's directing; Russ is shooting; I'm doing most everything else (and don't think I can't make a mean peanut butter sandwich, 'cause I can).

The auditions were being held at Nightmare on Grayson, San Antonio's best seasonal haunted house. It was a last minute decision to hold it there, because SAL founder Dar Miller is a friend of the guys who run the place. And, like the rest of us in the San Antonio film community, we are hard pressed to find space. This needs to be remedied. Holding auditions in your home, a rented room at the public library, a park, or the food court of a shopping mall (and I've know all these to happen) is no way to operate. The city government and it's supposed desire to support the arts is fucking useless. And all the local film groups who have their own spaces and are always flaunting their desire to help out, quickly make themselves scare when you take them at their word and try and negotiate for use of their facilities.

Guys, if you can't make it happen, don't offer to make it happen.

Anyway, Dar actually arranged for a very cool place to hold the auditions. If you haven't visited Nightmare on Grayson, mark your calendar for this coming fall.

Michael Druck did an excellent job coordinating the audition. (Thanks Druck — and thanks PrimaDonna Productions!) I didn't count up all the names, but I think it was something like 14 actors. I saw some people I knew. Good to see you Rainya, Venda, and Stephen. There were also a few people I didn't know I had worked with before. There was a woman who was an extra on a shot film where I was the DP. Another actress was in a short film that screened twice in a festival I produced.

I think Sam has what he needs from this pool. The three (or is it four?) leads, as well as the brace of extras.

I think it was a very productive evening.

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