Tag Archives: filmmakers

First Screening of 2008 Combines Election Fraud and Big Laughs

Director John Ennis got some big laughs on Friday night with his film FREE FOR ALL! Who knew election fraud could be so funny? There were a few hisses, too, when local electoral villains appeared. Clearly John’s film was well received, and we’re chalking up our first screening of 2008 as a big success.
The film got a great introduction by Bob Fitrakis (for more on Bob, go HERE). He also made it clear the best thing one can do to ensure proper elections is to be a poll worker (to investigate that for Columbus, go HERE).
Anyway, John took some questions afterward, and we were really happy to have him. It was great to kick off the 2008 season with a director visit.
John had just come from Florida investigating new voter caging projects. To keep up with John’s work and support his efforts, go HERE. (He even has his own photos of the event on his blog. We’ll be posting our photos tomorrow.)


5 Questions w/John Ennis (dir. FREE FOR ALL!) [UPDATE: now w/parking info!]

John Ennis directed the political first-person-shooter doc FREE FOR ALL! that’s screening on Friday night. We put 5 questions to him via email.

You crashed the Diebold campus, exposed vote rigging schemes, and hung out with Jerry Springer. What was the most fun part of making FREE FOR ALL!?

The two most fun moments in production and post-production:

Shooting Rev. Tony Minor’s church service in Cleveland. I’m a non-religious white guy taping in an austere black church in a depressed neighborhood…but wow. The singing, the response, the energy, the passion, it blew my mind. Even watching it later on tape.

The most fun I had editing was about a year ago: It’s the scene near the end of the film. I was cutting what I had just shot with Greg Palast at his home in Long Island. Palast fills in the broad strokes to strong arm the U.S Judiciary into intimidating voters. Tim Griffin is re-introduced as a partisan attorney appointment, after he had been running the caging operations in 2004 that denied thousands of African Americans their vote. And then you realize he was Rove’s assistant the whole time.

It reminded me of how Kaiser Sozsey was revealed in Brian Synger’s “The Usual Suspects,” so I started cutting with some of that score by John Ottoman. When I heard the ominous, lurking dark score swelling behind Palast’s emphatic gestures, I knew I had stumbled upon the proper dark tone this film needed. It was a new beginning in an already long process, but an exciting twist.

You’ve done film school, sketch comedy, music documentary, and reality TV. How did all this shape FREE FOR ALL!?

The more styles I get to try — be they depressing film school shorts, over the top sketch comedy, gritty crowd scenes at concerts, or contrived psychological head trips for Reality TV — the more little moments or touches linger in my mind as tools to use to paint my point. “That was such a great dumbfounded response from that woman when she thought we were serious…” or “Revealing that information a little later has a big impact.”

We are so post-modern, made up of media influences we are not fully cognizant of. The more we hone in on those impressions, the better we are as storytellers and truth seers.

You’ve had experience in both the commercial and the independent side of filmmaking. What’s the future of independently made political films?
We released our film online for free for everyone to see anywhere at any time. We therefore disqualified ourselves from most film festivals and distribution. Yet when people want important current political information, where do they go? Do they wait 4 months for a film festival to tell them what to think about? Do they wait for Netflix to bring them something compelling? No, they go to the Internets, a news junkie’s Jamaica.

Films like FREE FOR ALL! will thrive independently online, because it has so much information that people want, but they just can’t see it anywhere else.

You co-founded Video the Vote, a non-partisan video watchdog group that documents issues at polling places and uploads voting problems onto YouTube. At what point did you go from filmmaker to organizer?

To be absolutely honest, while I was still trying to interview politicians and journalists around Ohio, I was very reluctant for any of this poll monitoring stuff to get into the film or even online, in case a Google search made me seem too partisan to ask pertinent questions. So at some point, there was a double life happening, where I would tell my camera crew I had to deal with this outreach organizing stuff, and they would wait around. But eventually, they got bored, so I let them tape me figuring the whole Video the Vote thing out. Later, I was glad they did.

The Free for All! Blog includes video of you at the DNC in Denver and clearly still involved in politics. Do you have plans for Nov.4?

Wow, November 4th. You spend years in anticipation of — and in dread of — that day. Myself, I will always be doing some form of election protection on election day, because it is fun and feels so right. Where I will be helping with Video the Vote this year is uncertain — I really love Ohio after this experience, and want to come back here. But I have found through doing VTV in 2006 and 2008, the non-swing states like California and New York have some of the most decrepit and ass-backward voting systems, so vigilance everywhere is the only solution.



Cowtown Film Series

Hey, gang, don’t miss the Cowtown Film Series!

Beginning this Thursday night, September 11th at 7 PM, and continuing every Thursday night until November 13th, eleven Ohio made feature films will be screened at The Screens Movie Theater at The Continent in Columbus Ohio. Each film is followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Tickets are available for $3 each, or a $10 pass for the whole series of films at the box office.

The series will be hosted by Sunny 95’s Dino Tripodis, and the series is produced by Peter John Ross. The series kicks off this Thursday with GOODNIGHT CLEVELAND, and the classic horror of Bob Kurtzman’s THE RAGE will be screened in time for Halloween on October 30th.

Check the official Cowtown Film Series web site for a complete listing of the features being screened.

New Opportunity for Local Video Artists

This info came to us by way of KC Allen, who produced Columbus’s recent 48 Hour Film Project. (Thanks, KC!)

Kevin Ward, theater manager of the Gateway Theater on the OSU campus, is starting up a new video & music endeavor, called CineMUSEica. In his words:

“This is a collaborative effort between music and film paired together for a unique experience. I am in the planning stages of resurrecting this program here at the Gateway and I am looking for video artist participation.

“CineMUSEica is a simple program. We have a film that plays which has no soundtrack whatsoever. A band plays a score written specific to that film which is played live in the theater.”

He would like to meet with video artists who may be interested in participating in this artistic venture. He wants to organize a meeting of interested video artists and musicians, where he will lay out what CineMUSEica is and possibly pair up artists at that time.

If you’re interested, you can contact Kevin Ward, the GM of the Gateway, at:
614- 545- 2255

First Columbus 48 Hour Film Project a Success

Our own Marilyn Jaye Lewis hit the big event at the Gateway last week and filed this report:  

The first Columbus 48 Hour Film Project was an impressive success. 28 talented and exhausted local filmmakers had their short subject films screened at Landmark’s Gateway Theater (1550 N. High Street) on Wednesday, August 20th, in two groups of screenings. For each screening, it took two theaters to seat the enthusiastic attendees. Both theaters were generously made available for the inaugural event by the Gateway.

While audiences were encouraged to vote for their three favorite films, the official judges of the event were Gail Mezey, head of the Greater Columbus Film Commission and a veteran producer and production manager; Phil Garrett, a 20-year veteran of film and video production, as well as a recipient of the Chris Award for his film Horrors of War; and Jimmy Dutt, audio and video post-production wizard and co- founder of BYTE Monkeys a new production and post boutique.

The Columbus event was produced by KC Allen, head of Allen Film & Video out of Findlay, OH: “The films were great. The camaraderie among the teams competing against one another was awesome. They acted professionally, they appreciated the effort that all the teams put into their work, and they really proved that Columbus has been long overlooked as far as the artistry and talent that it has to offer.”

Readers can keep abreast of the winners of the Columbus event at the 48HFP web site.