Last night, I got the opportunity to represent the ZBBC at a local artists collective, Artist Inc. for their "Real to Reel" night featuring local filmmakers. Originally, our uber-editor and director of photography Kirk was supposed to go, but he is busy with his wife in California attending Filmapalooza, where "The Adventures of Keith Flippen" will be screened in front of a Hollywood audience for the first time.
While I am completely jealous of their networking opportunity to shmooze with the film industry's elite, I would be nervous as hell if it was me.
Watching an audience watch your work is always a little weird. You sit there, holding your breath, hoping they laugh at all the jokes, and that they will share your sensibilities for humor, pathos, and all the rest of it. Most of all, you sit there (or at least I sit there) hoping that it's actually good. When I've shown the film at various sci-fi conventions, there was always the safety net of knowing that at the very least, the audience will understand that Keith Flippen is at it's heart an homage to the classic Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers matinee serials of the 40's and 50's. They'll generally get the sci-fi referenced jokes (Like "If in space, no one can hear you scream, they certainly won't hear my Didgeridoo!") and appreciate why the whole thing looks a little cheesy. Stepping outside that safety net is always a difficult thing to do, and my thoughts are with Kirk and Shannon as they explore the strange new world of Hollywood.
In the meantime, I had my own "Strange New World" to conquer... the "inner city bohemian art house". Not exactly the final frontier... but I am ashamed to admit way outside my comfort zone. Artist Inc uses a downtown studio space shared by local artist of renown Michalopoulos (The dude that does all the trippy abstract paintings of New Orleans buildings) for their weekly "Art Klub" series. They vary genres from week to week, but showcase everything from poets, writers and filmmakers to musicians and dancers. It's all very artsy. It is also very much NOT my element. I'm a beer, pizza and fart joke kinda guy... not a wine, brie, and existential angst kinda guy.
Don't misunderstand me, I like talking in front of people about what it is I do, and these folks weren't the least bit pretentious. It's all my hang up, not them.
You see, it's like this...I enjoy relating my varied experiences to others about the process of writing, the paranormal, and most recently film making. I do it all the time at cons, and have grown quite accustomed to the role of "funny, entertaining guest" in front of a room full of curious people. I don't generally speak in front of a room full of artists. My fans and friends are all mind-bogglingly creative people, but few of them take their creativity seriously. With most of my friends, (and other writers), I feel perfectly comfortable poking fun at their genres. ("Allow me to present my own Haiku... There once... was a man... from nantucket.")
I don't feel comfortable making fun of people that consider themselves artists, because I know what it's like to make art... you put a piece of your soul out there for the world to see, and it can be devastating when someone chooses to mock it. I don't want to be that guy.
Problem is, I am ABSOLUTELY that guy. Comedy is my thing, after all. Inside I'm making notes about the absurdity of a lighting system that is also a modern sculpture... I'm giggling at the seating that has been salvaged from an old Cadillac... but mostly, I'm laughing inside at how serious it all seems. So I go in, make a few notes on my iPhone, and try to say as little as possible for fear of offending anyone that has worked really hard on the sculpture of "futility" that looks to me to be a cage made out of PVC.
Or maybe it was a cage made out of PVC. I don't know.... there was no title plaque or anything, but it just screamed "futility" at me. I admit that I don't know much about art. First rule of Art Klub... keep your insult hole shut unless you know what you're talking about.
Then the films start, and something amazing happens... while there is a moderator, and we had to introduce our films, the whole thing had the atmosphere of an informal cocktail party. (I was still careful not to insult the dark, gritty realism of the other films) It was really an excellent time. The artists involved were all genuine, interesting people with a dedication to their craft, and I am looking forward to attending their next "literary speaking" event for writers in a couple of weeks. Come on out and support your local artist community, and please don't make fun of them. Artists work really hard to move you emotionally, and like anyone that is dedicated to their craft, they deserve your respect.
Feel free however, to continue to make fun of me all you want, especially about my lack of knowledge about art.