I wasn't gonna
I wasn't going
to send Bob Hawk five hundred dollars. My friends made me,
I swear. You ask: "Eric, why did you send 500 big ones to
a guy called Bob Hawk? And for what reason? And don't you
know that your almost broke at this moment? What the hell
were you thinking?" Here's the whole torrid story:
you know (if you've read this journal up to this point), Bob
Hawk also calls his 'company' "Independent Consultation for
Independents." Bob is very well known within the indie community.
He got Kevin Smith started. (Refer to the Kevin Smith folklore
for the details.) He's a 60-something-year-old guy who's been
around since day one. He used to be on the selection committee
for Sundance. He's on all sorts of filmmaker workshop panels.
People apparently respect his opinion.
At the moment,
I'm desperately trying to get into Sundance or any other major
festival. As I've learned, there seems to be a whole political
process going on behind the scenes of the selection process.
Send a tape to Sundance, and it will get looked at, but by
WHOM is the tricky part. For this particular festival, there
is something like 5 'important' screeners (Geoff Gilmore is
one of them) and the OTHER screeners (who are probably production
assistants and other flunkies.) They've got something like
800 tapes to get through just for the features portion of
this festival, they obviously can't scrutinize ALL the tapes
the same way. The trick I learned was to get your tape 'flagged'
by the selection committee, and they'll check out your entry
much more carefully. You need as much help as you can get
to assure that your film will be taken seriously. Bob Hawk
is one of those people.
My friend David
Schendel (in San Francisco) gave me Bob Hawks number a few
days ago and a quick run down of what he offers. (Dave is
a client of his.) Bob Hawk wants $500 to look at ANY film
that is sent to him. (Check must be signed and included.)
Depending where you are in the editing process, he'll want
more if the sound and picture isn't locked. ('Locked' means
you have cut the negative and have combined the soundtrack
to the image.) That way you still have time to alter your
film to his personal, professional view.
job is to evaluate your project, give you his feedback and
suggest any changes that he feels would help/improve your
movie in the eyes of any festival committees. But also, he
will FLAG ANY FILM THAT HE DEEMS SUITABLE to Sundance. Not
bad. (He also pointed out that paying him does not automatically
guarantee a flagging at any festival, he's gotta like the
film.) Fair enough.
On top of that,
he will suggest other film festivals through out the year
and help you in the search for a market or a place for it
to be shown. So for $500, Bob Hawk will be your mentor and
consultant for the life of your project. From what Dave told
him, he can put you in touch with a lot of people in the industry.
attempted to call the guy and we played phone tag for a few
days. At one point he calls me from a pay phone and his message
ends up all garbled. I'm naively thinking, "Wow, he wants
to see my film so much, he must've lost his cell phone and
called me from a pay phone. Oh boy!" I finally get through
to him. We joke that he FINALLY got a Macintosh ibook, and
that his original computer was ancient. (Hmmmm.) I mention
to him that he was difficult to find on the Internet, since
he apparently doesn't have a webpage or even e-mail. He says
that he's working on these now. (Uh-oh) He also spoke incredibly
slowly on the phone. (Was he just carefully choosing his words?)
If you know how I normally operate, you would've known how
much pressure my jaw was applying to my teeth, waiting for
him to finish his sentences. His first piece of advice to
me was that I should talk more slowly and carefully on the
phone, and that I should pronounce clearly my name and my
project when leaving a message. (Gee, I thought Dave Schendel
already gave him all that information, maybe he had lost it.)
I convey my conversation
to Dan Bridges and my girlfriend
Therese Chase. I told them
both that I had second thoughts about using this guy. He doesn't
seem computer or Internet savvy in the slightest bit. Apparently
he doesn't own a cell phone, and my brain was having a hard
time maintaining his tempo of thought. I thought maybe we
should go for it anyways, seeing that you don't want to ignore
*ANY* avenues at this point. They BOTH want to know why I
want to piss away five hundred dollars, seeing that we barely
have money for copies and postage. Sundance is looming and
we've got to give our baby everything it needs to succeed.
calls Bob Hawk and starts to ask more pointed questions on
WHAT he can offer for the five hundred dollars we would send
him. Bob gives him the spiel. They hang up. Dan agrees that
this doesn't feel right. Bob was practically tormenting Dan
with his tempo. (Dan sometimes operates at an even faster
pace than I do.) Dan feels that the $500 can be better spent
on other things. We agree not to send Bob Hawk for $500. (I'm
thinking, "Damn...we COULD'VE had all those contacts, even
though I had only $300 to my name.)
A few days later
Dave Schendel calls me up. "Why aren't you going with Bob
Hawk?! He was wondering why he hasn't seen a tape. He thought
you sounded like an interesting guy! You're nuts for not going
for it! He's helped me big time." I told him how I felt about
the whole deal, it didn't feel right. You could hear his head
shaking on the other end.
That weekend, I
mention this whole thing to Dave Chubet. (The guy whose house
I filmed the party sequences
at.) He says, "Listen, if you HAD the $500, would you have
done it?" I said, "Yea, *IF* I had a pile of extra cash to
toss around." Dave then offers me five hundred dollars, not
a loan...for free. He goes, "Look...you don't want to miss
any opportunities, *I'LL* get you the cash. I believe in the
project and want to see you succeed." I'm stunned. Now I gotta
I have a problem
asking or even taking money from friends. Ultimately it can
fuck things up and I value my friendship with Dave Chubet
a lot higher than a lousy $500. I mention what's been happening
to my good ol' mum. She realizes that this COULD be an opportunity
to allow me to advance my career. (Hell, she paid for college,
or at least the part that I had showed up for.) She's willing
to give me the 500 clams.
I send the tape
and the check off to Bob. We schedule a day so Dan can be
part of the 'consultation' over the phone. Dan was annoyed
that I didn't listen to him and consider spending the money
elsewhere. Hell...this is BOB HAWK who we got here! I wasn't
expecting him to love it, but as long as he found it descent
(for it's budget) and at all mildly amusing, we can probably
mine some additional contacts and referrals. I call Bob after
his scheduled call back time passes. Here we go.
first thing Bob Hawk says: "Why did you use an actor who
appears to be transgendered for the lead part?"
Oh fuck. Bang.
Right there was when I realized that I just fucked up. I've
known John since Freshman year in highschool (way back in
1976), NO ONE has ever thought that John was ever formally
a girl. (They might've implied to me that they thought he
was gay, but he's been fondling women long before I was able
to.) Now it's seems funny that Terry
the Transgender person made that joke *IN* the film, yet
Bob seems to think it was true. Weird.
Bob summed up
his feelings: "I thought the majority of the acting is
the weakest part, over-the-top, not good at all with cheap
old jokes with lame attempts at grossing out, and the story
was something a first time 20 year old filmmaker would do.
But let me tell you what I *DO* like about this film. I liked
the packaging." (The fishnet packaging I had sent
I liked the woman at the end (Cara
O'Shea), the blonde woman at the nightclub (Beth
Lahr), Geoff (Briggs)
and the person who played Mongo. (Brian
shit. He liked the fucking packaging.
Everything *BUT* the movie...and anyone who only had a dozen
lines or less. OK, I guess it's time to take my lumps. I paid
for them, here we go. This guy knows what indie film is all
about. I guess I've been deluding myself (and all the people
who have seen it up till now who enthusiastically liked it.)
This 'consultation' was supposed to go on for about an hour
'cause it was Bobs job to take detailed notes on EVERYTHING.
He also says,
"You guys should definitely get yourselves a lawyer."
(To help with all the legal stuff and paper work.)
I wasn't sure if
I should mention that I had to borrow the 500 bucks from my
mother just to pay him. Maybe I could luck out and find a
lawyer hiding in the woods.
Bob goes on:
"OK, let's start with the opening scene. WHY did you refer
to yourself as 'a nobody' in the opening titles? (In the
opening titles, instead of plastering my name all over the
place, I used 'alt.directed.by.a.nobody.' A joke at my obscure
explain it to him, "Nobody knows who I am at this point, nobody
CARES who I am at this point. This is the one time in my career
that I CAN make that joke. I wanted to show that the filmmaker
has a different point of view than all the others. But to
make up for it, I do an OVERBOARD title sequence at THE END
of the film. EVERYONE gets credits with PICTURES, a lot of
"But why would
you do that to yourself? Calling yourself a nobody?"
A synapse misfires
in my cerebellum, shooting an electrical charge down my arm
and causing my forearm and palm to flail wildly towards my
forehead. I just explained it to the guy. And I paid $500
"OK, let's go
on to the computer screen intro. (The part where the unknown
user assigns different computer voices to the assorted avatars
within the 3D chat environment.) I didn't understand why
there were voices coming out of the computer."
He doesn't get
it. A pair of 12-year-old girls had recently watched the intro
and they completely understood what was happening and totally
enjoyed what they saw. Yet I paid a 60-year-old guy without
e-mail and a website $500 me to tell me he's baffled. Oh fucking
Bob was very thorough.
"What was the significance of the phrase 'All your base
are belong to us?' (I didn't even bother.) Scene two...not
amusing. The next scene...lame. Scene four...idiot level IQ.
Scene five...cheap jokes. Scene six...I don't believe any
of it. Scene seven...lame AND bad acting."
He now continues
like this for at least 10 minutes. You could tell that he
heard himself repeating the same negative things over and
over, so he threw in a couple of sheepish laughs to somehow
lighten up what he was saying. As if I would just burst into
laughter along with him and go, "You're right Bob! This film
SUCKS! I just wasted over 30 grand and 3 year of my life!
HA HA HA! Do continue....please!"
I paid $500 for this.
But I sat there
and thought to myself, "Hmmm...maybe I should stop this hammering.
This 'consultation' certainly isn't helping me in any way.
(What was I supposed to do at this point, reshoot the first
half of the movie?) It won't do me any good arguing with the
guy or trying to defend myself...I PAID for his opinion. I
was my job to listen and be open to criticism. I let Bob continue.
man hanging out of the window with a gun to that little dogs
head...not funny. The scene where Mr.
Disgusting comes in with the computer and puts in on Amandas
desk........dead scene, pacing ponders, bad over-acting"
I had to speak
up. "Bob, EVERYONE that I've shown that scene to LOVES it.
Unanimously. Big laughs. I've seen it myself. Strangers on
the Internet have downloaded that clip and loved it. When
I've asked specifically about the tempo, everyone has told
me that they LIKE how Sparky
has a different tempo all his own."
"I didn't like
it, it wasn't funny. Why would someone try to sell a computer
with all those things on it?" (the obscene stickers)
I paid $500 for this.
"The scene where Johnny gets a kiss from Beth in the club
scene...I don't believe it in a minute."
I tell him that
that scene ACTUALLY happened. Verbatim. I had met a girl in
a bar for the first time who knew who I was and I got her
phone number and a kiss, then ultimately hung up on me. He
thought that a scene was missing and goes, "Drama is not real
life, it just seems like reality." I'm thinking, Hmmm...that's
the way it happened to me in reality, yet it wouldn't happen
in a (Bob Hawk) movie. Got it.
Bob now continues
for another 20 minutes. At no time did he ever utter anything
like "This little bit was OK, even though I hated the rest
of the scene." Never. Not once. Packaging. He liked the packaging.
We get to somewhere around the half way point of the movie.
I look over and see that Dans has been writing all this down.
(Scene 21...lame. Scene 22...bad.) Christ.
At this point
I cut Bob off. I paid for his attention, I'm the client here,
I hoped I could tell him to stop. I told him I have a pretty
darn good idea what he thought about the REST of the movie.
"OOOH! WAIT! Let me tell you these last two things! I HAVE
to tell you these this. You MUST remove the (Rob's) bomb
sequence. Reality TV and the events of Sept 11th have
changed us, you HAVE to remove it."
And this was AFTER
I told him to stop. He got so disappointed that I cut him
off, he had a couple of more pages of notes to go through!
I paid $500 for this.
Bob then tells
us that he doesn't think this film will get into major festivals.
Certainly don't hope for any theatrical distribution and hope
that an underground film festival somewhere will take us.
Distributors? Maybe Troma
will take it. We mention we've been trying to contact a bunch
of agents and lawyers. "They won't touch it."
He then goes on
to say that making a film on such a low budget is no longer
noteworthy. (I'm apt to agree with him there.) He starts ranting
how KEVIN SMITH rehearsed his actors for SIX WEEKS. (Hmmm,
I did 30 shooting days and rehearsed a day before each shoot
for...30 days. I guess I was 2 weeks short.) He went on to
say that he actually LIKES films like 'Something About Mary'
and how the Farrelly brothers create such delightful farces,
nothing like my film. (Dan mentioned that he saw steaming
rising out of of my scalp at this point.)
I finally got
to say something, "Bob...we must've shown this film to over
200 people at this point. Lot's of DIFFERENT people. People
we don't even know have seen it. They've all liked it to some
degree, while others have gotten excited and thought is was
hilarious. YOUNG people. People who are familiar with THE
INTERNET. More importantly, everyone tends to agree what the
better sequences are. (the Sparky computer sequence, etc.)
Everyone. *YOU* didn't even think that the 'better' parts
were even mildly amusing. HOW COULD THOSE 200 PEOPLE BE SO
He laughs and
quips, "well everyone liked it at the FIRST 5 showings!
finally tell the guy, "Look, it's totally unfortunate that
I had to pay FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS to learn that your atoms
spin in completely opposite directions than mine. You have
such an oblique take on what I've attempted to do that nothing
you've said helps me in any way." (Was I supposed to have
redone the movie from scratch, just appease him and what others
He basically goes,
"well I've produced such and such films and yada yada yada
amount of plays so I think I KNOW what I'm doing."
Great. What started
to bug me the most, after we hung up, was the WAY he seemed
to get off on hammering me and my film. At no point did he
appear apologetic that he didn't like my film, even though
he took a pile of my money. I didn't expect him to love it.
But I thought he would be descent enough if he DIDN'T like
it to say, "Look...I didn't like your movie. It's not my sort
of thing. You could've improved many things such as....etc.
Let's see what we can do with it and hopefully we can improve
the next one."
KNEW that I wasn't going to hang up on him because I paid
for the privilege of listening to him. But how did his 'consultation'
HELP me by telling me that everything about the project sucks
and I'm on the same level of a juvenile filmmaker? (OK, I
did a good job on the packaging.) Did he think it was his
job to discourage me from making any other movies for the
sake of decency and the American way? Should I have studied
more Frank Capra films to get it right?
It was weird.
It felt like I got held up at knife point, I give the guy
all the money that I had, then got stabbed anyway, just for
the hell of it. Now I can see why condemned people in the
gallows pay the executioner. You want him to do a clean job
and not hack away at it for 40 minutes.
I look over to
Dan. We both go, "Well! We didn't expect THAT!" I see that
Dan has PAGES of notes on what Bob said. I asked him, "Why
did you even bother to write this shit down?" Dan said that
he wanted to make sure that he got everything that we needed
to know from Bob, since we now have paid for his services...AND
that he wanted to call him back sometime and listen to what
Bob had to say about the rest of the movie.
Christ, and I
paid $500 for this.