by Rosalie Kicks!
Old Sport at Moviejawn
For those that don’t live in Philadelphia you may be surprised by the lack of our alternative movie theaters. Frankly, with there being so few film venues I am a bit embarrassed to admit that my first visit to The Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA) was not until earlier this year when I saw the “I Am Thor” documentary. Old Sport I have to tell ya, this place is neat as pizza. Not only is it located in the Eraserhood (the neighborhood that was inspiration to David Lynch’s 1977 film), PhilaMOCA is housed in a former showroom for tombstones and mausoleums. Dating back to 1865, the historic Finney & Son is now used as a multi-purpose venue for alternative, indie, and underground film, art, and musical performances. On average PhilaMOCA hosts 250+ events a year and aims to provide a low cost space for artists to share their work in Philadelphia.
During the month of April, PhilaMOCA hosted the 4th Annual Cinedelphia Film Festival (CFF). The festival’s focus was to celebrate the art of alternative cinema; from locally shot films to eccentric oddities/rarities. The fest was programmed by PhilaMOCA’s Director/Curator, Eric Bresler along with a small team of film lovers. Your favorite Old Sport was on location at CFF and had the opportunity to chat with Eric along with one of the guests, independent filmmaker Trent Harris. Enjoy part one of our two part series: Old Sport on Location at The Cinedelphia Film Fest!
CHATTING CINEMA WITH PHILAMOCA’S ERIC BRESLER
What led you to this type of career in film?
When I was young I wanted to make movies, but over the years I slowly realized that I was much more interested in exhibition and history. I used to really look up to the tape traders and bootleg dealers who were my only sources for weird cinema and I wanted to be like them, have my own collection of oddball rarities that no one else really cares about, and be a source that can share these things with other people. And then in college I learned that there was such a thing as a film programmer and I thought that was the coolest job, it is pretty cool.
So, why the Eraserhead mural? Has David Lynch ever been to PhilaMOCA?
It was an attempt to popularize the neighborhood's nickname "The Eraserhood," coined in tribute to Lynch's time spent living a few blocks from PhilaMOCA while he attended PAFA, he's said that Eraserhead is largely influenced by his time spent here. He stopped by for a little while when he was in Philadelphia a year and a half ago for his PAFA retrospective. He was really friendly, he just looked around the gallery at the Lynch-themed art show we had up, which may have been a little weird, and then he signed a bunch of stuff for myself and our volunteers. I asked him a real nerdy question about whether or not he directed the video for Sparks' "I Predict" (he didn't), that was a long held rumor.
What prompted you to host the Cinedelphia film festival (CFF)?
Back in 1997 and 1998 I volunteered for a short-lived Philly festival called the Reject Film Festival that only accepted submissions that were accompanied by letters of rejection from other film festivals. It was co-founded by filmmaker Don Argott, by the way. I really took the subversive playfulness of that festival to heart and it can be seen in the CFF. As far as why I started it, Philly has never sustained an underground film festival, most cities have thriving ones, but the average filmgoer in Philadelphia is of a much older demographic. So financially it's hard to showcase non-mainstream cinema unless you're supported by grants, are owned by a corporation, or have billionaire board members. The CFF is entirely funded by PhilaMOCA, and PhilaMOCA is entirely funded by its events, I'm really proud of that.
How many movies have you seen?
Over 10,000, usually 300-400 a year.
What is your favorite medium to view movies (vhs, dvd, blu, film)?
Honestly all I care about is the content, the delivery method is secondary and I'll watch whatever.
How do you obtain the films for the festival: is there a submission process or do you contact the artists directly?
No submission process, I really dislike the film festival submission model though it can of course be incredibly useful and rewarding in the right hands. There's no guarantee that anyone will even watch the submissions at any given festival. And then the opposite of that, last year I did a one-off programming job for a somewhat local film festival and they had an exact percentage of how many films should be included through the submission process. And it was a quantity that was way higher than the number of watchable films that were submitted, which of course resulted in some terrible screenings. So I like to just stay out of that altogether. I keep the programming diverse, but it all reflects my personal interests in some way, and it's all booked directly through filmmakers and distributors.
Read more about PhilaMOCA here: philamoca.org
INDEPENDENT FILM MAKER TRENT HARRIS: Our Generation’s Ed Wood
“I make films to keep from going crazy, and I am not sure it is working. But it makes me happiest,” says independent filmmaker Trent Harris. Trent is the type of filmmaker I aspire to be. This was especially realized after attending the CFF event in which they screened his films: The Beaver Trilogy, The Beaver Trilogy Part IV (a documentary about Trent/Beaver Triology), and Rubin & Ed. To say Trent is modest is an understatement. After informing him of the excitement I had to see his films, he was perplexed, “Really?! I’m Sorry.” I’m pretty certain that after he reads this article he will scoff and say something along the lines of “someone aspires to be a filmmaker like me…guess this girl wants to waste her life?” Trent, you old sport – I think you’re pretty damn rad.
Maybe he was surprised I wanted to see THOSE films. One thing is clear: Trent is done talking about The Beaver Trilogy; in fact he didn’t even answer the questions I sent to him about it. At first I was confused, but after hearing him speak at CFF, I completely understood, as I too had a similar experience with a short film I made (Documentary: Exposing Ourselves). As a filmmaker, you hope that you continue to progress and each project means as much to you as the last. Then there is THAT project, the one everyone keeps asking you about, but you have moved on. And guys, Trent has a lot of movies to talk about; he has made around 200.
He started making films at 17 and hasn’t stopped. A lot of that has to do with his attitude, “Get an idea, just go do it,” he remarked during the Q&A session. Similar to many filmmakers (including your favorite MJ Old Sport) he had his stint in La La land. And similar to most he found it to be “hell” (telling you guys, it’s the driving). After his film Rubin & Ed was poorly received by critics (GUYS. It is AWESOME) he packed up and headed home. This led him to a life of making (as he refers to) “no-budget” movies, which he finds possible due to his small family of friends that help him. Also, by choosing to shoot his film in sections rather than the entire film, means he does not need all the funds at once - this is the process he used for his latest film, Welcome to the Rubber Room (which centers around a crazy Beatnik bar about to be torn down and turned into a Pottery Barn, the destruction of America through gentrification). “Making the movies is actually easier than getting people to watch it. There is so much out there that it is nearly impossible to break through the din,” states Trent.
Immediately following the CFF event, my husband and I ordered Trent’s entire filmography available on his website (echocave.net). I’m most looking forward to Plan 10 from Outer Space. Many of you are probably aware of Ed Wood’s film, Plan 9 from Outer Space which has been deemed: the worst movie ever made. After Rubin & Ed bombed, Trent decided that if Hollywood thought if that was bad, as a follow up he’d create a movie in homage to one of his favorite directors: Ed Wood - basically stating, if you think Plan 9 was bad wait ‘til you see Plan 10. This movie has it all: Aliens. Mormons. Space. “I think he (Ed Wood) is a really great director. Think they’ll be talking about E.T. years from now - I don’t think so,” declared Harris. For the record: I think Ed Wood is also rad.
Follow Trent’s latest film here: facebook.com/welcometotherubberroom
Purchase Trent’s dvds here: echocave.net