Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bob DeMars who made THE BUSINESS OF AMATEURS is hosting a Twitter event on college athletes's rights

Bob DeMars who made the awesom THE BUSINESS OF AMATEURS is holding a Twitter event on Thursday September 1 on college athletes' rights. This is an important topic and Bob is the guy to discuss it.

Bob's twitter handle is @BobbyDeMars. Here is the information he sent me:

This Thursday (Sept. 1) I will be hosting a Twitter event centered on college athletes’ rights. The event will be one hour long and will start approximately at 10AM PST 1PM EST.
1. I will ask a series of questions about college athletes' rights.
2.Tweet the answer to each question as it comes up in feed using hashtag #NCAAReform. Please include the number to the question with your response; for example, you will use A4 when answering question #4.
3.View, comment, or retweet other answers by following the hashtag #NCAAReform.

Please share the event with your followers. I hope that you can join us for this positive discussion to help make college sports better!

Bob's film THE BUSINESS OF AMATEURS is now available on VOD such as iTunes and Amazon and is a must see

Wizard Mode (2016) Portland 2016

Robert Emilio Gagno (Reg) is a young man with autism who happens to be be a pinball wizard. As he prepares to go out into the world and be independent of his parents he readies to compete in the world championship of pinball.

The wizard mode of the title is a special mode on pinball machines that basically has every bonus or special feature activated. It is the goal of every pinball player to unlock it and get maximum points.

This is a hard film for me to review. The film on its own terms is a good little film. Its a nice coming of age story that isn't wholly pinball oriented, instead in the second half  it focuses on Robert's first steps into the world.I like the film, but the shifting of gears makes it a hard film to hold on to, first it's one thing and then another. To me the two halves, the shifting focus never completely blended and I started comparing the film to other recent films instead of taking it on it's own terms.

For me it was hard not to compare the film to gaming docs like SNAKE VS MAN or recent autism docs such as AUTISM IN LOVE or LIFE, ANIMATED, whose arc of going out in the world it cloely mimicked.  I know boo hiss me for comparing this film to those, but it's kind of hard not to since the structure of the film  largely a gaming doc for the first half  and a full on coming of age tale in the second forces one to do it since the focus makes it two stories.

And before you scream at me and say I don't understand that the film is kind of structured as a pinball game- a slow start of Reg being a pinball wizard giving way to the wizard mode of life in the real world I do. I just wish one had lead into the other better.

Worth a look if interested, but not something you're likely to rave about.

The film opened the Portland Film Festival last night and plays again Friday. For more information go here.


With successful branches in London and Montreal, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies makes its first stateside stop at Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum with a pilot semester of horror film, literature and pop culture classes, running from September through December 2016 and featuring classes by some of the most renowned voices in horror film, fiction and criticism.

Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is a community-based organization that offers university-level horror history and theory classes for people of all ages. The Miskatonic is a non-profit endeavour through which established horror writers, directors, scholars and programmers/curators celebrate horror history and culture with a unique blend of enthusiasm and critical perspective.

The semester kicks off with a “Live From Miskatonic” presentation of horror author Jack Ketchum (OFF SEASON, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR) in conversation with Miskatonic founder Kier-La Janisse, followed in October with a masterclass from Dennis Paoli (co-writer, RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND) on adapting the “unfilmable” work of our namesake, HP Lovecraft, for the screen. In November, Maitland McDonagh (BROKEN MIRRORS, BROKEN MINDS: THE DARK DREAMS OF DARIO ARGENTO) talks about the interesting cross-pollination of genre tropes and vintage gay pulp fiction, and we close out the season with longtime horror journalist Michael Gingold taking students on a trip through the New York City of horror film and television, complete with an interactive component. See below for the full class descriptions.

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies was founded by film writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010. After existing in embryonic form at Aqua Books in Winnipeg, Canada, Miskatonic moved to Montreal’s Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre in June 2010. Since 2013 Miskatonic Montreal has been co-directed by Kristopher Woofter and Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare, while Janisse teamed up with UK-based film scholar and Electric Sheep founder/editor-in-chief Virginie Sélavy to launch Miskatonic London in January 2015 – which has gone on to enjoy lectures from the likes of genre luminaries Kim Newman, Stephen Thrower, Jasper Sharp, Mark Gatiss, John Hough, Daniel Bird and more. Miskatonic NYC is a pilot program for the fall of 2016, under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse, Marc Walkow and Samuel Zimmerman.

For further information


The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – NYC
Fall 2016 Pilot Semester: monthly classes from September to December 2016
Dates: 21 September, 20 October, 17 November, 8 December
Time: 7-10pm
Venue: Morbid Anatomy Museum
Address: 424-A 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Prices: Individual classes $12 / $40 full fall semester ticket


Wednesday Sept 21, 2016

Instructors: Jack Ketchum, Kier-La Janisse

Stephen King called him “the scariest guy in America.” And so we kick off Miskatonic NYC with a bang as a titan of horror fiction, Jack Ketchum (OFF SEASON, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE LOST, RED) joins us for our first event at the Morbid Anatomy Museum for an in-depth look at his work and adaptations to the screen, moderated by film writer, programmer and Miskatonic Institute founder Kier-La Janisse.

About the Instructors:

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story The Box won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story Gone won again in 2000 -- and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best collection for Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for Closing Time. He has written eleven novels, the latest of which are Red, Ladies' Night, and The Lost. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, and Peaceable Kingdom. His novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards.

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, Editor-in-Chief of Spectacular Optical Publications, founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012). She recently co-edited and published the anthology books KID POWER! about kids in cult film and television and Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s. She is currently working on the book A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time about children’s programming from 1965-1985.


Thursday Oct 20, 2016
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Instructor: Dennis Paoli

Dennis Paoli, screenwriter for director Stuart Gordon’s film adaptations of the works of H. P. Lovecraft (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, and for the cable television series “Masters of Horror,” Dreams in the Witch House), will lead a two-hour master class on adapting Lovecraft for the screen—the challenges, techniques, and insights into the works gained in the process. The class will also explore the collaborative nature of adaptation—the writer, in as real a sense as possible, collaborates with the original creator of the literary work—and of film-making, by nature a cooperative, if sometimes contentious, undertaking.

The enduring popularity of Gordon and Paoli’s film versions of Lovecraft’s fiction speaks to the enduring popularity of the original tales, but also to their capacity for updating, re-casting, and expanding. These specific adaptations will be examined in scenes from each of the films. Paoli will also discuss his long-time collaboration with Stuart Gordon, their methods of working together and roles in the process, based on their strengths.

Paoli, who runs writing programs and teaches Gothic Fiction at Hunter College, will also consider Lovecraft’s work in the larger context of the literary genres of horror and science fiction, the major themes and working principles of Gothic literature, and their long history of cinematic adaptation.

About the Instructor:

Dennis Paoli has written for film, TV, the stage, and the internet. His feature films include Bodysnatchers (with Stuart Gordon, for Warner Brothers), adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator (with Stuart Gordon and William Norris), From Beyond (for Empire), and Dagon (for Filmax). For the stage, he wrote the one-man show Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, which has been performed internationally; co-wrote the script for Re-Animator: The Musical, for which he won several LA theater awards; and co-wrote with the Organic Theater Company, the baseball comedy Bleacher Bums, which ran Off-Broadway, through three revivals in Chicago, and over seven years in Los Angeles. The television version for PBS won an Emmy, and the film version (which he co-wrote with Mitch Paradise) aired on Showtime. The HBO film The Dentist (with Stuart Gordon) and his work for Showtime’s Masters of Horror series—adaptations with Stuart Gordon of H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch House and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat—brought the horror genre to cable television. His adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Hound was streamed on Halloween 2015 by the genre website Tales from Beyond the Pale ( Dennis is also an academic, a teacher and administrator at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has taught Gothic and Irish literature and 20th century drama. He has written criticism and articles for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, and various volumes, periodicals, and online blogs. The most important work he does is as Donor-Advisor of The Heidi Paoli Fund, a philanthropic organization that supports cancer patients and their caregivers.


Thursday Nov 17, 2016

Instructor: Maitland McDonagh

Monsters in the Closet examines the intersection between gay erotic novels of the 1970s and the conventions of genre fiction formulas that lent themselves to sexually explicit variations, which adults-only publishers mined with exemplary vigor. I began collecting them not for the colorful covers but because they were windows onto a world of familiar stories with a twist, like the European exploitation movies I sought out in Times Square. I gravitated towards horror and thrillers, a natural adult-novel match—consider the phrase "scared stiff"—that produced tales of gay vampires, psycho killers, demonic possession and restless spirits no closet can contain.

And while these books are pulp fictions through and through, they're far from unsophisticated: The teaser for Vampire's Kiss, in which a tediously ordinary, suburban wage slave chronicles his induction into the world the queer undead, wonders disingenuously whether he's "a vampire?—Or... merely rationalizing his homosexuality?" Free of the scrutiny afforded gay literary novels, gay pulps dared to be cheeky, to riff on pop culture and flirt with subversiveness: Gay Vampire gives a shout out to supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, the thriller Man Eater to every dark tale of mirror-image cops and criminals... gay pulps shone a light under the bed, into the corner and, yes, the closets, calling out the monsters in all their fabulous freakiness.

About the Instructor:

Maitland McDonagh is the founder of 120 Days Books, a small press dedicated to republishing gay erotic pulp novels of the 1970s, a film critic with a predilection for horror and the author of books that including Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: the Dark Dreams of Dario Argento and The 50 Most Erotic Films of All Time.


Thursday Dec 8, 2016

Instructor: Michael Gingold

For decades, the provinces of screen horror were European castles and villages, and Southwest/California towns and deserts—until 1968's ROSEMARY'S BABY, when terror moved into the Big Apple and never left. This class will chronicle the history of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs in genre cinema, addressing many specific titles—from expensive studio fare to down-and-dirty independents—lensed on and under its streets, classic and recurring locations, and how the many sides of the city were explored and exploited by filmmakers. Resident auteurs such as Larry Cohen, Abel Ferrara, Frank Henenlotter and William Lustig will be addressed, as will the ways in which New York City-set scare flicks reflected the changes in the city itself over the years.

About the Instructor:

Michael Gingold has been covering the world of horror cinema since high school, when he started publishing the fanzine SCAREAPHANALIA. He spent 28 years as part of the staff of FANGORIA magazine and its website—beginning as a writer in 1988, and serving as associate editor, then managing editor and finally editor-in-chief. He is currently an editor and/or writer for RUE MORGUE, SCREAM, BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, DELIRIUM and Michael has done liner notes for a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases, appeared in numerous documentaries and disc featurettes, and taken part in several DVD/Blu-ray audio commentaries. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT (Fever Dreams), LEECHES! (Rapid Heart Pictures) and the upcoming THE DOLL for director Dante Tomaselli. He currently hosts monthly Prints of Darkness screenings of classic horror films on 35mm at the Greater NY Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The 2016 Iowa Independent Film Festival announces full schedule of films, VR presentations, and panels (September 16-18)

Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, to attend screenings of their classic films, and Randall Kleiser and Tanna Frederick bring acclaimed VR project “Defrost”to Iowa for first time synchronized screening

Mason City, IA (August 30, 2016) – The Iowa Independent Film Festival today announced the full slate of programming for this year’s edition of the film festival (September 16-18). With all programming offered free-to-the-public for the first time, and operating from its hub at the historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City (15 W State Street), IIFF will be highlighted by rare personal appearances of beloved film couple Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss with screenings of two of their classic films, as well as a presentation of the latest in virtual reality (VR) storytelling courtesy of IIFF’s Co-Founder Tanna Frederick and celebrated directing veteran Randall Kleiser.

IIFF Co-Founder, Richard Schinnow, said, “This year’s edition of the film festival is a wonderful balance of classic Hollywood, local filmmakers and storytellers, and innovative virtual reality technology that is rapidly sweeping the country and entertaining audiences in exciting new ways. It is a rare treat to have Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss here in person, joining the other local filmmakers here in Mason City to discuss their work, talk movies and how they make them, and meet the film fans here in Iowa.”

Benjamin will attend the screening of his classic comedy, MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982), starring Mark-Lin Baker, Jessica Harper, and Peter O’Toole, about a young comedy writer’s struggles to keep his idol, an Errol Flynn-type silver screen star, from getting into trouble and possible ruining both the show and the young man’s career. Afterwards, Benjamin will talk about his experiences directing the film, as well as touch on highlights from his film career, including CATCH-22, GOODBYE, COLUMBUS, THE SUNSHINE BOYS, and WESTWORLD. Likewise, Prentiss will be on hand for a screening of her film, MAN’S FAVORITE SPORT (1964), about a famed outdoorsman expert and writer (Rock Hudson), who faces a crisis when he is entered in a fishing contest – since he has never actually done it before. Afterwards, Prentiss will talk about the film, as well as some of her other work onscreen, like WHERE THE BOYS ARE, WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?, and THE STEPFORD WIVES.

Other feature film highlights from this year’s edition of the Iowa Independent Film Festival, are led by Garry McGee and Kelly Rundle’s documentary MOVIE STAR: THE SECRET LIVES OF JEAN SEBERG, about the Iowa native’s notorious career, beginning with a celebrated debut as Joan of Arc, to her work in the groundbreaking Jean Luc Godard film BREATHLESS, to LILITH, PAINT YOUR WAGON, etc. The film gives a personal, behind-the-scenes look at the woman, the actress, and political activist, who became not simply a household name, but a controversial public figure as well. Additional feature film highlights include three other documentaries: John Papola’s AT THE FORK, which takes a tough, uncompromising look at the ramifications of farming today, both practically and morally, Tracy-Louise Ward’s PIG BUSINESS, which takes a tough look at the pig farming industry and abuses therein, and Kaitlyn Busbee’s THE LEGEND IN MY HEART, which follows the journey and experiences of four American artists—two writers, a choreographer, and a composer—as they travel to Guangzhou, China, to utilize their art to work with and reach out to disabled and non-disabled people in that country.

Henry Jaglom’s latest work, OVATION, stars James Denton, Dey Young, and Frederick in an entertaining story of a theater actress fighting her attraction for a television actor she has been cast opposite, as they release for a new stage production. On the darker side, local filmmaker Stephen Folker’s THE ORANGE MAN, scares up a story of an orange salesman who goes on a horrific murder spree, dispatching his victims with a prosthetic hook and a bag of oranges.

Frederick and Randall Kleiser (GREASE, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR) will bring the world of virtual reality (VR) to the IIFF, courtesy of their latest project, “Defrost.” The story of a woman awakened after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, only to meet her now aged family and discover intrigue that has occurred during her sleep, stars Frederick, as well as a dynamic veteran cast including, Bruce Davison, Harry Hamlin, Christopher Atkins, and Carl Weathers. The VR project, designed to be an innovative series of episodes telling the woman’s story, as well as solving the issues she has awakened to, will introduce Iowa film fans to the world of VR through synchronized presentations of the first episode of “Defrost,” as well as an in-depth discussion with the creators of the project, which was a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Fesival.

IIFF Co-Founder Frederick said, “VR is an exciting new way to tell stories and experience them as a film fan and viewer, opening up a world in which you are placed completely within the world of the story or experience you are viewing. Having a visionary artist like Randal Kleiser here in-person to talk about how we do it only adds to the excitement we have in bringing VR to Iowa for the very first time.”

For more information and details on the Iowa Independent Film Festival, including the complete schedule and description of all films and events, please go to

The 2016 Iowa Independent Film Festival programming descriptions:


Director: John Papola
Country: USA Running Time: 89 min.
Filmmaker and omnivore John Papola, together with his vegetarian wife Lisa, offer up a timely and refreshingly unbiased look at how farm animals are raised for our consumption. With unprecedented access to large-scale conventional farms, Papola asks the tough questions behind every hamburger, glass of milk, and baby-back rib. What he discovers are not heartless industrialists, but America's farmers...real people who, along with him, are grappling with the moral dimensions of farming animals for food.

Director: Gary Ewing
Country: USA, Running Time: 58 min.
Jack Scarrett has suffered a brain aneurysm and Angel Second Class Andi is assigned by God to look after him which proves to be a daunting chore. As Jack sinks deeper into depression and alcohol and every unorthodox strategy that Andi tries is a failure, God begins to question her ability to carry out the task.

Director: Kaitlyn Busbee
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 98min
THE LEGEND IN MY HEART follows four renowned American artists—two writers, a choreographer, and a composer—as they travel to Guangzhou, China, to engage disabled and non-disabled populations by collaborating and creating together. The film ends with a rousing performance of song, dance, and poetry.

Director: Howard Hawks
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 120min
Roger Willoughby (Rock Hudson) is considered to be a leading expert on sports fishing. He's written books on the subject and is loved by his customers in the sporting goods department at Abercrombie and Fitch, where he works. There's only one problem however: he's never been fishing in his life. When the store owner enters him in a fishing contest, mayhem ensues.

Directors: Garry McGee, Kelly Rundle
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 116min
MOVIE STAR: THE SECRET LIVES OF JEAN SEBERG is the first film to focus on the private side of the famous Marshalltown, Iowa native and film actress (BREATHLESS, LILITH, PAINT YOUR WAGON, AIRPORT). The documentary examines Seberg's very public American and international film career, civil rights-era activism, and her mysterious death in Paris.

Director: Richard Benjamin
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 92min
Fledgling comic Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) can't believe his luck when his childhood hero, the swashbuckling matinee idol Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole), gets booked to appear on the variety show he writes for. But when Swann arrives, he fails to live up to his silver screen image. Instead, he's a drunken womanizer who suffers from stage fright. Benjy is assigned to look after him before the show, and it's all he can do to keep his former idol from going completely off the rails.

Director: Stephen Folker
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 95min
In 1987 a disillusioned door to door orange salesman horrifically murders his first victim. Move forward 27 years and a land developer is buying an orange grove. He and his 3 friends plan a fishing trip to get his head around the pending transaction, unbeknownst to them, his estranged wife and her new boyfriend have also chosen the very same location for a break. The usual strange noises and unnerving situations ensue when they congregate at a secluded cabin, as The Orange Man eliminates them 1 by 1 with the aid of his prosthetic hook and a bag of oranges!

Director: Henry Jaglom
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 102min
A passionate theater actress must follow her mind or heart when she falls for a slick television star.

Director: Tracy-Louise Ward
Country: U.S.A., Running Time: 76min
An investigative documentary into the corporate takeover of pig farming and the devastating impacts this is having on our environment, local communities, small farmers, human health and animal welfare.

Director: Seth McClelland
Country: USA, Running Time: 57 min.
In this beautiful and moving film, young men and women of the Lakota Sioux tribe near Wounded Knee, South Dakota speak of the difficulties and frustrations of living within a people and a tradition that were almost eliminated in the 19th century wars against American Indians.


Director: Jenna Lovik
Country: USA, Running Time: 35 min.
In this comedic homage to the horror films of the 1930's, a man is forced to hide a dark secret from the woman he falls in love with. The secret? He's ambidextrous.

Director: Mason Greer
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min
"Depression is like a person where one is both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer." This unique student production includes a rap tune to convey the positive and negative energy in the story-telling.

Director: Cozette Russell
Country: USA, Running Time: 41min.
Luke and Catarina Mahoney are young, first-generation farmers living their dream of running a biologically diverse farm and organic dairy in New Hampshire, but hardship strikes when the lease on their land is not renewed and they are forced to seek new land in a new community.

Director: Chris Schneider
Country: USA Running Time: 15:38 min.
An advocate for alternative fuels for cars takes a one day road trip through the driftless area of northeast Iowa, along the way visiting friends and acquaintances who are involved with energy-saving projects which include land-fill produced bio gas and Wisconsin's first certified passive-energy house,

Director: Aaron Goddard
Country: USA Running Time: 10:58
When a scorned lover reveals to her best friend that she burned her celebrity boyfriend's house down, things get really real.

Director: Aaron Goddard
Country: USA, Running Time: 6 min.
In the wake of the apocalypse, two roadside entrepreneurs try to revive the American Dream as they see it.

Director: Roderick E. Stevens
Country: USA, Running Time: 28:20
Michael has always wanted to drive a car, but the problem is he has Down Syndrome. On a road trip to scatter their recently-deceased mother's ashes at the Grand Canyon, he is determined to convince his caring but clueless brother to teach him how to drive. Unfortunately, Red has found himself not only overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for Michael, but also by a sudden opportunity that has changed their travel plans. In a humorous turn of events, Michael proves his own resolve.

Director: Paul Micich
Country: USA, Running Time: 15:14
It may be surprising that a town the size of Mason City, Iowa would have such a gem of an art museum as the MacNider, but this short film by an outstanding artist in his own right reveals why through a fifty-year story of community and art, expressed in the words of the members, students, teachers, docents and staff members who give it life.

Director: Gary Ewing
Country: USA, Running Time: 47 min
The Golden Age of radio featured shows with popular hard-boiled detectives like Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade...and then there was Pierce Arrow.

Director: Greg Schmidt
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min.
An appreciative look at the rivers of north Iowa which features clean-up efforts, canoeing, kayaking on Charles City's white water course, and river bank dining all set to original music by Paul Micich.

Director: Steve Kennevan
Country: USA, Running Time: 34:31
On one of Kevin's weekly visits to the Iowa Historical Society archives to make sense of his troubled life, he accidentally gets locked into the building at closing time. When he goes to the men's room, he hears a plaintive cry from the adjacent bathroom which leads to a contentious but humorous exchange with a young woman who has gotten herself uniquely stuck. After an evening of challenging banter loosened by alcohol, the two lost souls come to terms with life.

Director: Joshua Masson
Country: USA, Running Time: 10:38
The world's population dwindles from an epidemic, but there may be a cure. One couple hopes to be worthy of it.


Director: Randal Kleiser
Country: USA, Running Time: 10min
After being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, Joan Garrison awakens to meet her aged family. The VR series stars Tanna Frederick, Bruce Davison, Harry Hamlin, Christopher Atkins, and Carl Weathers.

Virtual Reality Movie Production
VR producers Randal Kleiser and Tanna Frederick discuss and demonstrate the cutting edge technology and story telling techniques they utilized in the production of their new
series “Defrost.”

The Iowa Independent Film Festival is held annually in Mason City, Iowa and features the finest in independent films.

In Brief:Three Stooges (2012)

Farrelly Brothers homage to the original Stooges is actually a very funny modern day riff on the classic films.

The plot of the film has the boys trying to save their orphanage and getting into all sorts of trouble as a result, Its al the old gags updated with modern word play and if you're in the mood its really really funny. And if nothing else it has Larry David as a nun.

Highly recommended.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Philadelphia Unnmed Film Festival announces it's slate

Here is the press release announcing the first Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival

PUFF is thrilled to present 6 feature films and 22 shorts for the 2016 edition of the fest!

The Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival is proud to announce the lineup for its inaugural year taking place in Philadelphia, PA from October 6th - 9th at CineMug and Adobe Cafe. PUFF will highlight genre features and shorts from around the world, including supernatural horror WE GO ON, and the Northeast premiere of GUN WOMAN director Kurando Mitsutake’s newest feature, KARATE KILL.

“We are extremely excited about our program,” says PUFF co-director Madeleine Koestner. “We were amazed by the amount of submissions we received, and it made the selection process very hard on us! We wish we had time to screen all the films that were submitted to PUFF, but we think we did an excellent job of putting together an interesting lineup of eclectic films by a diverse group of filmmakers.”

The festival kicks off with a free screening of short film SMALL TALK by Nicole Solomon on Thursday, October 6th at CineMug. Immediately following the screening will be the opening night party.

On Friday, October 7th PUFF will begin its feature selections with the British horror / comedy EGOMANIAC, whodunit-slasher film DEAD BODY, and zombie gross-out gore fest NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE. Friday’s program will also include the 30 minute shorts program, The Bizarre Block. “We asked for bizarre films and we got what we wished for,” explains Koestner. “The Bizarre Block includes three polarizing films you would never see at a mainstream film festival. If you like experimental, odd and disturbing cinema you will definitely want to come out on Friday night.”

The Bizarre Block will take place immediately following the North American premiere of Kate Shenton’s EGOMANIAC, a witty, gory British comedy about the perils of being a female genre filmmaker in a marketplace that appreciates talking dogs more than good ideas.

Friday night continues with a screening of DEAD BODY, from first time director Bobbin Ramsay and producer Ian Bell. Shot with the help of crowdfunding last year, DEAD BODY can be described as FRIDAY THE 13TH meets CLUE. A game amongst a group of young friends spending the night in a cabin in the woods goes wrong when one of them starts murdering the players one by one. The night concludes with NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE. Easily the most shocking movie of the PUFF program, this gross-out zombie feature from director Jonathan Straiton comes with a warning: not for those that are easily offended or weak in the stomach.

Saturday, October 8th opens with the PUFF International Oddities Shorts Program. The block showcases horror, science fiction, and more, featuring RAMIRO from Spain, THE WAY BACK from Ireland, and the sci-fi comedy PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY and so much more to satisfy your taste of the weird.

PUFF returns to its feature selections with Tim Reis’ BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE. Funny, frenetic and colorful, BAD BLOOD is a werewolf movie with an amphibious twist -- during the full moon the source of fear isn’t wolves, but werefrogs. We’re equally excited to present WE GO ON, directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, the same talented duo who brought us YELLOWBRICKROAD in 2010. Another tense tale of psychological dread, WE GO ON stars Clark Freeman as a man whose crippling phobia of death inspires him to take out an ad offering a small fortune to the first person who can prove to him the existence of the afterlife.

“Major theater chains rarely carry independent horror movies anymore, and film festivals are becoming one of the only ways for people to see original movies outside of Netflix and Red Box” explains Co-director Alex Gardner. “This is why we are thrilled to bring the films like BAD BLOOD and WE GO ON to Philadelphia. We are also happy with the great mix of subgenres we have to offer at PUFF this year.”

The closing feature of PUFF is the Northeast Premiere of Japanese director Kurando Mitsutake’s wild new movie with an 80s Canon film aesthetic: KARATE KILL. Following an incredibly skilled fighter from Japan to Los Angeles to Texas on a mission to rescue his sister from a violent cult, the movie showcases incredible fight choreography while being absolutely over the top from start to finish. Reuniting the GUN WOMAN director with sexy Japanese star Asami, KARATE KILL will satiate those with an appetite for martial arts and splatter.

PUFF’s final event on Sunday, October 9 PUFF will bring the festival back to CineMug, wrapping up the weekend with a night of Philly-made local shorts.

Check the @PhillyUnnamed Twitter account and Official PUFF Facebook for more information on tickets and badges soon.

All trailers are available on the official PUFF YouTube page (

Max Rose (2013)

Jerry Lewis gives one of those "oh shit this is Jerry Lewis?" performances. Its one of those performances that is so shattering you have to wondering why hasn't he been doing dramas all along.

Lewis plays Max Rose, aka Max Rosenblum, a jazz pianist whose wife dies. While going through her things he finds an inscribed memento which makes him think the love of his life was in love with another man. He then tries to figure out the story behind the memento.

The film is all Lewis, and its all wonderful. Lewis gives a performance for the ages as a man in deep emotional pain. The weight of the world is written on his face. His every action reveals so much that is going on behind the eyes. Its a performance that he could only have come now- come from a man who has lived 90 years and who has had to face getting old, Its one of those performances that redefines a career. Its so good that words fail me, just have to see it.

As I said above the film really is all Lewis and once you look at the plot, the film gets knocked down a bit. It's not that there is anything wrong with the story (which is based on the directors grandparents) rather the need to include a "plot" kind of takes away from the real feeling in the film. It might have worked had the story of Max chasing down the suitor kicked in sooner than it does. Yes its hovering around the edges but it doesn't really kick in until almost an hour has passed and then is too quickly resolved. Its not bad but other than giving Max closure it really isn't necessary to enjoying the film.

A surprising gem of a film with one of the best performances of the year (which Oscar will probably ignore) MAX ROSE is very recommended when the film finally gets a US release on Friday.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nightcap 8/28/16 The end to best lists, Off the ledge film nerds, and Randi's Links

We must stop making these grand lists of the best of anything as if its the be all and end all list. Its pointless and makes the ludicrous assumption that the people making the lists have actually seen or done everything- which they haven't.

The latest puff piece and column filler was the BBC's Best of the 21st Century So Far film list. (It can be found here).  The BBC asked 177 critics to give in lists and they compiled the list from that. (The individual lists are here).

Actually what I find bothersome is not the individual lists, which are a hell of a lot more interesting because they contain an incredibly wide variety of titles, many unexpected (Ghost Writer, Revenge of the Sith, Attack the Block, Minority Report, Pulse, 3 Iron...) rather it's how vanilla the final list is. I could have guessed the vast majority of the final titles. No film really stood out on the final list because ultimately the only ones that are going to be on it are the films that everyone, or almost everyone has seen.

The final list is made up of films that got all the praise, made all the festival rounds and were easily seen by everyone- of course they ended up on the list. There is nothing on the list that is from left field- simply because very few people were in left field to see the films.

This is why Shawshank Redemption is so high on the IMDB list- its not that it's anyone's favorite, rather enough people have seen it and liked it that it rose to the top. Its a trick of the voting. Its the same reason why the film critic groups best of the year awards are a joke- its made up of the ones that everyone saw and can agree on but aren't the films that they really believe are the best in their heart of hearts.(its what however many people in a room can agree on) I mean Mulholland Drive is the top of the list? Really? Go through the individual lists and you'll wonder how the hell it ended up there.

Personally I wouldn't put the vast majority of the the final list on my list because I don't think most are remotely that good. I would include The Act of Killing but I don't think anything else. I could argue and might include Old Boy simply because that film changed how many people see Korean cinema.

Lists like the BBCs or those found in the 1001 Films You Must See Before Tuesday are jokes. They rehash the same old same old but they don't really highlight anything truly great that is outside the spotlight.

On the other hand the individual lists do. The voters lists show a wide range of viewing that is completely lacking in the full on list. There are films there that make me take some of the writers more seriously and want to see their choices. The individual lists are not lock step which is really cool. Go rent the titles that aren't on all the lists.

(I am not going to give you my list of the best films- I wouldn't even know where to begin- worse my mood would be an influence. Besides I see way too many movies to play that game. I see 1000 or more films a year and at this point its just too many to try and sort out.)
In the wake of the hacking of Leslie Jones and all that nonsense I have to say one thing:

Everyone off the ledge- NOW.

The screaming on the internet over movies has to stop, I'm not talking about what may or may not have happened in the private lives of directors (in which case we weren’t there, so we don't know, so stop speculating) rather the hissy fits over Ghostbusters, Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad or any other film that has you speedos in a bunch and you have claimed have wrecked your delicate psyche.

These are movies, they are not life and death... then again it's apparent  you don't know what is life and death.

Let me point out the obvious- you won’t die if a remake is bad or a movie mishandles a character. If you don’t like it don’t see it. If you saw it and didn’t like it ignore it. If you stop talking about it will eventually fade from your mind and the mind of everyone else…. If you keep talking about it, if you keep beating on it, or doing stupid things the film won’t die and it will live on.

Actually the best thing would be if all of you people who live on social media put down the devices and get the hell out of your basements and go out into the sun and meet real people. If you actually go out and interacted with real people you’d understand what a bunch of jerks you’re being. You would actually know how to treat another human being.

These are movies, they mean nothing in the long run. If you all cared about the real world as much as the fake glamour of mass media the world would be in a better place and you wouldn’t have to live with your parents until they die. You might even be able to have a family of your own and real friends.

Better yet, why don't you take all this energy you have to scream and yell and abuse another human being and do what Kevin Smith suggested to those abusing his daughter, namely go make your own movie. Prove to all of us that you have the right artistic slant and that you are someone we should listen to. I mean they are shooting films on iPhones so there is no excuse for you not to try. If you are so knowing why not give us the net thing that people are getting upset over.

If not remember that despite the fact you are drawing attention to the damage you cause you are ultimately a nobody who has done nothing. Sure you've inconvenienced a famous person, but at the end of the news cycle they remain famous and you're still a no one.
As much as I like Michael Price's Forgotten Horror series some times he has major gaffes such as claiming Fritz Lang's JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY  form a trilogy with his TIGER OF BENGAL and THE INDIAN TOMB when LOST CITY is a condensed version of the other two films
Randi's links for the week:

Steve Rogers is no longer CaptainAmerica in the films
3D version of JASON BOURNE leaving audiences sick in the aisles
Nathan Lane, John Goodman and John Slattery talk about playing journalists on stage
The creation of the book

There is a new movie theater in Crown Heights
Water Bears
Sondheim's new musical is based on Bunuel films
They have recreated a black hole in a lab
MOMA is doing a Spanish animation series
John Hersey and the Bomb
Why the Bechdel Test doesn't always work
Finished and concept SUPERMAN THE MOVIE poster art 

Train to Busan (2016)

Sang-ho Yeon follows up his animated horror film SEOUL STATION with a live action companion piece called TRAIN TO BUSAN.

The film is the story of a hedge fund manager and largely absent father who really isn't there for his daughter. When the girl insists on going to see her mother in Busan on her birthday he agrees to take her by train.  As the train is pulling out of the station an unwell girl leaps aboard the train- unfortunately she's infected with whatever leaked from a bio lab and shes on the road to changing into a blood thirsty monster.  Soon the passengers are turning into fast  moving zombies and the passengers have no where to run.

Stunning film takes about fifteen minutes to set everything and everyone up before it just goes like a rocket straight on to the final fade out.  There are good guys, bad guys, acts of cowardice and some of heroics. You will laugh and cry (some acts of self sacrifice are moving) and generally be on the edge of your seat.

Its one of the best zombie films in years because it doesn't explain too much and just tells us exactly what the characters know. It also moves like the wind barely giving the audience any time to breath or consider what the hell is going. The film moves along at such a good clip, and is so lacking in gore (other than a bite or two) that this is really an action film with monsters

Its a film that is so good and so gripping it's been playing in a local theater for five weeks to sold out houses. Being able to say that says a great deal because most films, especially Asian films, last only a week or two and don't sell out past the first weekend. Additionally most Asian films don't spread out past the handful of AMC run theaters they start in and TRAIN TO BUSAN has.

I could say that the film is similar in some ways to other zombie films, the fast movie zombies echo WORLD WAR Z's creatures and there are slight references to the Romero films, but ultimately the film is its own thing. The rules of its monsters, quick infection, the need for them to see their prey and the seeming lack of a way to kill them are all new. Yes the film echoes other films but the film is all it's own thing...

...except that the film feels like a companion piece to the director's earlier SEOUL STATION.  I can't argue that one is the sequel to the other, because other than the zombies and the train references nothing crosses over, rather they are more two stories set at the same time with  SEOUL STATION being the first night of the infestation  and TRAIN being the next day.  There are call backs to each other, with some of the zombie insanity in the train station at the start echoing the images in the first film. TRAIN makes clear why things are happening while SEOUL its never explained. Seeing the two films together, whether its the right or wrong thing to do, make both films better and I will argue that taken  together the films make one of the best films of the year.

An absolute must see for horror, action and suspense fans.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ron Ely Tarzan TV Series

Back in February we did the entire run of Tarzan films that were spawned and connected through rights from the MGM series in the 1930’s and 40’s. The series ran from 193- to 196-. At one point during the making of the films the series paused for a couple of years as the Ron Ely Tarzan series ran. The series was supposed to star big screen Tarzan Mike Henry, but doing the films soured Henry on being Tarzan and he walked away. Ely who had been hired to play a Tarzan impostor was bumped up to lead. Recently the Decades TV Network marathoned the first season and a chunk of the second one and I found myself dropping in to a bunch of the episodes over the run.

Based on the ten or so episodes I caught during the run I think the series is absolutely a great addition to the Tarzan mythos. To be quite honest the series is a vast improvement over a good number of the later films especially the final one TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE BOY. While the series hits a good number of cliché points, Cheetah, a Boy stand in, and plots that had been used before, the series over comes the sense of been here and done that by location shooting, a well written scripts and a stunning turn by Ron Ely.

Ely cuts an iconic figure as the jungle king. Not one to shy away from danger the fact that he did his own stunts helps to sell the plots. There are no real cutaways and it makes it all real. It also helps that he carries himself in such a way that you know he’s going to kick the bad guys ass. He’s one of the best Tarzans and his performance is what sold the series for me-to the extent that I’m going to pick up the series from the Warner Archive.

I really loved what I saw and found that I kept trying to find excuses to get back to the TV to watch more.

While the series only lasted two seasons, the ratings and the toll of production cut the series short, it produced some stunning adventures. They were so good that the two part episodes were released as theatrical films. The sad thing is that these films were much better than the final two Mike Henry films which ended the series. The Henry films were completed before the series ran and then were released after it ended.

If you need something to binge watch I highly recommend the Ron Ely Tarzan

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Portland Film Festival Starts Tuesday

The Portland Film Festival is a gem. I was introduced to the festival last year and it instantly became one of my favorites thanks to discovering films such as MADE IN JAPAN, TYKE:KILLER ELEPHANT, THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR and of course the must see THE BUSINESS OF AMATEURS. When it was done I was thrilled to realize that I had found the perfect festival to end the summer and prepare myself for the fall season.

And now as August winds down I’m heading back for another go round.

What makes Portland so cool is that in addition to the films they have tons of special events and classes. There is so much I don’t know where to begin. So much is going on that you could go to the festival and never see a film- which is a cool thing when you thing about it because it means the festival is more than just about film but culture. It’s a festival that’s alive and vibrant and I’m trying to decide where I’m going to begin wading in. (Here is the program book- take a look and you too will start booking your trip now)

I’m not going to lie and tell you I’ve seen a ton of their films, because I haven’t, not yet anyway. Things going on in my personal life have prevented me from getting a head start- but not to worry once the festival starts Monday I will start dropping reviews. We’ll be going through this together this time so expect lots of reports from the road.

Honestly there are a ton of films I want to see WIZARD MODE, NEIL STRYKER AND THE TYRANT OF TIME and UNSEEN. I’m especially looking forward to ON THE FARM which played at Women Texas and I got several frantic emails about telling me I had to see it. Hopefully it lives up to the hype.

Several of the films have played at other festivals we’ve covered so her are a few reviews to mull over until the reports from the fest start up.


And as for SHE SINGS TO THE STARS I've seen it somewhere along the road but a guest reviewer dropped out so it never got reviewed . If I remember it correctly its not bad.

I've also seen SEARCH DOG, the story of Matthew Zarrella, a Rhode Island State Police Sergeant who rescues unadoptable dogs and turns them into search and rescue dogs. Highly recommended

If you’re close to Portland and love film you need to go. If you don’t live near Portland but aren’t having major surgery you need to book a flight and go. Trust me great things are happening in Portland and they are all at the film festival.

For more information go here
For Tickets
And to help you pick a film here is the program

Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2015)

Third go round of the life of Michael Alig, the infamous club kid who eventually killed his drug dealer. His life was documented in PARTY MONSTER: THE SHOCKUMENTARY a documentary and another fiction film with the same title with Macaulay Culkin as Alig.

A long portrait of Alig and the scene he traveled the film is both a enlightening and way too much. Running approximately 134 minutes the film is everything you wanted to know about Alig and New York City in the 1980's and 1990's and a whole bunch more that you probably don't want to know. The film charts Alig's arrival and the up and down fortunes of the clubs and the circles he moved in. Its a film that gives you a glorious sense of time and place and makes you wonder how the hell all that went down really did.

As a glutton for the history of NYC, especially for it's rise from the ashes of the 1970's into the place it is today I was largely enthralled. There are so many interviews with people who were there the film ccould be scene as a vital document. There is so much here I know I'm going to need a second or third time through the film to catch it all.

The problem with the film is it's run time. Running way longer than it really should, the film repeats some things too many times and has several bits that just go on way too long. I got tired before the hour mark especially when I realized there was so much more to go. To be honest the film could lose 45 minutes and not be hurt since most of that would be repetition of several points- most notably everyone saying the same things about Alig.

I like the film a great deal but the repetition makes the film a hard one to recommend since even for me I grew weary.

Taking the problems into account I still recommend the film for true crime junkies, those interested in the club scene and anyone wanting to know what NYC was like in the bad old days.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ted Balaker on free speech and if we can take a joke

CAN WE TAKE A JOKE? is a great film. It is a wonderful exploration of the state of free speech in America today, particularly in comedy and on college campuses.

It is a vitally important film that everyone really should see, especially when one of the candidates for President of the United States seeks to shut down any sort of discussion of his life and policies. Despite giving to lip service to free speech it seems that one of our leaders would actually like to stifle it. It’s also important when one of our major institutions of higher learning, the University of Chicago, has to announce to the world that it not going to stand for the stifling of free speech via trigger warnings and safe places.

When I saw the film last November I raved about it. I tried to get as many people as possible to see it. I also realized after it was over that I had made a major mistake and I had not tried to interview the director Ted Balaker. Here was man with a deep passion for keeping the 1st Amendment to the Constitution fully operational. Listening to him speak after the DOC NYC screening I realized that here was someone to admire.

Sometime just before the film hit theaters and VOD I reached out and tried to contact Ted in the hope of getting an interview. While there can never be too much discussion of free speech, in the present political climate it is something we must never stop doing. I wanted to see what Ted thought of all of the craziness. It took a little bit but Ted and I finally connected and last week we sat down and talked to each other.

While the discussion is predicated on CAN WE TAKE A JOKE?, what follows is for the most part a discussion of free speech in comedy and on college campuses. You don’t need to have seen the film to follow or appreciate the talk that we had. This is simply a discussion of our right to express what we believe or to discuss what is going on around us freely and openly.

I want to thank Ted Balaker for taking the time to do this.

CAN WE TAKE A JOKE? is available at iTumes and other VOD and Pay per view services now

Gilbert Gottfried, DOC NYC programmer Basil Tsiokos and director Ted Balaker  at DOC NYC November 2015

Steve: I'm curious it seems like all the films you've directed are freedom of speech related, especially relating to college campuses. What made you so interested in freedom of speech and campus?

Ted: I guess IMDB page is kind of incomplete because I've done plenty stuff not related to freedom of speech. But free speech has been an interest of mine for a lot of years.

It's been an interest of mine for, for a lot of years. We work closely with the group FIRE,& nbsp;the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and have done for, uh, I don't know, four years or so now. And, um, they're a great group. We, we interviewed, um, you may remember Greg Lukianoff, um, the red-haired guy, uh, in "Can We Take a Joke?"

Steve: Right.

Ted: He's  the president of FIRE. And so we've been working with them and have become very aware of what's going on on college campuses. It's also something that, since I went to college, have started noticing it.

I really like the idea of college. Like everybody gets together and throws around a bunch of crazy ideas and tries to [laughs] , to find out what's true. Um, but unfortunately these days that's not happening as much as it should be. Too often colleges are bastions narrow-mindedness.

And they should be the opposite. And so they're kind of pull, pulling this bait and switch on students and the, the parents that pay for these increasingly expensive educations because they... In all their official communications, they say, "Oh yeah, you know, our college is all about the First Amendment and, you know, free exchange of ideas, and, and it's so important, and blah, blah, blah." But then when you get right down to it, a lot of them don't make good on those promises.

Steve: Do you, do you think it's, it's the college themselves, or do you think it's just a fear of litigation?

Ted: Yeah, that's a good question. Fear of litigation is one reason, and in recent decades it’s become a bigger issue. The Obama administration has broadened the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment, for instance.

And so it could be even like unwelcomed speech that's sexual in nature, and then in practice, the definition of what that is can be very broad. And so a lot of, of colleges are worried about losing their federal funding if they run afoul of these federal guidelines.

And so the fear of litigation is one. And didn't start with the Obama administration. This, this is something that's been going for a long time in this direction, and over the years, in recent decades the administrators in colleges has exploded.

So you hear things like "Adjunct professors" on college campuses, but you never hear like "Adjunct administrator." They’ve got lots and lots of jobs, and they, they busy themselves with maintaining and enforcing these speech codes.

Steve: When I saw the film, I didn't realize the degree to which free speech is being shut down on the college campuses. I haven't been to college for 20 years but I didn't realize that it had it had slipped so much.

I mean where, y-you know, where you had the one, the, the one gentleman -- forgive me, I don't remember his name -- who had put the play on and, you know, a-at every point was telling you, "This is going to offend you. This is going to offend you." And people still went, and then still got upset, and they had been told, from start to finish there were triggers. I mean, that's totally crazy.

Ted: Oh, yeah, it is crazy, and I think a lot of people are in your position, they don't really understand the extent of what's going on and that's why I'm really gratified by the film, the film tends to provoke a lot of discussion. That's one of the, the things I'm most proud about.

We had our LA premier. We did a Q&A and then people, for hours afterwards were still asking questions in the lobby, and it was really great to see everybody not just...have a good laugh and enjoy a film, but then to have it spur more conversation. And I'm hopeful that it'll also help people pay attention to what's going on campuses.

And people who are entering college are always shopping for colleges based on all kinds of different factors. I think one of the factors they should consider is, "Does this college support free speech or not?"

And at they rate colleges, red light, green light, and yellow light, uh, green light being where they, where the, they respect free speech, and red light meaning they don't. So students can go online and check it out and see if, you know, if they want to go to whatever university, they can check out the free speech profile, by university.

I think parents should do that, too, and, and alumni. One of the things I saw, there was an article recently in the New York Times about how certain, universities are really feeling it in the pocketbook these days, because after high profile eruptions of outrage and censorship a lot of their alumni are saying, "What's going on?" [laughs]

It's just ridiculous, you know. "This isn't what college is supposed to be about, so, don't expect me to write you a big fat, fat check anymore." And I think, you know, as is so often the case when people start feeling it in the pocketbook, that's, that's when change happens.

Steve: Do you think that this, this outrage is the result of students wanting to shut down the free speech? Is this the administration? Do you think it's like over protective parents? Is that the way it's, this is coming from, or do you just think it's just the guidelines from the federal government?

Ted: I think  there are a lot of different factors, and definitely, uh, over protective parenting is one, you know, sometimes called "helicopter parenting" where parents try to protect their kid from anything uncomfortable that happens in life.

And when they go off to college, they just keep on with that helicopter parenting, and so a lot of times these administrators pick up on it too. So, lot of times people say, "Oh, it's the snowflake generation. They can't take, they can't take criticism."

And I think there's a good degree of truth to that, but I think people are blaming the 18-year-olds maybe a little too much and, and not putting enough blame on the parents,  you know the parents who raised them and then other adults, namely the administrators at universities who kind of carry on for the parents and and often times the professors, too.

It's a bunch of different factors, and definitely over protective parenting is one of the important ones.

Steve: When you, when you put the film together, did you have a focus? You deal with the comedians but, then there is the colleges. Did you put the film together to highlight one thing or just see where it went?

Ted: I wanted it to be entertaining to people, and I wanted them to think about free speech. In terms of, of the elements in it, I knew that we wanted to highlight what's going on in colleges, because that's how this all started in that we were looking at college comedians who are getting shut down for parody satire brand of comedy.

There are plenty more that we could have included we didn't. [laughs] You know, unfortunately  there's a bunch more examples. And then the other element that we knew that we wanted was Lenny Bruce, because number one, he's so important to the history of stand-up comedy, and number two, he's a good reference point.

He shows us how things have gotten better and worse since his time. So you have those, those two elements and the other big element were the comedians

Steve: How much material did you shoot? I was talking to so Kevin Pollack. And he said that he shot...hours and hours and hours for his film [ed Misery Loves Comedy], and he said "I have like tons of stuff that I shot, but it couldn't fit in the film." How much did you shoot? Did you end up with tons of stuff?

Ted: Yeah, there's a lot of great stuff that we just couldn't include in the film for one reason or another. One of my hopes is that we find a way to get that out into the world in, in some form. I'd love to, because the issue is so multi-faceted and there's so many different things and directions you could go.

I mean it would be great to do  a sequel or something in this space again, because the film deals with a topic that's really, really  vast, and, no documentary can be the last word on anything because of the nature of the medium. They're about an hour and a half typically. You're not going to be able to cover every angle in that amount of time. So I'd love to, to find a way to get some of the stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor out into the world.

Steve: Did you end up taping or recording any of the Q&As that you've done? I saw the first showing at DOC NYC. And then I talked to people who saw it at the second one. And they said everybody was talking in the hallway,  in the lobby and this and that. And I just was curious if you recorded any of that, because, as you said, even LA  you had these long discussions,  even after the...

Ted: We recorded, I guess somebody at DOC NYC recorded at least some of it, because I've seen the video. We did have someone in LA record the, the Q&A. It's not up online yet. But, we can probably put it online.

But it would have been nice to see [laughs], you know B roll of all the people even after the formal Q&A, because, you know how it goes. There's the formal Q&;A, and there's talking in the lobby.

And it was just so cool to see people not just watching the movie and file out and go on with their day but  actually watching the movie, and do the Q&A, and then stick around after the Q&A. [laughs] And, and they're just talking and talking and talking.

I hope that that's, that's what the film continues to do, and on about 241 college campuses, during what we call sneak peek week in, in April, and it's the same thing happened there, which is really great.

And, and a lot of times this is where I'm not quite as down on the millennial generation as some people, because I saw how they reacted to the film in April. And there were some cases where you have the kind of narrow-mindedness that we've come to expect from college campuses and people are tearing down promotional posters. Or in one case someone pulled the fire alarm, basically canceled one of our screenings and a Q&A I was scheduled to participated in.

So you have that, but on the other hand you had cases of students have different political points of view coming together, watching a movie, and then talking about it, and talking about why free speech is important and that they disagree on all kinds of issues, but at least they can agree that, that free speech is important if we want to fix society's biggest problems.

We hope to go back on college campuses in the fall. It's always just, a matter of finding funding to do these things. But I'm very hopeful and gratified so far by how it's been able to, to get people talking.

Steve: What was the reaction to people to Lenny Bruce? Because it's very strange.  I'm a huge Lenny Bruce fan. I've been all my life.

Ted: Oh, cool.

Steve: But you know, there's a point where I was talking to some people, and, some were even a little younger than myself. You know, since I'm 51, and even some people not that much younger than me, don't know who Lenny Bruce was. They sort of have a vague idea, and it's like they don't realize what he actually did. Did you get a lot of, you know, like, "Who is this guy" and, you know, that sort of stuff?
Lenny Bruce's mug shot

Ted: Oh yeah. I think you're far more knowledgeable, I gather, about comedy than the average consumer, because we found that, especially among people who are 30 and under, say they've never heard of him before. Or maybe they had a vague idea. But it's been really cool to see that a lot of times people single out the, the Lenny Bruce content in the film as some of their favorite stuff, because they didn't know the story.

And now they do know the story and they recognize that the big contribution he had not just to comedy but to free speech. And it seems bizarre to people that you could get actually [laughs]  get hauled off in cuffs for cursing at a Greenwich Village comedy club.

It seems like, "Well, that couldn't happen in America." And people are, are shocked to find out that actually it did happen in America.

Steve: Yeah.  I love,  Penn Jillette’s comment about that it's so cool that he got arrested, but at the same time...

Ted: [laughs]

Steve:, you have the sense that, you know it's horrifying that he got arrested.

Ted: Oh yeah.

Steve: It's a cool thing to do. But you don't really want that.

Ted: Totally, and you see that, Jim Norton and others in the film, they're saying, nowadays if we get in trouble the punishment is corporate and then we lose our gig on Comedy Central, but we're not getting arrested. [laughs]

And just to be a comedian today or, to just be someone who goes to a comedy club, I mean, can you imagine going to The Comedy Cellar and looking around and seeing cops [laughs] just waiting to arrest a comedian if he steps out of line. That, it just seems like that would never happen here, and, and yet it did.

Steve: Yeah. It's crazy. Which forces the question with this weird shift in the country with Donald Trump and   Hilary Clinton running for President and you have people screaming at each other, "You can't say that about Hilary.” “ You can't say that about Donald." And, you have Donald saying crazy stuff "You can't say that, you can't say anything bad about me." Do you see any change in civil rights coming with the upcoming presidential election?

Ted: Oh yeah, the whole thing is just, just makes my head hurt. [laughs] I'm not a fan of either one, and I don't think either one is particularly good on free speech.  I think if there's any good that can come out of it, it's that people see that they're just screaming at each other. And then they're saying, "You can't say this. You can't say that."

I'm hoping that maybe we'll reach a point where people say "OK, this is peak crazy." [laughs] Hopefully people recognize that this isn't the way to conduct national discourse, that we shouldn't just be  jumping to conclusions and saying everybody is worse than Hitler every time they say something you, you disagree with.

I think Donald Trump is a mixed bag, because he proudly says he is anti-political correctness. But he,  as you, as you kind of laid out a little bit, he's not really for open discussion. I worry that he would just  switch one group of sacred cows for another group.

So he likes to talk about things that are sensitive to other people who he disagrees with, but, if you talk about something and are critical of something that is sensitive to him, look out. Like he's going to, he's going to go ballistic. He's going to probably call you a name.

There, there was some journalist who said that Trump tweeted like a little like a teenage girl or something. And then Trump wanted to get him fired, so  I think Trump isn't like anti-outraged mob. [laughs] He's, I think he would be part of the outraged mob too.

Just like in the film it highlights  most of the outrage that's coming from the left. At least in the film,  that's what was highlighted, because these days, it does seem to be where it's most prevalent. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't come from other directions too.

And, and I think what we find about America is that everybody likes when they have a chance, to engage in outrage. And they like to, when they have the chance, censor people they disagree with. And that, that's whether you're conservative, liberal, or, or whatever. It's just unfortunately a human impulse to want to shut up and muzzle people you disagree with.

Steve: Is t anything that offends? Is there any line for you personally?

Ted: Oh yeah. There's stuff in the film that offends me. And I figured that if I was going to be honest with the audience, I couldn't just  leave my sacred cows alone. [laughs] You know, I, I'd have to include things that offended me too, because if I'm saying to other people, "You've got to learn how to take a joke," then I, I've got to learn how to take a joke, too.

And I think that's part of just growing up and becoming an adult.  I think far too many times these days, when people laugh at something they're really saying, "I agree with that."

And I think it's a mark of a grownup if you can name comedians that you disagree with on, you know, politics, or religion, or whatever issue is important to you, uh, but still say, "Wow, I think that guy or that, that girl, they're really funny."

I think that's a good sign. And I think that far too many people, so much of comedy has just become hyper politicized that they can't even, uh, that they only laugh at things if, if they agree with them politically or, you know, religiously, or whatever the big issue happens to be.

Steve: Who are your favorite comedians?

Ted: Oh wow...a tough one, because there are so many. [laughs]

Lately  my wife and I have been watching, some of the late great Patrice O'Neal and just really remembering how great he was. And even Greg Giraldo. My brother, actually, is writing, co-writing a, a biography on Greg Giraldo. My brother is a stand-up comedian and he was probably the world's biggest Greg Giraldo fan.

Richard Pryor, of course is up there if you're looking at all-time greats. Um, even Dave Chappelle, um, you know, Bill Burr, Louis C.K., um, uh, oh, Jim Norton. Frankly, I love all the comedians [laughs] that are in our film.

And that's part of why we targeted them, Its because it's always better  if you find them interesting and entertaining, ,when you're, when you're editing something for hours upon hours [laughs].

I really love all the comedians we have. I really love all the comedians we have. I mean, take someone like Gilbert Gottfried. Noam Dworman, who we interviewed, the owner of the Comedy Store. He once called Gilbert a comedic savant. And  I think that a lot of people don't fully appreciate like what a comedic genius Gilbert is because he can go totally filthy and blue and he's hilarious, or he can just go on these bizarre tangents and then he can be hilarious that way.

You can see it with some comedians andyou can tell he was influenced by this guy. But Gilbert, he''s just like he was hatched in outer space and landed on Earth, [laughs] and he's just like his own dude.

Steve: There's no one like Gilbert.

Ted: Yeah, exactly. [laughs]

Steve: I've been following his career the whole time, and he just amazes me more and more.

Ted: One of the best times I had was when my wife and I just YouTube'd a bunch of his stuff and just random, you know, watched it one after the next. And he just...he's got this, you know. It's just...he's got this jackhammer tongue, and he just does things in a way.

He's just a very unique thinker and comedian. It's so hard just to be funny, and I have such tremendous respect for comedians because I think it's just a really, really hard thing to do to make an audience laugh, but if you can be funny and like completely original the way he is I think that's a whole new level.

Steve: Was there anybody you wanted to talk to for the film and you didn't?

Ted: Oh, yeah . Unfortunately I'm not going to get into really specific names because  you don't really know why they said no. You can only speculate. Is it because they didn't want to stick their neck out about this issue?  I think probably what most of it was was just going back to it was  a really tough pitch.

You're offering them no money and no exposure. They didn't know it was going to happen. They're assuming it's just another indie documentary. And these guys are really, really busy, and they get tons of requests from of all kinds of people.

Steve: Was there anything...was there anything that you really wanted to get in but you couldn't fit or was there anybody you interviewed and you got really great stuff, you just couldn't get it in? Or did you get like everybody in? Did you...?

Ted: Oh, yeah. Well, everybody's in, but there's so many anecdotes. I mean Karen Foster, she had this whole separate episode where she was Don Imus's sidekick after the whole Nappy-Gate thing.

Steve: Right.

Ted: But she ended up, you know, saying how difficult of a job that was, and she doesn't like Imus, um, but she defended him in that. The whole Nappy-Gate thing was in many ways maybe the first example of modern outrage.

I'm not really an Imus fan, but when I investigated it,& nbsp;it seemed pretty clear based on what Karen and others said that it was just like an old dude making, you know, just a clumsy attempt at humor. So that was an episode we couldn't include.

And actually another one which is doesn't have anything to do with comedy, but it was a Holocaust denial, of all things, because that's kind of like the most extreme or one of the most extreme forms of speech.

Or, you know, when people say what kinds of speech should get you in trouble that's often near the top of the list. You know, if you deny the Holocaust, uh, you should be punished in some way.

And so in one of the cuts we had an episode about this British guy who I guess is some kind of historian, and he went to Austria, and he got, uh, thrown in prison for Holocaust denial. Um, and he was in prison for something like four years and so much of the time he was in solitary confinement.

And when he came out of prison he gave this speech to like 10,000 people, and he's greeted like a returning hero. And so I think that example shows that censorship is a great way to turn crackpots into martyrs.

That a lot of times people think that censorship they're shutting down "Hateful" ideas is a really enlightened progressive thing to do, but in practice it backfires so often, and here in the United States we have the First Amendment. You wouldn't have that situation here. You know, someone could deny the Holocaust all they want in the US, and, and what would happen is people would have to use arguments and evidence to point out that he's wrong.

And so I think that's a powerful example that shows even in these really extreme cases...we're all better off if we  combat bad speech with more speech as Penn Jillette says in the film.

Steve: You mentioned the Holocaust just I'm curious. There's a, there's another documentary. Called THE LAST LAUGH on the Holocaust and humor,...

Ted: Wow. Wow, I'd love to see that.

Steve: ...but do you think there's subjects...the real question, and the point of that film was is there anything that you can't make fun of?

Ted: There might be.  I think the thing is that there are always going to be...I'm not going to be the one to say what that thing is  because humor is so subjective, and I could crack a joke about something that offends somebody else,  and it doesn't bother me, but then you could totally reverse the situation where they crack a joke about a topic that doesn't bother them, but maybe it bothers me.

I think what you get into a situation where that if we just made a big list of topics that offend somebody and said all these topics are unavailable for comedians, you know, what would we be left with? Just a bunch of knock-knock jokes, probably, because no matter what topic you're talking about almost any topic somebody can be offended by it.

I think there's another equally important point that a lot of the people who think they're doing God's work by shutting people down and forming Twitter mobs they forget the power of dark humor, the therapeutic power of dark humor that people that jokes that are really, edgy and dark.

I think there's this idea that comedians are telling all these jokes about these horrible things making fun of people who are in these tough situations. And that is almost never the case.

Like Bill Burr has a routine about where he says the word "Faggot" a lot. And if you hear the routine it's very clear that he's not making fun of gay people. He's making fun of homophobia but people kind of hear that, and they have a knee-jerk reaction.

And they don't realize that a lot of the people who get angry about those types of jokes oftentimes a comedian is on their side. [laughs] They have the same point of view as the people getting outraged.

And, since this film has come out I've had so many open and frank conversation with people. One woman told me about like that she was molested as child, and that she was really worried about comedy that incorporated that topic. But then she heard Louis CK's routine in which he talks about it. And she said she laughed, and it helped her. And I think you see that a lot. There's a female comedian who's...I can't remember her name, but she's bipolar and she incorporates jokes about that in her routine.

And what you find is that people who are dealing with these very toughest things in life if they can find some humor in it, it kind of defangs the issue, and it puts the person, it puts the victim back in charge, because that person is seizing power from that evil thing that happened to them and they're using humor to cope with some of the toughest things in life. And  as we quote Joan Rivers in the film, she says that, "Life without humor, it's hard."

Steve: So essentially anything is fine. It's more situational in how it's presented rather than necessarily a blanket, "These subjects are taboo."

Ted: Yeah. I mean I'm not going to be the person to say that this...I'm not going to be the person to draw the line.  Certainly criticize if you want, but people also have to understand the power of context.

We bring up the issue of suicide, for instance, briefly.  Jim Norton talks about Henry Rollins and how he got hammered because he wrote an op-ed saying that parents shouldn't kill themselves because of the damage that it does to their kids.

And then Norton kind of laughs saying now we have punk rockers apologizing for things that we've written. [laughs] And, you know, once the punk rockers are apologizing...we've reached a new level of absurdity. That's what  more important  than comedy. How are we going to discuss the most important issues of the day?

And if you're just going to pounce on people because they say something like "Suicide is selfish," they may be right, they may be wrong, but let's not just shut them up and force them to make a phony apology. Let's talk about the issue. Let's, you know, let's argue it using evidence and good arguments and not just calling people names and demanding that they shut up, because if we can't speak frankly about these really sensitive topics then we don't really have much of a shot of solving the biggest issues that we face.

Steve: And I think I'm going to end here if that's OK with you because  what you've said is so perfect I have nowhere to go.