Saturday, August 19, 2006

Microcinema Fest: Wednesday and Thursday

My brother Eric and I rolled into Palatine late Wednesday in time to catch the traditional "barnside" screenings held during Microcinema Fest. Once this was held on the side of an actual barn on the Linn Brothers ranch in the wilds of South Dakota. Now it is set up on a nice screen in Mike Noens' roomy backyard. Filmmakers can screen things that are works in progress or otherwise not in the festival, or submissions that didn't make it are nabbed out of the big cardboard box and shown to the multitudes.

For the first time I showed two things--one, the promotional short film I worked on last year, "Postcards from Farmland," and the second "B-movie Man," the sardonic documentary short about my b-movie career cooked up by a couple of students at Ball State University, my alma mater. Both played nicely enough. We saw a nice mix of work before the rains came and cut things a bit short. Interestingly, two shorts screened barnside last year--"Live on Tape Delay" and "Permian Flow"--were both in the Fest this year.

That night we continued another more personal tradition--Game Night. This time filmmaker Jon Solita brought the board game "Puerto Rico," which he, Jay Neander, my brother, and I played late into the night. Jon would be crowned King of Puerto Rico, and all retired with visions of flickering screens dancing in our heads.

The next day dawned with more traditions; the Filmmmakers Breakfast, workshops, and then Laser Quest.

I did not get there in time Wednesday for the Roundtable, but on Thursday Jon Solita and Jay Neander led a well-informed HD workshop. I had just gotten into shooting HD before I left my last job and still had a lot to learn myself. I think some of the older guys realized that the tech was starting to move more rapidly, and equalizing the playing field quite a bit. In fact I saw a marked improvement in production value at this year's Fest than I had seen in previous ones.

After the workshop it was back to LQ. Wally Fong, a former Laser Quest employee who deals death with every flick of his blood-thirsty gun, had the misfortune of being born in the peaceable kingdom of Canada; but once a year, he joins his saber-rattling North American friends to the South and gets out a whole year of agression.

Much blood was spilled, but we all arrived more or less intact for the Fest kickoff. Next time: my capsule reviews of the films at the Fest.

Until then, give me a shout at

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