“Right Around The Corner!”

The Ides of March have passed. Taxes have been paid or refunds collected, and May flowers are beginning to bloom.

You know what that means don’t you? It means that The Snake Alley Festival of Film is “right around the corner,” as my mother used to say.

She used that expression regarding deadlines for upcoming events such as homework assignments, school projects, chores I promised to do…and holidays. In my formative years I spent a lot of time peeking around corners hoping to get a glimpse of some future event…but to no avail.

I eventually came to realize that “right around the corner,” “before you know it,” and “it’ll sneak up on you,” all meant the same thing. “Get your butt in gear!”

What does this have to do with The Snake Alley Festival of Film? Well, it’s coming up on June 3rd, which is “right around the corner!”

So, get your butt in gear and get your tickets bought, rooms booked and travel arranged.

You should also detox your liver in preparation. Amy Walsh is looking for a venue for a fourth “after party,” so be prepared.

You might also get a chance to see Lonnie Schuyler reprise his famous Michael Flatley dance routine in front of the theater.

See you in Burlington, Iowa. Be there or be square.

“Follow That Dream!”

Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock was known as “The Flying Housewife” in 1964 when she became the first female pilot to fly solo around the world. Lonnie Schuyler, (our fearless leader) was only 1½ years old.

 A statue dedicated to her accomplishment will be unveiled Thursday, April 17, 2014 at Port Columbus International Airport. That’s exactly 50 years from the day she landed there completing her epic feat.

At 88-years old, her health prevents her from attending. Her only disappointment is that a movie was never made about her exploits. (Hint Hint)

Her advice to those who want to travel to a different drummer: “Follow your dreams. Don’t let people discourage you from trying.”

If you’re a film maker who is following your dreams, do you have an entry entered in The Snake Alley Festival of Film? Why not? You until have until April the 15th, so get with it.

Now for a bit of movie trivia. “Follow That Dream” was an American musical filmed on the gulf coast of Florida in 1962. It starred Elvis Presley and he had a hit song of the same name. There is a now a road near the filming site called Follow That Dream Parkway.

Hope to see you all here in June for the 3rd Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film.

“Ding! Dong! The Groundhog’s Dead”

It looks as though spring is FINALLY arriving here in Burlington, Iowa. And…it’s about time. We need to be able to look forward to that “beautiful “first week in June weather” that has been a hallmark of every Snake Alley Festival of Film since the beginning.

To add to that, we have a plethora (look it up, Bunky) of really excellent entries this year, and the judges have been working their eyeballs to the bone. (What!?! You didn’t know that eyeballs had bones?)

There are gonna be some killer flicks…and a couple of new surprises this year. So, you definitely do not want to miss this one. Make plans to be here.

The downside to this nice spring weather is the judges are starting to get “Spring Fever.” We had to use leg irons to shackle them to their chairs. If we didn’t, they would sneak out and go tip-toeing through the tulips, or lolly-gagging down in the meadow, or romping in the woods, or…well, you get the idea.

Not to worry though. When the judging is done, we’ll give them each a double-shot of espresso with lots of sugar and a puppy. Then we’ll send them home to their parents.

Speaking of parents, Lonnie’s step-brother is coming this year. Yet another reason to attend as you watch the two neophytes try to best the master. (That would be me, Lonnie and Ray’s dad.) Little do these two up-starts realize…the master has not revealed all of his tricks.

Book your flights and rooms now. Space is going fast. Plus…there will be wiener-dog races down the main street of town.

“Boomtown, Baby!”

Do you know that Burlington, Iowa was named one of the top 50 most livable cities for baby-boomers? Yep! None other than The Huffington Post gave us that distinction.

We like to think that The Snake Alley Festival of Film contributed to us winning that honor. (Well…that and the Wiener dog races.)

And speaking of things that are booming, The Snake Alley Festival of Film is going crazy this year. It has really blown up on us. Great new talent, lots of quality entries, and new volunteers to help out.

Not only that, but this year’s “after parties” look like they’re going to be over the top. (I just hope my poor liver can take it. But, I’ll suffer through it.)

The late entry deadline is roaring up on you if you haven’t got your film in yet. April 1st is the last day. So get ‘em in here…NOW!

See you at the Capitol Theater, or the “after parties,” or both. And for the really brave, the “after, after parties” at the Hopkins residence.

“Tis The Luck O’ The Irish”

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Monday, March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day. And surely you’ll be wearing of the green and indulging in a wee bit of corned beef and cabbage to help you get some “Luck O’ the Irish.”

The real question is, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?” Oops, sorry! Wrong movie. That one had nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s Day.

But if you’re really lucky, your short film will be an official selection of The Snake Alley Festival of Film. You’ve already had a wee bit of luck because the deadline for entry was extended until April 1st.

And a “short’ film is not necessarily a story about leprechauns…although it could be. So put down that pint of Guinness and pull up yer kilt there O’Donovan. And get crackin’. June is coming faster than an Irishman heading to happy hour.

The same goes for all of you budding James Joyce types out there. Get those screenplays in.

And “top O’ the mornin’ to ya” from the crew at Snake Alley Festival of Film. See you in June.

A disclaimer is due here. No Irishmen were harmed during the writing of this post…but some damage was done to a bottle of Jameson’s.

The Early Bird Gets…?

How would you finish that sentence? The Early Bird Gets the Worm? What other meanings does the term “Early Bird” have? For a lot of old people (I can say that because I qualify as an old people…at least chronologically) it means the “Early Bird Special” at the local hash house. Wow! Mystery meat, mushy vegetables, and day-old bread at a hefty 20% discount. What’s not to like?

But…if you make short films or write short film screen-plays, it means you can get a significant discount to the Snake Alley Festival of Film if you get your entries in by February 1st.

Speaking of February 1st, I’d like to mention another “first” that’s taking place here. For the very first time in the history of The Snake Alley Festival of Film, an out-of-state film maker and People’s Choice winner (Gabe Munitz-Alessio) has teamed up with some local film folks  to do a project in and around Burlington, Iowa.

Who knows? Maybe Burlington, Iowa will become known as “Hollywood on the Mississippi” and Snake Alley will be called the new “Street of Dreams.”

Get your entries in. This year’s Snake Alley Festival of Films promises to be bigger and better than ever. (And that’s saying something!)

All this talk about “Early Birds” has made me hungry. Time to take these old bones down to the local diner and “gum on” some cheap vittles.

Resolutions Or Regrets?

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Well folks, it’s a brand-new year and time to look forward to what the future can bring.

We hope that one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to submit a short film, a screen play, or simply to attend The Snake Alley Festival of Film.

This year the film fest will be held from June 4th through the 7th, 2014.

If you were there last year, you know what a blast this film festival is. The people who missed it were totally bummed out.

This year promises to be even bigger and better judging by the entries that are already coming in. they look fantastic.

The early-bird deadline is February 1st and comes with a nice discount.

The Snake Alley Festival of Film was written up in Movie Maker Magazine and mentioned in The Huffington post. Some of last year’s film makers from around the country are here in Iowa working on a project called “Hotel P” including last year’s People’s Choice winner from Boston.

If you’ve never been to Burlington, Iowa and The Snake Alley Festival of Film, it should absolutely be on your “bucket list!” Come just once—you’ll be hooked for life.

Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering “what if?” Come this year and you’ll have no regrets.

The Legacy of Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin died last week…at the age of 82. He was an actor, writer, director, political activist, and an indie film pioneer. He is best known for his “Billy Jack” series of vigilante movies.

He got the idea and wrote the screenplay for the original “Billy Jack” movie after seeing the way the Indians (Native Americans) were treated in his future wife’s hometown of Winner, South Dakota. At the time he was a student at the University of South Dakota.

Although he went to Hollywood and followed the traditional path of beginning actors, his rebellious streak remained and he had various run-ins with the powers that be. He was the ultimate rebel and free-thinker. He would have fit right in with The Snake Alley Festival of Film film-making crowd.

He made “Billy Jack” in 1971. Although several major studios agreed to distribute it, he didn’t like the way they were marketing it and sued to get it back. He then handled the marketing and distribution himself. It became a cult hit with the youth of America and is (as of 2007) the highest grossing independent film of all time when adjusted for inflation.

It was one of the earliest films to use martial arts, and also mixed in some made-up Indian religious ceremonies that resonated with the counter-culture movement of the day.

So…as an indie film maker this Christmas, give thanks for this indie pioneer who fought the good fight—and paved the way for all future indie film makers.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas—give thanks for people like him.

So…go with God, “Billy Jack” (AKA Robert “Tom” Laughlin…August 10, 1931—December 12, 2013)

And from The Snake Alley Festival of Film family to all of you…”Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

On Being Thankful!

It’s the time of year when we’re supposed to look back (and forward) and think of all the things we are thankful for. My thought is…if you are alive and healthy, you’ve already got a lot to be thankful for. If you live here, in the greatest country in the world, you’ve got even more to be thankful for. If you have family and friends that love you and care about you, then you’ve got it all!

Here at The Snake Alley Festival of Film, we have many things to be thankful for. Here’s a partial list:
We’re thankful for all of the wonderful people (volunteers, sponsors, and contributors) who help make this film fest a huge success.
We’re thankful for all of the talented people we’ve met so far and for those we’ll meet in the future.
We’re thankful for the people of Burlington, Iowa for getting behind this project when we started it and continuing to support it.
We’re thankful for all of the film makers, screenwriters, and artistic folks from around the globe who’ve contributed to our success.
We’re thankful for having such a great venue (The Capitol Theater) to showcase the talent that participates in The Snake Alley Festival of Film.
We’re thankful for Tina Salamone, who helped take us to the next level, and also a little sad that she’s taken a job as the Performing Arts Manager for the City of Bloomington, Illinois.
We’re thankful that we’ve been granted non-profit status so that our donors can take the tax write-off.
And we’re thankful for our family and loved ones, both near and far away.

This is only a partial list, but it gives you an idea of how much we all have to be thankful for. For the rest of this year and into the next, use gratitude as a guide for all that you do.

From our house to yours—Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a little Thanksgiving treat from the Disco Era. Have your speakers on.

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/05/11/egreetings/image/01.swf

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

The witching hour is fast approaching! I’m referring to “All Hallows Eve,” also known as Halloween.

‘Tis the time ghosts and goblins, tricks and treats, eerily glowing Jack-O-Lanterns, and things that go “bump” in the night.

It’s also a great time to watch scary movies.

If you Google the phrase, “The scariest movies of all time,” you’ll get some very subjective lists. Even Reader’s Digest weighs in with their list of the top 31 scariest movies of all time. I don’t agree with all of them, but here is their list: The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980), Halloween (1978), Poltergeist (1982), The Evil Dead (1981), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Birds (1963), Alien (1979), Coraline (2009)

I think Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” should have been on the list, (but I’ve always been partial to the shower scene with Janet Leigh.) I also liked “Them” and “The Blob.” It’s a generational thing.

Which movies would you pick for your Top 10 Scariest Movies?

During last year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film there was a special screening of “The Legend of Beaver Dam.” This short film was funny, scary, entertaining and should be in the “Top 10” list of any scary short films.

On this same subject, here is an interesting link from David Thrasher on the Iowa Films Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116202208392934/permalink/677048065641676/
His link for the movie factoids is:
http://www.cracked.com/article_20710_5-photos-that-shatter-your-image-horror-movie-locations.html

This year for Halloween, I’ve developed my own scare tactic. I’m downloading a picture of a huge motor home. Then I photo shop a picture of my wife and myself standing next to it. Next, I email it to the kids with a note asking, “Do you think this will fit in your driveway?”

I wish I could see their faces when they open THAT email! Bwaa haaa haa!

Not to be too scary, but are you getting ready for next year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film. It has a way of sneaking up on you.

And if you notice that Lonnie Schuyler has a lot more gray hair…you know he saw my motor home email!