Earlier in the week I attended an advanced screening of Chris Eska’s “August Evening.” It’s a smart, beautiful, and sensitive film (and not deserving of the shit review it received from the San Antonio Current). I’m going back again tomorrow (Sunday) to show my support. The distributor is waiting on the opening weekend audience numbers before fully committing to getting Chris’ film out into more theaters. Sunday is the last day when the people in San Antonio can vote on this film with their pocketbook. Come on out with me and $how your love. I only hope that others would do the same for any future film I might make and then struggle to get into the market. I also hope that San Antonio filmmakers (and those in town wanting to become filmmakers) will hurry out and see what can be done with: 40 thousand dollars, a clear purpose, and love of the craft.
A “shifting baseline” is a concept found in science and statistical modeling. It’s often used to describe current systems whose behavior is different than that of the past. For instance, the initial use of the term was in a fisheries study where the researcher found a need to show the deviation between the current population of a species of fish in a given region to the population level that had been previously encountered before human exploitation. Back when Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi for 7 thousand (or whatever the amount was), many of us were so enamored by the wonderful product created for so little money that we all helped as midwives to bring about this inane period of budget fetishism. And thus began the race to the bottom. The bottom line. The baseline shifted, each year, to a lower and lower budget. After the digital revolution, it became moot. We began to hear about filmmakers who were acquiring equipment by buying it from Best Buy and shooting the film in 30 days so that they could return the camera for a full refund. These sorts of stories became the central kernel for so many press releases of low-budget films being created. I only wish more of these films were worth watching.
What I would hope is that we let that micro-budget independent film baseline shift back towards aesthetic value. Because the truth is, if you make a feature-length narrative movie for under a hundred thousand dollars that knocks my socks off, I could care less if you made it for 90 thousand or 9 hundred. Why? Because you probably fucked a few people over along the way. If you make a feature narrative on film or HD and pay people a living wage for their work on the project, most likely the budget is going to start shooting up fast. A hundred grand soon ain’t nothing.
Let’s have two baselines for independent features. One for the cash-strapped under-funded underdogs who make heart-achingly beautiful pieces of art. And another for the savvy first-time filmmaker who wrangles a shitpile of cash and spreads it around to all his or her colleagues within the community.
I want people to see “August Evening” so they can applaud a perfect example of the former. This is unabashed art which has bubbled up from a disciple that so often strains to become simply entertainment.
Around six I rode my bike downtown to Travis Park for the annual Jazz Alive free concert. I’d never attended it before because I love jazz, and most jazz performed for the hoi polloi is to real jazz as a Hostess Ding Dong is to an eclair. I decided to go because URBAN-15 would be performing. Also, I was almost curious to hear David Brubreck, because he played with loads of folks I love … although I must admit that I have never found his compositions to be more than pretty and unchallenging. I prefer my jazz gritty, scratchy, a bit dirty, and sometimes, yes, even ugly. If I can understand the melodic structure, I want my fucking money back. Give me Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayers, and Sun Ra back before he learned to say please and thank you.
I guess my Brubeck bigotry will continue apace, because I didn’t stick around. I stayed only for URBAN-15 and a leisurely chat with my favorite waiter from Tito’s restaurant. I would have lingered, but I’m not a fan of dense crowds, and, man, that park was packed!
After peddling back home, I got in my truck and headed over to my current grocery store, the La Fiesta on South Flores. Maybe this says more about my social life than I care to examine, but it seems that I do my grocery shopping mostly on Saturday nights.
I found myself in a little sweet interlude that is usually lost to San Antonians not living on the south or west sides of town. The woman working the register was being assisted by her daughter, who I’d clock in at about eight years of age. She was kneeling up on the counter, bagging the groceries. Mom was polite and reserved, but the kid looked up and gave me a nod. “How’s it going?” she asked. I let her know it was going good. “Glad to hear,” she said, and began separating the items her mom slid down the counter. She gave a running commentary as she worked. “Eggs go with the milk and cheese. The tomatoes — oh, they’re plums! — they go in here. Oh, here are some tomatoes. Same place. Dish soap and laundry soap together.” The girl turned to her mother and asked, in Spanish, something about a woman named Ofelia. Her mom shook her head, placed a finger to her lips for silence, and touched her watch. “La media,” she said, meaning, I assumed, that this Ofelia would be there at nine-thirty.
Kids in the work place doesn’t always mean child labor. Sometimes it’s just a kid hanging out with her mom because a babysitter crapped out. And I’m fine with that. We should all be good with that. So many businesses are anti-family. Not La Fiesta. Bravo! La Fiesta is pro-family!! But fuck HEB, the evil supermarket chain in town. They hate you. And they hate your family. And I bet they cheat on the crossword puzzles.
And, below, for the Google search quote:
I, Erik Bosse, take my business to La Fiesta. Shouldn’t you?
Last night was the ¡Presente! show at the Centro Cultural Aztlan gallery. This being September, and September being FotoSeptiembre(tm) here in San Antonio, well, the show was photography.
The place was packed. Mombasa Code played a loose jazzy latino soundtrack to the evening. And there were even artists not known for photography showing work, such as Luis Valderas, Sabra Booth, George & Catherine Cisneros, and Erik Bosse. For those who missed it, try and make future shows at Centro. Malena and Deborah are bringing in some excellent artists. Besides, the openings always makes me feel like I’ve been embraced into the hippest family I never knew I was part off. Centro wants to be part of your family, so come on out.
Here’s my photo from the show: