Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alumn, I

Last week, I made the last-minute decision to attend an AFI alumni dinner. I heard about it through Jonah, my partner on Fred, Prince of Darkness and Grandmother Clock. He was one of several mini-hosts putting together a table of alumns for the dinner. It was part of a drive to dial newer graduates in to the alumni processes. I figured it could be fun. Might reconnect with some friends, meet a few fellow fellows. Plus, the event was at Mortons: The Steakhouse, and I seriously needed to get my beef on.

We have no mascot
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I got there early, and didn't see anyone I recognized. So I mingled. And the first guy I struck up a conversation with was a producer from '04 named Brian Udovich. He looked oddly familiar, but I couldn't place him. He asked me what I'd been working on, and I quite proudly told him about Dorkness making it to DVD. The conversation went something like this:
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ME: Yeah, it's on Netflix and Amazon now. I'm pretty proud of it.
UDOVICH: Cool, cool.
ME: So what've you been up to?
UDOVICH: Well, after graduation, I produced All the Boys Love Mandy Lane with a writer and director from my year.
ME: (recognizing him) Right! I saw that! You screened it at AFI that one time. Grats on that getting picked up. Have you done much since them?
UDOVICH: Yeah, we made a film called The Wackness.
ME: (recognizing it) The critically acclaimed indie? With Ben Kingsley?
UDOVICH: That's the one.
ME: How'd that do?
UDOVICH: We won Sundance.
ME: ...
UDOVICH: ...
ME: Dorkness Rising is on Netflix.
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We swapped cards, promised to keep in touch. I got a writing sample to him the next day.
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I also bumped into Stan Brooks, the heavy who had gotten us the Hopjockey meetings and the man who taught me to pitch. I hadn't seen him since before we pitched Cartoon Network. He asked how the project was going, and then he told us we needed to come in and meet with him. Even though we didn't sell the project, he explained, some of the places we pitched loved us. And he wants to show us exactly what those places are buying. I assume it's so we can pitch them again with Stan in our corner. Talk about an adrenaline boost.
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Dinner itself bordered on the divine. I shared a table with friends from my year. After we'd eaten, speakers -- including Jonah, Udovich, and Jon Avnet -- took turns stressing the importance of alumni involvement. I won't overload you with the details; suffice it to say I found myself nodding to everything they said. I was sold. And if I hadn't been, the vanilla cheesecake would have pushed me over the top.
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As folks were departing, Jonah and I got to talk to Stan. Jonah mentioned the projects we were working on, Fred and Grandmother Clock, and Stan extended the same offer to us: Come in and I'll show you what places are buying. Then he pointed to me and said "Cartoon Network loves this guy. Loves him." Double ego boost.
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Oh, one final bit of awesome: Udovich turned me on to Reel Grit, a film screening series he runs with another alumn. It showcases mindblowing genre films. Sunday's screening was a brilliant Swedish horror called Let the Right One In. It was, hands down, the best vampire movie I've seen in a decade. Unfortunately, it's being remade in the US. Next week's screening is of the ultra-violent martial arts classic Riki-Oh, which from the clips I've seen includes exploding heads and people disembowling themselves to strangle their opponents with their own intestines. I'm so fucking there.

1 comment:

Camille said...

I love you and am so stinkin proud of you! :)