San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Saturday, April 11, 2015

TCMFF 2015 – Day 1

TCMFF 2015 – Day 0 [Wednesday] post

Thursday at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) started fairly late. I was able to sleep in until about 8:30. My 15-year-old daughter Jasmine was already up, which is not really a surprise to me since she's always up before me for school anyway.

I took a shower, got dressed real quick, and ran downstairs to grab some coffee and something resembling breakfast for the two of us. When I got back, I turned on TCM more out of habit than anything else. They were showing the delightful cinematic gem, called The Manitou, starring Tony Curtis and Susan Strassberg. Jasmine walked in right as his Susan Strasberg screamed. She gave me a weird look like, what are you watching.

I said, "Hey, they can't all be Casablanca." If you haven't seen The Manitou, it's delightfully awful. Susan Strasberg goes to the doctor because she has a growth on her neck the turns out to be the spirit of a Native American shaman. It continues getting bigger and bigger until it actually comes to life, and emerges from her body. At that point, I had to call Jasmine in to look at it, "Doesn't it look like Danny Trejo as a little person?" Jasmine shook her head and left.

I decided I wanted to get a video of Jasmine before the Festival started. She was going to be working the camera the whole time, this might be the only time to get a video of her, so we ended up filming in it in a hotel room before we had to leave for the morning Social Media Producers meeting. That video is here:




The Social Media Producer meeting started at 10:00. Noralil from TCM explained how everything was going to work. I think we all were a little bit fuzzy at that point. We got our TCM bags, and they had a stack of posters. We could all take one. She explained how the buttons were to work. We all were to wear a Social Media Producer ribbon, and we all got a certain number of Patton buttons. Anyone who found us, we would give them a Patton button. We all also were given a smaller number of Calamity Jane buttons. For these, people were supposed to take our picture and tweet or post to the TCMFF tumbler page, mostly to facilitate people finding us to get the buttons. A handful of us got a whole bunch of a single button, because for that person, giving out that type of button was what they were doing as a Social Media Producer. For example, Kellee @IrishJayhawk66 had all of the Buster Keaton buttons, and you had to find her and answer a trivia question to get that one.

Then we all went around the table and introduced ourselves and explained what we were doing as a Social Media Producers. It was a good cross section of topics. Jasmine and I were one of two father daughter teams, the other being Jack and Diane. Yes, like the song, and yes, I still have it stuck in my head. I already knew quite a few of them from last year, and was following on Twitter most of the rest. Still, it was hard putting together names and faces, that I was just learning with Twitter handles that I sort of knew already. One of us, Annemarie Gatti (ClassicMovieHub), did a really good post, compiling what most of the Social Media Producers were doing all in one spot:

TCM 2015 Classic Film Festival: Meet the Social Producers! 

After the meeting, all of us went across the street to the Italian restaurant, Trastevere, in the Hollywood and Highland Mall for an early lunch. Jasmine and I sat at a small table with Annemarie, Kellee, and Christy (suesueapplegate). The food was really good. You could do way worse foodwise at TCMFF. The plan was to be done in time to make it back for the Meet TCM event, but as usually happens when a large group goes to a restaurant, it took longer than expected. Meet TCM was already going when we got back.

Ben Mankiewicz, Jennifer Dorian, Charlie Tabesh, 
Sean Cameron, Genevieve McGillicuddy, Pola Changnon,
Richard Steiner and Darcy Hettrich at the Meet TCM
event. 
Photographer: Edward M. Pio Roda. TM &
© 2015 Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner Company. 

All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
"All of these films are the DNA of films to come."
Pola Changnon at Meet TCM

As I mentioned in my last post, the Meet TCM panel covered much of the same ground as the press conference had on Wednesday. Again, the question came up about TCMFF showing more newer films. This time Charlie Tabesh used the example of TCMFF Guest, Film Editor, Anne V. Coates. She had edited both Lawrence of Arabia and Out of Sight, and showing both offered a chance to compare and contrast a film using traditional editing techniques with one using modern digital editing techniques. Again, TCM is holding the line of modern classic films as they relate to traditional classic film. 

I guess eventually I'm going to need to do a post on the issue, but to me, it is a nonissue. There are great movies from the classic period as well as mediocre and just plain bad ones, just like there are great movies from the modern period as well as mediocre and just plain bad ones. At some point, you have to say that films like The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption need to take their place next to Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. There you have it.


The #TCMParty gang, picture stolen from Will McKinley,
photo taken by @BeesKnees_pdx.
Next up was the Twitter #TCMParty get together by the pool. I actually knew a lot of the people there by name, face and Twitter handle, kind of a feat for me. I spoke to Deborah (@d_Leigh_Writes) a fair amount. We had been talking on Twitter quite a bit leading into TCMFF. Turns out we had spent most of the day together last year on Sunday, when we both blew off our schedule to do one TBA movie after another. It was blazing hot out by the pool, but the time but the time went quickly. The next thing I knew Ariel (@Sinaphile) was pulling me away. She had assembled a team for Bruce Goldstein's, So You Think You Know Movies, trivia challenge.

I had promised Ariel that I would be either brilliant or atrociously bad, and as it turned out, I was true to my word. Ariel had recruited six people but they wanted only teams of eight so we ended up getting put together with an older woman and her son, I think, that none of us knew. Not that it mattered really, because we kind of sucked. One or two of the questions were easy, but the rest were not-a-clue-you-got-anything insanely hard. Plus, you only had about five seconds to pool your teams hive mind and come up with an answer. My own personal highlight was that I did know one answer that I don't think anyone else on our team knew, but it was a guess, and I didn't push hard on it and we went with someone else's guess. It wouldn't have made a difference anyway. The winning team only missed one of the 15 questions, and we missed six or seven.

After the trivia while milling about Club TCM, I noticed something. My deodorant had failed. Since I need to change into better clothes for the opening night festivities. I took that as my cue to go upstairs. Jasmine and I got to our room, and I went to the bathroom and discovered something. My deodorant had not failed. I had failed to pack any. Oops. Fortunately one of the nice things about staying at The Roosevelt is that if you do something stupid, it's close to everything, so you can deal with it. There was a drugstore a block away; problem solved.


Jasmine in a dress; she like it because it
was all science-y
We both changed clothes. I did get Jasmine to wear a dress, and I will call that a win. I did a post about her and the dress. I did eventually find one that she liked. I got a picture of her later as we waiting for Too Late for Tears.

We went downstairs to Club TCM. I figured that I should try to do a video interview or two, since that was what I was on the line for as a Social Media Producer. Just one problem, Club TCM pretty insanely loud, not conducive to passable audio on video recorded on your smartphone. I tried the main lobby, it seemed to be at least as bad. I checked outside. There is a door directly off the room that houses Club TCM that leads to the pool. Immediately, outside the door there was a large group of people taking a group picture, a lot of noise. As you moved closer to the pool, you lost the noise of the group of people chatting behind you but started to pick up noise of the hotels AC units. Then when you get close to the pool, you start to pick up both conversations of people by the pool as well as the music they had playing. Well, shit. Glass, half full thought, at least I was wearing deodorant now.


I went back inside and found Paula Guthat, owner of Cinema Detroit, co-founder of #TCMParty, and a TCM Guest Programmer, late last year. Plus, I knew Paula fairly well, so at least, she might not freak out if I suggest we find a more quiet part of the hotel. We ended up on a couch downstairs, near the front desk. I did a short video and thought, ah, all is right with the world. Until I previewed it before uploading. The audio was still kind of bad, we were picking up a conversations from the front desk, plus, because the light wasn't very good, the video was bad too. Questionable audio is one thing. Questionable audio coupled with dark video where you could barely make out the faces, that's another thing entirely. I was so hosed. Did I mention that I glad I was wearing deodorant now?

We left at about 5:30. I wanted to get to our first screening early. We were going to Too Late for Tears, a Film Noir, one that probably a lot of people hadn't seen, and it was showing at the smallest venue. I figured this was a ripe candidate for turning people away. We ended up getting queue numbers in the high 50s so we would be in good shape. We were with Casey (@NoirGirl), whom I'd met earlier. I asked if she would mind doing a video. She agreed and was very patient with us as we wandered around the lobby trying to find a spot that was somewhat quiet. We did the video and while the audio quality was still not great, Casey said one of the coolest things I heard all weekend long. I'll let you watch the video for yourself:




Note to self: Next time have someone 
take a picture of Jasmine and me together
We still had time before we had to be back in line, so Jasmine and I explored the area around the TCL Chinese to try to find a place that was somewhat quiet, but ultimately it seemed to be kind of a losing battle. Almost everywhere in the mall had canned music playing and if you started to go down the stairs you began to pick up traffic noise from Hollywood Blvd. We did find one spot that was pretty good and did take pictures of both of us (Jasmine's above and mine to the right).

When we got into the theater for that first screening, I got on my phone and started searching for an external microphone that I could connect to my phone to alleviate the audio woes. I didn't find anything but stumbled on a blog post that suggested getting closer to the subjects as a way of getting better audio. Turns out that was a huge help and allowed us to get at least passable audio for the rest of the Festival.

The intro for Too Late for Tears was by Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation. Although we would be seeing a restoration, he said, it was not the best quality restoration. The problem was that the best copy they could find was a film negative that someone in France had made. Normally, having a film negative is a good thing. Here though, whoever made the film negative didn't clean the print before making it, not a good thing, so they were still working a poor quality source. He also spoke about Too Late For Tears star, Lizabeth Scott, who passed away in January. Of all of her pictures, she hated Too Late for Tears, because her character was so evil. I had never seen it before, and this is exactly why I loved it. She was so over-the-top, almost campy evil. I mentioned this in my initial wrap-up post but Theresa (@CineMava) said something brilliant about the movie later that night in the bar, "Anytime you have someone so crazy they make Dan Duryea back down, that's pretty crazy." Needless to say, I loved Too Late for Tears. I would say that this was my favorite screening of the entire festival.

Jasmine's #TCMFF15YO twitter review of Too Late for Tears:

Went from Fast & Furious to Kanye West Gold Digger video to total crazy woman

If you haven't seen Too Late for Tears, it might not make sense, but it's pretty dead-on.

Next up was, My Man Godfrey. Both Too Late For Tears and My Man Godfrey were Jasmine's picks. My approach to picking films was to try to go with ones I knew Jasmine would like, but anytime I was having a tough time making a decision, I narrowed the field a bit, had her read the descriptions, and make the call. There is kind of a funny story about how we ended up going to My Man Godfrey (see Going to See My Man Godfrey Because My Daughter Likes Ninjas).

We had some time, before My Man Godfrey, so we wrangled one of the other Social Media Producers Kristen (@salesonfilm) and took her down to the spot we found to do another video. She was doing reports on film locations near the festival area. Her video is here:




When we got into line, the queue number thing hadn't quite caught on at that point. We had fairly low numbers and got in line about where we thought we needed to be, but then noticed there were people with higher numbers ahead of us and lower numbers behind us. I wasn't worried because I knew that this was a big theater, and we would get in okay. Just an opening night glitch that was corrected by the next day.

Now, I have to say that My Man Godfrey is not a huge favorite. I love William Powell, and both he and Eugene Pallette are brilliant. My problem is that Carole Lombard's character is way too much of a ditz for my taste. I have similar feelings about Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, only more so. Still, I went in with an open mind and absolutely loved it. It definitely benefits from being seen with an audience, almost fall out of your chair funny. Jasmine loved it as well. 

Jasmine's #TCMFF15YO twitter review of My Man Godfrey:
Can Godfrey be my spirit animal
So, yeah, I think she liked it.

I was still a little concerned about the videos. Noralil had wanted us to do six videos a day. We had done only three and had one turn out to be unusable. I tried to make up for it by being active on Twitter, retweeting and responding to others' #TCMFF tweets. One of my favorites was a comment that Jasmine made about what I thought was a funny Tweet from Trevor (@tpjost): 


Jasmine's response was, Wow, the new Avengers film looks awesome.

Roosevelt Hotel at night. Photographer: Adam Rose
TM & © 2015 Turner Classic Movies. A 
Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. 
Used with permission.



We headed back to the hotel. I asked Jazzy if she wanted to get something to eat, but she was done. I wasn't surprised. She is a very early riser, and it's rare that she's not in bed by 10:00. Back at the hotel, I put her on the elevator and hung out in the lobby. I was a little too hyped to go to sleep. Plus, I had uploaded the first video and not the second one, so I wanted to get that done as well. By this time, Club TCM had closed for the evening, but the bar was still open. I noticed Theresa, sitting at the bar. I'm pretty sure we had met last year, but if memory serves me we hadn't spoken for very long. I sat next to her and ordered a beer. In addition to that relaying incredible observation about Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea in Too Late for Tears, she told me about how her evening began with The Sound of Music, a film she had never seen before and always looked down her nose at. Seeing it that night changed all of that. Read her story about The Sound of Music here.

After a while, Ed, the partner of one of the other Social Media Producers, Jeff (@jlundenberger), came up. He was wearing a tux for the opening night festivities and looked very dapper. The three of us talked for quite a while. I seem to remember it being about 2:30 by the time I rolled into my room and collapsed. 



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