Monday, October 4, 2010

Notes From Our Oct. 2nd Screening

This last Saturday, Iron Mule made a triumphant return from our two-month hiatus with a gaggle of new short comedy films and all the hijinx you've come to expect.

Except one. Held over in LA due to an extended shooting schedule, regular host Victor Varnado was sadly absent from the evening. Fellow producer Lin Sorensen attempted to fill Victor's considerable hosting shoes, and while some may debate the merits of their respective styles, there's no denying Lin was taller.

Thankfully, host Jay Stern was present to provide the audience with some much-needed continuity, and the show began, in honor of Halloween, with a trailer for Jay's upcoming haunted house feature, "Spirit Cabinet." Producer/cinematographer Alan Smith and producer/writer Meg Sweeney Lawless were also on hand to witness the trailer's world premiere, and while it wasn't as funny as the films that came after it, it was certainly spookier. Stay tuned for more Spirit Cabinet updates as the team comes around the last bend of post-production and hopes to bring the finished product to a screen near you.

Our first film of the night, a pilot for Adult Swim entitled "Wunderkrafthaus," was put together by many of the folks who brought you the Mighty Five video, Check This Out! which premiered at our July 3rd show. As the creators Doug Olsen, Derek Muro and Patrick Groneman explained afterward, although the show originated with characters they portrayed, they were required to cast other actors in the roles. However, when the director went AWOL, they finished the shoot themselves, thereby regaining control of the project from the other side of the camera. The show follows the titular German art collective as they try to make the most of a mistyped ad describing them as "The Wunderkrafthaus of Pancakes."

The next block of films featured two documentaries, one real and one fictional. The first, "Wet Dreams and False Images," about the denizens of a Brooklyn barbershop who discover that the pictures on their "Wall of Beauty" are not as "natural" as they think, is part of a series of short documentaries about body image by director Jesse Epstein. The second, "Los Four McNifikos," from Spain, follows an aging breakdancing troupe as they struggle to keep the dream alive. Hosts Jay & Lin did a tag-team interview with Jesse and "McNifikos" co-writer Michael Dukes about making documentaries funny, their respective methods of engaging the audience, and the quirks of international collaboration. (Special thanks to Michael for flying in from Cincinnati for the show!)

Rounding out the evening, our last set of films showcased three very different kinds of animation. Continuing the wildly popular internet series (and oft-played Iron Mule favorite), Eun-Ha Paek and Erin Bradley Perkins returned with "Strindberg & Helium: At the Beach." This was followed by our second animated film from Argentina this year, "El Empleo," which follows a day in the life of an office worker and may hit a little close to home for those with day jobs. We finished the films in competition with the latest animation by Iron Mule regular Dale Goodson, a music video entitled, "Little Ghost." Dale was on hand to discuss the origins of the film, which is part of a series of videos aimed at toddlers and featuring music by Chris Ballew, formerly of the band Presidents of the United States of America and now performing children's music as Caspar Babypants.

But it wouldn't be an Iron Mule show without the famed "Wanna Be A Star?" competition, and tonight was no exception. Every month, our helpful audience shouts out a title for a short film, and an audience member is selected at random to star in the aforementioned film, to be produced for the next month's show. October's star was Orla Murphy and she was featured in Ant Farm, directed by Aaron Hughes, whose film "Backwards" won the Judges' Award at our June 5th show. The film was shot in Aaron's "pixilated" style, a kind of stop-motion cinematography that was also used in last month's, "Maori's Morning." Check back next month when audience member Paula McDonald will star in "Secret Sunshine," to be directed by Andy Brown.

And after an audience drumroll, the winners of the evening were announced. Jesse Epstein was the big winner of the night, taking both the Audience Award and Judges' Award for "Wet Dreams and False Images." Congratulations Jesse, and thanks to everyone for making us a part of your October weekend. Join us on Nov. 6th for more short comedy films, more raucous after parties, and more Victor Varnado.

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