Sunday, November 11, 2007

It Came From Lake Michigan - Day 2

Another reprint of a recent blog.


Not quite live today.

Last time, I neglected to mention meeting gonzo journalist Joel R. Bolyard, whose business card describes him as "Executive Dork" at -- nice guy; check out his site.

I also didn't mention the very nice couple in the booth next door who were our "cell mates" for this festival. Mike and Carrie make horror-themed and custom glassware, and they're about the best "neighbors" a convention-goer could ask for. Check out their work at

Saturday began with a pair of mysterious hooded figures haunting our not-yet-open booth and browsing at the plastic pumpkin full of crawlies that I'd brought as gifts for attending children. Turned out they weren't ghouls at all, but people from the inner earth, promoting their movie from Cosmic Control Productions that evening. More about that later.

One of the trickiest things of the festival proved -- as I'd feared -- the task of juggling being at the booth, meeting people and selling things, with actually being able to see films. Early in the day, I decided to hang out at the booth, but that proved the proverbial "best-laid plans." My son, Kendall, quickly planned out his day of movies and film-making seminars, I decided to play catch as catch can.

(If we're lucky, maybe I can convince him to do some blogging on what we saw.)

I snuck out of the booth briefly to catch a bit of a program by Uwe Boll, only to discover -- to my chagrin -- that the entry to the hall was actually _behind_ the screen and Uwe and, to make embarrassing matters worse, they were filming his speech, too. Still, it was a fun listen after I crept back into a corner near the door and out of camera range.

More time at the table introduced me to some of the people who'd worked on Backwoods Blood Bath (formerly Black Hodag) -- an interesting looking film that (again, sadly) my cheapo admission didn't cover attending. Effects specialist Joseph C. Mistretta was very nice, and I look forward to seeing his work in the film.

Meeting and greeting folks segued into my big event of the day, a panel on Sex vs. Violence in horror films, hosted by me and Elske McCain. Elske -- -- and I had never met before and, as it turned out, no one had told her about the panel. Still, she's a pro dancer and Troma (films) girl, so she took it all in stride once I tracked her down, and the two of us did an hour-long panel on a subject near and dear to our hearts. Apparently, despite the lack of preparation, we did well, because, during the rest of the festival, numerous people mentioned to both of us how much they liked the seminar. (At least part of it was filmed, and maybe I'll get my hands on a copy some day.)

After that, I intended to sit in the booth for a while, but when Mike Conway of Midnight Sun Entertainment came by drumming up a crowd for his lecture on cheap special effects, I couldn't turn him down. After all, I remembered that I'd met him the previous night; he was the director of two films featuring my new friend Heather Lei Guzzetta. So, I joined my son in Mike's class, and was entertained by the cool things Mike pulled off with a rubber hand, a SFX cloning tool, and an old van and a 4x4 (not all in the same movie). Mike's next film, Exile, features Heather as an android -- and my son and I can't wait for its release. Here's another of his films:

As I came out, I saw Heather at her booth, but as she was busy, I didn't want to distract her from her fans and figured we'd catch up later. And we almost did.

I ran into some more friends attending the gaming convention at the same facility (Hi Anne, Rick, Emily, and Elenore!) and made my way back to the dealer area until evening while Kendall caught more films and classes.

As six o'clock neared, the underground dwellers returned and we were compelled to follow them to their film showing. On the way, we ran into Heather who said, "Why didn't you come see me?" I said, "I did, right after Mike's seminar, but you were busy." She was going to dinner, so we vowed to catch up tomorrow. Back to the strange underground dwellers.

Last year, their film Diabolical Tales (part 1) won the SciFi prize at the festival. This year, the same fiends from Cosmic Control productions -- -- brought parts 2 and 3.

And they were great fun. Part homage/part spoof of 1950s low-budget films, Diabolical Tales tell the story of the attempts by a lost race of underground dwellers to take over the surface world -- and the struggles of valiant government agents to stop them. Shot with volunteers for a total cost of about $1200 (if I remember right -- a total for all three 45+ minute installments), all three films are a testament to just what a determined if underfunded filmmaker -- Brandon Kane -- can do. Kendall the budding movie auteur was favorably impressed, and all the people involved (even the underground dwellers) were very kind to my family.

We thought that was the end of our day, when convention director (and former zombie) Wayne Clingman ran up to us and said, "Are you sticking around for a while?" It seemed the last seminar of the day was shaping up to be severely under-attended. Not only that, but a snafu on the program hadn't properly described the session -- it was really a seminar on shooting an SFX movie entirely against green screen.

We ended up going as a favor to Wayne, but the program was _exactly_ the kind of thing we'd come to the festival to see. (Well, aside from the actual horror/SF films.)

The presentation was by AJ Goodwin and the other good folks at Lightning Rod Studios -- -- a Milwaukee film production house. Their seminar detailed how they'd shot an entire fantasy movie in their studio using greenscreen, and how to make a film look bigger than its budget. And, for four guys working part time -- they all have day jobs -- this is pretty amazing stuff. Miniscule budget turning in work that could easily be a feature movie on SciFi -- or maybe even in the theaters.

Watch for Carnivorous coming out soon -- though they're not sure in what venues yet. This group, too, was amazingly kind to me and Kendall, too. We hope to visit their studio sometime in the future.

The Lightning Rod presentation was the end of our film-going day, and after giving our new friends a couple of my books, my son and I went home for some well-deserved sleep.

News on the final day of the festival soon.

Go Sox!

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