Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Robot Attack?

Yes, that is correct, humanity must sally forth and fight in defense of the earth's biomass.

Ironic, eh?

It has become clear that I did not announce/plug/whore the DVD release of "Automatons".

Well consider yourself endirtied (yes, endirtied) with the filth of self promotion. I've added it to the little amazon bar down there to the right so you can pick it up any time. And just in time, I might add. I am meeting the auteur, Monsieur McKenney, this afternoon. He has descended on our little hamlet from his Fortress of Tiny Dogs upstate to attend the New York Comicon and, ostensibly, promote the DVD. Of course, what he is really doing is adding to his Full Room of collectibles. A full room. Large. With shelves.

In any case, it would be awkward to see him, knowing I had forgotten to plug the damn movie. So now it's done. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you can read about the process here, and then here. You'll need to scroll to the bottom and work your way up the posts, as I was lazy about layout when I had to do it myself.

It is by far the most well reviewed movie we've done, which has led to it playing in festivals all over the world. (This weekend, London.) The response on Netflix has been less positive, to say the least. Of course, the average renter always hates what we've put out there, and I think I've had an epiphany about this.

I've been a part of projects that had major problems and were disliked by critics and the Rating Public. I completely understand that, but I've been mystified by how a project I've done can get great reviews and just awful User Ratings. I think I realize now that the Rating Divide on these low-tier distribution movies is based on expectation. The one or two Raters who did like the movie compared it with movies like Eraserhead. They had a frame of reference to place the movie in, and judged it on those merits. This is how a movie like "White Chicks" ends up with a netflix rating 100% better than ours. I'm not going to say Automatons is a great movie, but I am going to say that I watched most of "White Chicks", just to prove how tough I was, and that movie never even tried to be good. It plain stinks on ice, but, people were able to see commercials for it, saw the preview at movie theaters and knew what they were in for if they went to see it. So they didn't.

What they did do was rent it. And when they rented it they knew what they were in for. They had a frame of reference to view it within. With a movie like "Automatons", at the bottom of the distribution company's priorities, all you get is the box art on a website and a blurb. You see it as a new sci-fi release, look at a 100 x 150 pixel rendering of the box and put it in your queue. Eventually it arrives, in the same exact envelope and disc cover "Transformers" and "Rashoman" came in. You pop it in are gobsmacked. What the hell is this? Is it some sort of joke? F this! And you storm over to your computer to try and save others from this awful fate. Had you seen previews, had you seen ads, you would have been expecting the style and either decided not to watch it or watched it and let it succeed or fail based on what it was trying to do.

I realize this may sound defensive, now that I think about it, but I've been honestly puzzled about this until I started putting this blog post together, tracking down the links for the movie site, with it's lists of great reviews, and the movie on Netflix, with its 1.7 rating,and it all came together. It's also a lot easier to look at this one objectively, as my performance takes place inside a robot suit, which does great things for an actor's anxiety.

That my previous performances seem delivered from inside some sort of stiff exoskeleton, that I've got no answer for...

It was a beast to make, in a small warehouse in the dog days of summer with no AC, but watching the "making of" footage, I was brought right back to just how goddamn fun it is to make things with people you enjoy. Kind of why I'm still swinging a hammer, I guess...

Oh...that, and I have no other skills....


  1. Oh...that, and I have no other skills....

    I bet you have skills you haven't recognized yet.

  2. Anonymous4:17 PM EDT

    May I suggest you call our friend in London and get in touch with Shakespeare? I see you as an Othello with Echo and the Bunnymen's 'Killing Moon' as the background music.

  3. I admire you for being able to swing a hammer. I think even Habitat for Humanity would send me home. Two years of construction as my first job and my wrists didn't stand up to the beating. I bet your main skill in life is being agreeable...I doubt many people say, "I hate working with Don."...and if they did you could whack 'em with a hammer.