Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Notes From Our October Show

Our special guest judge Mike Maronna (Big Pete from The Adventures of Pete and Pete) was an excellent addition as hosts Jay and Victor took us through this GREAT lineup of films from around the world featuring a web series, zombies, late night horror hosts and wheelchair-bound bank robbers.

Our QnAs included a chat with Ryan Decker and Garrett Johnston, the writers/directors of Man With a Van, a web series about movers in New York.
We then invited brothers Kyle and Levi McCachen, writer and director resp. of Disabled and Dangerous, a Canadian heist comedy about three friends with ALS who are driven to desperate measures.

The night's Judges' Award went to Brains? by Giles McNeil and Paul Stephanus, a fantastic comedy about zombies in New Zealand who are terrorized by the unstoppable threat.... of humans!
Our Audience's Award was won by Disabled and Dangerous.

We closed the night, once again, with our Wanna Be a Star? film, which pairs one lucky audience member with a local filmmaker to create a short film based on an audience-generated title. This month's film was a horror flick, Chop House. It was written and directed by Iron Mule co-founder Victor Varnado, and starred audience member Natalie Shutler.

Come on over to Symphony Space on Sunday November 3rd at 7:30pm for silent comedies from Denmark, an out-of-work super sidekick, our next Wanna Be A Star? film So I Married a Canadian, and more!

Films from the October show included:

Zombies are threatened by an unstoppable threat. 
written by Giles McNeill and Paul Stephanus, directed by Giles McNeill

The Horrible Life of Dr. Ghoul
A late night horror show host is having a bad day. 
written and directed by Don Swaynos 

Disabled and Dangerous
Three people with ALS resort to drastic measures to save their local ALS Center. 
written by Barry Varga and Levi McCachen, directed by Kyle McCachen

Night of the Loving Dead
A zombie movie with more heart than brains. 
written by Anna Humphries, Regina Moriarty, and Toby Cohen, directed by Anna Humphries 

How To Steal a Bed
When a teenager tries to buy a bed for his grandmother, he learns some valuable life lessons. From Switzerland. 
written and directed by Cristian Sulser 

Guns For Cronuts and Other Pressing Issues Facing New Yorkers
Comedian and Late Night Basement host Chris Rose quizzes New Yorkers on the most pressing issues.
written and directed by Chris Rose

Man With a Van: The Commercial
A fake commercial for the best fly-by-night moving company in the city.
written and directed by Garrett Johnston

Chop House
Part of the "Wanna Be a Star?" contest, starring audience member Natalie Shutler! 
written and directed by Victor Varnado 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Notes From Our September 8th Show

The Iron Mule returned to Symphony Space for a night of great shorts. We began with a film about love... Italian style. "L'Appuntamento" by co-writer/director/star Gianpiero Alicchio shows the intricacies and duplicity of dating complete with overpriced vegan dinners and unforeseen second dates.

Next we showed a few films from LA-based sketch comedy troop, Kill Bosby. Check them out HERE.

Our audience award went to Kevin Maher & William Scurry's film, "King Kong Deleted Scenes." Scurry was in attendance for a QnA and to show off his sweet bow tie. Watch this long-lost conversation from the voyage back from Skull Island HERE.

The judges' award went to "Garden of Steven" from Chris Keener and Robert Shore.  Producer Nick Fitzhugh joined us for a QnA. Check out the trailer for this excellent, Guatemala-set film about a hapless missionary and his encounter with the saint of sinners and drunks, Maximon HERE.

Once again, we closed the night with our Wanna Be a Star? film, a series of films that pairs one or more lucky audience members with a director and an audience-submitted title to create something that will be screened at the following month's show. This month it was "Chartreuse Pantograph" directed by Iron Mule producer, Ryan Decker. The audience members participated in a fake audition for a terrible space opera about an inter-sex alien parasite who is trying to reunite the galaxy after a universe-wide war. The audience members included Kate Britton, Zak Kaplan, Garrett Johnston and Tim Hoobler.

Head to Symphony Space on Sunday October 6th for the next installment in the series, "Chop House" directed by the Iron Mule's co-founder Victor Varnado, a Halloween-themed lineup of films, and a very  special guest judge!

Check out our site for more details and we will see you at the next Iron Mule!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Notes from our August 4th Show.

The Iron Mule returned with guest judge, comedian Liam McEneaney, and a host of great comedies from around the world.
We started out with  ABOGADO AVOCADO from Austin, TX, an absurdly funny commercial for the tastiest law firm this side of the border. Directed by David Ward.
From Larry Ziegelman we showed LITTLE MAN OF STEEL, a great film about the difficulties of dating Superman. 

Who says Germans aren't funny? Other than Mark Twain and a host of other people? RETTE SICH WER KANN (Save Yourself) dispels all the rumors in this excellent film about a couple of hapless EMTs who can't seem to save a life without getting a speeding ticket, slapping an old lady or flipping their ambulance. Directed by Daniel Seideneder.

Our audience award went to COMPULSIVE LOVE, a great web series about a psychotic-romantic who can't help falling in love. Written by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Kevan Tucker.

From comedian and host of the Brooklyn-based web talk show Late Night Basement, Chris Rose, we showed GUY FIERI'S RESTAURANT MOVES TO WILLIAMSBURG, a man-on-the-street video that asks hipsters their view on "factory farm-to-table cuisine."
CEDRIC AND HOPE, a medieval claymation from Australia about a peasant boy who tries to prove his mettle as a Crusader, took home our judge's award. Directed by Pierce Davison.

We closed the night with our Wanna Be A Star? film by local filmmaker and comedian Jeff Seal. Audience member Shlomo Gewirtz offers Jeff a little advice on the fairer sex in this very funny short.

 All photos by Tom Henning.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Notes From Our July 7, 2013 Screening


The Iron Mule just had its first show at Symphony Space, and how sweet it was. We had a great turnout and showed some damn-good films.

We even had a famous documentarian as our guest judge; Phillip Shane (BEING ELMO, and the upcoming DANCING IN JAFFA). 

We kicked off the evening with HICCUP by Derville Quigley which was a surreal piece about the things that lie within and outside of our control... And bouncy castles, of course.
Then from Byron Brown and the guys at HUMORDY we showed MY COOLEST FRIEND. There's a lot of fun to be had when you combine a porche, an electric dog collar and John Merriman in a wig.

From Tim Blackburn and Lyndal Moody we showed MONOBROW, a hilarious short about a girl who's met the perfect guy, except.... He has a giant unibrow. Follow the link to see, it's Iron Mule approved after taking home our Audience Award!

Next we screened the first installment of the upcoming webseries, MAN WITH A VAN, a series about the misadventures of movers in New York. It's funny AND it's written and directed by one of Iron Mule's producers and local man with a van, Ryan Decker.

From Mitch Rouse we showed MERKIN PENAL, a prison comedy with more rape jokes than you could shake a shank at.

Jeff Seal came by to share a drunken conversation he'd recently had with his drunken 15 year old self called... A (DRUNKEN) CONVERSATION WITH MY 15 YEAR OLD SELF.

Then from Periods Films we saw BIG CITY, BRIGHT LIGHTS which was a great, five minute, first-person POV version of the novel/Michael J Fox movie.

Our Judges Award went to I'LL BE HERE ALL NIGHT by Andrew Parkhill, which featured a beleaguered pub singer and the deranged old man who just wouldn't let him finish his set.

We then ended our night with our monthly WANNA BE A STAR? movie which pairs one lucky audience member with an Iron Mule filmmaker to make a short to screen at the following month's show. This time around it was GRANDPA'S CANDY written & directed by Iron Mule hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado and starring audience member Brad Brownson. Check it out!

We will be back at Symphony Space on August 4th for the next installment of the Iron Mule. See you there!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Acclaimed Director, Editor, and Producer Phillip Shane to Guest Judge July 7 Iron Mule

We wanted to kick off our first show at Symphony Space with a bang, so we booked a high-caliber guest judge: old friend of the Iron Mule, Phillip Shane. Here's some info about Phillip.

Philip Shane is an award winning documentary producer, director and editor with over 25 years experience. Some of his most recent films include DANCING IN JAFFA (Editor; 2013 TriBeCa Film Festival World Premiere, and Winner of the Best Editor award at the DocAviv Festival in Israel), BEING ELMO (Co-Director, 2010 Sundance Film Festival World Premiere & Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Documentary), and the acclaimed biography EINSTEIN (Producer/Director, 2008, History Channel).

For more than ten years he was an editor with ABC News on many distinguished documentaries, including TIP OF THE SPEAR (2004, DuPont Columbia Award for Distinguished Broadcasting) and MARTIN LUTHER KING (2000, Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program). A short film he made with Peter Jennings and Senior Producer Richard Gerdau, WITNESS TO HISTORY, which explored Jenning's personal memories of 9/11, was entered into the permanent collection of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

But, holy moly, documentaries can be depressing, so he also loves comedy. As a student, performer and director at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater for over 12 years, he was a founding member of the pioneering LECHE MAGICA short comedy film festival, and he and Rob Huebel (of "Human Giant") created, directed and starred in FILET O' FILM, a short film & live comedy show which ran for many years at the UCB Theaters in New York and Los Angeles. He has made many short comedy films (which you can find on YouTube and Funny Or Die if you look hard enough) which are all pretty funny, and just a little bit sad… but mostly funny. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Notes from our June, 2013 screening

On Sunday we had our final show at 92YTriBeCa. It was a fond farewell featuring some great films and it was even hosted the now former film programmer 92Y TriBeCa,  our friend Cristina Cacioppo.
We kicked the night off with Cristina's Wanna Be A Star film, SLEDGE, an old favorite of the Mule's.

Victor & Cristina Cacioppo. Photo by Thomas Henning

We then showed BREAKFAST SURPRISE by Chris Capel, a bloody/ puke-filled film about  breakfast and Jenga. There were as many screams in the audience as there were laughs.

That was followed by another installment in the J. CREW CREW series about the adventures of models and friends. Writer/ Director Meghan O'Neill  came to talk about this and other pieces based on magazines lying around her apartment.

Meghan O'Neill. Photo by Thomas Henning
A rare, midwestern appearance was made by Zach Yokum's SPRING FORWARD. A very punctual father rushes to get his family to church on time after daylight savings, and all in one Steadicam shot! Next up was another episode of SERIOUS BUSINESS (we also screened one at our May show) from Ballard Boyd.

                                                       Victor and Jay. Photo by Thomas Henning

We then showed a couple of man-on-the-street videos from Kevin Maher, WHO'S MORE RACIST? COMIC CON EDITION and 2+2=5. Hilarity and ill-informed judgements ensue.

Victor and Jay with Kevin Maher. Photo by Thomas Henning

From french filmmakers, Laurence Arcadias and Juliette Marchand, came  a fantastic stop-animation video about a couple trying to rekindle their lackluster love life called TEMPEST IN A BEDROOM. It took home BOTH our Audience's and Judges' Awards. Co-director, Laurence Arcadia was in attendance to accept.

Laurence Arcadia with Victor and Jay.

Next we screened DINNER WITH HOLLY from Joel Crockett and Daniel Sinclair, a great film about a young couple who invite their more adventurous friend, Holly, over for dinner and a chance to spice up their sex life.

Our Wanna Be A Star video this month, NEVERMIND, was written and directed by host Victor Varnado and starred audience member Sharon Alkalay.

Before the lights came up one last time for us at 92YTriBeca, we had a cerimonial handing off of the official hard drive from Cristina to Aishah at our new home, Symphony Space.

Cristina hands the ceremonial Iron Mule hard drive to Aishah from Symphony Space. Photo by Thomas Henning

Join us July 7th for the next Iron Mule!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Our May show kicked off with a brief chat with our guest judge, screenwriter and producer George Strayton (credits include XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS).  We then showed Joe Lipari's DREAM JOB,  a film about a down-on-his-luck filmmaker who gets the chance of a lifetime, to shoot a film for who he thinks is George Lucas. The film also features a cameo from the Iron Mule's Victor Varnado as none other than "Mr. Lucas."

We then screened an episode of Meghan O'Neil's  J. CREW CREW, a web series about models... who are friends... and go on adventures... and wear J. Crew. It's great, and not just coz we said so; it took home our audience's choice award! Check it out HERE.

Next up was a very informative video from David Ward called HOW TO TIE A DOUBLE WINDSOR ON CRACK. Need we say more? Then a great, silent comedy from Ben Model and Jeff Seal,  IT LOOKS LIKE RAIN. This was Ben and Jeff's second time at the Iron Mule, we screened another silent film from them a few months back, A DAY'S MESSING.

From Steve Collins we saw MARKELSON'S SYNDROME, a story of new love, a rare disease and goulash.

The Judges award went to POCKETS by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, a hilarious short about a robbery that goes horribly wrong and involves lots and lots of pockets.

Next we screened an episode of SERIOUS BUSINESS by Ballard Boyd, and had a QnA with the series' co-writer and star, Rob Asaro.

And finally we closed with our Wanna Be A Star? film (a monthly series that pairs one lucky audience member with one of the festival's filmmakers to make a short). This month's film was a great comedy about a puppet sub-letter who loves to party named SASSAFRAS BEANBAG, directed by Ryan Arey and starring audience member Chiara Zaccheo.

As programming is winding-down at 92Y TriBeCa, this was our second to last show at this venue. For our final show at the space, our announcement of our new home, and a new episode of J. CREW CREW, come on down to 92Y TriBeCa (200 Hudson St.) on June 1st for the next Iron Mule!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guest Judge George Strayton to join us at the May 4th show!

George Strayton has written and produced both television and film, including Sam Raimi's Xena: Warrior PrincessDragonlance starring Kiefer Sutherland for Paramount Pictures, and Transformers 1 & 2.  He recently optioned the screenplay Xombie to K/O Paper Products (writer/producers of Star Trek Into Darkness, The Proposal, Fringe, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, etc.)  He earned an MFA in Film from Columbia University and has lectured at various film festivals, the Columbia Film Program, and the 92Y.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Iron Mule Turns 11

This April, the Iron Mule will mark its 11th anniversary.

Here are some things we're older than.


the iPhone

the Southern Sudan autonomous region (the one after the Second Sudanese Civil War, not the one after the First Sudanese Civil War)


American Idol

the sequenced human genome


Justin Bieber

the Kardashians' career

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The End of An Era: 92YTribeca to Close

Word came this month that the 92YTribeca screening room, the home of Iron Mule, will be closing this June.

92YTribeca was an atypical place; subsidized by the uptown 92Y, it was tucked away on an otherwise desolate stretch of Hudson Street between traffic entryways to the Holland Tunnel. But they had a state-of-the-art screening room, with a robust, exciting, and always surprising film program.

Before our time at 92YTribeca, the Iron Mule screened for many years at the dearly beloved Pioneer Theater in the East Village. 92YTribeca was just opening when that theater went under, and the fledgling institution offered us a new home. We were proud to hold one of the first screenings at 92YTribeca. And over the years, members of the Iron Mule community have shown all sorts of work there outside of our monthly screenings.

The film programmer, Cristina Cacioppo, has been a great friend to us. She fought for the best screening equipment for our filmmakers and she allowed us to program the occasional feature comedy films, which she procured on 35mm prints.

Cristina’s unique vision mixing good and so-bad-it’s-unbelievably-good cinema along with a dedication to amplifying the live experience of a theatrical film screening was a perfect match for what we strive for at the Iron Mule. She was an advocate for independent voices and all kinds of cinema, high and low. There has been and is no other programming line up just like Cristina’s. The closest cognate is the type of programming you get at the Alamo Drafthouse (outside of NYC, but moving here in 2014 – they could do no better than to hire Cristina immediately).

The people at the 92nd Street Y, which is a revered and powerful cultural institution, stated in their press release that “a second, physical location is not critical to our mission,” which discounts the thousands of filmmakers and scores of independent filmmakers who have relied on 92YTribeca for a unique film-going experience, and often the only opportunity to see rare and classic films on the big screen. We presented a screening of Olsen and Johnson’s Crazy House there in a 35mm print – we bet that will not happen again in a NYC theater for the next decade, if not longer.

As the New Yorker critic Richard Brody points out in his article “Save 92YTribeca,” 92YTribeca has made itself critical to NYC moviegoers and deserves saving. But whether such saving will happen is extremely doubtful. So we bid a fond farewell to 92YTribeca. There will be nothing quite like you. And here’s to the years of fantastic work by Cristina Cacioppo, and her singular programming vision. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Notes from our March, 2013 screening

The Iron Mule returned to 92Y TriBeCa for another sold-out show. The night began with a performance by our guest judge, Audrey Crabtree. Hosts Jay Stern and Kevin Maher (playing the role of Victor Varnado) then kicked off the film program with an entry from Austin, Texas,  THE PROSTITUTE by Byron Brown, which took home our judges award. The film featured a male street walker with a wide array of costumes to choose from, including "karate Patrick Ewing."

We then played TUG , a hilarious film that explores the gray area between a bromance and a romance. The director/ star of the film, J Marvin Solomon, came all the way from LA to participate in a Q&A.

Also from Austin we showed a couple of films from one of the Iron Mule's favorite filmmakers, Steve Collins: THE BALLAD OF COURTNEY & JAMES and J.P.B.F. He too attended for a Q&A where he discussed his many short comedies and his critically-acclaimed dramatic features.

Heading back north we showed a film from New York-based, brother filmmakers Conor & Tyler Byrne. Just to prove how incestual the film industry is, these rising stars at the Iron Mule were actually students of Steve Collins' at Wesleyan University. Their film HEADBANGER was a fantastic short about a mother and son learning to rock together. This was the second film by the brothers Byrne to be screened at the Iron Mule and the entire Byrne clan was in attendance, including their mother who co-starred in the film.

From Todd Alcott we screened an absurd and funny dissection of a Beatles song, SHE LOVES YOU: A CLOSER LOOK. Click to unveil answers to the burning questions of who the "she" and "you" are in this pop gem.

Our audience award went to the improvised, guerilla, iPhone-shot PANHANDLER PARTY by Gary Lee Mahmoud and Josh Apter. The film featured a train filled with a circus performer, a lawyer, a WASPy couple, an undercover cop, and more all asking if you can spare some change. Click to join the party.

We then closed the night with our Wanna Be A Star? film (a monthly contest that puts one lucky audience member in front of the camera). This month's film was BRASS PARSNIP which was directed by Evan Cummings and starring audience member, Marissa Mancini.

We will see you at the next Iron Mule on April 6th at 92YTriBeCa.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Another sold out night at the 92Y TriBeCa! The February Iron Mule was a good time had by all. Jay and Victor kicked off the evening with updates on their upcoming feature films "The Realm of LARP" and "The Adventures of Paul and Marian. "Our guest judge, Michael Kupperman,  gave a great, illustrated presentation featuring excerpts from his new book "Tales Designed To Thrizzle Vol 2."

The film program began with an entry from our friends at, "Money Shot" featuring the misadventures of an Ebay-er with a presumably magic camera that has the power to duplicate whatever it shoots.

Next we showed a hilarious and expertly shot film from Spain called "Division Azul" by Sergi Marti. In order to conquer Lenigrad, Hitler orders two Spanish soldiers to parachute behind enemy lines, but the plan backfires when their chutes get stuck in the trees.

From Peter Alton we screened "And When He Died All He Left Us Was Alone"a film about two sisters forced to compete for their late father's inheritance... With a fight to the death.

The Audience choice Award went to Josh & Jason Diamond's "Nana," featuring a steamy moment of lucidity from a seemingly senile granny as she reflects upon a V Day gangbang.

Our Judge's award went to "A Day's Messing" directed by and starring Jeff Seal. It was a hilarious, silent comedy featuring a Buster Keaton-esque bike messenger doing his best to deliver his "triple rush" package and get the girl (Carlen Altman cameo alert) while fighting off commuters, cabbies and a gypsy sorceress.

We finished the night with our monthly series, "Wanna Be A Star?" which features one lucky member of last month's audience and a title by the first person to scream a suggestion. This month's edition was directed by Mary Beth Coudal and starring Michael Martin and Jay Fortunato called "Spork Wars." A traveling salesman stops into a diner to share with the owner his latest invention and a secret that ties the two men together in a bond as unbreakable as spoon and fork in this funny tale revolving around the spork.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January's Show

Happy New Year! We kicked off 2013 with a great show featuring new films by some Iron Mule favorites and a few new faces.

The night began with a film from our friends at A hapless boyfriend struggles to listen to his girlfriend and not ogle a bar filled with porn stars in "An Evening With Mike & Jessica at the King's Head Inn," directed by David Tamkin.

Next we showed a fantastic, stop-motion film about a man coming to a nudist colony to care for his dying mother, along with a bunch of other surrealistic stuff. Everybody loved it! ("Oh Willy..." by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels)

From Erich Eilenberger came "Stockholm," the story of a radical freegan who kidnaps a vapid, LA celebutante in order to brainwash her to join his cause, but it all goes sour over steak and cake.

Then from Australia, we showed Burleigh Smith's "Thing My Father Never Taught Me," a sweet film about a father imparting a little wisdom about the fairer sex to his three-year old son.

Kevin Maher shared his new web series, "Andrew 12-Sided Dice Clay," which featured the fanboy comedian's routines about sex, droids and hobbits. A must-see for all fans of stand-up and cylons.

Our judge's award went to Eric Hendricks for his found-footage tale of a ship lost at sea ("Sirens of the Past"). And Ryan Arey's story of a man who's GPS knows a more than just how to get home took the audience's choice award ("What Drugs Are You Looking For?")

We closed the night with Victor Varnado's Wanna Be a Star? video, "Alan Ladd Syndrome,"starring Mary Beth Coudal doing her best to save her boyfriend from the symptoms of this horrific, under-publicized condition.