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From the Sublime to the Ridiculous - Saturday, March 3

My day began with the Day of Sight and Sound and Panasonic's P2 presentation, followed by a quick press conference, and then Carl Miller's presentation of his film, Retribution.

I always feel that this day has the potential to be a powerful learning tool for local and visiting filmmakers, and for future sessions I would love to see cinematographers and sound designers invited in to share their knowledge with us. A guy can dream...

I rounded off the day with two excellent films from opposite ends of the movie spectrum.

First up was A Dog's Breakfast, the first directorial effort from David Hewlett, star of Stargate Atlantis and a favorite of mine from his work in Cube.

A Dog's Breakfast tells the story of Patrick, a neurotic loner, who suddenly has to come to terms with his sister's new fiancé, Ryan. His solution to this thorn in his side? Murder. Naturally, nothing goes to plan, and the resulting farce felt like Blake Edwards filming Hitchcock. David takes a pratfall excruciatingly well, and his supporting cast (all SG Atlantis peers) supported him admirably, with the occasional cheeky glint in their eyes. A highlight of the film is the snatched snippets of Ryan's television space opera, Star Crossed, which fits so snugly into the 'so bad it's good' basket, that NBC and the Sci-Fi Channel have actually commissioned a pilot show based on it!

David Hewlett and Jane LoughmanDavid Hewlett and Jane LoughmanFollowing the film, David and his producer, Jane Loughman, entertained the packed theater with tales of soggy locations, improvised Xmas lights and the uber-cool Christopher Judge. It was a thoroughly splendid evening and well deserving of its positive word of mouth that has necessitated an extra screening.

I was lucky enough to have a nice chat with David and Jane (we Brits tend to find each other easily), and I was delighted to learn that David has his future sights set on a couple of horror comedies. After such an entertaining debut, these would certainly be worth waiting for!

To learn more about the film, go to

Later that evening, I settled down for the world premiere of Sublime, the new direct to DVD shocker from the Raw Feed label of Warner Brothers.

Sublime is a very different breed of horror film, preying more on our psychological fears rather than straight, visceral shocks. That's not to say the film doesn't have its fair share of disturbing and bloody imagery, but the violence is used sparingly, and effectively. Tom Cavanaugh plays George, a man who, following his 40th birthday party, is admitted into hospital for a routine colonoscopy. When he awakes, he is horrified to discover that he has been mistakenly operated on, and from there his life goes downhill fast as strange meetings and sinister occurrences threaten his sanity. It took me a while to really get into the film, but as soon as the first plot point had hit, then I was putty in the filmmakers' hands and they took me on a thrilling and thought-provoking ride.

Sublime is a film, much the same as Angel Heart, that I have to see again, just so that I can spot the heavily layered symbolism and clues with the gift of hindsight.

Following the presentation, the director Tony Krantz and the writer, Erik Jendresen, held an informal Q&A with the audience.

Here are some highlights:

Erik Jendresen: "It's appropriate to show a film like this at a film festival, especially these days in an age of bloated Hollywood budgets and a lot of excess. This was really an experiment in a lot of ways. Could we write, cast and shoot a film in fifteen days on a microscopic budget of about $1.8 million dollars? We had an opportunity to create a genre film and, since Warner Brothers gave us carte blanch, it was an opportunity to do something a little deeper, maybe play with it a little. For me as a writer, it was an opportunity to take one of the oldest clichés in the book, somebody waking from a dream, and turn it around. Present day politics provided some of the inspiration for the piece, and the notion of white, upper middle class unconsciousness and fear."

Tony Krantz: "I also supervised the movie soundtrack and you'll notice that Kathleen York (Jenny in the film), is also Bird York, who wrote three of the songs in the movie. She wrote the theme song to Crash which was nominated for an academy award, and she sang it at the Oscars last year. Our composer was Peter Golub and the amazing Indian music you hear was from Monsoon Point. We got much of the music for free. As for the cast, we were looking for an everyman, we wanted a Tom Hanks character, and Tom Cavanaugh was our first choice. He responded well to the script and signed on right away. So many people worked for scale on this movie. I've personally had a long career in the television business, I was an agent for fifteen years, and then became a producer on shows such as Sports Night, Felicity and 24. This is the first movie I have ever directed. When I first met Erik we were going to NBC one day and I mentioned my story idea and to my incredible benefit Erik responded to the concept of 'what is the nightmare inside Terri Schiavo's head? (the recent coma court case)'."

Erik Jendresen: "On average, 780,000 people a year die in hospital after being admitted for a routine check up or surgery. In fact there was a case just last week of a pregnant woman in New Mexico who had a complicated pregnancy and was put under. When she woke up she was a quadruple amputee. It happens all the time."

Tony Krantz: "We shot the film in Los Angeles. The hospital room was built on a soundstage, but the rest of the sequences were shot at an abandoned hospital named Linda Vista. There were rumors that this hospital was haunted."

Erik Jendresen: "I think one of the grips went down to Radio Shack and got one of these 'meters' to measure, y'know, ectoplasm (laughs). They were running around in the lower levels of the hospital and evidently they had some extraordinary experiences in there. The whole place was too spooky for words."

Tony Krantz: "There are three movies that my Raw Feed partners and I (being Tony Krantz, one of the executive producers of The X-Files and Daniel Myrick (Blair Witch)) have made. The first movie was Rest Stop, which is the biggest selling direct to DVD horror in the business, Sublime is very different from Rest Stop which was a more typical horror movie, and the third movie, Believers (directed by Daniel Myrick), will be coming out in May. Erik and I are partnering on a bunch of new projects. He's written an unbelievable script, I'll just tease you with the title, American Voodoo, which is a completely different kind of movie."

Find out more about Raw Feed's line up at

by Neil Baker


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