Monday, March 29, 2010
25 years later
Last Thursday I got an email from a fan who had seen a movie I made back in 1986, The Tower, and who thought it was a great little cult film. This was totally unexpected as the movie was low budget ($25,000) and shot on ancient 3/4" video which cannot even compare to the quality of consumer HD cameras you can buy now for a few hundred dollars.
Back in 1986 3/4" video was an accepted format, being that there was no digital video yet, not even for the networks who used 1" or 2" videotape.
The email said that a group of movie fans were screening the film on Saturday, along with a short I had made with my partner in Vancouver in 1975. My initial response was shock, as the movie is not very good at all. In hindsight, though, I came to realize it's one of those offbeat movies that a small but tight audience of 20-somethings enjoys watching.
The Tower is based on real technology wherein sensors in office buildings capture heat from human beings and converts it to energy. This exists in cold weather areas in Canada and the U.S.
My take was what if the sensors also captured feelings, like love and hate, and as it captured those feelings it wanted more. Much the same way humans want more. And it begins killing humans to get more love and/or hate.
I got the go-ahead from a producer called Lionel Schenken who was the Roger Corman of his day, making movies for very little in partnership with a local TV station. He paid the creative side and the TV station supplied the crew in exchange for Canadian rights. Lionel sold international rights and made a ton of money.
The trade-off was that it had to be made for little actual cash and that meant home-made effects and non-union actors. In addition the crew was primarily experienced at hockey games and didn't really care about actors.
There were a lot of fights with them, but I finally finished it, edited the first cut of the movie and turned it over to another editor for cleaning up.
Then I forgot about it. In fact I didn't even mention it in any of my credits. I made a few dollars and never wanted to see it again.
Until this group of Toronto cheapo movie fans discovered it. Someone once said that if you wait long enough, someone will say something nice about you.
So there it was, a screening. I did a video intro from Los Angeles and uploaded it to the fan in Toronto, who screened it for the audience. He shot video while there and it looked like a lot of laughing and fun. They even found two actors who were in the movie which was also great.
I'm not sure I would have gone to Toronto just for that, but what was interesting was this; one of the actors, Kenner Ames, said he didn't quite believe that we had made this funny little movie and he was now, after 24 years, standing in front of an audience talking about it.
I didn't quite believe it either.
But then again, my horror feature Ghostkeeper, has a bigger following and a distributor who wishes to re-release it as a special edition.
The irony is my best work gets very little attention.
But what the hell, take whatever they give you.
The best remark was from one of the audience, many of whom have now found me on Facebook, when he said "it's not a great movie, but it's better than a lot of the stuff we see now".
(Wed: H&H cont'd)