One of the highest-interest and best-attended Wis-Kino screenings every year -- outside of its biannual 48-hour Kabarets -- is its pre-Halloween show. While the themes of other screening change from month to month, the October round of five-minute films has the same theme every year: Scary/Halloween. The 2006 edition featuring Madison's own short horror flicks hit the screens at the Orpheum Stage Door theatre on Sunday, Oct. 15.
As expected, both the audience and number of films screened were a bit larger than usual. This was due in part to the holiday horror theme, but also because of the rising interest in the Chad Vader series created by two of the founders of Wis-Kino. The fourth episode had recently debuted on YouTube, and would be making its Madison on-screen debut that evening.
As has been the case over the last several months, Sam Lawson and Josh Klessig of RASH Films ran the show, making introductions and announcing the rules to the assembled filmmakers and other audience members. They are actually taking over as co-directors of the local filmmaking group, following more than three years of direction from its three-cofounders, Tona Williams, Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda. They are attempting to build institutional longevity for the group, particularly as their growing online video profile demands more time and attention.
"Earlier in the year, the three original co-directors began to transition responsibility for organizing Wis-Kino screenings and special events to other committed participants," explains Williams. "This is an exciting transition for the group, as it marks a milestone for its long-term organizational longevity. Among Kino groups worldwide, one of the biggest challenges over time has been to move beyond the first cadre of leaders without the organization losing energy and focus. Wis-Kino is demonstrating that this can be done, even in a group run almost exclusively by volunteers."
What about the films themselves?
Most incorporate the theme, which is encouraged but not required in the regular monthly screenings. The Merchant's Pumpkin by Roger Bindl is the sole film to take the animated route, using drawings and still photos to tell the story of a walking pumpkin that quotes Shakespeare and Patrick Henry before its untimely end.
There were a couple of entries from a recent Kabaret at Kino Louisville that featured visiting Madison collaborators. Nate and Rose told a chuckle-worthy tale of seemingly mundane suburban cannibalism. Deadly Breeze, meanwhile, was about your average D student small-scale superhero armed with a Mexican wrestling costume and a recorder repertoire let by the theme to Lord of the Rings.
There were two films from Lawson and Klessig of RASH, one adhering to the theme and the other completely unrelated. This latter entry was Breeze, the second film of the screening to sport the word in the title. This short was a hilarious spoof commercial featuring all sorts of spokespersons spouting non-sequiturs before mouthing the word "breeze," the brand name for a perfume. Their second entry was Sam and Josh Go to Lousiville 2, a comedic horror-themed creation from their second trip to the Kabaret at Wis-Kino's Kentucky cousin.
Also utilizing the commercial was Fudge Bar Fantastic by Greg Callozo and Jason Stephens. This was actually a mockumentary about a commercial, a reality-commercial actually. This entry received a huge round of applause at its end as it encouraged the audience to "clap if you'd like to see part 2." Both E. Tozzi and Craig Knitt, regular and long-time Wis-Kino participants, submitted entertaining themed films. The former presented The Severed Hand of the Decapitated, a rumination on a desiccated centuries-old limb as conducted by a pair of cable-access auteurs. The latter submitted Movie Night, a Halloween-eve "quick flick" about a killer film, though not necessarily in the way one might expect.
Two films took the "scary" theme to its extreme. Play (by a pseudonymous contributor) and Lipstick Loathing (by Andrew J. Hying of HappyQMedia) featured found footage snuff and slasher styles, respectively, complete with plenty of gore and abuse. Both sparked discussion on the Wis-Kino forums (here, here and here) following the screening, with several viewers criticizing both films' concepts and execution.
The most-interesting film of the evening, however, utilized the scary theme in a far different manner. Robby by Nick Rondelli tells a tale of suicide via the music video format. Focusing on both the psychological and physical agony preceding and during such an act, the film was successful in being truly scary, in a way unlike every other entry at the screening. This one had also had people talking at the end of the show.
The full list of films follows below:
- The Merchant's Pumpkin -- Roger Bindl
- Nate and Rose -- Whitney Bishop
- Robby -- Nick Rondinell
- The Severed Hand of the Decapitated -- Emilio Tozzi
- Fudge Bar Fanatic -- Greg Callozzo and Jason Stephens
- Movie Night -- Craig Knitt
- Play -- Dan Druff
- Sam and Josh Go to Louisville Again -- RASH Films
- Campus Security Movie trailer -- Andy Schlactenhaufen
- Breeze -- RASH Films
- The Deadly Breeze -- Brandon Debes
- Lipstick Loathing -- Andrew J. Hying
- On the Ropes -- Scott Shusfitt
- Chad Vader Episode 4 -- Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan
- Chad Vader Episode 4 update & comments -- Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan
The next Wis-Kino screening is actually its biggest of the year, and the organization's fourth birthday. The annual fall Kabaret kicks off with a screening on Thursday, Nov. 16. After a 48 hour filmmaking frenzy, the weekend will end with a second show of the completed films on Saturday, Nov. 18. The Kabaret will feature the participation of filmmakers from sibling organizations in Louisville and Montreal, as the Wisconsin node of the international network embarks upon what is likely to be the biggest and most risky transition of its existence.