I survived the Indie Gathering yet again this year. I was on 5 panels for indie filmmaking with some of the usual suspects and some new filmmakers. It seems this year had the widest reach in terms of the number of people from all over the country. I met some filmmakers from Houston Texas with dirt on Robert Rodriguez and a guy from Florida whose movie looked fantastic via the trailer, so I’m hoping to get a copy in the mail. I was actually asked to watch a movie so that they can use my quote. He said, “Everybody knows Sonnyboo” and that was a staggering moment for me. I wore my “Sonnyboo” hat more out of a need to use hair gel and less about promotion, so this brought me recognition unexpected. Even as My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ and I were leaving, someone asked me if I was that guy from the Sonnyboo website and said thank you for all the forms on the site. That felt great. I enjoy giving out the free stuff. Sure, it’s a promotion to get people on the site, recognize the name, but then again I don’t really ask for anything in return, so I feel just fine. I just remember needing things like location agreements, actor contracts, storyboard templates, and stuff like that when I first started and there wasn’t anything like that, so I am providing for other filmmakers what I always wished for myself.
In terms of sales, I sold a few books, including a couple of the Horrors of War Illustrated Screenplay. I think it’s really groovy. It’s not only a promotional item, it has some educational elements to it, dealing with screenplay development and pre-production, as well as post production and editing effects on the screenplay. It will sell better once the movie comes out on DVD… whenever that might be. I got a few compliments on innovative marketing techniques for my films.
I don’t really enjoy the panels too much. They tend to be about the filmmakers themselves and not filmmaking/general topics. I always try to maintain a difference between facts and my personal opinion. I put out a disclaimer that “this is my personal preference, not a law”. The editing panel was interesting because everyone seemed to want to know about editing in general, so I showed clips from my editing class DVD instead of things from my movies. I had more offers to buy my Editing Class DVD than the Sonnyboo short film DVD.
Johnny Wu is the greatest, there’s no 2 ways about it. He is the godfather of cinema in Cleveland, regardless of any film czars or friends of executive producers of the Lord of the Rings. Johnny Wu knows everyone and most people love him. Even though he may or may not be my illegitimate father, I think he’s got it going on.
I am incredibly sentimental about my youth in a small town called Wadsworth, Ohio, home of the blue tip matches. It seems every small town has some claim to fame, theirs is being the original home of the blue tip matches, and they continue to have a blue tip parade every summer even though the factory moved to some other city nearly 30 years ago. I lived there from age 5 to 12 and my time there remains the best in my life.
I make a trek to Wadsworth about once a year. Usually en route to or from Cleveland, I make the side step over to Wadsworth off of I-76. After the Indie Gathering, I made it a point to go to Marie’s Pizza with My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ so we scheduled our return home with dinner. When I was a kid we had Marie’s Pizza in Wadsworth all the time.
Marie’s Pizza is a small mom & pop restaurant in downtown Wadsworth, off the beaten path. It had maybe 12 tables and one of the reasons I adore this place, aside from great pizza, is that it seemed untouched by the hand of time. Their menu had only changed once in 30 years and that was directly due to my friend Maurice. They had chocolate pudding listed as a dessert and every time he ordered it, they would tell them they don’t have it anymore and his response was that, “it’s on the menu!” so at some point right after that, they removed the pudding from the menu, but everything else remained the same. If you read my blogs, I have mentioned this place at least 5-6 times. I ate there en route to Manhattan to meet with investors; I ate there after numerous trips to Cleveland.
My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ and I head out from Cleveland and arrive in Wadsworth at about 3:45PM. I drive through the downtown area of Wadsworth, passing the Lutheran church I attended as a boy with it’s large spires puncturing the sky. The old downtown remains very similar to how it always has, and we drive up to the little restaurant and there is a giant sign on the door reading “Business For Sale”. The place was dark inside and there was no sign of anything in there. My heart was crushed. I had a flurry of emotions from anger, to disappointment, to hunger, and near depression. The anger was at how it seemed that the giant mega-corporations took down a small business, and I was depressed because a part of my youth just died before my eyes. We pulled out of the parking lot and decided to look for alternate food, but in my mind all I could think was no matter what I eat at that moment, it wasn’t going to satisfy me.
We drove back north towards I-76 where the newer section of town was in search of alternate dining. There was an Applebee’s on the left… God that sounded awful, but what else was there? As I get in the turn lane, My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ says, “Isn’t that a Marie’s right there?” and I thought it was just some kind of coincidence. Then my eyes spot the same logo of a woman from the 1970’s holding a pizza over her head. It was like a mirage, so I pull out of the turn lane and go to this strange site. It was the same logo. The stand alone building looked brand new and it was huge, I mean bigger than most places.
We go in and it is the exact same layout as the old place, but greatly increased in size. There’s still a pickup window in front of the kitchen for carry out, and they even have a pinball machine and 2 arcade games. Then the actual restaurant has a bar now and probably 100 tables now. At 4:00PM on a Sunday, they were packed to the hilt. Our server was a 7 year veteran, unusual since everyone else looked like they were 16 years old, and she said they moved to this location in January, and the menu (which was brand new and 6 pages long now) was very different, but the pizza was the same. We ordered a large pep, and tried it out. It was the same, meaning it was excellent.
I was floored by everything. Normally, I would hate change, but this was a nice place. It was still a small business, but they were contending with the big corporations and kicking their asses. Not only that, but at its core, it’s still the same food and that’s more important than the geographical location. I had a broad range of strange emotions in a 10 minute period in that I felt my childhood got killed in some small way, only to see that it grew up & moved away.
I ate my leftover pizza this morning right before typing this up. I am already full again, and they say that your sense of taste and smell are the ones most tied to memory because sight and sound are used more often, so when you taste something you remember, it’s more powerful to the memories, and never is that more true for me than with Marie’s Pizza and my years as a rambunctious youth in Wadsworth Ohio. I think the reason I make a trek there and eat this cholesterol grenade of grease and tomato is because it reminds me of happy times and a more naïve mindset I once had.
Well, I’m off to edit some TV spots of the Family Channel. Yeeeee hhaaaaaawwww!
– Peter John Ross