Adventures From the Red Carpet: Carpetbaggers beware!

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on July 17, 2009

Between the AFI stuff, the film festivals, Vision Awards and other charity events I do there are a lot of red carpets (okay, to be absolutely correct – the Feel Good Film Festival has a yellow carpet in honor of its sunflower mascot/logo). And, as with most things I do there is somewhat of a code in how these things are run and how I think people should behave on both sides of the velvet rope.

And, it’s simple. It’s just about being fair and accommodating and showing respect for each other. Really. Nothing more complicated than that. I try to give the press as much access as I can (and is reasonable) and I trust that if I do that, then they will give as equal play (again, as I can reasonably expect) to the filmmakers and actors and actresses, etc. that I put on that red carpet.

It’s a little dance and negotiation that basically says if I give the photographers and video crews, etc. the chance to take pictures and interview the big movie stars that make their trip out there worth it, then they will also take photos and give the time of day to the first time filmmakers and up-and-coming talent that I put before them.

And I am careful about who I let walk on that carpet. Very careful. I have to be because I want there to be a sense of security and relief for both sides when they see that I am at the front of that thing, running that show.

And that’s why I hate the carpetbaggers.

Carpetbaggers (my definition) aren’t the celebrities that come out (as they say) to the opening of an envelope. I have no beef with those folks. Because more often than not, there is at least a reason why people still take their photos and let them talk into a microphone at these events. No, carpetbaggers are worse because they really, really, really have no reason to be there.

Tuesday, we had red carpet entrances for a special screening of a horror/thriller by Bruce Reisman titled THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT. The film starred Joe Mantegna, Gail O’Grady, Kris Black, Michael Guarnera, etc. I was asked to handle the premiere for the film by one of the producers, Tony Oppedisano and was warned that the film’s “publicist,” who was handling the after party, might take some additional “handling” as well.

That was an understatement. Soon after setting place cards for the confirmed press I had photographers begin to show up that I wasn’t expecting because this guy had taken it upon himself to confirm them for my event. This was after he had sent me a list of press he HAD asked me to put on the carpet with no contact info to follow up on who they were. And – totally weird coincidence – the primary video crew on that list (for an online site I had never heard of let alone had on one of my carpets before), turned out to be his client. Oh wait, and one that I frequently have at my events informed me that they weren’t able to make it, but they had tried to arrange for a sit down with the film’s major players with Mr. PR dude, but for some reason it was beyond him to pull that off. So…dubious. Anyway…I really hate to say no to press if I can help it, and after figuring out what happened and who the photographers were, I found them a spot and everyone played nice. It sucked a little but there are worse things as I know very well and was about to experience…

Now, a few days before the event I was sent a guest list of people that were told they could walk the red carpet by this publicist and the producer/director, Bruce Reisman and the producer/lead Kris Black. There were 50 names of cast and crew and another 78 names of “celebrity guests”.

I will digress for a quick moment about the level of celebrity we’re talking about. Usually, a publicist like this has one name he or she loves to trumpet as their shining example of glitter and pixie dust – and Pamela Bach-Hasselhoff was this guy’s standard bearer. According to him, having her show up was a guarantee of coverage from Access and E.T. and The Insider, etc. Where she went they followed. They couldn’t get enough of her. Because getting a quote from her about what her lawyer told her The Hoff was up to or maybe reminiscing about the Baywatch days 6 years ago….THAT is television gold. GUARNTEED.

Almost like an uncontrollable allergic sneeze, I laughed out loud at that one. And to be clear, for you PBH fan club card holders (and I’m not talking Peanut Butter and Ham) – I have nothing against her. I’m sure she’s very nice (and she seemed it, I guess, as she spoke to the remaining crew (yes, his clients) when she arrived long after I had already shut down the carpet). No – it’s the grandiose pimping out of a “celebrity” just because they will actually take your call or respond to your email. And usually, looooooooong after they have ceased to be a primary draw. Gross. Just gross.

Back to our drama… We had one hour to get those people down the red carpet. And out of those 78 names, a dozen (more than a few generously) could be described as a celebrity. So, I called this guy and told him this is what we would do: One, other than the principals of the film, I would group everyone else in 3s and 4s, etc. to make the cast and crew thing work. Two, I had done the IMDB thing and narrowed the guest list down to 29 people that I could put on my red carpet without throwing up a little in the back of my throat. Therefore, he needed to email, call, or somehow get in touch with the other 50 or so people and tell them there would be no show at the OK Celebrity Corral on Tuesday night for them, or the last boats were launching off the Titanic and it was women and children and people with at least a TV guest spot that amounted to more than “Businessman with Snow Cone” on their resume’ – whatever, I didn’t care.

You have to be way ahead of me on this one. Of course, he didn’t do that and of course a good number of those people showed up. And here is one of the reasons why (and this was genuine news to me because I insist on downplaying the existence of this kind of crap in my head): According to a few of the photographers, this “publicist” actually has many of these people pay him so they can walk down the red carpet and get photographed. So, his clients and a few other more than dubious “publicists” show up with people that at best were supposedly an extra in something that was part of GRINDHOUSE or made a movie that posted on IMDB before it went Direct-to-Their Parent’s-Video-Cabinet, or worst have to be paraded in front of the photogs with identifying name plates that can’t even state a credit beyond “actress” or “recording artist” on it.

It’s gross, sleazy, and what’s more – I was also told this guy has to change the name of his company from time to time because once the press catches on that he’s involved with the event – a lot of them just skip it and don’t show up.

Now, let’s take a quick step back to clarify my feelings on walking the red carpet. It could seem as though I have a bit of a double standard since I always put shorts directors side-by-side with the movie stars and more notable filmmakers at my film festivals. Except…..those shorts directors not only made a film but it went through the screening process and made it into the film festival. Legit. Capital “L” on that.

And that’s why this really bugs the crap out of me.

I am already working a precarious balance by coercing the press (and the stardust in their editors’ and photo editors’ eyes) to give those shorts and first time filmmakers their rightful moment in the press’ sun. So – when some little aspiring reality hootchie-actress or Ed Hardy reject wanna-tough boy actor-guy shoehorns their way to the front of flash bulb land so they can document their ‘tude – that more than chips away at the unspoken agreement I have with the press not to waste their time.

So other than recount this little story, should I out this con-artist in hipster publicist/ promoter clothes? No, because there are a lot of him out there. And they can only do that shell game thing for so long before their bottom feeding really hits the rock bottom. But it is a rare case in which I actually feel a little sorry for the carpet baggers because this guy actually feeds on their desperation for this false facsimile of fame.

So – carpetbaggers beware.

I do have to say, the one fun coda of all of this is that the next day I was told that Kris Black, the film’s lead had signed with this guy to be his personal publicist.

Yeah, good luck with that. Enjoy that next event at the Apple Lounge with Pamela Bach-Hasselhoff.

The 2009 Feel Good Film Festival Announces Full Schedule

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on July 17, 2009





LOS ANGELES, CA July 17, 2009 – The 2009 Feel Good Film Festival (FGFF) announces it will return to the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9. The three-day event once again will feature films aimed at both adult and family audiences that highlight positive themes, happy endings, make audiences laugh, and capture the beauty of our world.

The Opening Night Gala presentation of Chris Dowling’s ROCK SLYDE will kick start a program that will feature 60 films, including 16 features, 34 shorts, and 10 student films as well as 2 webisodes. Along with the films offered throughout the festival, additional activities will include the film festival’s signature “yellow” carpet entrances (in honor of FGFF’s sunflower logo), live musical performances in the Egyptian Theatre courtyard presented by Audiorents, an original screenplay competition, an original song competition, a panel discussion, and a Closing Night Awards Gala, hosted by Brian Krause (“Charmed”) highlighted by a Tribute to film and television legend, Ed Asner.

ROCK SLYDE will screen as the Opening Night Gala feature film presentation on Friday, August 7. Written and directed by Chris Dowling, the film stars Patrick Warburton as an eccentric private detective balancing an office building turf war with a religious cult leader played by Andy Dick and a bizarre case involving a mysterious and beautiful woman (Rena Sofer). The film also stars Elaine Hendrix, with a number of cameo appearances including Jason Alexander, Eric Roberts, Lea Thompson and Tom Bergeron. The screening will mark the film’s Los Angeles Premiere with Warburton, Dick and Alexander all confirmed to attend and participate with the director, Dowling in a Q&A at the conclusion of the screening.

Also screening as part of the Opening Night Gala will be the short films FURTISSIMO, directed by Jacob Cementina, and TRUE BEAUTY THIS NIGHT, written and directed by Peter Besson.

Dowling expressed his happiness that ROCK SLYDE will enjoy its L.A. premiere as the FGFF Opening Night Gala, saying “Our cast and crew are thrilled to be having our West Coast premiere at the opening night of the Feel Good Film Festival.  We feel the FGFF represents an aspect of independent filmmaking that is largely forgotten – having fun and making people laugh.  We look forward to screening at the historic Egyptian theatre, walking the yellow carpet and having some fun.”

In addition to the Closing Night Tribute honoring Ed Asner, the Gala ceremonies will include the presentation of filmmaker awards. The awards will include prizes with a total value of $7750 ($3000 in goods and services from SLX Rentals and Sales, $3000 in goods and services from Hollywood Rentals, $1500 in film stock from Fuji Film, and a copy of Final Draft Version 8) for the winner of the Best Feel Good Feature Length Film and $3750 ($1500 in goods and services from SLX Rentals and Sales, $1000 in goods and services from Hollywood Rentals, $1000 in film stock from Fuji Film, and a copy of Final Draft Version 8) for the winner of the Best Feel Good Short Film.

In addition, prizes that total $1250 ($1000 in goods and services from Hollywood Rentals and a copy of Final Draft Version 8) will be given to the Audience Award winner for Best Feel Good Feature Film, and $250 (a copy of Final Draft Version 8) will go to the Audience Award for Best Feel Good Short Film.

The Panther Award for Best Cinematography brings with it $3000 in goods and services from SLX Rentals and Sales, the Best Feel Good Screenplay takes a prize worth $1000 (an InkTip online membership, a copy of Final Draft Version 8 and a $500 unrestricted cash prize from the Feel Good Film Festival), Best Original Song receives $500 in unrestricted cash from the Feel Good Film Festival), and the winner of the Feel Good Student Film category will enjoy $800 in goods and services from SLX Rentals and Sales as well as a one week complimentary tuition package at the New York Film Academy.

This year will also mark the addition of an award presented to the brand new Feel Good Webisode category,as well as honors to be announced for Best Art Direction, Best Directing, Best Actress and Best Actor.

Regarding the announcement of FGFF’s second year, Festival Founder and Co-Director Kristen Ridgway says, “The second year of the film festival promises to build on the success and fun all of us enjoyed as we launched FGFF last year. As much as we (obviously) had hoped to have a successful film festival, we were all blown away by the overwhelming turnout and response by the filmmakers and fans alike to our “happy” counter-programming. And ROCK SLYDE, with priceless performances by both Patrick Warburton and Andy Dick, could not be a better choice to start the festival with a bang and a lot of laughs.”
FGFF Co-Director America Young agreed and emphasized the addition of the webisodes section as well as a new “After Hours: Feel Good Enlightened double feature on Friday night as evidence of the growth of the programming this year saying, “Using the concept of ‘feel good’ films or entertainment as a leaping off point, rather than a constraint has been a central focus in our second year. We’re excited by the opportunity to not simply entertain, but to also explore and expand the definition with our audiences”.

FGFF will also screen the winning entry of an online competition co-sponsored by the festival on  That film will be chosen from a lineup including Marc Havener’s AND WHAT REMAINS, Marin Rosete’s BASKET BRONX, Patrick Taggart’s CHARLIE APPLEBEE, Jeremy Provost’s DAYS OF BEING WRINKLE FREE, Maurice Moore’s THE SAVIOR, Matt Sklar’s STAYING GOLD: LOVE, SEX AND HAPPINESS IN OUR GOLDEN YEARS, and Conor Britain’s YOU WIN SOME YOU LOSE SOME.

The Feel Good Film Festival lineup will represent nine countries, including the U.S, U.K., Thailand, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Ireland, Netherlands and Canada.

Festival passes and tickets are available for purchase on

The Feel Good Film Festival’s films are as follows:

FEATURE LENGTH FILMS (in alphabetical order):

ALWAYS WILL (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Michael Sammaciccia
Cast:        Andrew Baglini, Noelle Meixell, Mark Schroeder

BITTER/SWEET (Thailand/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Jeff Hare
Cast:        Kip Pardue, James Brolin, Laura Sorenson, Napakpapha  Nakprasitte

Dir:        Cass Warner
Subjects:    Debbie Reynolds, Denis Hopper, Angie Dickinson

DANCE OF THE DRAGON (Singapore/narrative)
Dir:        Max Mannix, John Radel
Cast:        Hyuk Jang, Fann Wong, Jason Scott Lee

FINDING LENNY (South Africa/narrative)
Dir:        Neal Sundstrom
Cast:        Barry Hilton, Russel Savadier

Dir:        Michael Spence
Cast:        Michael Flynn, Jimmy Chunga, Tayva Patch

JESUS PEOPLE (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Jason Naumann
Cast:        Wendi McLendon-Covey, Laura Silverman, Mindy Sterling, Tim  Bagley, Jennifer Elise Cox

LILY (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Hiroshi Nakajima
Cast:        Josh Long, Renevva Jensen, John Bolen

LOVE SIMPLE (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Mark von Sternberg
Cast:        Francisco Solorzano, Patrizia Hernandez

PAPER OR PLASTIC (USA/documentary)
Dir:        Alex D. da Silva, Justine Jacob

ROCK SLYDE (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Chris Dowling
Cast:        Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, Rena Sofer, Elaine Hendrix, Jamie Alexander, Jason Alexander, Eric Roberts, Tom Bergeron, Lea Thompson

Dir:        George Kachadorian

SOMETHING UNKNOWN (Netherlands/documentary)
Dir:        Renee Scheltema

SUMMERHOOD (Canada/narrative)
Dir:        Jacob Madjuck, Tony Dean Smith
Cast:        Jacob Medjuck, Raquel Alessi, Joe Fleherty, (narration by) John  Cusack

Dir/Scr:    Ann Calamia
Cast:        Anthony Natale, Sabrina Lloyd, Lupe Ontiveros, Margot Kidder, Robert Picardo

2012 – WE’RE ALREADY IN IT (UK & USA/documentary)
Dir:        Patty Greer

SHORT FILMS (in alphabetical order):

A SUMMER RAIN (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Ela Thier

BE GOOD (UK/narrative)
Dir:        Barney Cokeliss

BILLY (Australia/narrative)
Dir:        Matthew Graham

Dir:        Rocky Benoit

Dir/Scr:    Bragi Schut

CRAVINGS (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Jane Sablow

Dir/Scr:    Veronica DiPippo

DANZAK (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Gabiel Yepes

Dir:        Tyler J. Kupferer

FURTISSIMO (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Jacob Cementina

GRANDE DRIP (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Angelo Restaino

HIS GOOD WILL (Canada & USA/narrative)
Dir:        Cayman Grant

ICE CREAM (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Dawn Asher, Alex Beh

KATE WAKES (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Jasmine Kosovic

Dir:        Chelsey D’Arrigo, Brandi Kosloy, Nani Dickinson, Charlie Vaughn

THE LAUNDRY (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Alex Beh

THE LITTLE CEO (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Sari Karplus

Dir:        Julie Sagalowsky

Dir:        Ryan Falkner

MUGGING (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Jason Benesh

RIMSHOT (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Kirk Diedrich

Dir:        Canyon Prince

SCENIC ROUTE (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Jonathan Fredrick

Dir/Scr:    Jonathan Rothell

SLICE OF PIE (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Tim Reischauer

SWEETENER (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Paul Preston

TAH DAH (Canada/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Stacey Chomiak

THAT’S MAGIC! (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Brandon McCormick

Dir:        Peter Besson

WEATHERED (USA/narrative)
Dir/Scr:    Matt Barber, Matt Webb

WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON (Ireland/narrative)
Dir:        Declan Cassidy

WHEN I GROW UP (USA/narrative)
Dir:        Michelle Meeker

Dir/Scr:    Cindy Chupack

STUDENT FILMS (in alphabetical order):

Dir:        Dan Clifton

Dir/Scr:    Natalie Williams

Dir:        Kunal Savkur

Dir/Scr:    Matthew Morgenthaler

Dir:        Dana Jones

Dir:        Zander Hartung

Dir:         Abbey Paccia

STRIKE (Australia)
Dir:        Jenna Dunkley

Dir:        Jason Gerber

Dir/Scr:    Wesley Ruby

WEBISODES (in alphabetical order):

Dir:        America Young

Dir:        Brinton Bryan

SCREENPLAY COMPETITION (in alphabetical order):

Writer:        Debrah Neal

Writer:        Travis Mann, David White, Michael Toay

Writer:        Karen Webb

Writer:        Andrew Arneson

Writer:        Miguel Rionda

Writer:        Jason Ginsburg

ORIGINAL SONG COMPETITION (in alphabetical order):

Chris and Steve
Music & Lyrics:    Freddy & Francine

Dandelion Dharma
Music & Lyrics:    Marc Aramian, James Geralden, Veronica DiPeppo

Music & Lyrics:    Merykid

Lucky Loser
Music & Lyrics:    Stephen Hampar

Music & Lyrics:    Stephanie Batailler, Skyebat

Music & Lyrics:    Land of Deborah

The Way to Dance
Music & Lyrics:    Matt Daniels

You’re Not Listening
Music & Lyrics:    Rob Giles

Music & Lyrics:    Zoe Myers