Monday, September 18, 2006

Evil Pancakes, Rare Stereoscopic Cartoons, and Miss Piggy

What a fun weekend!

On Friday, "Gretchen" premiered at the Vally Film Festival. We had shot it two years ago, but apparently there was some drama with the sound guy that kept it from being ready until now. They put it into the "Thriller" category, which seemed odd at first (it's more dark comedy than scary). But after seeing the other entries, we decided it had more characteristics of a thriller than most of them, which were mostly "ambiguous" or "noir-esque" or "super-natural action," but lacking suspense. There was one other dark comedy about a girl with an unfortunate psychic power, which we enjoyed. "Gretchen" played first, and the audience loved it! Laughing, gasping, and cheering. I would not be surprised if we won the audience favorite vote.

I'm pleased with how the puppet bits came out! The puppet rods (and my shoe, in one shot) had been painstakingly removed with After Effects. The editing made it all work. Not too corny, not too over-the-top. Jessica (Geoff's wife, who did a great job painting the pancakes accurately) had told me earlier she thought it was too long and not funny enough, but on the big screen with a good audience, we were amazed how well it worked.

Many of us went out to eat afterwards. What did we have? Pancakes, of course.

Then on Saturday, I went to a 3-D cartoon festival (3-D as in 3-D stereographic glasses, not as in computer-generated). These were rare films from the 1930s to 60s, including Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, and Donald Duck, plus abstract experimental works and puppet films. The tickets had just sold out when I got there, but luckily I ran into my rabid stereoscopic enthusiast friend, Eric Kurland, who happened to have an extra festival pass.

Afterwards, he asked if I knew that Kermit & Miss Piggy were appearing at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night. (No!) So I called up my old friend Eric Jacobson (Miss Piggy) and he called back Sunday morning, inviting us to see him and his wife Mary after the show. What a great show! The conductor John Macieri is leaving to teach music, so all manner of guests were there to honor him, including Kristin Chenoweth, who has a stunning voice in such a small body! (She's the lead in "Wicked") She sang an opera with a tongue-and-cheek-style (in the manner of a Victor Borge, or P.D.Q. Bach) and a sultry love song. Miss Piggy also attempted an opera, though with less than stellar success. Later, she sang "Fever" atop a piano, complete with full body poses, legs and everything! Nice! (Other puppeteers, including Dave Goelz assisted in bunraku style) She and Kermit sang "I got you Babe," thwarted Muppet-style by Piggy's constant costume changes. Kermit first sang "I'm Blue" until Macieri interrupted and suggested he sing something more truthful to himself (naturally leading to a poignant "It's not Easy Bein' Green".

The show ended with excellent fireworks. We went to the Artist Entrance door and Eric J. came out with his wife Mary, whom I hadn't met yet. He told us that Steve Whitmire had a bad cold but managed to get through the performance quite well, I thought. I'm finally getting used to hearing Steve and Eric's versions of Kermit & Piggy. They're really starting to get some of the nuances of Jim and Frank after the five years since Eric debuted as Piggy for MuppetFest 2001.

Meanwhile, Eric K. wants to screen "Gretchen" at his Scream Night Halloween Film Festival in a few weeks. Whohoo!
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posted by Brian at 10:32 AM

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