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The Second Annual B Movie Celebration

--By Nic Brown--

The historic Artcraft Theater in downtown Franklin was one of the main venues for the event.

Here’s a riddle: when is a film festival not a film festival? The answer is when it is a celebration. One might say that is symantics, but if you ask Bill Dever, the man behind the annual gathering of B Movie fans and flimmakers in Franklin, Indiana called The B Movie Celebration, he’d say it isn’t just the choice of one word over another. “A film festival is an event where filmmakers try to sell their product. This [B Movie Celebration] is more than that. It’s a chance for people with a love of B movies and independent films to come together and share the joy these films bring to them.”

 

The small town of Franklin, Indiana once again offered a warm welcome to people from all over the country (and even a few from outside it) to join in three days of movies, seminars, and parties all about the fun “B-side” of cinema. Mayor Fred L. Paris was on hand for the opening gala and charity auction on the event’s first night. The charity auction was a new part of the celebration this year. Numerous filmmakers, writers, and artists contributed items to the silent auction held to benefit victims of recent flooding in the town. “We [the town of Franklin] appreciate all the support we’ve received from the people involved in the B Movie Celebration.” said Mayor Paris as his wife bid on one of the donated items in the auction.

 

The highlight of the gala was when special guest host Sarah “The Queen of Trash” Dunn

Sarah Dunn the "Queen of Trash" was one of the event hosts. She

also enjoys towering over B Movie website writers like myself.

was made an honorary citizen

 

of the town and the day was named “Sarah Dunn Day”. Sarah and her partner Mr. Lobo host the “Cinema Insomnia” show in San Francisco. They’ve been involved in the B Movie Celebration since its birth and when she heard about the flood that caused so much destruction in Franklin, Sarah started work immediately, arranging contributions for the auction both from her own works and from those of her many artist friends in the San Francisco Bay area. The statuesque Dunn said, “This town really is my second home” and was seen shedding a few happy tears as she accepted the small token of Franklin’s appreciation for the work she had done on behalf of her adopted home.

 

Other events at the B Movie Celebration included a directors’ roundtable discussion where film makers Jim Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL, TRANSYLVANIA TWIST), Tom Holland (FRIGHT NIGHT, CHILD’S PLAY), Lloyd Kaufman (POULTRYGEIST, THE TOXIC AVENGER), Greydon Clark (SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, WITHOUT WARNING), Jim O’Rear (THE DEEPENING, SCREAM FARM) and Kelley Baker (BIRD DOG, THE GAS CAFÉ) gathered to discuss the art and business of filmmaking. The panel discussion was lively and showed the different styles of the filmmakers whose one common thread was their love of making movies.

 

Harry Manfredini, the musical master who introduced the world to the unique and instantly recognizable theme of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series, held workshops for budding filmmakers on how to avoid common mistakes when scoring their films. Screenwriters Ron Aberdeen, Jim O’Rear and Carl Salminen gave their takes on screenplay writing during “Coffee with Three Great Writers”. Aberdeen also held workshops on screenplay writing that covered the things you won’t find in the books as well as how to market a screenplay once it is written. Other speakers held seminars covering subjects ranging from “Net Neutrality” to “How to Use the Military in Your Films” and many aspiring filmmakers took full advantage of these opportunities to learn some secrets from the people inside the industry.

 

Director's Roundtable (from left to right): Jim Wynorski, Jim O’Rear ,Tom Holland,

Greydon Clark, Kelley Baker, and of course Lloyd Kaufman

The workshops, film screenings and other festivities were all held in downtown Franklin, with the majority of the events being centered around the Johnson County History Museum and the Artcraft Theater. Across from the Artcraft, the city allowed organizers to set up as stage and host a huge “beach party” complete with live bands, beach balls and grass skirts. When the sun went down, the giant beach party turned into something akin to a drive-in without the cars as people pulled up a blanket or lawn chair and sat to watch films such as ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS that were being shown on an outdoor movie screen brought in just for the event.

 

Of course the gala dinner, charity auction, panel discussions, workshops and seminars were all great fun and informative, but they aren’t the real heart of the B Movie Celebration. That honor is reserved for the movies themselves. Over fifty films played at venues all over central Franklin. Modern B movies such as SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO and CYXORK 7 played along side of fifties classics like WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE BLOB and INVADERS FROM MARS. Other classics from the 70’s and 80’s such as Greydon Clark’s rarely scene sci-fi classic WITHOUT WARNING and Jim Wynorski’s killer robot rampage CHOPPING MALL showed off the talents of the filmmakers in attendance. In fact with so many movies to choose from the hardest thing about the celebration was deciding whether to see a classic western like Sergio Leone’s FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE or something more “cerebral” like Wynorski’s CLEAVAGEFIELD (which had its world premiere at the event).

B Movie Man Nic Brown with the legendary Jim Wynorski outside

the Willard at the B Moive Celebration.


There were also plenty of independent films to choose from if viewers were in the mood for something new. This was thanks in part to the inclusion of Lloyd Kaufman’s Tromadance Film Festival as part of this year’s Celebration. Tromadance allows independent filmmakers to show their work to the public at no cost so there was no charge to attend any of the Tromadance screenings which included films like WEREWOLF IN A WOMEN’S PRISON and THE AWAKENING. One independent film shown as part of the B Movie Celebration that got a great deal of positive feedback was THE TREK by Lola Wallace and Tom Devlin. This film took your typical lost in the woods story and turned it neatly on its ear much to the surprise and joy of the audience.

 

Between all the movies and other activities, B movie fans and filmmakers alike could often be found sitting on the patio of The Willard, the local watering hole. While Harry Manfredini entertained a group of fans with stories about his experiences scoring movies, Jim Wynorski, Greydon Clark and Tom Holland discussed how to get a film made in today’s market and still make a profit, while some astute independent filmmakers sat nearby taking notes from the candid conversation.

 

Amid all of this Bill Dever sat smiling at a table as he talked to some of the other B movie fans gathered in Franklin. “This is what it’s all about, watching fun movies and hanging out with people that make and love them.” Dever reflected and he was right. There is something uniquely special about the B Movie Celebration that sets it apart from the crowd. That something is the “Celebration.” This event is not just a gathering or a festival, but a true celebration of one of the under appreciated arts: the art of the B movie.



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