Over the weekend I was afforded an opportunity to meet filmmaker Joe Dante at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. This is not the first time I've gone to such an event, but Joe is one of the higher profile directors I have met (along with Jay Duplass). We viewed his newest completed film The Hole which has been completed since 2009 but because of a lack of distributor has not seen a proper theatrical release. So, this viewing was one of the first few in the United States (which was pretty cool). Overall the film was good, and fun. It suffered from some bad acting/dialogue, but once I got into the story it was somewhat overshadowed. The film is about a family that moves into a new house, the latest in a long line we find out. The two sons, one younger and one a teenager, find a hole in the basement, padlocked with about 6 locks. So, of course they unlock it and find what appears to be a bottomless pit. This is the central device of the film (obviously...), and from it issue forth all manner of strange occurrences, which I won't get too far into since it would kind of ruin the film. If you ever have a chance to check it out, it's worth the time. But what was really great was having the director there to talk about his film. It's hard to compare to such an event. When viewing the film you have a certain insight into the mind of the director, but the experience overall is meant to be subjective, the viewer taking from it whatever they feel, but having the director there gives you a bit more of an objective view of the film, the politics of the industry, and the hardships of trying to get a film made and distributed. Now, Joe Dante is no Spielberg, but he has a few good films under his belt (many produced by Spielberg actually) and is a competent director. After viewing the film, there was a Q & A where Scott Tobias (of the AV Club) as well as members of the audience were allowed to ask Dante some questions. Again, if you ever have this opportunity and are even remotely interested in film, try to make it out to an even like this. After the Q & A, we had a chance to go up and meet with him. I got my copy of The Howling (pretty decent werewolf film) signed and got a picture with him, when that was done we had a midnight showing of Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which was actually a 35mm print from Dante's collection. I had seen it before, but seeing it on the big screen, and having some knowledge of what the filmmakers were trying to do when making this film, coupled with the energy of a relatively packed theatre, made the experience all together fresh and hilarious. The film is by no means a masterpiece of cinema, but it's a good example of a director who has been hired to make money for the studio but has also been given complete control, permission to do whatever they wanted. The result being the anarchic, hilarious, and often-times, nightmarish spoof on film, film making, sequels and the industry as a whole. It was an experience definitely worth the time and money.
If this sounds like something you'd be interested in doing, keep an eye out for it. The Music Box in Chicago is a great place to attend these sort of events, and they seem to host them somewhat frequently, so check their website or sign the mailing list so you don't miss out.