Visions of J.R., Tastee Tacos and a Visionary Award
BY CLAYTON PATTERSON | In actuality, having a film out is a job. A job that requires a lot of work, and there is the small glimmer of hope for some kind of payoff.
I am still out there pitching “Captured,” my biopic, and in doing this kind of work, one at times ends up in some unexpected situations. It is a little like being in a rock ’n’ roll band.
I just returned from one of those unexpected gig situations, which turned out to be an amazing adventure with a multilevel payoff. And my payoff was not in money, but in possibilities, respect, consideration, honesty, goodwill, learning, sharing, good food, good vibes, good treatment and a whole lot of fun and adventure. I was a guest of the first-ever Victoria TX Independent Film Festival.
It all started over a year ago when Dan Levin, co-director of “Captured,” was in Texas screening “Dirty Old Town” — featuring Billy Leroy, formerly of the Houston St. antiques and props tents — and he met Anthony Pedone. They talked about a festival, and Anthony, as executive director, pulled it off in Victoria, Texas.
“Dirty Old Town,” by Jenner Furst, Dan Levin and Julia Naso, and “Captured,” by Dan Levin, Ben Solomon and Jenner Furst, both back by Blowback Productions, were invited to be screened at this year’s inaugural festival. Dan also represented the new Blowback feature documentary film “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island.”
After a three-hour flight we landed in Houston, and got driven to Victoria in a stretch Hummer limo by Rosie Moraida, who is an excellent host, as well as driver.
The next pleasant surprise was our lodgings. We stayed at the Spirit Inn, a little way out of town. It looked like one of the ranch houses in the TV show “Dallas.” I kept expecting J.R. Ewing to walk onto the porch as we sat in our white wicker chairs.
My favorite memory of the hotel was sleeping in a room that Bonnie and Clyde had slept in.
I was definitely pleased to meet Mark Bell, the new owner/publisher of Film Threat magazine. Chris Gore was the original thinker and passionate film-buff owner who started to publish the magazine in 1985.
At first, Film Threat was like a fanzine and then slowly moved to a magazine. It’s one of the only resources for 1980s underground film history, including the mid-’80s Lower East Side Films of Transgression movement, which is the time I was involved with the magazine.
Over the four days at the screening, I was lucky enough to see a number of great films, as well as be able to hang out with a number of filmmakers, plus locals, ranging from Mayor Will Anderson to a retired bull rider.
Friday and Saturday nights before going back to the ranch there were after-parties with a band, D.J., plenty of drink and an art show.
At Dan’s suggestion, at the Tastee Taco stand I had an incredible sandwich, though I don’t even know what my order was called. It was like a pita sandwich, except the wrap was homemade from corn, then smothered with a layer of steak, next corn, overlapped with cheese, some hot spice, then a generous pile of grilled, browned potatoes. It was delicious.
“Captured” was nominated for a few awards, but lost Best Documentary to “This Way of Life,” directed by Thomas Burstyn. I am not disappointed to have lost to such an excellent documentary. This is a real adventure movie about the life and, at times, death struggles of a family living the pioneer lifestyle and surviving on what little money the horse-wrangler father makes breaking horses in rural New Zeeland. Peter Karena, the father, and his son, Llewellyn, were in attendance. I was inspired to have met them.
Let’s not forget this was Texas. I was in die-hard Bible Belt Republican territory and I was coming from New York City and talking about the plus side of Occupy Wall Street. Of course, most of my politics center on local, community and neighborhood concerns. What do I really know about national and international politics? I have trouble getting to the bottom of many local political conundrums.
Yet, we found much common ground to shake hands on, like being disturbed by the level of greed, which has taken over too many of our leaders’ consciousness. We agreed on bringing the manufacturing, the money, the jobs back to America. But we also had our differences.
Yes, most of the films at the festival won’t make it to the big market, but that’s the benefit of the digital world with the chance of finding them on Netflix or HBO, or maybe seeing them for free on SnagFilms.
It was a pleasure to watch the films on the big screen at the Leo J. Welder Center for Performing Arts, a beautiful, well-designed theater.
In the end, “Dirty Old Town” won Best Soundtrack, though Nicholas De Cegli lost Best Actor, and “Captured,” Clayton Patterson, Dan Levin, Ben Solomon and Jenner Furst got the Visionary Award. All in all, we made some solid connections.