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Confessions of a Working Director - Oct 20th, 2009

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SURVIVING CINEMA
Confessions Of A Working Director
By Eric Stanze

October 19, 2009

In my last blog, I talked about issue 10 of the great Ultra Violent Magazine.  I've been a fan of the 'zine for years, but I brought it up in my blog because issue 10 contains a big honkin' interview with me.  Within a week or two of getting my hands on UV Magazine issue 10, I also held in my hands another fine example of ink printed on paper.

A few months ago I was contacted by Film Threat writer Phil Hall.  He told me he was writing a book called "The History Of Independent Cinema" and that he wanted each chapter to end with a different top ten list of 'The Most Important Independent Films Of All Time'. 

Phil was contacting various film historians, journalists, and filmmakers to ask them if they'd like to contribute a list and write a short mini-essay on each film in their list.  I happily joined the project and went to work writing my 'Ten Most Important Independent Films Of All Time' list, with in-depth analysis of why each film was on my list.

When the book was finally published, I saw that my Top Ten list capped off Chapter One.  My mini-essays on each film were too long, so Mr. Hall had to edit them down a bit - but he respectfully and expertly maintained the original essence of what I'd written (except that maybe my praise for the film Blood Cult was a bit too heavily abridged - but that's a minor quibble). 

My 'Top Ten Most Important Independent Films Of All Time' list was comprised of the following movies, in order of release:  Fred Ott's Sneeze, The Great Train Robbery, Meshes Of The Afternoon, Night Of The Living Dead, Easy Rider, THX 1138, Deep Throat, Dawn Of The Dead, Blood Cult, and Reservoir Dogs.  To find out why each film is on my list, you'll have to buy Mr. Hall's book!

It was interesting to see the other contributors' Top Ten lists.  There was a lot of crossover.  Night Of The Living Dead, Meshes Of The Afternoon, and THX 1138 popped up more often than I expected they would.  I was the only contributor to list Blood Cult and a porn film!

I started glancing through the book and I was pretty impressed.  Phil Hall seems to have attacked this material from all directions and distilled his findings down to a lean and entertaining 300 pages, packed with info and insight.  (I decided immediately that I'd start reading "The History Of Independent Cinema" cover to cover, just as soon as I finish "Videodrome: Studies In The Horror Film" by Tim Lucas.)

Thumbing through the pages of "The History Of Independent Cinema" one particular section of the book caught my eye: Today's 20 Top Underground Filmmakers. 

I started reading this section, and much to my surprise, Mr. Hall included in this list one Eric Stanze!  Following my name was a half-page summary of my career that was insightfully and intelligently written.  What a wonderful thing to stumble upon. 

It is certainly an honor to be considered one of the "Top 20" in a world where hundreds (or thousands?) of low-budget indie filmmakers are fighting to carve out a niche for themselves.  How about that... First Ultra Violent Magazine, and now a respected writer from Film Threat - two film journalism sources I hold in high regard - throwing some nice encouragement my way.

Speaking of independent filmmaking - here comes my parting shameless plug - if you are an indie filmmaker, you now have an opportunity to secure your own position as one of the best.  The clock is ticking down to the entry deadline for The Cinema Edge Awards.  The film that wins Best Feature wins a distribution deal with VCI Entertainment, one of the most successful and longest-running distributors in America!

VCI's catalog of documentaries, European cinema, classic television, and cult films includes Dario Argento's Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Mario Bava's Blood And Black Lace, the horror classic Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, the 1951 holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the Sonny Chiba movie Street Fighter, S.F. Brownrigg's grindhouse chiller Don't Look In The Basement, and the John Carpenter / Dan O'Bannon collaboration Dark Star, to name only a few.  Want to add your feature film to this impressive list... and collect the checks from sales of your movie?  Enter The Cinema Edge Awards... before time runs out!

Thanks for reading!

- Eric Stanze

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