Well, things are looking up. It looks like Ashley Lindstrom is back writing at the SA Current. Things had gotten pretty grim recently. The only reason I continued to look at our “alternative” paper is because of Greg Harman. I suspect that Ashley’s just picking some work for hire, but I have to admit a weakness for her writing. This isn’t the admission of a guilty pleasure, because I do admire her work. But the thing is, she’s ginning out the chick non-lit with no apologies. Bitching and biting, yeah, this comes out around the edges; yet the words still flow all sparkly and sweet like champagne poured over a strawberry smoothy.
Who else could reference a blow job in a review of the San Antonio Classic Theater’s presentation of Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” and still float off into the pillowy clouds as inoffensive as a commercial for bathroom tissues? Well, I suspect I could, but, naw, it’d come out downright creepy. My challenge to Ms. Lindstrom is for her to find a way to slip the term “rim job” into a review of the up-coming production by the Magik Children’s Theatre of “If Your Give a Moose a Muffin.”
Let’s look at Ashley’s review of Mary Harder’s transvestite vampire film, “Donato, King of the Vampire Drags.” The title of the review? “There Won’t Be Blood.” Check it out:
It’s a nice piece of writing. And contrary to one’s first impression, this is not a bad review. Well, not completely. I hazard that Mary can find some pull-quotes from the piece. Ashley remains buoyant and playful throughout this piece. I can only hope that someone like Ashley is around when my underground feature film, “The Halitosis Chauffeur’s Impacted Molar Is Removed,” gets a broader release.
Welcome back, Ashley! You’ve been missed.
Friday night I headed over to the Radius Center for an inaugural mixer of a new San Antonio group, SAFAM (which stands for, I believe, the San Antonio Film and Arts Movement).
The folks running this are great. They are young and ingenuous idealists. As a local filmmaker in his forties said, “Oh, they’re so cute.”
The turnout was impressive. This may have had more to do with Veronica Hernandez, president of the local chapter of NALIP (SAFAM and NALIP both share offices at the Radius Center). That and the promise of free beer. When I first heard of SAFAM (via video clips on Facebook), I was dismissive. They placed Film in their name, but none of the members were known to me or any of the people in the local industry I’ve spoken with. But by the time their first event happened, they were surrounded with film folk. I suspect Veronica pushed this upon them. These wide-eyed youngsters who seem to have more of a business and music industry background, suddenly found themselves cheek to jowl with other local film organizations (who are actually doing what SAFAM claims they want to do): NALIP, TXMPA, CineVeliz, and San Antonio Filmworks Institute.
It looks like all sorts of shit’s going on in this city as far as film and video is concerned. And now we have another organization. But they, SAFAM, claim they are going to raise us all out of the muck. Who knows, maybe they will.
After the initial meet-and-great and networking period, we were all requested to move to the larger space to hear the SAFAM folks pitch their dream.
One of my favorite lines went something like this: “Most of you don’t know who we are. But that’s because we’re only 63 days old [or whatever length of time their organization has been around].”
“What the fuck,” I muttered sotto voce to a fellow filmmaker standing beside me who I’ve known for over five years. “We don’t know you guys because we have never fucking seen you before.” I mean this literally. The images of your faces have never passed through the lenses of our eyeballs and registered in our brains. The filmmakers and the artists in this city have no idea who you guys are. No fucking clue.
Later, as the SAFAM crowd suggested that everyone interested in buying a two dollar red rubber wristband should do so (so that we will be able to recognize one another if we cross paths in, say, Wal-Mart)–and hurry up, because all people with red SAFAM wristbands should stand under their SAFAM banner and point up with whichever arm sported the band. This was a clever marketing photo op. But all I could do was lean over to Joel Settles or was it Victor Payan, and ponder if “this is the way the Brownshirts started out?”
Keep an eye out for future SAFAM event. I suspect they will continue with the free beer motif (the sure-fire way to generate attendance in San Antonio). Also, if future SAFAM events attract the same caliber of cool people as last weekend, you can be sure to engage in interesting and productive conversations.
I know of several projects which were launched Saturday night, if for no other reason than it was a neutral context where film people could congregate and remind themselves that, “hey, I like a lot of these people, and I want to work with some of them.” Personally, I pulled a couple of people into a project I want to shoot in early November. So, thank you SAFAM. And who nows, I may well become a staunch supporter in the near future. But that bracelet idea, it’s creepy as fuck.
Saturday night was the second and final night of the Renaissance Guild’s ActOne Series. This is their Vol. XIV of this program where original one act scripts are submitted from all over the world. Those which are selected are directed and acted by local talent, primarily those with a history of working with the Renaissance Guild, “San Antonio’s Premiere Black Theatre Company,” one of my favorite community groups. The ActOne Series happens two times a year, so I guess this means they’ve been doing this for seven years. The company itself is moving into its tenth year. I happened to find a seat next to Lee Hurtado and Nikki Young. Nikki’s been involved with the Renaissance Guild since the very early days, and she told me that the very first ActOne performance was staged at the Continental Cafe, and not at its current location, but across the street. The Renaissance Guild’s founders, Latrelle Bright, Danielle King and Paul Riddle, Jr., should be proud to have created such a strong and long-lived company and community. The audiences just seem to keep growing.
For maybe three or four years the RG made their home at Jump-Start Performance Company. This was certainly convenient to me, as it’s within walking distance. But their new home, at the Little Carver Civic Center (just behind the “big” Carver) is a very nice space. And I certainly can’t complain because it’s just a few minutes away by car.
There were eight plays. I knew four of the directors. They were all actors I had either worked with or whose performances I had enjoyed on many occasions.
My two favorite pieces were in the second half. “Finger Food” closed the night. It was a playful farce of a fork and a spoon forlornly waiting at a buffet restaurant, hoping to be chosen, yet seemingly antiquated in a world of finger foods.
The other standout piece was “Stuffed,” directed by Hector Machado. Hector’s a very talented actor, and I’ve had the great privilege of sharing a set with him. He’s also moved into writing and directing. He helped guide his two powerful actors to deliver some wonderful work in “Stuffed.” Charles Riley is amazing. Krystal as the spunky, bratty bitch of a child is a joy to watch. You don’t even mind when it becomes clear that she is doomed. I mean, really, you don’t take your mama’s beloved cat who you inadvertently killed to neighborhood taxidermist (a paroled psycho killer living in his mother’s garage) because “it’d be better to giver her a stuffed cat than no cat at all,” and not expect some black comedic karmic slap-down. Hector did a smart job giving this piece some heavy emotional weight.
The rest of the pieces ranged from good to dreadful (well, I think there were only two which were truly godawful).
I think what bothered me the most was that some of the pieces were just simply poorly written. I don’t know the size of the original pool of submitted work, but I’ll give the RG the benefit of the doubt and assume that what we saw was indeed the best of the submission pile. I hope they get better submitted work in the years to come.
However, each play had at least one or two strong elements, be it script, director, or acting. And we, the audience, are constantly reminded that many of these actors have never been on stage before. Some of the directors and writers are first-timers. Don’t forget that this is community theater. And maybe I’ll stop carping and bitching and go ahead and submit a one-act play to the next series.
My little success Monday was to get my grant proposal into the Artist Foundation of San Antonio. Hey, look at me, I got it in nine and a half hours before the online deadline! So I treated myself to a late lunch at Tito’s with some cheese enchiladas. (Man, their prices keep going up and up–it might be time to walk away, even though the food’s so tasty….)
I’m confidant that my proposal is pretty strong. But all I need is someone like, I dunno, Mark Wally and Angela Guerra (AKA the Prime Eights) submitting a proposal and beating me…because, well, you know, they’re better filmmakers.
Whatever. It’s all out on the wind. Time to turn my attention elsewhere.