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Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival Was Fantastic For “He’s Not Looking So Great”

November 14, 2013

The film festival premiere of “He’s Not Looking So Great” at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival this past weekend went, well, great! Met tons of great folks, saw some super movies, and had a blast. Here I am with the producer/director Gregory G. Kurczynski when we first arrived.

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And here we are, officially on the schedule!

Buffalo Dreams 2013

I can’t even begin to share all the great films I saw, but here are some of the highlights.

FRIDAY

Our first film of the festival was “Broken Wings,” an action-packed short about the origins of The Sparrow, a vigilante-style superhero. Q&A highlight was hearing how the lead actor Robert Gott injured his hand atop a skyscraper but didn’t tell anyone until after they’d finished shooting a three-hour action sequence. The next day they discovered he’d actually broken it. Now that’s dedication to your craft! Website  Trailer

My favorite short of the festival was “Tasha and Friends,” a horror comedy about a disgruntled children’s show host whose puppets exact their violent and bloody revenge after being put up for sale. Tense and hilarious with a distinctive look, this short had me in stitches. I laughed so hard that afterwards, my face hurt. Producer/director of photography Darren Hutchings became one of my favorite folks to hang out with at the festival. Here we are at the Return to Nuke ‘Em High after-party.

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Also check out Darren’s previous short “Post-Lifers” which you can watch in its entirety here.  (I saw it at the Halloween Horror Picture Show in Tampa and it was great!) Watch the trailer for “Tasha and Friends” here.

The Friday evening slot went to Bloodmarsh Krakoon, about green glowing mutant raccoons that take on the Bronx. These insane critters are so freakin’ creepy and cute that I will be one of the first folks in line when they get a merchandising deal. Jerry Landi, Sal Amore and the rest of the Krackoon boys chewed up the scenery during the Q&A–and I mean that in the best possible way. Hope “He’s Not Looking So Great” crosses paths with these guy again on the festival circuit. Too much fun! Website  Trailer

Here Jerri Landi and I are at the filmmaker’s hotel Monday morning.

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SATURDAY

The day started off with “Five Points,” a funny horror short about roadkill revenge, complete with a zombie bunny puppet. It was directed and written by Anne Coburn, one of the few female filmmakers at the festival. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her because she had to boogie back to NYC, but what a talented lady! Best music of the festival, too. (After The Dollyrots in “He’s Not Looking So Great” of course!) A cruisin’ rockabilly band called Lost State of Franklin. You can watch “Five Points” in its entirety here.

After “Five Points,” the festival had arranged for a special workshop for the filmmakers, “DVD & VOD Distribution for Independent Films,” with Paige K. Davis, Director of Business Development for Alternative Cinema/POP Cinema Studios.  Practical, straight-forward advice on getting your film distributed, with lots of time for Q&A. Best advice: have as many CONCISE selling points as possible in your marketing materials (festival laurels, press clips, etc.) Paige’s talk was one of my favorite parts of the festival.

“Merinthophobia: Fear of Being Bound or Tied Up” led Saturday afternoon. It’s an intense short film that made me squirm in my seat. It’s part of an ongoing web series by Scott Perry called “In Fear Of…” where every episode is based around a phobia and shot in a different style. Neat concept. Facebook

The most “out-there” film of the festival was Motivational Growth, a black comedy about an agoraphobic man who develops an intense relationship with a mound of mold in the corner of his bathroom. (It’s much cooler than I’m making it sound.) The mold was voiced by Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator fame, and designed by Steve Tolin, the first guy voted off on the most recent season of Face Off. Dark, whimsical and creepy, the mold would have seriously stolen the show if Adrian DiGiovanni hadn’t been so amazing in the lead as Ian. Definitely go see it when it lands in your neighborhood. Facebook  Trailer

I was really looking forward to the next short “Maid of Horror” because I’d seen it at the Freak Show Horror Film Festival in Orlando and loved it–but I had missed the first three minutes. Unfortunately, the Q&A after Motivational Growth ran into the break, so lots of folks skipped out to hit the restroom before the next feature. Shame on all of them! This dark comedy by another female filmmaker, Caitlin Koller, came to the festival all the way from Australia. It was funny throughout, and I enjoyed seeing a woman’s perspective come through on the screen. Facebook  Trailer

The tense thriller Animosity started at 3:30, which was about the time I realized that “He’s Not Looking So Great” was going to screen in front of a gazillion Troma fans in less than six hours. My nerves kicked in and I spent most of the film either in the restroom or taking brisk walks outside. Here I am, in one of my many nervous pacing fits.

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I eventually calmed myself down enough to watch My Fair Zombie, which was the film I’d been most looking forward to seeing. Pygmalion is perfect zombie mash-up fare. The lead actress really went over the top in her performance, and amped up the comedy at every turn. Thoroughly enjoyable! Q&A with writer/director Brett Kelly and actor Peter Whittaker was great fun, too. Website  Trailer

Next up was “He’s Not Looking So Great” and the world sneak preview of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1. Troma fans swarmed the theatre, eager to take pics with Toxie and the good zombies of Terror Technologies, me included.

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Greg too!

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The entire event was a benefit for the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center where Return to Nuke ‘Em High was filmed, so the auditorium was packed.

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Greg and I watched from the back. I think we both audibly exhaled after the first laugh. To see the film on the big screen was so freakin’ cool. The movie has quite a few visual jokes, and lots of zombie fan-girl references, and to actually hear people laugh when they noticed them was fantastic.

Afterwards, festival director Gregory Lamberson called us up for our first-ever festival Q&A. Amazingly enough, I didn’t puke or hyperventilate or anything.

Big crowd!

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Applauding the director.

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Greg saying something interesting.

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Me cracking Greg up. (I was so nervous that I don’t even remember what I was saying here!)

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As nervous as I was, I absolutely loved doing the Q&A. Both Greg Lamberson and Greg Kurczynski made it painless and fun, and I can’t wait until our next one.

After “He’s Not Looking So Great,” Lloyd Kaufman himself introduced Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1, which I think is the best-looking Troma film to date. Loved the two lead actresses, and I laughed my butt off through it all. Website  Trailer

After the film we headed to the Troma after-party, where some great folks came up to Greg and I to tell us how much they’d liked our film and ask more questions. One of the top ones was “Who was that band at the end? They rock!” (It’s The Dollyrots, people. Awesome female-fronted punk band out of Los Angeles, and not-so-coincidentally my favorite indie band.)

Lloyd Kaufman stayed at the theatre until he’d met every fan and signed every bit of merch for free. Then he and his delightful wife Pat (who is also a passionate supporter of indie film making and served for many years as the New York State film commissioner) made the rounds at the after-party. Lloyd Kaufman is a man who knows the value of his fans, and who appreciates every single one. He enthusiastically posed for pictures with every person who asked, including me and Greg.

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SUNDAY

Sunday was the visiting filmmakers’ lunch where I got to meet Melissa Mira and Geoff Klein who co-produced and co-directed the slasher Pinup Girls on Ice. Hooray for more female filmmakers! (Facebook  Trailer) I also got to hang out a bit more with the crew from Bloodmarsh Krackoon (I just love that title!) who continued to keep me in stitches.

That afternoon I caught the local film showcase block, and by far my favorite was Rhythm, which starred Tim O’Hearn who was fantastic in it. (Tim also plays a Bigfoot-esque monster in The Legend of Six Fingers. Unfortunately it screened after I had to leave Buffalo, but it’ll be a definite purchase when it hits DVD. Facebook)

Before the Dreamer Awards, I ducked out to a 1940s-era ice cream parlor called Parkside Candy for some quality time with Tamar Lamberson, Kaelin Lamberson, my hubby Jeff Strand (who was pretty much the most supportive spouse a screenwriter could have throughout a weekend like this) and Gregory Kurczynski (who took the pic.)

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Here’s my favorite seven-year-old posing like a pro for the camera.

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Here’s what the inside of the shop looked like. (I loved the molding!)

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Doesn’t Kaelin look like she would have fit in nicely at the soda fountain back in the 40s?

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Late Sunday afternoon, the Dreamer Awards were short, sweet and to the point, the way an awards ceremony should be run. Made me regret getting so nervous Saturday afternoon because I realized I really shouldn’t have missed Animosity, which took home both Best Horror Feature, and Best Actress. Here’s the charming Tracy Willet accepting her award.

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“He’s Not Looking So Great” was nominated for Best Comedy Short, but I wasn’t at all nervous about the awards ceremony. I adored the film that won, “Tasha and Friends,” and its filmmaker Darren Hutchings. Here he is gleefully displaying his award, his hands still shaking.

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Gregory Lamberson presented Lloyd Kaufman with the festival’s Dedication to Excellence in Independent Filmmaking Award. Greg said his first experience with guerilla marketing was seeing a flyer for Lloyd Kaufman’s Waitress plastered on the Plexiglas divider of a NY taxi back in the early eighties. Lloyd responded by giving Greg a Waitress button and totally cracking him up.

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My last film of the festival was also my favorite, Judas Ghost. I had no idea I would love this film as much as I did. Based on the Ghost Finder novels by Simon R. Green, the festival description was “A large room in an old hall becomes an inter-dimensional portal for four ghost hunters.”

It is so freakin’ much more than that, and yet exactly that. The characters felt fully formed from the first moment I saw them, and I cared about them immediately. The edge-of-your-seat tension was broken up with just the right amount of smart humor. It was shot beautifully, and the paranormal phenomena freaked me out. I don’t usually find ghosts scary. In this movie they are. Very. Very, very. Scary. <shudder>

The twenty-six-year-old director Simon Pearce, who I am sure is probably already tired of being known as “twenty-six-year-old director Simon Pearce” lol, flew in from the UK for the festival and his was my favorite Q&A of the festival. Charming and gracious, he responded to each question with enthusiasm and passion. Afterwards he was swarmed with fans and I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but as luck would have it, he was eating breakfast at the hotel at the same time I was and I got to chat with him for almost an hour.

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Go see Judas Ghost, wherever you may find it. It’ll be worth the trip. Website  Trailer

I had absolutely the best time, and I know I was terribly spoiled by my first film festival experience. The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival really knows how to treat filmmakers. From the superstar director to the background actor in a crowd scene, they make each person feel like they belong. They encouraged people to network. They gave each filmmaker an opportunity to bond with the audience during their Q&As and talk to (hopefully) their legions of new fans afterwards. The staff at the Amherst Theatre was helpful and attentive and enjoyed having the festival there. Things were well-organized and any challenges that popped up were handled quickly and with grace and confidence. And putting on my indie film fan hat here for a moment, there were so many great films on the schedule. Usually you come away from a festival with one real “standout” film. At Buffalo Dreams, there were many.

Of course, what’s really amazing is that the festival has only been around for four years. I can’t wait to see what great things festival directors Gregory Lamberson and Chris Scioli have planned for the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival next year!

Gregory Lamberson, Gregory G. Kurczynski, Jeff Strand and me Sunday after the Dreamer Awards.

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“He’s Not Looking So Great” Facebook (Come on, “like” us. You know you want to.)  

 

Watch the trailer for “He’s Not Looking So Great” here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 31, 2013 2:47 pm

    Congrats on all your accomplishments this year. Loved the pics and the blue hair! I’m wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014 — Happy New Year!

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