This is the second installment in a series of photo essays documenting the prep work leading up to the True False Film Festival. If you missed my first behind-the-scenes post, you can check it out here. The following images were taken over a period of three days this past week. It’s pretty amazing what creative people can do on a small budget. There’s no doubt this festival wouldn’t be what it is without all the volunteers and man-hours that that they put in before, during and after the fest. Thank you, volunteers!
I spent a couple of hours photographing the crews at the T/F Lab (workshop) and Box Office locations on Sunday as they worked on production and design aspects of this year’s festival theme, Influencing Machines. Everything pictured is a work-in-progress and more will be revealed over the next couple of weeks leading up to the event.
Last fall, the Citizen Jane Film Festival held in Columbai, Missouri featured The Work of 1000, a film produced and directed by MU graduate Susan Edwards. If you missed that showing, on Tuesday, January 17, you will have another opportunity to watch this important film.
In the 1960’s, Marion Stoddart took on big and small businesses, a century of bad practices, and the government to clean up what was one of the most polluted rivers in America, the Nashua in New Hampshire. Her efforts ultimately changed local, state and national environmental policies. Her story is inspirational on many levels and the opportunity to talk to her directly should not be missed.
A group of eight local not-for-profit organizations worked together to coordinate this special screening which will include the film and an opportunity to talk to both Susan Edwards and Marion Stoddart. Additionally, representatives of the local organizations, mostly enviornmentally focused, will be on hand to answer questions about the parallels in our area and what we need to be doing today to protect our local waterways.
The movie airs at 7:00PM in the Wrench Auditorium of Memorial Union South. The showing is free with a suggested donation.
Tuesday, January 17
Wrench Auditorium of Memorial Union South, MU
Editor’s Note: I too received the mysterious email to check out the events in the Regency Hotel, but I was unable to go. As I sat around flipping through my Twitter feed Sunday, I noticed Glenn’s pictures inside the Regency and promptly asked him to share his experience as this is the sort of thing the Collective loves. I hope you like it too. -Zac
It began, for me and many others, with a cryptic email from impresario Paul Sturtz: an invitation to an event that evening at the soon-to-be-demolished Regency Hotel in (beautiful) downtown Columbia. Guests were instructed to meet in the hotel lobby for orientation, then on to the “open house” with performances every half hour.
Regarded by many Columbians with feelings ranging from affection to derision, the Regency and its predecessors have been intertwined with downtown’s culture for decades. The building, first named The Broadway Inn, was constructed during a hotel-development boom in the 1960s. Now, it’s planned to be demolished in January, to be replaced by a Doubletree Hotel and parking garage. Parts of the hotel have already been stripped, although it’s still offering accommodations. Paul has been working on a short film at the hotel, documenting its end of days.
Sunday night around 9:30, we found a spot in the Regency’s cramped parking lot and entered the lobby as directed. The first person we saw was Jarrett Crader, of Hellbender Brewing and revered True/False boozemaster, who offered an unofficial tour of the basement. Tempting as this was, we hit the lounge instead — located in the former Thai Kitchen restaurant — for some beers and to wait for our flight to be called. While waiting, we signed the waivers, read the rules , and speculated about what was happening five floors up. Polina Malikin, the hostess and perhaps organizer of the event , eventually announced the next group and bestowed a carob chip on each guest as they headed for the elevators.
The juddery, lurchy, claustrophobia-inducing elevators are one of the Regency’s many endearing features, along with its outdoor pool deck and bizarre inside-out design — a roadside motel stacked like a cake and wrapped in windows, with the hallways on the outside, offering fine views of the Donald Duck Church and Jingo’s.
The Regency was the hotel of choice for my visiting out-of-town friends. It’s been an official True/False lodging for several years, and during recent fests, the hotel’s lobby has served as an impromptu filmmakers’ lounge. Back in the days when there were more kids living in North Village, families could buy cheap “memberships” to the Regency’s pool during the hot summer months.
At the top floor, we disembarked into an equally cramped hallway filled with people and the sounds of nearby live music by Believers. Thus began a slow shuffle through a warren of former hotel rooms, each of which had been decorated and constructed by itinerant artists over the past week, apparently out of materials salvaged (or demolished) from parts of the building — mattresses, draperies, structural materials, furniture, bathroom fixtures, TVs. Getting into and between these spaces involved much ducking under and around splintered wood panels, glass sheets, gutted light fixtures, etc. It was visually and spatially chaotic, but somehow intimate and inviting.
The overall arrangement was designed to funnel guests through the first 2-3 rooms, into the big room(s) with the band, and then through to the other side of the 5th floor for the end of the “tour.” The idea was apparently to have groups moving through, and then out, to make room for the next group, but in reality it didn’t seem to work that way. There was a pushy guy that kept trying to move people along and out, but no one was really listening to him.
Music permeated the whole floor. I hadn’t seen Believers before , really enjoyed the big double-drumkit sound, which was surprisingly good considering they were playing in a giant cinder-block box. There was a professional camera track laid along the back wall (outside window) of the big room; some guys were rolling a large camera back and forth and filming everything. (That’s what the waivers were for.)
On the far side of the elevators, more themed/altered hotel rooms, one filled with soft matresses, comforters, etc. draped and cushioned like the inside of Jeannie’s bottle.
Eventually we made our way back down to the lounge, where we found the keg disturbingly empty. Jarrett then took us on the basement tour. The Regency basement is a huge, creepy, dangerous place, with giant metal tanks, an underground spiral ramp next to a former maintenance man’s shack (like Carl the Groundskeeper’s place in Caddyshack), deep open cisterns, 80s-corporate-style conference rooms, and at least one room that looks like a good place for criminal torture (“Where’s the money!?”)
We finally left around 11. The band was still playing and people were still coming and going. Overall this was a fun event, and I’m glad we went. Great music, interesting art and people, and a fine send-off for this old place. I’m very interested in seeing Paul’s film, when it’s done.
The Regency Hotel isn’t old and grand like the Tiger, but had its own unique character. I’ll be sorry to see it go.
 Basically, “keep on the path.” The Regency is still serving guests.
 I was never able to find out for sure who was involved in putting on this show.
 Zac reminded me that Believers played at the T/F “super secret” party earlier this year. I think I spent the whole time on the roof, though.
 I’d actually been down in the Regency basement before as part of my T/F duties, which require me to carry heavy, dirty objects through moldy caverns. But this was extra-special.
The Columbia Library is my favorite place in all of CoMo. On top of having a top notch collection of books and media (including ebooks), they continually produce top notch events. One of my favorites is Center Aisle Cinema. Each month they screen a documentary film for free. This is what’s on tap this Fall: (all Fall films screen at 6:30 on Wednesdays)
September the 14th : From Separate to Equal : The Creation of Truman Medical Centers
The documentary From Separate to Equal: The Creation of Truman Medical Center (57 min.) chronicles the realities of health care in Kansas City at the turn of the 20th century when African-American doctors, nurses and patients were excluded from most hospitals. This film tells the dramatic story of the African-American health care pioneers whose efforts led to the creation of black hospitals and, finally, to the complete integration of the health care system. Discussion will be led afterwards by the film’s creators, Kevin Willmott and Greg Hurd, both of whom have had work showcased at the Sundance Film Festival. They also have had their film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America shown at the True False Film Fest in 2004. You can learn more about the film on the official Separate to Equal website.
This film is being shown as one of the events connected to our One Read program at DBRL. This year’s One Read book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. In the coming weeks DBRL will announce other One Read events happening in September.”
October the 12th : Catfish
This popular documentary from last fall is sure to creep anyone who shares information online out. I won’t give away too much but the film centers around a man who develops a friendship with a family online and what he finds out about them when he makes an impromptu visit.
November the 9th : Last Train Home
I am hoping to make it to this one since I missed seeing this documentrary when it was released last year.
Every Spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as an astonishing 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year’s holiday. This mass exodus is the largest human migration on the planet, an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past
School is back in session and that means Fall is approaching. Along with the cooler weather, the season brings a wealth of film. It’s not every Midwestern college town that gets to see this stuff. So go support the following:
This weekend is the second Boone Dawdle. This event has it all: music, biking, and film. It kicks off at 3pm with a bike ride from Columbia to Rocheport down the MKT and Katy Trails. In the spirit of the Dawdle, participants are enouraged to their time, taking the time to take in the sites along the way. There will be buskers along the trail as well, including True/False festival fave Dubb Nubb. Once the riders reach Les Bourgeois, they will be treated to a performance by Capybara, a picnic under the stars, and then a screening of the documentary Last Days Here. The film charts the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of Bobby Liebling, singer and songwriter for the near-legendary band Pentagram. Tickets for the event are $70 and include everything mentioned. If you would rather drive to Les Bourgeois, the ticket drops to $50. Details here.
The first week of September, Ragtag’s Passport series starts back up. The series puts a spotlight on the foreign films not usually shown in the United States. Screenings are on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting September 7th and ending October 27th. Eight films will be screened and is you see at least six, you will be entered in a raffle to win a pair of ten-film passes to the St. Louis International Film Festival. We will have a review of the first film in the series Sound of Noise here on the blog.
October brings the Citizen Jane film festival to town. Kicking off on September 30th, this three day festival celebrates films made by women. There are also events to encourage lively discussions and one-of-a-kind parties. This year’s lineup has yet to be announced but you can peruse last year’s lineup to get a sense of the variety of films shown. Tickets go on sale September 1st and an all access pass is only $100. You can just go see the films for $60. Or purchase tickets to individual movies and events. If you would like to support this one of a kind festival, consider volunteering.
Columbia’s prodigal son, Kyle Smith, returns home to show his critically acclaimed film, “Turkey Bowl,” this Wednesday, June 1 at 7pm at Ragtag Cinema.
Kyle was called the next Robert Altman by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn, but the story of Kyle Smith’s “Turkey Bowl” begins in 1998 on the hill in the Lake Woodrail neighborhood on the south side of Columbia. A group of kids, from the wrong side of town*, lollygag around the neighborhood swiping Coca Cola and Goldfish Crackers from neighbors and dreaming of Hollywood. Well, only one of them was dreaming of Hollywood. Another was completely convinced she was the next Ernest Hemingway (minus the misogyny, alcoholism and womanizing). Only one of these kids reached their dream**.
In all seriousness, Kyle grew up in Columbia and attended Rock Bridge High School. He took Rich Hadfield’s Music and Film Studies course. During one class, David Wilson spoke to the students about his film, “Magic City,” and the beginnings of the Ragtag Film Society (way back when films were screened at The Blue Note.) Over 10 years later, Kyle’s own film shows at Ragtag as part of the Homebrewed series. (I’m not sure if I’m more excited about seeing Kyle’s film, or about the buskers and beer…)
Let’s get to know Kyle Smith, small town boy, with big dreams:
What have you been doing since you graduated Rock Bridge in 2002?
I lived in Chicago and worked in “new media” before following my Midwestern forefathers to the fine weather of Los Angeles where every evening feels like a Columbia autumn.
What is “Turkey Bowl” about?
Turkey Bowl is about a group of friends playing an annual game of touch football, told in real-time, based on a real event that happens on a baseball field in a Columbia subdivision every Thanksgiving.
What do you miss most about Columbia?
I miss being able to drive in one direction for 15 minutes and be lost in a good way.
If you could transport one thing from Columbia to Los Angeles, what would it be?
I would move that new parking garage from downtown, if only because we could really use those spaces in Los Angeles.
What’s your fondest memory of Columbia?
Watching a firefighter manually lower a disco ball (with rope) off a fire ladder near the courthouse on New Year’s 2001 – our own makeshift Times Square. We were drinking sparkling champagne straight from the bottle.
Either a movie set in Missouri or a period piece about a rock band, if I am lucky enough to do this again.
Homebrewed Film Series: “Turkey Bowl” w/ dir. Kyle Smith!
Wednesday, June 1
$8 for public, $5 for members
*Parts of this story have been fabricated. But the good stuff is true.
**The other one thought up some new dreams, including the dream of writing for The CoMo Collective.
I sat down recently with a group from University of Missouri, Joel Shettlesworth (producer), Andy Neizert (director), Emily Anderson (assistant director & student) and Ben Poland (assistant director & student), to chat about a new film called Vampyras. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I got to see the trailer before it was actually finished and posted online! And now I can’t wait to see the film! Hey guys – am I invited to the premiere??
This production was different than a typical movie. It’s harder to do a University production due to numerous reasons, mainly you have to work the way the University works and follow their rules. It was created through the MU Film Studies and Engineering department at Mizzou. Engineering professor Jeffery Uhlmann wrote the script. The last three years have been Mexican wrestling movies (it’s okay to laugh, they told me so) and then he wrote this film about vampires, roller derby, car chases and guns.
Andy Neizert teaches the Film Studies 2520: Pre-Planning and Production where students “learn to cram a year’s worth of work into 2 months, and 6 months of work into 3 weeks.” He set the class up from scratch – this is the first time this class has been offered and there are no other schools with classes of this caliber.
Andy and Joel have been doing productions at low cost for a while and they agreed to do this movie on a $30,000 budget. Remember: We’re talking a lot of makeup and prosthetic work to make humans look like vampires. Then add in roller derby, wardrobes, car chases, and guns! But they made it all work, and they only went over budget by a little bit! They called in people that they had worked with before and other crew members who were referred to them. These people have super impressive resumes! They also made connections with the hired crew members who make movies and films for a living.
The students learned about every aspect of every job required to make a movie before settling on the job they thought they’d like to do for the feature film. The kids who showed the most commitment and interest in the process at the beginning of the semester ended up with the more important, prestigious roles on set. They earned their spot. A lot of the students found their niche during that process.
It’s awesome that these students had such an amazing hands-on opportunity. They could have sat in a desk all semester, read their text book, and filled in bubbles on a scantron. Instead they were on a set, learning every step there is to making a movie. They have something fantastic to put on their resume, which certainly will put them a step above some other students.
Emily – a communication major and film studies minor graduating this weekend, and Ben – a sophomore computer science major and a film studies minor, both acted as assistant directors for the film. Neither of them had anything bad to say about the class. They both raved about what a great experience it was for them and how exciting the process was. They didn’t even mind the 12-hour overnight shifts. Their jobs were very real. Emily had to make all the schedules for the 70 to 80 people that were on set every day, and had to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there while making sure everyone was happy. Ben completed production reports to make sure the everything was going right every day and also made sure that everyone had everything they needed (and were happy) and that things were running smoothly.
They both admit that they weren’t quite sure what they were getting into when they signed up for the class. Andy sent them an email in December letting them know it would be a time commitment, but they still didn’t expect 12-hour days (or nights). But – they are both extremely glad that they went through with it and gained the experience that they did. “The whole experience almost formed a new family for all of us. We worked the long hours and there were really tough times, and really fun times, all of us really bonded,” Ben noted. Emily already has a potential job lined up from a connection she made while working on the film. Ben hopes to work on both sides of production (pre and post) once he graduates.
They shot the entire feature film in 15 days. Fifteen days! Don’t balk. The production value is outstanding, better than you would expect from a ‘student’ film that was shot in 15 days. If you don’t believe me, watch the trailer. Then sit on the edge of your seat and wait until they show the movie in Columbia. Make sure you follow them on facebook to keep up with the status!