Thursday, July 29, 2010

And Now, For Our Next Trick...

Last night was the world premiere of The Hot Seat, our 48 Hour Film Project movie for 2010. If you want the scoop on what went down during the weekend, go here, but bring a snack and something to rehydrate you.

For the first time in San Diego 48 Hour history, our intrepid organizers Duane and Jeff (they are really lovely) created a true Hollywood spectacle for us non-industry slobs, including a red carpet (I touched it! It was fuzzy!) and one of those backdrops with the sponsors names all over it for us to pose in our couture. Well, I thought that's what it was for; turns out we were supposed to stand there and get interviewed by a gal they'd hired, which was fine and all, but hello! No one yelled out "Who are you wearing?" or "Let's see the back!" (I showed them anyway.)

We started with a pre-party at the All-American Grill, which is right upstairs from the theater, enabling me to get completely sloshed on a very large mojito and not very much food (too nervous) with impunity. We also had the after-party there, if you can call it an "after-party" when they kept following us around to say "You can't sit there!" and there wasn't so much as a lousy potato chip for free. (I'm not sure I'll be returning to the AA Grill anytime soon, but not for the aforementioned reasons: as we were finishing up a rather tasty apple pie thing-o, a roach skittered across the tablecloth and down onto my side of the booth. Good as the food is, this gives me pause.)

Many of us were dressed to the nines, the women in stilettos (even those among us who are already crazy-tall and don't strictly need them to look dressed up) and somehow Kacie, our Dr. Rita Hernandez, and I were both wearing black dresses with glittery silver bits all over. Weird. We were joined at dinner by Greg, our star from last year (Detective Maxwell Jones, I presume!) and that made me pleasantly nostalgic from the outset. I don't think anyone from our team missed the festivities, which just goes to show what a tight team we are.

The addition of the red carpet hoopla was not the only change from last year; there was also the mayhem. The theater was sold out--every seat--and the red carpet scene was really more of a mob. The biggest focus-puller was a large man dressed as some sort of armor-sporting alien (whom we later learned had a name: Darbo) and his extremely colorful teammates, and already I was smelling an audience-award winner. We got our picture taken--a lot--and blew kisses at our various and sundry fans (or at least I did) and when the time came, we joined the wall of people crashing into the theater. Poor Robyn, who was trying to get in early and save us seats, got shoved about for her troubles, and a totally remorseless couple sat in our section and refused to move. Ultimately, we didn't get all the Cane Toads into one section, but we could sense each others' aura all over the theater nevertheless.

So, you're thinking...SAM! Stop all this blither-blather and get to the film! WHAT HAPPENED? Well, Readers, I'm not going to sugarcoat it: things were not looking so rosy for the Cane Toads this year. Last year, we knew we had a massive crowd-pleaser (saucy innuendo! cheerleaders! bunny heads!) and this year, we had a "dark" comedy (the quotation marks are there for Calvin, who doesn't think it ended up very dark) that was very talky and not very location-y. We also ended up in a TOUGH screening group, where most of the films were tight and almost slick in their execution, with not one obvious "We heard about this contest last week and decided to throw something together on our Mac" entry. I was in serious need of a Zanax (or at least a quarter of a Zanax) for the twelve (!) films that preceded ours (we were last!) but then was quite thrilled to hear consistent laughter for the duration. It wasn't uproarious, but it was there, unmistakably. Many of the films we'd seen had involved blood and violence, so even though ours wasn't exactly about fluffy fairies, it was something of a respite.

At any rate, we were in fine spirits back at the AA Grill, hanging out in the little corner we were banished to, and I was absolutely convinced that Darbo was a shoe-in (in addition to his metallic bad self, there were also scantily clad women and a Speedo-wearing "sex slave," which seemed sort of unbeatable) though not many agreed with me. And then Duane and Jeff were entering the room with the results, and we rushed over and...

Readers, we didn't win. Neither did Darbo. A melodrama about schizophrenia and friendship beyond the grave called Empty Chair won. I was surprised at that one, until several of my teammates admitted they voted for it (everyone gets to vote for three.) All I could distinctly remember about it was that the dead friend had the most gorgeous teeth, not just white but beautifully shaped, gleaming in the sunlight. Which is sort of ironic, because two of the other films were specifically about teeth.

Here's the happy news, though: WE CAME IN SECOND! Oh, yes we did! And doing it the year after we took first seemed like a mighty victory to me. Seriously, I was thrilled. I mean, there's no certificate for second, but we have bragging rights, and I plan to make use of those credentials. I am proud. The audience voted for us and our talky little beige comedy.

Which I sat there watching on the big screen with 400 people, giggling, and thinking We kind of rock. The first audience fave goes directly to the Best of San Diego without passing Go, but now we have to wait, nibbling our nails, until the end of the weekend before we find out if we're moving on. Still, it was a beautiful night: a big shout-out to all the Cane Toads for collectively making it possible.

Think good thoughts. And go to to watch our movie!


Jen said...

Congratulations! And the film? Seriously screwed up! (In a good way!) It was great. I will keep my fingers crossed for you this week!

EWR2SAN said...

I did not share your feelings about the darbo film. It had a great opening credits, but bombed right after that. Bad dialogue, bad writing, and not the cheesy lovable "bad", It kept reminding me of Battlefield earth, and I kept wondering if John Travolta was under that Darbo mask. For me it was one of the worst of the screening. That and the Period Piece about the electric chair were the toughest to sit through.
Aside from our kick ass movie, I liked and voted for the "Empty Seat", and the one about the guy who gets punched in the face to get a date with the Dental Hygienist. Empty Seat was well written, and a good concept. It succeeded in at least evoking some emotion, ok dialogue, and they got their story across clearly. It was lacking in editing which is key for a non-linear movie. My feeling is if they had another day of re-shoots and editing they would have a much better film.

The two films I almost voted for were "Biter" and the fantasy about the girl and her murderous stuffed animals. Both of them were close, but had their flaws as well.

Duane and Jeff were great, but there seriously needs to be better crowd control next year. So many crazy rude folk.

Mary said...

Congrats, Sam and Dave and all of the CT's!

It was a funny movie! Wish I could have seen it in the theater!



Sam said...

@Mark: I really appreciate your commentary here. So cool to get another CT's perspective. I agree with you about the dental hygienist date one--I voted for that. I did not like the stuffed animals because I disapproved of casting a 5-year-old in that situation. But I'm a Jewish mother, after all. ;)

I totally agree with you that Darbo was not a well-made movie and that the credits rocked. But I guess I was trying to say that the audience usually goes for things like Speedos and sex slaves regardless of whether it's a good film. Or so I thought. I guess the 48 Hour audience is growing in sophistication at the same rate we Cane Toads are becoming better filmmakers! :)

Joan said...

Great dialogue, excellent acting, fun idea. Loved the scene behind the credits. Good luck for Best of SD selection. Joan

Jen said...

Yeah--I forgot to say that the dancers were fabulous! Especially the one with the ring of flowers on her head. :-)

Jen said...

p.s. I *would* love to see another film starring Jarrah!

Stephanie said...

Fantastic. So professional on all levels. Congratulations.

Jennifer said...

Congratulations! That's great news!