(Originally posted Friday, June 13, 2008 ) Stephanie and I are currently attending the DeadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City, talking a bit about "S&M Queen" and handing out DVDs of "The Retributioners" to any interested partisans. Last night we hit an opening night party, saw a film about women's body issues called "Disfigured" and went to an after-party at a cigar bar, which caused us to come home reeking of pungent tobacco. So much for Steph's pretty new dress.
As alcohol flowed more liberally, more cards were handed out and more promises to stay in touch, and pretty soon, bromides like "I love you guys" were starting to come out of people's gin vermouth tinged mouths. Listen, dude. You've had five or six Tanquerays, and I'm starting to doubt your love is sincere.
Of course, because we are all a bunch of struggling artists, there were also some arguments about the nature of our work and who pays for it and how the artist is remunerated for his efforts in a world where there is not a large audience--as well as arguments about what the Internet means to all of this. I argued that the Internet is going to change everything so that we can at least get our stuff seen and heard and cut a lot of the middle men out of the process and find a more point-to-point business model for the stuff we make. The old-timers chafed at this and seemed to think that the goal was still to get big companies to drop lots of money on you and pay you scads of money for writing a film that gets carpet-bombed on the unsuspecting populace. It seems to be extremely naive to not work basic economics into this: there are too many people who want to be artists and not enough people who want to see their art. It's basic supply and demand issues. Since I was 25, I have become very confused about why this isn't apparent to more of the kvetchers. As much as I'd like to see artists get paid, I think you have to love the work first and not get hung up thinking you are going to get rich off of it. To me, that's the clearest path to bitterness. At times, you just gotta be glad you sent something out there into the ether and hope that it hits the right person at the right time and makes them happy.
If you do want to make money off of it and see it as a business, that's OK, too. But that means you find a niche that's empty and fill it. The guy who did "Disfigured" talked to us for a while and said he hoped it would reach the kind of underground of fat acceptance groups that were featured in the film. Had it not been for a couple of sex scenes, I don't think it would have been a stretch to see the film on Lifetime. Tailoring your work to an audience to fill a need does not make something less legitimate as a work of art. Sometimes the best, most imaginative work of the spirit comes from the constrictions of the medium and format you are given to work with.
After all, what in the hell was the Sistine Chapel built for? For the artist's amusement?
Enough ranting. I will try to post more blogs from the conference and keep it funny rather than ranting. I have now had two people broach the subject of putting me on a TV news spot, by the way, as a New Yorker attending the conference and the idea makes me a little nauseated. I am a bit camera shy.