If Mel Gibson has taught us anything, it's that you don't need the financial backing of major studios, sleazy producers or a sycophantic media presence to make a successful movie. All you really need is $25 million, and you're well on your way toward multiplex domination.
OK, $25 million may be a bit out of the reach of the average auteur. There's still hope for you, though, even if your writer's lounge, soundstage, editing suite and screening room go by the name "Dad's basement." With just an idea and a video camera, you can get your film in front of a very discriminating and friendly audience: The denizens of Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street) invite you, the St. Louis-based independent/struggling filmmaker, to show your creation at their free monthly St. Louis Movie Lounge.
World-premiering at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 10, Fred's showcase will feature four hours of locally conceived and produced films of all varieties.
Steve Chafin, self-described "Fred's regular" and the pointman for this extremely casual film outing, explains the origins: "Basically [Fred's] does the movie night every Monday night, and people in the bar have been talking about getting more locally produced stuff in, 'cause we've done that a couple times in the past. It developed into the idea that we'd try to get four hours of material together every month on an ongoing basis."
To maximize the chances of seeing something new and exciting every month, Chafin is putting few restrictions on what people can submit. "We'll take just about anything. We have no objections to any material except the obvious," Chafin says, meaning that home porn and snuff movies aren't going to make the cut, but your works in progress, rough cuts and unfinished music videos are welcome.
Because the format is wide open, Chafin is hoping for an eclectic mix every time. "We'd like to do one feature a month and then shorter stuff," he says. As for the debut installment of the series, Chafin feels pretty confident about the selection of work. "I've looked at about three-quarters of 'em. It's a pretty good mix. We've had a couple of national-award-winning shorts submitted, and we know we've got a guy who does experimental stuff with a video camera at his house."
The experimenter in question, Dan Holtzer, performs what Chafin calls a "kind of word-of-mouth poetry [with] some props. It's pretty wild." Chafin is quick to point out that while Holtzer's short sounds funny, "We don't wanna make fun of the guy." Would-be MST3K participants and hecklers will be quickly shown the door, because "that just ruins the experience, I think. It's kinda mean to invite somebody down and then heckle their stuff." Instead, Chafin hopes the audience will provide encouragement and maybe a little creative criticism for first-time directors. And if giving aspiring directors their first break inspires them to make more movies, Chafin is all right with that too. "We want people to make movies so we can have a movie night. I don't know how much material is out there, but we want to see more of it."