Monday, June 25, 2012

SHOCK & AWE 6 - Notes behind the scenes

It started and ended on some funny notes.... More on that in a second.

SHOCK & AWE is THEE event that I do in the Toronto area which I have the most fun doing.  Sure, I have done S&A's before, and there's always a great energy to go along with it, but this one definitely had an amazing buzz for staff and audience.  It's great to see the fans of the event amped up for it, and along with Andy and Dan of Team Shock and Awe, we get excited about doing it like kids at Christmas.  

I hop my cab to go to the Revue, which is now closer to me, with boxes of merch in hand and tons of prizes (luckily the 5 Islamic Prayer Clocks went earlier to the theatre with the film prints) when my cab got pulled over by the Police for turning right on a red light (on this particular street, you cannot).  While my cab driver fumbles through a million business cards trying to find his licence, another cab driver pulls over to pick me and my wares, thanks to the help of the police officer.  I made it to the theatre, just before the doors open.

Andy goes through and hands me the line-up of the evening while I down a ginseng tablet from Dollar Tree and a protein shake (virtually my diet for the last couple of days).  I had slept about 4 hours of the 24 that I have been up and feel my motor skills sliding from the sleep deprivation, even tho I was able to cram in an hour long workout during the day.  But all is good as our ticket sales almost doubled within a period of 24 hours.  After an intro by Dan, I go out to speak a bit and intro our first film of the night, THE GROOVE TUBE.  I love seeing some of the folks in the audience being hardcore enough to pack sleeping bags and blankets (Seeing people with their tickets at the door remind me of people checking in for some trans-atlantic airline flight, and thinking about it... Shock and Awe is JUST as long as flying to Finland!).  Onto the films...

Now some discussed beforehand with THE GROOVE TUBE that maybe some younger people might not get some of THE GROOVE TUBES dated humour, but this was FAR from the case.  This was the perfect kick off film and had the audience in stitches.  At one point, I pull in Karen, the house manager at the Revue for the event, to check out the "Brown 25" segment and tell her "Just wanted you to see real s**t on the screen" which has her chuckling.  Afterwards, Twitter was alive with tons of jokes referring to the "Uranus Corporation", "Brown 25" and to "Remember to brush your teeth!" - LOL and people discussing how the film is actually still ahead of time in regards to the humour.  This one has been a favourite of mine, and I can say the first film Shock & Awe superfan and Movie Feast Blogster Douglas Tilley saw nudity.  It's a shame it's not been enjoyed by audiences for decades (this was possibly the first time it was screened for an audience in Canada for DECADES).  It's more fun than making 4th of July heritage loaf. ;)

With burritos arriving during the first intermission, it was onto the next film WHAT WAITS BELOW, a surprise hit.  I've seen the film numerous times before, but it looked pretty impressive on the big screen and projected in 35mm.  Some of it was totally laughable, especially after the crew sends poor Carlos back through the cave after being mulled by some alien-looking monster in his arm.  He didn't have a chance!  I'm not sure if WHAT WAITS BELOW is trying to be an action film, a horror flick, or science fiction, but it seemed to entertain all the same as Toronto After Dark's Peter Kuplowsky sang it's praises to me afterwards.

Another line-up for our flashing light special, and then onto Film #3, HORROR HOSPITAL.  Again, seeing this print on the big screen, even with its warming colors, looked great.  Many times sorting out things in the lobby, I could hear poor Judy screaming.  It was fun all the same and the audience seemed to eat up leather motorcycle-geared-out-zombies and a person of small statue servant along with Michael Gough as the mad scientist.  Seeing it on the big screen, it looks a lot more grizzly then home video additions.

I had the audience swear on oath not to tell anyone outside of the theatre the title of the mystery film.  It's great that everyone has pretty much kept the promise in the digital age, and it's a special thing that we get to share as participants of the event.  You can talk a bit about the film, but NOTHING to give away exactly what it is.  Instead of party horns, the would boo the villain and clap after one older actor would say anything they agreed with.   Again, a fairly decent 35mm print which looked so much better than any vhs or dvd copies in circulation.  When we cut the ending credits (which had the catchy theme song) a bunch of people said, "I want to hear the theme song again!" which I happily belted out.  Remember, I have seen the film about 30 times.

RAPPIN' had a funny story before it hit the screen.  My vault has A LOT of film reels and it had taken a bit to find (and the last one I did), but loading it up to bring to the theatre, an end of the box holding it wasn't fastened properly and Reel 1 feel out with half of it shattering on the floor.  But this film had to happen, so RAPPIN' got repaired at the theatre (the reel, the print was beautiful).  Andrew Parker at Dork Shelf sang the films praises so I knew we had one fan going into it, but by the end when the audience was clapping to some very goofy rhymez, and being screened at an ungodly hour, Rappin' John Hood gave to the audience.  Why this film is not on the radar of the old school hip hop community continually has me scratching my head... or a turntable.

Before the headliner, I'm in the men's room and joking with Andy about tips Safety Sam gives in THE GROOVE TUBE, when I go to tighten my belt, and it snaps in half.  I've been working out tons so most of my older clothes are far too big any-more and my shorts are a size 34, when now I fit nicely into a 30, so I get to hold up my pants on the way to give away our final prizes of the night (and hold them up for the rest of the night).  

SLEEPAWAY CAMP, a film Andy adores hits the screen as our headliner.  That print was absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful.  Again, compared to home video, the colors and detail were so rich, you could actually see the comb marks on one of the roid-bustin summer camp counsellors hair!  I hadn't seen it in decades and I must say it's lots of fun.  While it's cheap on the slasher count, and the director basically films on a medium shot and lets scenes play out, it's so damn entertaining, and that last scene is just priceless.

Last Call for 6AM Pizza
After the final film, the audience head out into the brightness of the morning, and the hardcore had lasted another 6 film marathon.  I gave out packs of All-Bran Buds to start their morning right even if they didn't win  one of the Islamic Prayer Clocks (which seemed to be a sought after prize to win).  I finally nodded off around 4pm.

With big companies dictating the direction of theatrical projection going, I love doing SHOCK & AWE more and feel it's importance to see films how they were originally made to be shown to an audience, and get nervous for the time when it might not be possible, technically.  Despite how much the industry might gush about digital, seeing these prints on the big screen, and seeing digital version available for the consumer, there's no comparison.

Again, thanks to all who came out, and those who wrote such nice articles about it. Big ups to all the staff of the Revue Cinema (and Fox) who made the event happen along with or team of projectionists that give you the final product on the screen.  It was great reading the loads of tweets before during and afterwards about the films and the event itself (I'm finally on the Twitter bandwagon (@dionconflict), and encouraged people to tweet during intermission) I can happily say that all involved had a blast.  If you missed out, well, you REALLY missed out!  

Back to work on my script, and to dream how great SHOCK & AWE 7 will be!


Blogger Doug Tilley said...

Awesome article, Dion! So cool to get to hear about the event from your perspective.

4:08 PM  
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