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David Poland

By David Poland

Fest Troubles

AJ Schank (Kurt Cobain:About A Boy) blogs about a story about an allegedly overdemanding festival guest at the recent Cleveland Film Festival. Interesting enough.
And here is my added perspective…
Every festival has some lemon guests. They may be the big names. They may be the nobodies. It is, however, a cliche that one of the least important invitees will be the most time consuming. And relative to the PR value, that is an absolutely true cliche.
Thing is, most festivals have organizational problems. I have never been to any fest at which people didn’t complain about transportation… sometimes more fairly than others. But especially at spread out fests, there just can’t be enough cars and vans for the start and end of every film, as well as special events, as well as people who want to get there early or late… etc. And of course, filmmakers are notoriously poor or cheap, so cabs (which is usually how I keep my blood pressure down) aren’t really a fair option.
The thing about a festival is that it is mostly volunteer and even as the fests are starting, staffers are exhausted. They are also overworked and, oddly, bored. Gossip is inevitable. And if you are one of the people who makes friends with festival staff, you will hear it all. I know who has been sexing whom, who was naked in the hallway, and who screamed at the wrong person by the end of most fests I attend. (Perhaps at the others, I am the prick.)
Anyway… your thoughts are welcome.

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4 Responses to “Fest Troubles”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    If I had the money to tip volunteers at every festival I have ever attended, I would do so. Seriously. They are the unsung heroes behind the scenes. If pressed on the subject, I would have to admit that the volunteers at Sundance deserve the biggest tips. But the volunteers at Toronto, SXSW, Nashville and Denver also are worthy of hefty remuneration. And you know what? I have seen people in my racket — so-called journalists — behave so rudely toward volunteers that I’ve been tempted to smack them.

  2. William Goss says:

    Kurt Cobain: About a SON

  3. I agree with Joe and was very impressed when Werner Herzog, last year at Sarasota, took time out to thank the volunteers every time he was in front of a mic, practically lecturing the well-heeled assemblage on the importance of the volunteers at festivals. I too have seen a journalist hectoring a press desk volunteer until he brought her to tears. Absolutely shameful.

  4. frankbooth says:

    What’s this? New entries?
    Did Jim Emerson take over, or did they find Poland and drag him back?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon