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January 10th, 2017
Puke on the screen: A vault opens and closes
Last week, I put together a small screening for my birthday that ended up being a sort of grab bag of over a decade's worth of Gonzoriffic archives that never played at our Ciné shows for whatever reason (they opened in 2007 and our first program there was in 2008, so very few of the movies we made before then have been screened at the venue). Everyone had a good time and the show played better than expected, but I had a few kind of unexpected memories pop up on the drive home.
Gonzoriffic began as a cult film review blog in 1996 and I slapped the banner on a couple shorts I did in 2001 and 2002 while still primarily active as a musician, so the filmmaking thing didn't officially get its start until early 2003 when we made a trio of 30+ minute shorts back to back in spring and summer. The crew would go through some lineup changes, but by the end of 2009, the majority of the players were either on their way out or gone completely. I ended 2011 with almost no one left and was wondering if I'd even be able to continue, and then 2012 completely exploded within months. It was kind of a miracle, and the past five years have been characterized by a stability I had only dreamed of during the first five.
Watching some of the old clips reminded me of lots of things. How much we were able to do before the technology really caught up with us. How reckless and therefore awesome we were because we were younger and had that energy that comes along with doing some new creative thing. But I also remembered how fast people burned out on it and how much carrot dangling I had to do sometimes to get the movies made. The more I began to figure out what kind of art I wanted to make, the more at odds it put me with key members of the group. There was tremendous talent that had either reached the end of what they were capable of or what they would allow themselves to do, but either way, it all culminated in a couple awesome final projects that really showed how far Gonzoriffic had come (even if not everyone made it there with me).
If the past couple years is any indication, the future of this thing will see it continue to evolve as less of the me thing and more of the us thing I always told people it was. We have so many self-starters, folks who develop their own projects and do the casting, writing, directing, and sometimes even the shooting and editing on their own. I wanted to have a safe space where my creative friends could feel free to make whatever they dreamed up, and an umbrella they could do it under knowing they were part of something real that was genuinely interetsed in them and would not be going away. The short version is it's more exciting than it has ever been for me, and hopefully for everyone involved.
I loved seeing performances getting applause that had never been seen by a big crowd before, and faces being recognized for the true talents they were, and hopefully still are at whatever they're doing now. It's tough to get hung up on what was when there's so much that will always be, and even more that still is.
October 6th, 2016
We are here.
The 15th anniversary show is two weeks away, and as usual, I still have extra movies planned to film in the coming days. One of them we just thought of yesterday. I think the excitement for the show inspires people. I know it always does me.
That's Dee on the poster. Two of the arms belong to Xtina and the other one is Dee's. We shot the photo in my studio the same night we filmed "Melpomene," the video that Dee directed and starred in along with Xtina. We roamed the streets of my little town until close to 2am I think. It reminded me of years part when friends and I shot stuff around those same places. I know we were in at least one of those alleys.
I concentrated on making it great. Dee has wonderful and specific ideas and she can see it all in her head, and usually draws it out on paper in her great sketchy cartoon style. I don't know what it's like to be that organized or to be able to envision things so clearly. Even when I was just a kid who liked to draw, I never knew what was going to happen when I put pen to paper. I just kind of followed where the lines went even though I couldn't see them.
It's been years since being the big idea person was something I wanted. I've had people tell me - not just in our crew but years ago by people I was in bands with and even classmates - that they followed me down whatever creative path I was going because of how into it I was, and how confident they were that it wasn't going to be a mistake. It's a humbling thought, especially considering I really had no idea if stuff was going to work or where we would end up. I just wanted everyone to have fun and be safe, and hopefully enjoy it enough to come with me on future adventures.
So far, that still hasn't been a problem. There's always someone who is ready to go, and that's the only reason why I've made it. My harshest critics have said I am nothing without at least one dedicated and talented person beside me, and while I think they expressed that to me out of fear and insecurity, it hit that same insecure nerve in me that constantly wonders how much time til the fun is over. I've always thought I was pretty good at knowing when something has run its course, but I think the reason Gonzoriffic has endured is because I try to be careful not to give more of it to anyone than their fair share. The only way it dies is when I say it dies, and no one else.
I wouldn't be so sentimental and care so much and keep at it the way I do if I was ready for this to all be over. I'm not tired. I'm not burnt out. I'm not done. I'm not sick. In many ways, each year feels like a restart. After the shows, the canvas is once again blank, and the paints are all there ready to be picked up by anyone who has something in their brain or their heart and wants to share it with me. And I in turn get excited to share it with you. That's always going to be a dream. That's always going to be what I want. I don't know how to live another way at this point.
See you at the show,
May 16th, 2016
Gonzoriffic Turns 15
Gonzoriffic's 15th anniversary finds me humbled, thankful, emotional, reflective, and inspired. Over the last four years, it has finally turned into what I always dreamed it might someday be. I'm surrounded by a small group of incredible artists who work together in all senses of the word in a creative environment that is healthy and free. Now is the best time to be making weird movies, and I'm glad we stuck around long enough to be part of it.Gonzoriffic at 15 does look a bit different than it did at 10. The crew has gone through several different cycles, people coming and going, some returning and some not. The wonderful part about what Gonzoriffic does is that it captures so many talented folks having fun together and making art. No matter what happens later, good or bad, the moment is preserved forever. And to have documentation of that for over a decade is an incredible thing to look back on. There is nothing I would do differently and nothing I'd change about it.
Here's the thing. When you're inside it like I have been for so long, it's not always easy - or even possible - to see the effect this kind of endeavor has had on those around you. Most of the time, I concentrate on my responsibility to it, making sure it remains a positive thing in my life and my family's life, and keeping up the great relationships with people and places that are a direct result of all the hard work we've put in over the years. I feel like what we're doing is not only good, but good for us. I love watching the directors and actors laughing and making things. I love seeing them embrace after the screenings with their friends and family beaming and chattering away. It's the coolest thing ever.
I don't know how to hang out. I don't know how to chill. Making art with my friends is my social activity, and everyone I see on a regular basis is usually doing something weird or sexy or funny (or all three) either in front of or behind the camera. I'm not burnt out. I'm not tired of it. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing. In the past 5 years, I've lost friends, lost my dad, made many new friends and become a dad myself. I see the world so differently. Time is moving so fast. I'm in love with this, with you, and with art. I hold onto Gonzoriffic because it's a big part of who I am, and I've invested years of my time and your time into it.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for watching. Thank you for remaining. I plan to do the same.
April 26th, 2011
A Look at Gonzoriffic at 10
In February 2001, Monica Puller and I made the first of what would end up being many, many films together. Co-starring her then roommate Cara Lott (best known as pregnant wife Cathy in our 2007 feature film "Fake Blood"), "Pop Goes the Evil" was written on a small stack of index cards and shot with a borrowed VHS-C camcorder over the course of a few hours. At the time, we were playing in a band together and doing pretty well with that, so making a movie was more of just a goofy one-off kind of thing. But after we shot the first version of "Cannibal Sisters" the following year, we both kind of knew we were onto something. Having given up on my dreams of film making at age 14 to pursue a life in punk rock, it was safe to say I had some unfinished business there. Suddenly, screen writing appealed more to me than songwriting, and 2 years after we'd shot our first one, Monica and I played our final show with the band and filmed "Buttonhead" the very next day.
With that, Gonzoriffic Films was officially off and running and I haven't looked back since. I'm not quite sure what to say at this point, other than it remains something I am 100% proud of. Through all its different incarnations and stages of life, the ever-rotating group of players and crew, public screenings and conventions, project after project, I am closer and more in love with it than ever before. I'm fiercely protective of its credibility, happy with the image and reputation it has on the underground film scene, and place tremendous value on the positive things it has brought me in my life. It's something my friends and I can do together that's not only fun and creative, but allows for a real feeling of accomplishment felt by everyone involved. Thanks to support from Athens Cine and a small handful of other theaters willing to take a chance on us, the crew has gotten to watch our films on the big screen many, many times. It never gets old, I've learned from it, and I am hopelessly addicted to how it makes me feel inside.
There's much more to say, but this isn't the time or place. Besides, I've written enough in the journal archive to satisfy anyone looking for a Gonzoriffic history lesson. So where do we go from here? That's simple. Make another movie.Monica Puller and Cara Lott on the set of our 2001 film "Pop Goes the Evil."
December 1st, 2010
Getting on Amazon and IMDB (now that everyone is making goddamn movies)
It has been an interesting year for me in a bajillion ways, not just as a film maker. This post is for anyone who has made a movie and has questions about getting it "out there".What has it been like having one of my films distributed by a professional company?
I'm sure everyone's experience is different depending on what kind of deal you get. In my case, our short "Blood Witch" was included in a feature-length anthology patterned after "Creepshow" and so forth. The producers commissioned me and a couple other film makers to do individual 20-minute pieces for the project, and asked that they be completed and delivered by May 2008. Due to a lot of false starts and technical issues, I ended up being the first one finished, so I decided to self-release the movie just like any of our other titles. In short, I made back all the money I spent on it and got to see it play a couple film festivals way before any ink was put on paper for our final deal. The eventual DVD was made available on Amazon.com, in FYE retail stores and has popped up on enough pirate sites to choke a hippo. What did I learn?
You'll get mentioned on a lot of websites and a few will even write reviews (now and then, even intelligently), but I wouldn't expect to see any money from it unless people suddenly start buying DVDs again. You can watch my movie for free on any number of the aforementioned ripoff sites, so I don't see that happening anytime soon. Kind of sad, really, because the folks who put out the DVD were genuinely cool and supportive of the project. They can't help it if people don't care about no-budget directors and distributors surviving. We're just dumb-asses who can't figure out how to survive in the digital age, right? Right.What about alternatives like Amazon's "Create Space"?
You get a couple options here. You can send them your movie and they can make the DVDs for you, plus make it available for rental or purchase via their "On Demand" service. Since I now know DVD is pretty much fucked, I decided to test out the On Demand thing with our 2007 feature film "Fake Blood". I love the movie, it took us a year to complete, but sales were never that high. Let's face it: it's a movie for people who make movies, and that's where it ends. Still, I hear people say all the time that it's their favorite of my films, and I think it could win over anyone who gave it a chance. Amazon made it real easy: all I did was fill out a bunch of stuff online (including tax information so I can get royalty payments), upload the cover art, and mail them the DVD. The movie was "accepted" in just a few days, which surprised me, and will be available via their service in a month or so. They let me name my price, so I set rental at $2.99 or something like that. We'll see what happens. Amazon On Demand is a service I actually use, but I don't know how popular it is. Honestly I'd rather not be on Netflix, as their users are notoriously unkind to microbudget films like this.How do I get listed on IMDB?
Just a few years ago, it wasn't too hard. As long as you could prove your movie actually existed, they'd put you on there. Not so anymore. Your best bet, as my friend Val stated, is to submit your work to a film festival that IMDB supports. Where is this list? There is a service called Without A Box
that many festivals use to accept submissions and collect entry fees. Apparently, they are partners with Amazon and IMDB now, so it's all linked together there. If you sign up for a free account at withoutabox.com, you can make a page for your movie and go through the list of film festivals to see which ones are IMDB legit. I sent in our film "Erotic Couch" to the CineKink NYC festival, and about three weeks later, a notice came to my e-mail saying that IMDB had created a page for it. I was allowed to upload the trailer for free but adding the poster costs $35. Wild! So it's on there now, apparently regardless of whether or not my film actually ends up playing the festival.
It is an interesting time to be making movies. What I can tell you for sure is that DVDs are going away, and I can see myself uploading my own stuff to some kind of digital streaming or download service to make sure Gonzoriffic films can still reach people who want to see them. Getting a distribution deal used to be the Holy Grail for people on my level, but now it's just a fast track to hundreds of shrink-wrapped coasters with UPC codes and Chinese websites offering your work to "WATCH ONLINE NOW". I'm not trying to break into showbiz, I just wanna make movies. But I also want to be able to share them with anyone who wants to see and also be able to afford to make more. The majority of my costs comes from making DVDs and shipping them out. If Amazon works out and they'll keep taking my stuff (must be 20 minutes or more), I see that as a viable alternative. And if it costs less to submit my movie to a film festival and get listed on IMDB than it does to upload the fucking poster art (Wild!), that's still pretty cheap. And YouTube will get the rest, I suppose.What is the future of movies?
Whatever kind of movies you give your money to, that is what will get made. The end.
November 5th, 2010
NEW WEBSITE! NEW BLOG!
Hey, kids! The all-new Gonzoriffic website launched on Halloween. The entire contents of this journal have been moved over and archived over at the new page, and all future updates will happen there (our way of trying to make everything simpler). So check out www.gonzoriffic.com
I'm going to keep this page active both as a backup and a place to write more personal things that I wouldn't want displayed in a news feed on our main page, so I'm not going away.
Love, peace and doo doo grease,
September 20th, 2010
So much for Loudtwitter...
I check in here at LiveJournal to discover the Loudtwitter service hasn't archived any of my updates in two months.
At this moment in time, Facebook is where I've been posting all the Gonzoriffic news because Facebook the only thing anyone ever goes to. It's no wonder David Fincher made a movie about that site; the fucking thing has not only replaced e-mail, but it has basically replaced everything else. I will say this, though, it has shown me that people I've never even met can be more supportive of my artistic endeavors than some of my real-life friends. Kind of mind blowing what a simple thumbs-up on a computer screen can do for one's momentary happiness.
Anyway, a lot has gone on over the past couple months as we gear up for our fall show at Athens Cine. Our new movie, "Dollface", is completed and the DVDs are ready, they just need a front cover (which our own Rachael Deacon is drawing). The film runs 45 minutes and boasts one of the largest casts we've ever had. The whole thing has been an emotional undertaking for me. In the end, despite some darkness in the film, we still managed to bring the tried and true Gonzoriffic pathos everyone loves so much.
Countess Samela and Rachael Deacon both recently completed shooting their respective short films and editing will commence this week on both. That makes the show's lineup as follows:
A FEVER AND A RIVER
UNTITLED TORSO PROJECT
Hopefully that'll fill a good 90-minute chunk of time. If not, there's always old stuff I can resurrect, but it would be nice to have one show that consisted of all-new material. Rachael and I are also working on another art exhibit to coincide with the show featuring her paintings and my photographs. It's going to be an exciting four weeks :)
July 15th, 2010
- 22:30 Official: This year's Gonzoriffic show will take place at Athens Cine on Saturday, October 23rd. Hope to see you there :) #
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July 8th, 2010
- 12:57 Happy birthday to Kristy Langford from Gates of Gore! She was the first person to write about Gonzoriffic, and we... fb.me/CvFvxjCF #
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