Super 8 Ball
Calling all amateur filmmakers and cinema connoisseurs: The sixth annual One-Take Super 8 Event will occur on Saturday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. at 451 S. Warren St., near the intersection with East Onondaga Street. Twenty-seven local filmmakers and filmmaking teams will be screening short films in a non-competitive environment.
The rules are simple. Each year, participants are given a Super 8 camera and a single roll of film to shoot a movie. The footage is then sent to New York City for processing, after which all the movies are screened in front of a live audience. No editing or post-production is allowed, and nobody knows what the footage looks like until it’s projected at the event, including organizers Jason Kohlbrenner and Kyle Corea. Music and sound effects are played live.
“That’s one of the most interesting parts, because usually when you share work, you’re ready to share it. You’ve spent time editing it and it’s ready. There’s some anxiousness and nervousness involved in having a projector start clicking, motor running, and then seeing what you have,” Corea said. “That whole process of surprise can be rewarding. You can have something magical come out that you didn’t expect to see, or things be a lot different from what you perceive while you’re shooting it. It’s a fun experience to try.”
Participants are free to make whatever kind of film they want. Some filmmakers go the avant-garde route, while others take a traditional narrative approach. The results are often surprising. “Last year we had a great film by a filmmaker who used his nephews to make a Mario and Luigi movie,” Kohlbrenner said. “There’s just so many that are out there, everything has been enjoyable for me. I just love the fact that people are creating.”
Alex Rogalski, now a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and, in 2000, at HotDocs in Regina, Saskatchewan, started the event. His friend and fellow filmmaker Brett Kashmere brought the event to Syracuse in 2006, using it as a launch pad to inaugurate Syracuse Experimental, an organization of local independent filmmakers. Syracuse Experimental members Corea, Kohlbrenner, and the latter’s wife, Briana, have been running things ever since.
Super 8 has a reputation as an easy-to-use format that amateurs can handle. Many industry veterans cut their teeth on Super 8, and it’s still used today by filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Harmony Korine and Oliver Stone.
“It has this quality aesthetically that’s kind of grainy and like old home movies, but there’s no other type of film camera that you can use like this. The next step up is 16mm and that’s almost inaccessible to the general public,” Corea said. “Super 8 is a very portable and user-friendly medium, and it doesn’t compare to anything on video or look like other film stock. And they don’t really make 8mm film anymore so even to have Super 8 existing in 2012 is pretty unique. We’re trying to keep it alive.”
Corea is a co-owner of the Syracuse University-based restaurant Funk N’ Waffles and originally used the venue as a site for the event. However, attendance grew so large that last year it was moved to a vacant storefront known affectionately as “The Bank.” More than 150 people attended, and Syracuse Experimental hopes this year will be even more successful.
“Every year about half the participants are first-timers and the other half are just continuing on with it,” Kohlbrenner said. “We usually have a couple people participating as filmmakers who went to the event last year for the first time and want to give it a try.”
Admission is $5. For more information, visit super8syracuse.blogspot.com.
Laugh Out Loud
Three big-time comedians walk into a bar. “Where are you playing this weekend?” the bartender asks. “Syracuse,” says the first. “Syracuse,” says the second. “Syracuse,” says the third. “All together?” the bartender responds. “Syracuse,” they reply in unison.
The upcoming collision of comedy begins with Aziz Ansari on Friday, April 13, 8 p.m., at the Onondaga County War Memorial, 800 S. State St. Then Daniel Tosh offers two sold-out shows at the Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. The Landmark also caps the weekend with a 7 p.m. gig featuring Gabriel Iglesias on Sunday, April 15.
The super-saturation of standup in the Salt City this weekend may have come about by chance, but the powers-that-be with each booking organization seem unruffled by the unexpected competition.
Denise DeRienzo, executive director of the Landmark, sees no real problem with the crowded schedule. “Comedy generally does very well for us,” she said. “It’s always a popular seller.” The Landmark is a rental house and therefore doesn’t book its own shows. But DiRienzo said the promoters were confident each show would draw a very different audience and the two, therefore, would not work against each other.
Tosh was originally booked for just one show, which sold out in less than an hour. The promoters scheduled a second performance, which sold out within three days, DiReienzo noted. Ticket sales for Iglesias’ Sunday night booking haven’t been as strong—a little more than half of the 2,900 available seats have been sold as of a week before the concert, according to Ticketmaster. Iglesias’ tickets are available for $40; visit Ticketmaster’s web site or call the Landmark’s box office, 475-7980, for more information. And unlike the other comics’ randy shticks, Iglesias’ show is family-friendly.
Ansari’s show, part of his new “Dangerously Delicious” tour, is presented by Syracuse University’s University Union student organization, although townies can get in for $30. Ducats are available through Ticketmaster or the Oncenter box office, 760 S. State St. (435-8000). According to DiRienzo, “Ansari was booked several months after our shows were contracted.”
University Union doesn’t seem too concerned about the comical competition, however. Amanda Shaw, co-director of performing arts for UU, says the Ansari show was officially announced on Jan. 22. “Honestly, I didn’t know at the time that there were two other comedians in town that weekend,” Shaw said. “But I really don’t think it affects us.”
UU decided to hold Ansari’s show at the Onondaga County War Memorial, which accommodates a larger crowd than SU’s Goldstein Auditorium (where such events are usually held)—6,600 seats vs. 1,500. While the Carrier Dome may seem a more logical venue for an SU-sponsored event, Shaw said it wasn’t a good fit. “Comedians tend to not want to play a venue that big,” she said. “It’s just not as intimate of a setting.”
Shaw was unable to divulge exact sales numbers, but cited an estimate a bit shy of 3,000 sold just nine days before the War Memorial show. “With college students we usually see a lot of last-minute sales,” she noted. “Everyone gets their ticket the week of the show.” Shaw expects they will sell roughly 1,000 more tickets before the performance.
Still, it’s difficult to ignore the nearly 6,000 people who bought tickets to Tosh’s show, two weeks after Ansari had been announced. The two comedians appeal to a common demographic: young people. Tosh’s TV show on Comedy Central, Tosh.0, is essentially America’s Funniest Home Videos for millennials, curating select YouTube videos for viewers. In 2010, the show reached No. 1 for its time slot among men 18-24 with nearly 3 million viewers. The 36-year-old comedian has more than 5 million followers on Twitter.
Ansari, too, is big among the college-age demographic. In addition to his uproarious role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, he has hosted the MTV Video Awards and starred in films with Jesse Eisenberg (30 Minutes or Less), Adam Sandler (Funny People), Jason Segel (I Love You, Man) and Seth Rogen (Observe and Report). Ansari has plenty of funny bits of business, too, such as his riff on Coldstone Creamery: “I couldn’t even get a small because their sizes are ‘Like it,’ ‘Love it,’ and ‘Gotta have it!’ What kind of crackhead terminology is that?”
In a survey conducted by UU in the fall, 53 percent of SU students ranked Ansari among the top three comedians they would like to see come to Syracuse. Jamie Berman, Shaw’s fellow co-director of performing arts at UU, said this weekend was selected “due to venue availability, artist availability and consideration of university holidays and vacations.”
UU’s entertainment selections have created some buzz on the Hill this year. In February, UU held the first “Rock the Dome” concert, featuring Ludacris and Rick Ross, selling around 7,000 of the 9,500 available tickets for the Carrier Dome show. The recently announced lineup for the annual Block Party, including Kaskade and Cold War Kids, received harsh criticism from the SU student body. A poll released by The Daily Orange cited more than 60 percent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the musical selection. Moreover, the Twitter hashtag #ThingsIdRatherDoThanGoToBlockParty became a trending topic less than 24 hours after the announcement.
And before the weekend’s comic choices commence, Eastwood’s Palace Theatre, 2384 James St., will host Australian comedian Jim Dailakis on Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m., as part of a benefit for local boxing booster Ray Rinaldi that also includes a screening of Big City Knights, a drama from Canastota auteur-actor Tim Scanlon. Admission is $15; call 436-4723 for details.