"It's gone further than I expected, but not as far as I would have liked."
The frank words of drummer Ken Chiodini are a deceptively downcast introduction to "The Last Days of The Hate Bombs," a 65-minute rockumentary that premieres Saturday, Nov. 10, at Maitland's Enzian Theater. Otherwise jubilant, this video-verité celebration of the Orlando garage band's North American farewell tour is the home-movie heart of the 2001 Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase, the Enzian's annual, two-day tribute to film by, for and about Central Floridians.
After eight years atop the local rock pile, The Hate Bombs called it a career last spring. Their nine-day, five-show final jaunt was captured on digital video by fans George Freund, Mike Marshall and Patrick Gibson -- whose credits include cinema studies at the University of Central Florida, internships at Haxan Films and crew positions on the ABC-TV pop opera, "Making the Band."
"They said [the show] was lame, and they didn't get to do the things they could have done," Chiodini says. The Bombs' tour offered the chance to document a group of their choice, their way. (A fourth collaborator, Michael LaPointe, served as graphic editor.)
"They wanted to pick a band of a live nature, as opposed to a band that went through the motions or just stood there," explains Chiodini. In the finished doc, "just standing there" is not an option as the Bombs trek across the U.S. and Canada, treating audiences to their rafter-swinging antics and getting into the occasional punch-up with rowdy Canucks. Highway B.S. sessions provide comic relief.
The band is in negotiations to release "Last Days" in VHS, CD and DVD formats, but its Saturday-afternoon Brouhaha slot is its only planned public screening. The film isn't the most polished work on the schedule: Like the group's music, "Last Days" is a barrage of stimuli that emphasizes passion over precision. Yet it holds the greatest emotional resonance for local viewers. The Bombs were a social nexus point for an entire generation of Orlando musicians, filmmakers and graphic artists -- the house band to the counterculture, if you will. (The seeds were sown before the group existed: Chiodini was once in a band with Haxan's Gregg Hale, who founded Brouhaha.) Despite its party-time vibe, the Bombs' video headstone is a reminder of the hard choices that substrata now faces as it enters middle age.
The film's emotional climax depicts the band's final Orlando show last May at the Kit Kat Club, a mob scene that spilled out onto Wall Street Plaza for an a cappella sing-along. Defying probability, Freund et al have made that free-for-all as much fun to watch as it was to experience. To turn Chiodini's speech on its head, I can't imagine a film -- or a band -- going any further.
This year's Brouhaha lineup has some interesting things to say about the future of Central Florida filmmaking. A record number of entries came in from area schools and individuals; most run less than 15 minutes, but there are enough longer pieces that a Saturday midnight screening has been added to the weekend's customary daytime sessions.
Highlights? UCF's David Hayman scores with the wild comedy "Farmer McAllister's Thinkin' Machine," while 1994 grad Anthony Torres' experimental "The Invisible Guy" shows why he has earned a fellowship from the Florida Department of State's Division of Cultural Affairs. Jason Neff, producer of TV's "Ballyhoo," offers well-crafted portraits of the Troma studio and "Wendigo" director Larry Fessenden.
The Florida State University crew displays its impeccable sense of story, character and production values -- but those virtues are spread out over a handful of films this time, not consolidated in one or two knockout packages. Its new works include the Kubrickian bloodbath "Daughter" and "The Things We Do For Love," a comedy about (yes) jockstrap theft. Is FSU's sweetly Southern sensibility becoming tainted by Farrelly envy? I hope not. A collegiate "Shallow Hal" is the last thing I'm going to need in 2002.
Fringe and purge
With the 11th annual Orlando International Fringe Festival six months away, ideas are already being explored to deal with the traditional feeding frenzy for stage time at SAK Comedy Lab, always the most desirable of the available spaces. One member of the Fringe's board has proposed that performing tenants pay a higher rental fee to perform there.
"SAK would get a piece and the Fringe would get a piece," says board president Ana Handshuh, though she's not sure if the pie referred to is rent or ticket sales. (Were it the latter, the Fringe would appear to violate the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals' edict that member festivals be nonjuried affairs that return 100 percent of box-office receipts to their performers.)
The "very nascent" idea, Handshuh says, hasn't yet come before the full board. But Chris Gibson, executive producer of Fringe 2002, says he is against any initiative that would compromise the fair, random apportionment of venues.
Is he too late? Rumors swirled last year of performers' demands and personal interests polluting the process. A few months before Fringe, members of one troupe told me outright that their ties to Gibson's predecessor, Brook Hanemann, would snag them a spot at SAK. Braggadocio? ProbablyÃ?ÃÃ?but they got it.
Gibson calls such claims "laughable. I was very much a part of the scheduling process last year, and I can guarantee it was 100 percent random," he says. He's currently working with the fire marshal to provide higher-caliber venues overall -- the wisest approach to the problem.
Winter Park native (and Columbia University grad student) Hannah Goldman-King hosts a Saturday, Nov. 10, bash at Maitland's Studio B/ Metalworks to raise funds for her short, "Blue Water," which she plans to shoot here next March. (Get tickets at Stardust Video & Coffee or Park Ave CDs, or call 407-509-9635). I've read the script, and it's an engaging mix of Christian iconography, sexual awakening and swimming metaphors. Then again, aren't we all?