Glenn Gaylord writes:
We filmmakers can be such a touchy bunch. We never seem to get enough praise or feedback. We make these projects that get sent out into what seems like a black void. People watch our stuff on TV, in cinemas, or on their computers and we often never hear anything about their experience. It’s enough to almost make you want to direct live theater (almost), or a sitcom (maybe), just so you can hear people clapping every now and then. We’re narcissists that way, or maybe it’s because “none of us got enough love in our childhood” as my good friend, Roxie Hart, used to say.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the following excuses why somebody didn’t watch something I’ve made:
1) I don’t get BRAVO
2) I don’t know how to set my VCR
3) I forgot to set my VCR
4) My TiVo messed up. I had it all set to go.
5) Your shows are always on at such crazy hours.
6) I don’t have a TV. Can’t you just give me a copy?
7) I had to go buy some bath bombs at LUSH.
OK, that last one has never been used on me, but it is very likely to be one I may use on someone some day.
And then, if some miracle occurs and they do see your stuff, they don’t always like it. You can see them struggling for something nice to say, and it’s always one of the following:
1) You did it!
3) The audience really loved it.
4) Wow! That was something.
5) Didn’t you love how it went?
…or the dreaded combo:
6) Wow! You did it!
Or worse yet, they hug you without saying a word. Just this long uncomfortable embrace, a quick smile in your direction, and they disappear.
Underneath it all, everybody in the entertainment industry is as needy, as vulnerable, as subject to humiliation, and as desperate as Valerie Cherish. That was the character Lisa Kudrow played in the late, great The Comeback. Oh wait, I forgot. You don’t get HBO.
You’ll just have to trust me when I say that there’s a little Valerie in all of us. For example, the other day, a documentary I co-directed (Camp Michael Jackson) screened in San Francisco at their Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. It was paired with For the Love of Dolly, a documentary about Ms Parton’s biggest fans. The Bay Area Reporter had the following to say about our film:
Only the fact that Dolly was not facing prison at the time makes her story take a backseat to the truly astonishing phenomenon of the packs of devotees who formed Camp Michael Jackson at the time of the singer’s child molestation trial. Eating Out/Boy Culture director Q. Allan Brocka (with Glenn Gaylord) takes a passionate if nonjudgmental view of a band of Michael fans who suspended their normal lives to hang out near the courthouse or gather by the gates of Neverland for a glimpse of the great one. The saddest story is of a woman who almost abandons her family and school-age child; the oddest and most poignant is the tale of the rail-thin British graduate student who has put himself thousands of pounds in debt for a five-second handshake.
As reviews go, it’s pretty good. The other film takes a backseat to ours and they said we were non-judgmental. We can even pull “truly astonishing” slightly out of context and use it in the poster or ads we’ll never make. But note the parenthetical (with Glenn Gaylord).
Ugh! Now I know exactly how the Professor and Mary Ann felt during that first season of Gilligan’s Island. In the famous opening theme song, the lyrics read:
The Skipper too/
The Millionaire and his Wife/
The Movie Star/
…and the rest/
Here on Gilligan’s Isle!
You can almost imagine the conversations their agents must have had with Sherwood Schwartz, because in season two, the theme song was updated and the Professor and Mary Ann took their rightful places beside their co-stars.
Well, once I got over the PD (Parenthetical Debacle), I focused on the screening itself. Even though the sound quality at the theater sucked balls, as my grandma used to say, the event was a series of major pluses:
1) It was sold out
2) The audience clapped, laughed, even cheered in places
3) Evalie, one of our subjects, was in attendance and did a great job with us during the Q&A
4) Programmers from all over the world expressed interest in showing it at their upcoming film festivals
5) Audience members said things like, “That was amazing” and “Great documentary”
5) Nobody said, “Wow! You did it!”
– Glenn Gaylord
(Photo: Gaylord, Brocka, and Evalie in San Francisco)