Friday, April 25, 2008

Southern gothic (with boiled peanuts)

From upstate hijinx (Columbia) to lowcountry atmoshpere (Beaufort) today.

Yesterday we had two terrific screenings in Columbia, SC at the incomparable Nickelodeon Theatre, a truly groovy independent cinema that would make any city proud. In between the shows, Larry Hembree (pictured at right with Columbia superstar filmmaker Steve Daniels, DP for "Willow Garden") and Andy Smith, the Nick's resident ringmasters and astrology gurus, took me on a tour of the art deco theater downtown that they will be renovating and moving into in the next couple of years.

I cursed myself for not taking a photo, but imagine walking into the dusty balcony of a theater that has been abandoned for 20 years. Tattered 1970s curtains reveal faded art deco wallpaper underneath. Pigeon feathers fill the empty spaces of the antique carbon arc lamp projectors. Steve plans to film a music video/horror movie in the space, which should be incredible. I hope that he'll employ the mad skills of Randy Schrader, another virtuoso Columbia filmmaker, who lit "Willow Garden" using only baling wire and chewing gum.

Because Steve knows so much about the fantastic landscape of the Palmetto State, he directed me to some amazing church ruins just outside Beaufort. The Sheldon Church was built in 1748 and was burned down twice by invading armies--the British in 1780 and Sherman's troops in 1865. It's quite a sight. I'm trying not to read too much into the fact that my super 8 camera mysteriously stopped functioning while trying to shoot the ruins...

Things I learned today:
1) Boiled peanuts sound gross, but are really good. Wet, mushy, and packed with peanuty flavor.
2) If you're jonesing for Wi-Fi while traveling, just pull into the parking lot of any chain hotel that advertises "free wireless" on its marquee! Schwing!

Looking forward to the screening in Beaufort tonight, though it will be hard to tear myself away from the great scenery and cool breeze of the waterfront. Hey folks at Southern Circuit, will you sponsor the rest of my life? I'll wash your cars. Thanks.