I don’t know if it was the cognac mixed with rum, or the near-complete lack of sleep, but Sunday morning, I felt a little tired. Amy, however, was stricken with ‘next-day-Goldschlager-blues’ and spent a good part of the morning sleeping under her table. (She doesn’t remember it, but Heather Davidson from B+ Pictures cuddled with her for almost half-an-hour.) I wasn’t surprised at either hangover. I vaguely remember us hanging out in Lilith’s room after the VIP party, assisting her in shooting a segment for her “Boys Gone Wild” series. I guess only time will tell if I’m actually in the thing or not.
As a general rule, Sundays are usually dead days for conventions. Hangovers aside, it’s tough to work up major enthusiasm. Sundays are good for separating the pros from the amateurs in terms of having a good “con face” for the fans.
Highlights on Sunday: F/X artist Gino Crognalli made up “the machete-zombie” Leonard Lies for the cover of Len (“Reign of the Dead”) Barnhart’s new book. A surprise guest popped up as well, as a paid attendee: Bob Kurtzman from KNB! Bob’s presence created quite a stir of whispering and timid approaches, but he wasn’t there to shill or promote – simply to hang out. I felt another stab of “family values” pride.
The Q&A panels were significantly under-attended. I’d arranged for two indie cinema panels, both called “Who the Hell Are You People Anyway?” Saturday’s went pretty well, but it helped that it had followed the “Ladies of Independent Cinema” panel with Amy, Brinke, Lilith, Jasi and Ryli. Sunday’s “Who the Hell Are You” consisted of myself, Hero Headquarters, Piranha Pictures, On Mark and Andy Copp. If it hadn’t been for musician Jason Russler (also of Piranha) and Steve Foland’s writer-girlfriend Kristen, we wouldn’t have had any audience at all. So we amused ourselves for a few minutes. Or, rather, Eric Thornett amused us. He got up from his chair at the front of the room and darted to the second row of the audience. He started waving his hand frantically. Then he got up and ran back to the front.
“Uh, yeah, you,” he said – then ran back to the second row.
“Um, how come you guys are ‘low budget’ filmmakers? Are you so lame that you can’t get people to give you money?”
Running back to the front row, he sat down, took a breath, and responded: “Shut up! Shut up!”
Back in the second row: “No, seriously, are you guys, like, real losers, or what?”
Back to the front, Eric stands, red-faced, blustering, shaking – then sighs, hangs his head and slinks out of the room.
That was the highlight of the “Who the Hell Are You People Part 2” panel.
There were very few problems on Sunday. All the guests had sufficiently bonded with one another that there was no in-fighting or bickering. There were a few obnoxious jerks who strolled in without paying (after, for some reason, pulling up in a limo so we’d think they were important), but by the time they arrived, there weren’t too many people present to pay much attention to them. The con had started to wind down around 2 PM, goodbyes coming a little early.
The general consensus was that Twisted Nightmare Weekend turned out to be a successful show. Robyn’s company showed a profit, just about everyone there at least covered their costs of attending. Some people complained that attendance could have been better, but at the same time were speculating that the show could easily overshadow the other Ohio venues like Frightvision or Cinema Wasteland in a couple of years. Just about everyone asked to be invited back the following year. Lloyd thought the show was successful enough to ask Robyn to sponsor next year’s Tromadance film festival in Utah – the “Twisted Nightmare Presents Tromadance” banner was unveiled on the official Troma site just three days later.
When the doors closed for the evening, it was a bittersweet moment. Amy and I had already opted to stick around and help Keith and Robyn see their guests back to the airport on Monday. We were all exhausted and punchy, but I at least felt overwhelmingly satisfied. To the credit of Robyn and Keith, for as ridiculously stressful as the arranging and coordinating had been, they rarely showed their frustration. She always came off as the charming, gracious host. Amy proved herself to be the consummate producer in solving multiple problems before they even came Robyn’s way.
Cons are ridiculous things. They’re hellish to organize, impossible to run. It’s a Sisyphean task to keep everyone – guests, attendees, customers – happy and content. So the next show you go to, take a hard look around, as I’ve said, and try to peer behind the scenes of the chaos around you. Maybe things don’t “Suck” as badly as you think.


Mike Watt attempts to explore all the things that make Geek culture great, as well as pointing out all the things that make Geeks genetically superior to all other humans. During the course of this exploration, he may undoubtedly have to reveal horrid truths about Hollywood and Mainstream Cinema, as they compare to the riches of independent filmmaking. Ultimately, he hopes to bring higher awareness of and respect to Geek Culture, as well as secure a hefty book deal and the accolades of his (richer) peers. Feel free to lavish him with affection (or bitch at him) at

Let Mike have it in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section!

Posted on October 22, 2003 in Features by

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