The Sturm and Drang of Filmmaking

Whoa, what a week. The Borderlands Film Festival is now just a memory. Oh, but what a memory! Well, what I can remember of it…

To be completely honest, some of it is just a blur. And, because I was in charge of Guest Services at the host hotel, I didn’t get the opportunity to catch any of the films on the big screen. I did, however, meet most of the visiting filmmakers and attended all but the final filmmaker social. Five out of six ain’t bad. Especially considering I didn’t leave any of them until well after midnight and only got 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. So, there’s that.

A memorable night after the Awards Ceremony, with Luke Hawthorne (filmmaker from Farmington), Leslie-Ann Coles (Best Director award-winner for her documentary Melody Makers), Me, Kelly Covert, my son Gideon, some random creeper, Autumn Gieb, Donny Prosise, Mike Covert and Erica Krauel.

Along the way, I had the consummate pleasure of meeting and befriending legendary actor Jack Betts, our guest of honor. Jack has been in the business since 1952, when he started his career on the soap opera, Guiding Light. From there he appeared in just about every recognizable television show of the 70s, 80s and 90s, from Bonanza and Kojack to Friends and Monk.

That doesn’t include the six years he spent in Italy, making 20 spaghetti westerns (most notably the original Django movie and its sequels), as the heroic Hunt Powers. Admittedly, my favorite right now is the classic western Sugar Colt, but only because I saw it with Jack at my side and that truly made the movie for me. His career has continued since then, with roles in such memorable movies as Spider-Man, 8mm, Office Space and Batman Forever, among many others.


The man really does deserve the title “living legend.” He’s 89 years old and still working, with two films coming out next year. I had several wonderful conversations with him and even got the opportunity to sit down and chat with him on film. In return, I received a signed photo from Sugar Colt, a Godfather-like kiss-on-the-cheek blessing at one of our filmmaker socials and a phone call from the airport as he was preparing to fly back to L.A., to thank me for a wonderful time. The magnificence of all this will become clear shortly, because the week was not without its trials.

Making time with living legend, Jack Betts.

Foremost among those was the premiere of Lady Belladonna’s Tales From The Inferno, which was both the most horrible AND the most wonderful night I’ve had in years. Horrible because everything that could go wrong, did. I’m not even kidding – it wasn’t just a glitch or two, it was full-scale panic. The kind you want to blot from your memory completely. The kind that leaves scars and makes you cry on those cold lonely nights when it’s best to stay far away from sharp objects. You know the ones…

To begin with, the premiere was relegated to the smallest theater in the plex, which meant a LOT of people were turned away, including most of my crew and a few of the actors. That sucked. Yes, it was a sold out show, but it might have been a sold out show in a larger theater and, therefore, accommodated a lot more people. We’ll never know. The upside is, my family all got in, as did Tawnya and Rafael. I was hopeful, at that point, that we would have a very lively Q&A. Then came the SNAFU.

This will be remembered as the year Lady Belladonna and Venom were both sold out on the same night.

The SNAFU came about because, for whatever reason, the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of the film was loaded into the theater DCP player without any of the sound, except the music. Which meant the first five minutes of the film was a silent movie. By the time we figured out what the problem was, it was 20 minutes past the start time. That’s when Donny and I made a mad dash across the north part of town to pick up my keys at home, THEN an even madder dash to my office on the south side of town, to pick up back-up discs, THEN a frenzied dash around the other side of town and back to the theater, all in 30 minutes.

All of that sucked in the worst possible way, complete with panic attack. The upside is, I didn’t lose any of my audience, which is beyond unbelievable considering the movie started almost an hour late. The downside is, there was no time for a Q&A afterwards. We were then almost two hours late to the Filmmaker Social, which served as an after-party for LBTFTI. The few who were left and, like us, arrived late, were very complimentary and the evening ended on a very high note.

Unfortunately, all that lack of sleep, long stressful days and full-on panic attacks took their toll on this old, irradiated body. I’m a wreck, right now. Exhausted to the point of depletion and feeling like I’ve got the worst case of flu ever. But, with the premiere of Radio Silence looming on Friday and the second premiere of LBTFTI a week from today, I don’t really have time to recuperate. I’ve got a LOT of work ahead of me and somehow must manage to keep my head above water. Just thinking about it makes me want a nap…


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