AICN - Mysterio's VULGARTHON Report Part II
First posted on AICN on February 6, 2002
V U L G A R T H O N 3 - January 7 - 8, 2002
Following Day One's screenings, an after-party was held at the Memory Lanes Bowling alley nearby, where late-night entertainment was supplied by local L.A. band, MERRICK. A true "Josie and the Pussycats" moment for the band I'm sure. Fronted by lead musicians, Bryony Atkinson and Inara George, Merrick's music can best be described as a cross blend of folk-rock harmonies that transcend above and beyond traditional coffee-house melancholy. They've also contributed some soundtrack work for such films as THE MINUS MAN and ANYWHERE BUT HERE. As the band played on, fans got their chance to eat, drink and mingle with the guest attendees, not to mention share stories, take pictures and get autographs. Once it neared 2am the alley began closing, but that didn't mean the partying stopped. Back at the hotel, various rooms hosted the after-after party duties either until the break of dawn or until the local Jersey cops showed up, whichever one came first.
As dawn broke, for some it meant bedtime, for others it was the start of DAY TWO. With Day Two, the line-up of films was pretty much the same with the exception of the absent DOGMA documentary from Day One. But there were also some unexpected surprises along the way.
Mid-way into Day Two after the dinner break, back inside Theater 1 Kevin Smith walks to the stage and pulls out his cell phone and begins dialing. Whispers amongst the crowd could be heard.
"Who's he calling?" chimed one quizzical fan.
"AFFLECK!!!" shouts out another fan.
Hearing that, Smith gives a confirming nod as he continues dialing with some difficulty.
"What - Is he in Guam?" yells an impatient fan.
Smith finally gets a connection.
KEVIN SMITH: This is Affleck's message to you guys.
As Kevin holds up his phone to the mic, a pre-recorded from Ben Affleck begins.
BEN AFFLECK: This is a message to all the folks at Vulgarthon. I hope you guys are having a good time. God knows what would inspire these people to take their hard-earned money and see this man's work yet again! Because it's obvious you've already been suffered through it once. I wish I could be there, I'm sure you guys are having fun… There must be something that's not Kevin Smith-based going on there that must be pretty good. No I'm kidding, I love the man.
(Then the message shifts from the crowd back to Kevin.)
So this is probably the end of the message for the Vulgarthon unless you want them to know about...
(At this point Smith quickly hangs up the phone.)
Kevin Smith (grinning slightly back at the audience): That was his little greeting to you.
He then hangs up and dials in another number off-mic before holding his cell phone back up to the microphone.
Kevin Smith: Ready? One… two… two-and-a-half…
Voice (on phone): Whaaassuuuup!!! (slight pause) They don't like it.
Instantly fans recognize the voice on the other as one nearby fan, without hesitation, shouts from the back.
Fan: HEY JAY!
Jason Mewes: What's up dude? Is O'Halloran and Anderson there?
KS: They're not here at this second, just you. Oh wait, there's O'Brian in the back. Say hi.
Jay: What's up Brian! …Brian Johnson?
KS: Brian O'Halloran.
Jay: Oh, O'Halloran. What's up O'Halloraaan?!?!
Brian O'Halloran (shouting back): What's going on?
KS: (back to Mewes): Don't have a conversation with just one guy with three hundred people.
Jay: How was the party? Ask them how was the party if they enjoyed it, I'm wondering.
KS: (to audience) Did you enjoy it?
Audience erupts in applause and screams.
KS: I think two of 'em did. Malcolm's here, say hi to Malcolm.
Jay: What's up Malcolm?
KS: Tell 'em why your not here.
KS: Tell 'em why you're not here.
Jay: Because Kevin didn't invite me.
KS: Well where are ya?
Jay: I'm in L.A. and shit. Whassup!!! L.A. … Sunny… Nice and warm. Is it cold there or what?
KS: Fucking freezing.
Jay: Is it COLD, cold?
KS: What's up dude, no love for Jersey?
Jay: Huh? Oh, I got love.
KS: Where is it? Where's the love for Jersey? Why'd you leave?
Jay: Oh, why'd I leave?
Jay: Because um… (pause) why'd I leave?
Jay: Oh! Because I thought you were going to be staying out here - you and the baby and Jen, but you bailed on me.
KS: At what point did you figure out we weren't staying out there?
Jay: When I went to the bathroom and you were gone and the shit was gone. And it was too late because I already put a down payment on my lease.
KS: Dude, say hi to the ladies - there's a lot of ladies here this year.
Jay: You serious?
Jay: I think there's a couple of 'em I was supposed to meet and shit up there.
KS: Kinda tough to do from out there.
Jay: It is - and there was a party this time and someone could of got drunk I could've taken advantage of them and shit. You know what I'm sayin'?
KS: I think we all know what you're saying!
(Audience erupts in laughter)
KS: You gonna be here next year?
Jay: Um, if I'm invited.
KS: You're always invited dude.
Jay: (laughs) Yeah, I'll definitely be there and shit. I'm going to go back with you this time and fly back and shit - together.
KS: All right my phone is dying. Any last words of wisdom?
Jay: (slight pause as Mewes thinks) …Keep warm! And I hope there's some dudes out there getting some ass and shit. Tell them to talk to the girls on the Internet…
KS: Dude, this is Vulgarthon - nobody gets ass here.
Jay: All right I love you. I'll talk to ya later.
KS: All right.
Jay: Bye everyone. PEEAAACE!
KS: (to audience) Say bye.
AUDIENCE: Bye Jay!!!
And on that note, Kevin hangs up his phone and then introduces out "Randal Graves" himself, Jeff Anderson who was a last minute surprise addition to this year's fest to intro his film, NOW YOU KNOW. After the success of Day One's screenings of the film, Jeff's looking far more relaxed, confident and at ease with himself as he talks about the film he shot last year. Jeff explains to the crowd that the film isn't yet finished (he has about a month left of post to do) and what they will be seeing a work copy, meaning that credits aren't yet complete, nor is the color timed, and the music is only temporary. He also makes a promise to the crowd that if they REALLY like it and laugh, he'll get up on stage and perform his now classic "wrangler dance" he did in CLERKS. The audience cheers and shouts in anticipation of seeing that later, but for now, they're content to sit back and take in Jeff's film.
NOW YOU KNOW tells the story of Jeremy (played by "Six Feet Under's", Jeremy Sisto), who learns on the eve of his bachelor party, that his fiancée Kerri ("Boston Public's", Rashida Jones) has un-expectantly and with reasons unbeknownst to him, called off their wedding. As the unmarried couple returns home to New Jersey, Jeremy's left to ponder the big question, "Why?" all the while, trying to find comfort in his friends, Gil (Jeff Anderson) and Biscuit (Trevor Ferhmon), which he finds but not without comedic results.
In an auspicious and ambitious filmmaking debut, writer/director Anderson manages to infuse enough wit and charm in this romantic comedy to engage even the most heartless of romantics. It's a satisfyingly, warm-hearted and funny romantic comedy that's sure to please. But it's Anderson's keen dialogue and characters that help keep the story afloat and moving. His characters are rich and well rounded, particularly with his and Ferhmon's characters, Gil and Biscuit. They shine together with terrific comedic chemistry that whenever they're onscreen with Jeremy, offset his character's passiveness nicely. The supporting players also help carry the story and inspire the main characters. The ensemble cast features the likes of Todd Babcock ('Gods & Monsters'), Debbe Dunning ("Home Improvement"), Heather Paige Kent ("That's Life"), Edie McClurg ('Ferris Bueller's Day Off'), Stuart Pankin, Liz Sheridan ("Seinfeld") and Kevin Smith - all helping the film to deliver on all counts. But what's really impressive here is how first-time director Anderson has managed to pull off the nearly impossible in his filmmaking debut. He's managed to make a mainstream film OUTSIDE of the conventional politics associate with Hollywood. 'NOW YOU KNOW' has all the characters, dialogue, look and feel that rivals most Hollywood "low-budgeted" romantic comedies. All this but at a fraction of the price, which, as triple-threat Anderson expresses as having been made under "an extremely low budget," but hesitant to quote exact figures for fear that if Hollywood does indeed call upon his talents in the future, that they'll constrain and expect him to work inside similar budgets.
After the screening the audience stood up applauding and cheering the film, and Anderson's efforts, as he made his way back down the aisle and to the stage. Anderson quickly lived up to his promise and hopped onstage and performed his ever so memorable "wrangler dance" to much fanfare. Once the cheers died down, he grabbed the mic and fielded some questions from the audience as Smith sat off to the side and proudly watched Anderson play to the crowd.
Question: When did you finish production on this?
Jeff Anderson: We haven't finished production on this. We're still in the process and like I said, I showed it to you guys just because I kind of sit in the back and hear where you laugh and hear were you don't, and we'll tweak and make subtle changes and we should be done in hopefully about a month.
Question: When is this getting released?
JA: We're talking no release. Actually no, we raised the money through private investors and did not seek a distribution deal beforehand. A lot of scripts will try and sell it overseas or get some sort of distribution plan in place before they do it, but we raised the money through private investors - so nobody has seen this yet. So when we're done with it, we'll have a distributors screening and hopefully it'll go out like mad!
QUESTION: How was it working with Kevin Smith?
JA: He's very particular about his dialogue, but he was great. I hope to be in more of his movies.
(Jeff then turns to Kevin, mic still in hand, and says:)
JA: By the way, I enjoyed your performance in 'VULGAR' - you homo!
(Which was in direct response to a scene director Smith has in 'VULGAR' involving his character lying in bed with another man).
(The audience erupts with laughter).
Question: Where did you find your private investors?
JA: Actually two guys that are here today, that I thank every time and I'll thank 'em again, Alec and Eric - they are my executive producers. They went out beating the pavement… and I think they robbed people! Their guy was shady! As long as I make a flick, I don't know where!
JA: No, they went out and raised money primarily not in L.A. where we did this - because L.A.'s dry - too many movies. They went out and talked people into investing in the movie.
Question: How long did it take you to write the screenplay?
JA: I wrote the script in about 2-3 months. It was the first script I'd ever wrote, so I wrote it and it sat on a shelf in my house until one night I went out and my wife at the time read the script and she liked it and I gave it to my theatrical agent and he said, "Hey, you know this isn't half bad," and we sent it out. It was over at FOX for a while and it sat there for about a year and they didn't do anything with it, so we pulled it out of there and raised the money and shot it.
Question: Where did you come up with the concept?
JA: That was kind of weird. When I originally sat down to begin writing it was going to be a script called "Fun Loving Criminals." It was going to be about these goofballs who do goofy things and ten times more, then I realized I didn't have a plot. So then I thought of the romantic-comedy angle - I don't know where that really came from - not from real life.
Question: How many shooting days did it take?
JA: We shot 18 days. We did 6-day workweeks, eighteen days. There was one night we shot 15-pages - and I was in all of those scenes.
Question: What are you doing next?
JA: I think I'm going to The Holiday Inn. 509? I know the room number. I'm there just like I said I was going there last night. No, actually I can go there tonight 'cause I don't have anything to do tomorrow, so I don't have to worry about responsibilities. Seriously, I hope this'll get out there and I'll get a chance to direct again as I've learned sooo much more after doing this, and the post process, that I think if given the chance to do it again - and I've already sort of written another script - I think I can do it much better.
Question: How did you like acting in your own movie?
JA: I liked it, but the director was an asshole! I liked it. I just wish I hadn't done such a big part. It was kind of a lot when you're on the set, and believe it or not, I did have to read the script and learn the dialogue and try to answer all the questions. It was a bit much for the first time.
JA: [ON THE SOUNDTRACK] Matt Sorum, who was the drummer for Guns N' Roses, who is now the drummer for The Cult, is composing the score. Basically we had no money and I gave him a copy of the script and he really dug it and climbed onboard. Then Matt Sorum called me up one day and said "We're gonna do a new song for the beginning why don't you come over to my house?" - he has a studio in his house. So I went over to his house and Slash, Izzy, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum are sitting there. I'm like, "Dude, tell me Axl's in the kitchen!" Um, he wasn't and then "Axl" Anderson came out… but that's not true. But they recorded an original song for the beginning. I think we've got a pretty cool soundtrack considering that we had no money. We have a song in there by Ben Folds, we got a band called Soul Cracker… considering we had zero money for songs, I think we did all right.
It's interesting for me to finally see this film nearly complete since crashing the set last May when Jeff was filming the opening bachelor party scene at the "riot" Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Blvd. in L.A. It was also the same night that he shot both Kevin and his wife, in small but equally funny cameos.
The transition from jumping off a major motion picture production, such as 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back', to Anderson's independently financed low-budget indie flick was a bit different. Not only did the night's shoot take place from 6pm-6am with a minimal crew, it was also being shot in a penthouse suite, with the nearest two adjacent suites used for equipment, dressing rooms, playback monitors, etc. while the balcony was where you could find snacks like m&m's, chips, soda and water. Hardly the grand catering that you would find on a major production. Ah, welcome to back to independent filmmaking!
Since it was a party scene, bodies and equipment took most, if not all the space, so finding an observation point proved most difficult. Speaking of bodies, after all it was a bachelor party scene so strippers were a necessity, and nudity was indeed required. But we'll get to them a bit later. What? You don't want to wait you say? Okay, we'll get to them now. So here in the midst of shooting are two strippers (not actresses mind you, "real" strippers!), willing to go topless. Now due to budget restraints, strippers were pretty much the best production could do to fill the scene without shelling out costly bucks to hire actresses to do nudity. But in talking with Anderson he informs me that tonight is the first he's seen of the strippers and expresses some regret for not having handpicked them himself. The girls are obviously inexperienced and look awkward as Anderson directs his players to emote high energy in the midst of the party. Several takes are needed of this scene to cover character's dialog and such, that eventually time begins to take it's toll on the strippers and they begin to tire with each new take. They inform the A.D. of their displeasure and as the A.D. goes to talk to Anderson about their complaints, one of them literally falls onto the couch and begins to sob much to everyone's surprise. She's tried, exhausted, uncomfortable and having an emotional breakdown at after 4am in the morning! Welcome to indie filmmaking! After a few minutes, the A.D. finally convinces her to continue so that Anderson can get what he needs. Overall, the night seemed long and chaotic, as with most low-budgeted indie productions. But within that chaos, lies the challenges that a director must overcome and problem solve in order to get his film in the can all the while staying on schedule and within budget. "Project Greenlight" anyone?
Before the next and final picture for the evening 'BIG HELIUM DOG' begins, both Smith and Lynch hop over to the next theater and plan some phone call shenanigans on the unsuspecting crowd in House #2.
As Smith goes into House #2, Lynch casually waits beside the payphone in the theatres lobby.
Before introducing 'J&SBSB' to the crowd, he tells the crowd he needs to make a quick phone call beforehand.
Kevin Smith: (on his cell) Are you ready? One-two-three!
Voice: Hello Vulgarthon! Why aren't you cheering?
Audience erupts in applause.
Voice: This is Brian Lynch. I couldn't be in the theater…
Brian Lynch: …I'm in the lobby on the payphone. I don't like movies, because I don't understand them. But he wanted me to say hi 'cause I couldn't be there and I hope you guys have a good time. And I hope they're not showing crappy movies. I hope its good stuff like that 'DOG' flick. The cows, and the humor - it's good times! Enjoy Kevin's talky-talky and I'll see ya at the next Vulgarthon. I hope I can come, and I hope I'm allowed to go. So take care while you're cheering Vulgarthon and leave it on a high note!
(Audience bursts into applause and laughter)
BL: One more time.
BL: Now you all suck. Goodnight!
So as Smith continues his intros, Brian Lynch makes his way to relieve Anderson from Theater 1, so that he may introduce the final film of the evening, 'BIG HELIUM DOG' for which he wrote and directed.
Now I've heard of this film for years now, but finally get my first chance to experience all that is 'BIG HELIUM DOG'. "Uninspired and unoriginal, predictable and clichéd, lazy and tired. A flaccid comedy at best that tries too hard to please." These coined phrases and descriptions would best describe most stereotypical Hollywood comedies today - but not 'BIG HELIUM DOG', a comedy that defies conventional description but at best can be defined as a film that is so deranged with inspired lunacy that it's no surprise that the words "Hollywood" and "mainstream" would ever be associated with this film. It's a demented comedy that panders to no one all the while offending just about anyone and everyone it can while keeping tongue firmly planted in cheek. As with every View Askew produced film, familiar faces are aplenty. Although Brian Lynch chooses to stay strictly behind the camera, others such as Kevin Smith as a condescending, ego-driven "Hollywood"-type director (mirrored by the likes of Spike Lee, complete with baseball jersey), Bryan Johnson portraying Jesus Christ as a crime fighting cop on the beat, and Vincent Pereira as a "cigarette fairy" who's only job it seems is to repair dysfunctional cigarette machines with a wave of his giant cigarette wand, make memorable appearances. Particularly Smith, who did a fantastic job in emulating his character, that I think it's about one of his best and funniest acting gigs out of all he's been involved in.
So does all this sound bizarre? How about we throw in a never ending eternal battle between God and Satan vying for one's soul, an elderly couple who's bodily functions and heart are wired to a "clapper", a cameo by Howard Stern's "Baba-Booey", one "Angry Naked Pat" and how about some cows thrown in for good measure - all this and a love story to boot. Toss all that in a blender, and mix on high… no wait make that "very high", and then pour and drink in all that this multi-faceted concoction has to offer. But don't worry if all this sounds a bit too confusing, as your on-screen host, Martin Huber (played by "The State's", Michael Ian Black), is always nearby to guide you along and help out with any parts of the movie that seem too confusing or just doesn't work. The flick is formatted somewhat akin to that of 'THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE', which upon viewing it, instantly reminded me of. It's brash, wild, outlandish and pure fun from start to finish. It's one of those hidden treasures of a film that would quickly lose it "hipness factor" if ever it where to be embraced and accepted by the mainstream public. But that might all soon change and you too may have your chance to see (and own) this flick, if your so inclined, when comes to video in the near future.
And did I mention the cows?
After the screening the cast takes to the front of the stage for Q&A, but the lights remain down.
Director Lynch pleads for someone in the booth to raise the lights.
Brian Lynch: Can we have the lights? …Please?
(Still no lights)
BL: Did they close for the night? We're in here, we're gonna have to eat each other. That's good to say that next to the 'VULGAR' director. Anyone have any questions they don't need to see us to know about?
Just then, the lights finally come on revealing the cast of 'BHD'.
Question: When can I buy this movie?
BL: I'm getting some free time now and I promise you I'll work on getting it out. We'll have it out for you on DVD and video. Or maybe we'll just remake it with a huge budget and dump the actor, the lead I'm thinking. No we'll work on it real soon, I promise.
Question: How did you get Baba-Booey ("The Howard Stern Show's" Gary Dell'Abate) in the film?
At this point lead actor Matt Kawczynski fields the mike.
Matt Kawczynski: That was Brian Quinn, the casting director, who helped Kevin get on the Howard Stern show. Quinn went with him, met Gary, they dated for a looong, long time… and he slipped him the script and Gary read it. Then he had to get it passed by Howard, and his manager and everyone had to kind of give him the green light to do it. He liked it and wanted to be in it.
Question: What are you working on now?
BL: I'm working on a TV show for FOX called "The Paranormals" which is a horror-comedy. And then I got 'Nightcrawlers' which is another horror-comedy, but not horror 'cause it's for little kids, but it's very scary, kind of like 'The Goonies' and 'Gremlins' for Warner Bros. And I go to L.A. to do the final re-write in a couple of weeks and then the director takes it and makes it and it'll bomb and I'll be back here showing 'BIG HELIUM DOG' next year.
Question: What's next for "ANGRY NAKED PAT"?
BL: I'm glad you asked. ANP is going to DVD. The people that did Vinnie's movie ('A BETTER PLACE') Synapse Films are releasing a couple volumes when we get up to that amount. We're on number 7 and 8 right now and when we get up to 12 or so we'll put 'em out and they'll be character commentary, cast commentary and deleted stuff and such.
Also on that note, Lynch also announced that his serial, web-toon is headed off your monitors and onto the big screen as apparently a deal for an "Angry Naked Pat" movie has been struck. For those of you not in the know, your probably asking yourself, "What the fuck's and 'ANGRY NAKED PAT'"? Well quite simply, it's an animated cartoon, written and created by Brian Lynch that features a character named Pat and he's angry, …oh, and, uh… naked too - hence, "ANGRY-NAKED-PAT". How naked you ask? Very. You can see Pat in all of his glory for yourself (and more) at Pat's official website. After 'BHD', director Lynch offered up yet another surprise, a sneak-peek at the next installment of his "ANGRY NAKED PAT" cartoon, featuring the debut of his latest creation, "Monkey Man", mixed in with animated cameos by the Wayans family and Christopher Walken.
The cartoon provided even further laughs as most of the audience seemed either very familiar with the web-toon antics of Pat and his friends, or just thought the idea of seeing a fully animated naked character on the big-screen was hysterical in itself. But what Lynch does with his animated 'toon is show a clever sense and appeal in poking and prodding fun at current events and pop culture, all the while even voicing a few of the characters himself. And the voices, especially those of impersonated celebrities, are well done and dead on. It's an inventive and ingenious cartoon that's just downright smart, hip and clever in just about every sense of the word. If nakedness is in, "Angry Naked Pat" sure fits the bill. Once "ANP" finished it was time for everyone to clear out of the 12-13 hour film barrage of all things "Askewed", and exit the theater. Not one person seemed to leave disappointed, and all eager to return back and do it all over again, but unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end. For most, it was the ultimate View-Askew fan-fest, where people could meet, make new friends, and meet some of those oh-so familiar faces they've watched for years past in an intimate, friendly gathering - just friends among friends. Which was, quite simply for two days, non-stop fun - non-stop that is until the alarm clock woke me the following morning, reminding me that indeed it was time for me to leave the "ViewAskewniverse" behind and return back to the other land of make believe. So I said my goodbyes to a dark and dreary New Jersey that welcomed me just days ago and as I boarded my flight back, the plane's captain stood at the door, cordially reminding me that it was clearly "time to go west young man."
Go west indeed.
P.S. - And speaking of sharing, to the girls from up North whom I met at V3 - now how aboot finally sharing that videotape, 'eh?
P.P.S. - And Lynch, I later found out it wasn't your hands that were moist and clammy, but mine. Must've been a west-to-east coast body-temperature adjustment thingee or something. Buuung!
P.P.P.S. 'VULGAR' has been pushed back, yet again, and is now slated for release in a limited run in LA/SF/NY on April 26th from Lion's Gate.
P.P.P.P.S. 'JERSEY GIRL' - Kevin has recently announced on his site that he has indeed finished his first draft, which clocks in at a hefty 160-pages, but says that will indeed be trimmed down from there. He also states, "It's hands-down, the best thing I've ever written." The only cast members attached to the project so far is Ben Affleck and George Carlin. Filming is expected to commence sometime in July in and around New Jersey and New York.
Also from his site, a fan tries prying some more details on 'JERSEY GIRL', to which Smith responds.
: Feel like dropping any hints as to the basic plot or the casting?
: Besides having Red Bank as the setting, will there be any Askewniverse-like touches?
Red Bank is not the setting.
: Nails Cigarettes?
: Jack's Music Shoppe?
Nope. Not even a pop culture reference.
: (gulp) Star Wars?
: Are you going any further with the online 'behind the scenes as it
happens' concept? Will there be a 'Developing The Girl'?
Doubtful. It's just not that kind of flick.
So that's it so far. For up-to-date info, and more on "Vulgarthon 3" including fan stories, pictures and video as well as all things "Askew", stop by and check out:
And fans are sure to mark February 26th on their calendars as JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKES BACK finally hits DVD, as well as DRAWING FLIES, and UNDER RUG SWEPT, the latest CD from "God" herself, Alanis Morissette arrives.
Read Part One!