Like sardines in a canning factory, the Iron Mule packed 'em in last Saturday, thanks to the presence of many visiting filmmakers and the support of the local press (thank you, New York Times!). To get things started, hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado shared some of the insights they'd gained from their recent production experiences (Jay was involved in the Lincoln Center Director's Lab and Victor has been directing a concert film for Comedy Central). They discovered that different performers have different needs: theater actors need a lot of rehearsal and discussion time, comedians need constant feedback, and film actors need cocaine. We look forward to seeing how they use that knowledge on future projects. On to the movies!
Former host of Kevin Geeks Out! and Iron Mule BFF Kevin Maher was our honorary guest judge for the evening. Kevin shared some of his judging criteria for the evening, explaining to the full house that he would not only be judging the films, but also the audience themselves. On his list of negative qualities: clumsy plot exposition ("Of course I will, I'm your brother!"), and mockumentaries. Some positive attributes: funny wigs, fake poo or vomit, and hilariously excessive plot exposition. Kevin will return to 92YTribeca with an encore presentation of Kevin Geeks Out About Sharks! next week, but Saturday he was dedicated to the fine art of criticising short comedic films.
Our first block of films began with Ad Men, by Todd Alcott. Todd's reading of his poem Television Is A Drug was the source of last month's film by the same name, and he was back this month with a short film about an ad agency asking the immortal question, "What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs?" The film also stars film actor and past guest judge James Urbaniak (Henry Fool, American Splendor). Following that was Don't Text and Drive, a beautiful and unique animated rendering of what can happen if you ignore the title's advice. Filmmaker Adrian Garcia came down from Boston to talk about the piece, and how classical music makes him think of car crashes.
For our next block, local comediennes Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson were on hand to present their web series, Broad City. They described the show as an exaggerated version of themselves, exploring dilemmas familiar to many New Yorkers such as pushy yoga parents and the lengths people will go to have convenient access to a washer and dryer. The three episodes featured were "Subway on a Sunday," "Yoga," and "Laundry," and these and many more can be found on their website. Abbi and Ilana talked about their working process, the balance between between scripting and improvising, and who's really the boss (the verdict is still out on that one).
Our third block featured another internet series, Sassy Gay Friend from the Second City network. This group of three shorts ("Romeo & Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Othello") suggests that things might have turned out better for Shakespeare's heroines if they'd been told to "write a sad poem in your journal and move on!" Interspersed with these were two Iron Mule firsts: Heat Wave, our first film from Romania, about a high-temperature communication breakdown; and Lapsus, our first film from Argentina, an animated film following a hapless nun's journey through the seven deadly sins.
The final block of competition films featured a musical short from Ireland, Separations Agency, in which a man receives an alarming break-up message in the form of a jolly barbershop quartet, and Blackout Roulette, our first film from Arizona. Filmmaker Alex Italics was kind enough to travel from Tucson to discuss his cheeky black-and-white comedy noir, about a desperate host who resorts to some lethal means of enlivening his party. Alex was inspired by The Twilight Zone in making the film, and plans to start spreading it around the festival circuit.
Although our competition segment was complete, there was still one more treat in store for our audience (well, two really): the world premiere of the Mighty Five music video, "Check This Out!" The video was a collaboration between host Jay Stern, his frequent cinematographer Alan M. Smith, and writer M. Sweeney Lawless, and featured The Mighty Five against a variety of spacey-retro greenscreen backgrounds as they deliver the funk to a planet in need of grooving. Victor spoke to the band about the process of shooting the film, their hopes for continuing the Mighty Five storyline, and the advatages of having a dedicated designer attached to your band.
After the audience had the chance to vote for their favorite film, we showed the results of this month's Wanna Be A Star? competition, an Iron Mule tradition. Our audience winner this month was frequent Iron Mule contributor dp, who not only starred in the film, "Right Guy, Wrong Turn," but wrote, directed and edited it as well! With the votes tallied, guest judge Kevin Maher announced the winners: for the Audience Award, "Blackout Roulette," and for the Judge's Award, "Broad City"! And the lucky winner of next month's Wanna Be A Star? competition -- Arhur Anderson! This veteran of stage and screen will team up with writer/director Susan Hippen for "The Sisterhood," which you can only see at the next Iron Mule show on August 7th! (and then later on Vimeo...)
Before we called it a night, the good folks at 92YTribeca facilitated an encore broadcast of the Mighty Five video in the Cafe, where filmmakers and audience members mingled and networked and savored the air conditioning before a scorching hot Fourth of July weekend.
To keep up-to-date on all the Iron Mule happenings, join us on Facebook! And we'll see you next month for more of the best in short comedy films.