Tour Tips is Danny Plotnick's 18th film. For the past fourteen years Plotnick has been an integral part of the San Francisco film community, as well as the underground film scene nationally. In addition to making 18 films, he has released three videotape compilations which have garnered international distribution, embarked on five national film tours, two European film tour and has taught numerous seminars on a variety of film topics.
The past several years have been particularly busy. In addition to completing Tour Tips, Plotnick undertook a film tour of Europe, projected films at The Terrastock West music festival, put on free film shows in S.F. at Bloodshot Cafe, The House of Low Self-Esteem, curated a show of teen films at Yerba Buena Center for The Arts, a show of experimental work at El Rio Outdoor Cinema, an all night screening at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, taught numerous film classes at Film Arts Foundation, San Francisco State University, University High School, California State Summer School For the Arts (an acclaimed high school arts program in Southern California), programmed several hundred film classes as part of his full-time job at Film Arts Foundation and made Swingers' Serenade, a 24 minute 16mm short. Swingers' Serenade has had over 40 screenings in the past year, receiving numerous festival awards.
Like Swingers' Serenade, many of Plotnick's other films continue to show at various festivals and nationally curated screenings around the country.
In addition to his latest European jaunt, he has undertaken three tours of the Pacific Northwest, one of the Southland, one of the East Coast and one of Holland, showing his films along with works by other Bay Area and Midwest filmmakers. The tours have been quite successful, featuring screenings at traditional independent film venues like New York's Knitting Factory, Seattle's 911 Media Arts Center and Olympia's Capitol Theatre, as well as more alternative spaces like Portland's Howling Frog Cafe and Baltimore's Mansion Theater. Plotnick is a fervent supporter of short independent films and through projects like compilation tapes and film tours hopes to broaden the audience for independent filmmaking. Such endeavors help bring alternative cinema to people who might not normally have the opportunity to see these types of films.
Also, as one of this country's biggest super 8 advocates, he is constantly fielding calls about the technical and aesthetic questions regarding low-budget filmmkaing. In 1996 Plotnick presented a collection of American small gauge films for a visiting group of Dutch journalists and filmmakers. His film Pillow Talk played at the MOMA in New York as part of the Big As Life series which focuses on the history of super 8. In addition, Plotnick often speaks at festivals and film organizations on alternative distribution and touring.
For More Information contact: Danny Plotnick, PO BOX 460472,
SF, CA 94146
(415) 452-9323, firstname.lastname@example.org
MY RANT ( circa1994)
Super 8 gets a bum rap in the film community. The perception that it looks brown and sounds crappy is maddening. Granted, the medium does have its idiosyncrasies and limitations, but no questions asked, one can make a kick-ass, sharp looking and pristine sounding piece in no time for no money.
There are several keys to working effectively in super 8. First off, one has to treat it as its own unique medium, not as a mini-16mm. Super 8 has its own strengths and limitations that don’t necessarily correlate to 16mm. Once you gets a grasp of these, you’re on your way to producing work that looks as good and, technically speaking, sounds better than its 16mm counterpart.
Another important thing to keep in mind with 8mm is the need to mentally have your chops up when you’re making a film. The toughest thing about s/8 is there’s little room for error. Unlike 16mm, where the lab can save your ass in any number of ways, s/8 is a very unforgiving medium. If you record your image poorly or you mess up your sync sound in the production phase, you’re in deep shit. Basically, you’re not allowed any mental lapses in production or pre-production, which ultimately is a good thing— It makes editing a relative cake walk.
When people do tout s/8, it usually revolves around the money issue—that it’s cheaper to work in s/8 than 16. To me, that’s not the main advantage of super 8, because ultimately, all film formats are expensive these days. Super 8 is less expensive, but it’s still expensive. There’s nothing cheap about it.
To my mind, the main advantage of s/8 is the immediacy that comes from working with reversal stocks and single system sound. Though less hearty filmmakers blanche at the notion of cutting camera original, I think that one gets to know and appreciate their film a lot more when they put their fingerprints on it. I’m sure that sounds pretty hippie dippie, but I know that one’s methodology of creating art manifests itself in the artwork and, that said, the immediacy and intimacy that comes from super 8’s methods of production do make for more vital and exciting works.
Also, and maybe more importantly, you could, if you wanted, make an entire film, start to finish in two weeks. No edge codes to keep track of, no conforming, no pesky negative to cut, no dealing with syncing mag and picture, no answer prints, no waiting around for months to find a spare $2,000 to finish your 12 minute film. None of those headaches. Just plug your mic directly into your camera, send the film to the lab, get it back, edit it on your kitchen table, grab your projector and go have a show.
It’s that simple....really.
...Well...Uh...(Addendum to rant, circa 1999)
All right, in theory I still agree with my vitriolic championing of super 8, but times have changed. Kodak has scrapped sound super 8 stocks—a devastating blow to sync sound filmmakers like myself. Strangely, Kodak’s moves helped put a hot iron in the butts of many a marginalized filmmaker and the hue and cry to save super 8 was heard loudly. Kodak even introduced a new silent super 8 stock. So sure, we can all pat ourselves on the back, but the unfortunate reality is there are still no sound stocks, thus severely limiting what one can accomplish with super 8. One can still tackle subjects with a wide variety of techniques and styles, but sync sound is gone from the palette and that sucks. If you ever want to hear some rip-roaring dialogue, you’re pretty much out of luck...unless you want to shoot 16mm or DV. In the past year, I shot two films. I, Socky is a short film which I accomplished with my tried and true ways on super 8. The film didn’t call for sync, so I was able to shoot silently and add sound in post (quite expeditiously I might add by utilizing a digital sampler). The other film Swingers’ Serenade necessitated sync sound. The film was also a b&w period piece. Since b&w super 8 print stocks don’t exist in the States and sync sound doesn’t exist in super 8, there was no choice but to use 16mm. In super 8, the film simply wouldn’t be up to snuff. Don’t worry though, I just tell people I’m embracing a new dying medium.
TOUR TIPS: LESSON #14
Beware The Day Off In New Orleans
Original Format: Postcards and Photographs
Screening Format: Mini DV, vhs
Ever wonder what it's like to go on tour with your film, band, poetry or art? Well it's not all glad-handing, schmoozing, free drink tickets and adoring audiences. Along the way there are some dark, dank and humiliating moments. The Tour Tips series will address some of these pitfalls to better prepare the travelling artiste for his or her journey down the wrong side of the road.
Tour Tips can be viewed on-line at: http://www.kqed.org/tv/productions/intensitytv/films/tourtips.html#
A tawdry tale of suburban sexual malaise plus a lesson in arcane film history rolled into one sin-tillating package!
In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, when home movie making was at its peak, this nation’s newsstands were filled with amateur movie making magazines. The majority of the articles contained therein focused on the technical concerns of filmmaking. Some magazines, however, would actually provide their subscribers with scripts to shoot—scripts on which these would-be cineastes could hone their filmic chops. In and of itself, there was nothing unseemly about such a service. But upon closer inspection, some of these scripts were, to say the least, rather randy.
One such script, entitled Swingers’ Serenade, was published in the July/August 1960 issue of Better Movie Making. The script seems quite ahead of its time, replete with lurid sexual dynamics, hints of loose sexual mores, swinging couples, lecherous Fuller Brush salesmen, voyeuristic suburbanites and more.
The film you’re about to see, Swingers’ Serenade, offers up both a history of the amateur movie magazine world and a rendering of the original script of Swingers’ Serenade, shot, to the best of our knowledge, as the publishers of the July/August 1960 issue of Better Movie Making had intended.
The film stars singer/songwriter and Loud Family keyboardist Alison Faith Levy (who also happens to be the wife of the director), Jay Hinman (publisher of Superdope magazine), Miles Montalbano (bass player of Black Kali Ma) and actor extrordinaire Chris Enright (Tom from Sarah Jacobson’s Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore).
The film’s sleazy soundtrack was written and performed by local supergroup The Snugglers. The band features the aforementioned Levy and Montalbano, in addition to Gil Ray (drummer, Loud Family), John Moremen (John Moremen band) and Jon Birdsong (Beck, Mushroom).
Swingers' Serenade can be seen periodically on the Independent Film Channel. Check their program guide for times.
Written, Directed, Edited, Produced by Danny Plotnick.
Cinematography: Danny Plotnick & Kurt Keppeler
Starring: Alison Faith Levy (Wife), Miles Montalbano (Salesman), Jay Hinman (Husband), Chris Enright (Professor)
Music by: The Snugglers (Alison Levy, Miles Montalbano, Gil Ray, Jon Birdsong, John Moremen)
Sound Design & Composition: Alison Faith Levy
film by Danny Plotnick & Alison Levy
1998, color, sound, 7 min. 30 sec.
A rogue sock monkey hits the town on a big day out. I, Socky was shot and edited on super 8. The film showcases super 8’s rich Kodachrome palette and its guerrilla aesthetic.
Alison Levy is a musician who has released three solo records. She also plays in a number of San Francisco bands including the Loud Family, Mushroom and Sonoptic. She has scored a number of films including Danny Plotnick’s PIPSQUEAK PfOLLIES and Swingers’ Serenade. The SF Jewish Film Festival commissioned her to write and perform a score for The Yellow Ticket starring Pola Negri. In addition to the SF festival, she has performed the score at the San Diego, Toronto and Boston Jewish Film Festivals. She has also performed and written a score for The Golem which was performed at SF’s Other Cinema program which is curated by Craig Baldwin.
Levy has also acted in the films of SF filmmakers Plotnick, Sarah Jacobson and Kurt Keppeler.
I, Socky is her directorial debut.
Written & Directed by Danny Plotnick & Alison Levy
Edited & Shot by Danny Plotnick
Starring, Socky, Anthony Bedard, Lisa Recker
Sound Mix by Ray Wilcox
Also see the I, Socky website.
1996, 50:00 minutes
I'm Not Fascinating--The Movie! chronicles the pointless shenanigans of rock 'n' roll ne'er-do-wells The Icky Boyfriendsand their futile quest for rock 'n' roll stardom. Undaunted by the universal hatred of both their music and their look, the band perseveres, netting themselves a hefty major label contract. But stardom proves elusive as they descend into a world of murder, intrigue, nepotism, consumer research groups, excessive use of caffeine-laden soda pop and death. Who kills the Ickys? You'll wish you had! One of the most resplendent footnotes of rock 'n' roll anti-history ever to grace the silver screen.
Produced and written with Anthony Bedard.
Starring: Chris Enright (Steel Belted Romeos, Pillow Talk), Claudia Vlasak, Ray Wilcox (Steel Belted Romeos, PIPSQUEAK PfOLLIES) and a veritable who's who of S.F. rock 'n' roll scenesters including Dave Nudelman (Three Stoned Men, Garbage Knight) Eric Grotke (Starpimp), Scott Derr (Blackjack Records, Monoshock), Kelly Green (Pee), Alison Faith Levy (Alison Faith Levy), Terri Weist (Seasaw), Leslie Q. (Olympia's Leslie Q.), Kurt Keppeler (Hank Stram), Dominique Lowell (poet), Ovarian Trolley (drum kit only), the ubiquitous L'il Mike (Kommotion) and more.
1994, 24:00 minutes
A twisted tale wherein lots of little kids with metal teeth and bad ideas terrorize an unsuspecting ne'er-do-well. Painstakingly details all the crap little kids can get away with. Young at heart and mean in spirit it's a 24 minute joy ride. Score by Alison Faith Levy
1991, 18:00 minutes
film by Danny Plotnick/Laura Rosow
Extreme manipulation of filmic time and space combined with an impressionistic lighting scheme help create an urban spaces nightmare. They're fighting downstairs, they're fucking next door, they're stealing your clothes in the laundry room, and you're no better than the rest. Loquacious & lugubrious. Sorta like Jeanne Dielmanmeets Laverne and Shirley.
1990, 10:00 minutes
A tale of backwoods blacktop mayhem--Two dim-witted, lead-footed guidos from Bayonne, New Jersey bust through stoplight after stoplight in their turbo-charged, bad-assed, jet-black Pontiac Grand Prix until their mean machine nearly eighty-sixes another hunk of American steel. And that's just the start of it...A confrontation, an assault, fists-a-flying, and traffic violations.
1988, 6:40 min
In the middle of the Nevada desert, two lunkheads get tossed out of separate cars by their so-called friends. One guy is wearing a Twisted Sister t-shirt and one is wearing a Kiss t-shirt. They don't like each other. They have problems.
Shot on location in Dayton, Nevada. A relatively enjoyable experience other than the camera breaking down three rolls of film into production forcing us to drive home (400 miles) and come back some other time which was just as pleasurable thanks to the car breaking down, the boom person passing out from the heat, the lead actress getting plastered, the camera breaking down again, and the weird old man at the gas station proudly shining his ancient Michigan State Police badge and saying things like, "Ha! Drug store? Son, you're in Dayton, Nevada; there ain't nothin' in Dayton, Nevada."
A gang of female Skate Boarders and their pet rats terrorize all the boy skate boarders in town.
video compilation by Danny Plotnick & Jim Sikora
In an effort to find a greater audience than just the standard festival audience, Jim (a Chicago-based filmmaker) and myself released this compilation of our work. 8 films, 87 minutes. My films on the tape include Flip About Flip, Steel Belted Romes, Dumbass From Dundas, Pillow Talk. Jim's include Stagefright Chameleon, Bring Me the Head of Geraldo Rivera, Terminal Hotel, Love, After the Walls Close In.
We sold a bunch of these and got a decent amount of distribution both from film distributors and indie record distributors which seemed impressive since none of these films have anything to do with music.
Fancy cover artwork from graphic artiste Mark Dancey of MOTORBOOTY Magazine.
The original boxes were printed by me and my friend J.M. who works at a print shop. We couldn't find a die cut for video boxes, so we decided to do it ourselves. Biggest mistake of my life. To make these on your own, the flat piece of cardboard that ultimately becomes the box has to be scored 6 times in order to make smooth folds. Unfortunately for us, the automatic scorer made only one score very smoothly. The other five scores went against the grain of the cardboard and we therefore had to score 200 boxes by hand with five scores per box. That's 1,000 score marks by hand. It sucked. Then I had to fold, sand and glue the boxes by hand. Thankfully, a friend had just moved in from out of town and she crashed at my house for a month in the midst of all this and she felt guilty enough to do most of the work for me.
Still Available from Danny Plotnick. $20.
video compilation by Danny Plotnick, Philip Guilbeau, Laura Rosow, Dana Mendelssohn.
Same principal as above except we didn't sell that many. Contains my first film (see above) so in retrospect, I'm kinda glad we didn't sell that many.
Box Art by Dancey once again. Not as much of nightmare re: boxes as Small Gauge, however, not easy. I worked at a video house and was able, for free, to take those plastic, hard bound boxes. I would then cut and glue individual fronts, backs and binders onto each box.
Thankfully Out of Print!
SF FIlmmaker Kurt Keppeler (Leash Men, Fisherman, Clementine) and myself hit the road and took our films to the Northwest for shows in Eugene, Olympia, Seattle, Portland and Bellingham. Based on our car breakdown and the groupie that followed us from Seattle to Bellingham the tour is considered a success. Highlight: People stopped playing pool and watched our films in Eugene.
Spread the gospel by doing a bunch of super 8 demos along the way.
This time through I showed my films, Jim Sikora's and Philip Guilbeau's. No groupies or car trouble, but still a success. Highlight: Visited the Olympia Beer Factory. It was a free tour.
|TOUR TIPS: LESSON #14||2001||mini-DV, VHS||1:30 minutes|
Awards and Screenings:
Swingers’ Serenade: Recipient Alexander Payne Award @ 2000 Humboldt International Film Fest, 2nd Place (Narrative Category) @ 2000 Athens International Film Fest, 1999 Chicago Underground Film Fund Grant, Judges Commendation @ 1999 MicroCine Festival (Baltimore), Best Music & Best Props @ 1999 Ed Wood Memorial Film Fest. 2000 Screenings: Ann Arbor Film Fest, BBC Short Film Fest, Swiss Underground, ExGround Film Fest (Wiesbaden), One Reel Fest (Seattle), Seattle Underground Film Fest, AntiMatter Film Fest (Victoria), REVelation Independent Film Festival (Australia), New York Underground Film Fest, Brighton Cinemateque (Brighton, England), Incredibly Strange Film Fest (New Zealand), Anthology Film Archive (NYC), Boston Underground Film Fest, Cucalorus Film Fest (Wilmington, NC), Hi Mom Fest (Chapel Hill), East Lansing Film Fest, NoisePop Film Fest (SF), Golden Shower Film Fest (San Antonio), Nowhere X Nowhere Fest (Chico), Sick Puppy Film Fest (San Rafael). 1999 Screenings: Independent Feature Film Market (NYC), Mill Valley Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Fest, Film Arts Festival (SF), Manchester International Film Fest, Euro Underground Film Fest (Krakow, Toronto), Freaky Film Fest (Champaign-Urbana), Vera (Groningen, Holland), Flicker (L.A.), Agniel Gallery (Providence), Artists’ Television Access (SF), The Pagent Theater (Chico).
I, Socky: 2nd prize @ 1999 Brainwash Movie Fest (SF), Honorable Mention @ 1999 US Super 8 Film Fest (Rutgers).
2000 Screenings: REVelation Independent Film Fest (Australia), Incredibly Strange Film Fest (New Zealand), Boston Underground Film Fest. 1999 Screenings: Splice This! Film Fest (Toronto), Athens Film Fest, Chicago Underground Film Fest, Seattle Underground Film Fest, Golden Shower Film Fest (San Antonio), Freaky Film Fest (Champaign-Urbana), MicroCine Fest (Baltimore), Independent Exposure (Seattle), Peripheral Produce (Portland), Blinding Light Cinema (Vancouver), Blue Room (Chico). 1998 Screenings: Film Arts Foundation’s "Wild Kingdom" show (SF), Other Cinema (SF).
I’m Not Fascinating: 1999: Boston Underground Film Fest. 1997: Mid-Atlantic Skate & Sound Fest (North Carolina).
1996: Film Arts Festival (SF), Chicago Underground Film Fest, Festival On The Lake (Oakland), Yerba Buena Center For the Arts (SF), 911 Media Arts Center (Seattle), Clinton St. Theater (Portland), Edison Electric (Vancouver BC), Artist Television Access (SF), Image (Atlanta), The Casbah (SD), The Jabberjaw, The Viper Room & Midnight Special (LA), The Khyber Pass (Phil.), The Mansion Theater (Balt.), Limbo & The Knitting Factory (NYC), The Test Strip (Auckland, NZ), High Street Project (Christchurch, NZ).
Pipsqueak Pfollies: Banana Slug Award for Surrealism @ 1995 Humboldt International Film Fest. 3rd Prize (Student Category) @ 1995 Marin County National Short Film Festival. 1997: Atlanta Arts Festival. 1996: Slamdance Film Fest, Olympia Film Fest, Rough & Ruined Fest (Vancouver). 1995: Circle of Confusion Film Fest (Berlin), Athens International Film Fest, NY Underground Film Fest, Metropolitan Film Festival (Detroit). 1994: Chicago Underground Film Festival, 911 Media Arts Center (Seattle), Olympia Film Society, Clinton Street Theater (Portland), Western Washington University (Bellingham), John Henry’s (Eugene), Red Victorian Theater (SF), Eye Gallery (SF), Art Explosion Gallery (SF), San Francisco State University, Psychoanalytic Institute (Minneapolis).
Pillow Talk: 2000: Big As Life series, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Global Super 8 Day Screening (Portland). 1999: Boston Underground Fest. 1998: 3001 Kino (Hamburg). 1997: Freaky Film Fest (Champaign-Urbana ). 1993: Onion City Film Fest. 1992: Athens Internat’l Film Fest. 1991: Montreal Fest du Jeaune Cinema. 1991: Film Arts Fest (SF). 1990: Recipient Film Arts Production Grant.
Flip About Flip: 2000: Global Super 8 Day Screening (Seattle). 1999: Yerba Buena Center For the Arts (SF), Boston Underground Film Fest. 1996: Super Super 8 Fest (San Diego). 1991: Film Arts Festival (SF).
Death Sled II: Steel Belted Romeos: Best Experimental Film @ 1990 Ann Arbor Super 8+ Film Festival. Honorable Mention @ 1992 USA Super 8 Film Festival (Rutgers). 2000: Global Super 8 Day Screening (Portland). 1999: Boston Underground Film Festival. 1997: Hawaii Underground Film Festival, Cinematexas Short Film Festival, Champaign-Urbana Freaky Film Festival, Mid Atlantic Skate & Sound Fest. 1996: Old & New Masters of Super 8 program (NYC), Rough & Ruined Festival (Vancouver), Anti-Film Festival (Miami). 1995: Circle of Confusion Film Fest (Berlin), NY Underground Film Festival. 1991: Athens International Film Fest. 1990: Film Arts Festival (SF).
CREEP: 1991: Athens International Film Festival.
Dumbass From Dundas: Honorable Mention @ 1989 Ann Arbor Super 8+ Film Festival. 2000: Global Super 8 Day Screening (Switzerland). 1998: Splice This! Festival (Toronto). 1997: Australian REVelation Fest (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide, Wellington), Hawaii Underground Fest. 1996: Old & New Masters of Super 8 program (NYC, Germany, Austria, Italy), Rough & Ruined Festival (Vancouver). 1991: Humboldt International Film Festival. 1990: Athens International Film Festival. 1989: Film Arts Festival (SF).
Skate Witches: 1997: Mid-Atlantic Skate & Sound Fest, SF Arts Commission exhibition "SwitchStance". 1989: Film Arts Festival.
Fat City Death Sled: 1999: Splice This! Festival. 1997: Pacific Film Archive’s "The Automobile and American Cinema: " (Berkeley).
Retrospective of work screened in 2000: Maryland Film Fest, Zeitgeist (New Orleans). 1999: ’Zeum Museum (SF), Minneapolis College of Art & Design, American Underground Film Fest (Manchester, England). 1998: Göteborg Film Festival (Sweeden), tour of Holland (Eindhoven, Groningen, Nijmegen, Enschede, Den Haag, Rotterdam).1997: MicroCine Festival (Baltimore), Mini Cine (Shrevport).
Danny Plotnick, BOX 460472, SF, CA 94146
Videos for Home Sale
Swingers’ Serenade, $10 ppd. Available October 1999.
I, Socky, $10, ppd. Groovy color cover design by San Francisco fine artists Sharon Jue.
I’m Not Fascinating—The Movie!, $13 ppd.
PIPSQUEAK PfOLLIES, $10 ppd.
Small Gauge Shotgun, $13 ppd. Limited supplies left of this one.
Mondo Edu-Tainment, $15 ppd. Compilation of educational films and the like. You must be 18 to get this one (send a signed age statement). Sex and drugs and education. Available November 1999.
Small Gauge Shotgun and I’m Not Fascinating are available in many alternative video stores in the U.S., Canada and Holland. They also rent or sell at many Tower Videos. If you’re interested in seeing the films, check those locales.
Those with video stores of their own can order tapes direct from me or contact my video distributors: Facets, Vanguard, Kinofist, Surefire or Franklin.
All tapes available in NTSC format. Some titles available in PAL (email me to find out which ones those are).
Very snazzy Super 8 Mayhem t-shirt. Contains a fly bursting out of a starburst surrounded by the phrase super 8 mayhem. $15 ppd. Currently only available in white (L, XL). Orange shirts, which proved quite popular, may be reprinted one day soon. Contact me for an update.
All merchandise can be purchased with checks or money orders made payable to Danny Plotnick.
Film Distribution In America.
I rent all titles. Most titles are available in 16mm. Contact for specific gauge information.
Canyon rents the following films in 16mm:
Flip About Flip
Death Sled II: Steel Belted Romeos
Dumbass From Dundas
Jack Stevenson Film Distribution, Uglevang 88 .2.TH, 3450 Allerod Denmark.
Jack rents a 80-90 minute program of my short films in 16mm.
You can contact D. Plotnick at above address. If you feel a need to communicate via email, my address is email@example.com. However, I check my PO BOX more frequently than my computer.