The story you're about to read is true. Last month I decided to start a program that showcases the work of local filmmakers. This idea has haunted me for a long time, ever since the 1998 death of Cracked Lens, the monthly screening that once graced the Mission Theatre with films and videos by local artists.
Since Cracked Lens crumbled, I've had to listen to the boo-hoos of local filmmakers, whining about how they can't get their work to the people. OK, most of them didn't actually whine, but their voices had a definite tone of lamentation that is easily confused with whining seven times out of 10. Joe/Joanne Blow-filmmaker would come to me with a seven-minute short and ask me how to get people to show up at somebody's house and pay five dollars to watch the film in a basement. I would tell geeks like this to get together with five or six other filmmakers, rent a theater like the Hollywood or the Clinton Street and put on their own program. It's called "four walling," and it ain't rocket science--filmmakers do it all the time.
But no one took my advice. So I decided to do something myself. With my objective in sight--to showcase films and videos by Portland-based creators--I got on the phone with Jonah Loeb, president of IndieDVD, a Portland company that releases independent films. Fate brought us together when I met Jonah at a screening of Toxic Avenger IV, but it was our shared cynical view of the film industry that caused me to bond with the filmmaker-turned-distributor. Rather than spend money to make films, he's put money into releasing them, recognizing that making a movie doesn't matter much if no one ever gets to see it.
"You can make a film and show it to friends and family in your living room until you die lonely and broke with the knowledge that you were a 'filmmaker,'" says Loeb. "Or you can take the charge in getting your film out there."
The next call was to Kyra Reed, the general manager of Amp Studios, a local media collective that provides film and video production resources at reasonable rates. Kyra is one of those overly-optimistic people--the kind who can get you motivated and aggravated at the same time. But one of her goals for Amp is to bring a greater sense of unity and community to the local film and video scene.
Among the three of us were the resources and the access to enough product for a solid program of short films. It wasn't as easy as I'd thought--but it certainly wasn't quantum physics, either. All any of us--I, along with Jonah, Kyra and the filmmakers whose work will be screened--can hope for is that people show up and have a good time.
Happy Valley--A collection of images in the unique "cinemation" style of Portland's Happy Trails Animation resembles a moving impressionist painting.
E--How Much Do you Know?--Trailer for the upcoming documentary about the drug Ecstasy.
God's Clowns--A hilarious mockumentary about a monastery where the monks are committed to making God laugh.
Hung Like the Lord-- Greg James' twisted, disturbing and darkly comedic music video.
Beyond the River--A surreal journey into the world of drugs.
The Writers Model--Diana Turner's unsettling look at how a group of male writers get inside the female mind.
The Making of Drugstore Cowboy--The uncut version of John Campbell's behind-the-scenes look at Gus Van Sant's classic film.
Reach & Frequency--This short was produced by Food Chain Films for the Portland Advertising Federation's Rosey Awards. It lampoons the world of advertising by comparing it to the porn business. It's so spot-on it was banned from the ceremony.
Here Comes the Pain--Nick Lyon's creepy music video, with animation by Happy Trails.
A Flower for the People--Filmmaker Yael Routtenberg's dreamlike portrait of woman who hands out flowers to strangers.
The Mortified Man--A classic from the Portland film scene, this tale of a man trapped in an outhouse was so disturbing that Johnny Depp walked out of a screening at Sundance.
The End of the Old--Courtney Taylor-Taylor of Dandy Warhols fame wrote and directed this short, in which he co-stars with Ione Skye (Say Anything) and Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots).
The Sexy Chef--Selected scenes from the work-in-progress by Ian and Tyson Smith, creators of the critically acclaimed comic book Oddjob.
Floater--The awkwardness of first-time lovers is explored with profound insight and dignity by filmmaker Rebecca Rodriguez.
Confessions--As his life slips away, a young junkie travels through purgatory and faces the demons of his past.
Ground Floor Cinema presents Attack of the Portland Filmmakers!
Clinton Street Theater
2522 SE Clinton St., 238-8899.
7 pm Friday,. 9:15 pm Saturday
9:15 pm Friday, 7 pm Saturday
$6 for one program; $8 for both.
Ground Floor Cinema hopes to put on more shows in the future and to include the work of filmmakers outside of Portland