Saturday, February 12, 2011

ABEL RAISES CAIN in Lafayette, LA

It doesn't seem possible that we've already spent a week on the road. Cypress swamps, anti-evolution billboards and hundred foot tall crosses marked the beginning of our trek to Lafayette from New Orleans.


We expected a large audience at our screening in Lafayette at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, as I had heard that 1000+ people would be attending ArtWalk and circulating throughout the building earlier in the day.


The plan was for my dad and I to go directly to ArtWalk so that we could pass out postcards and help publicize the film to folks as they meandered about. But after a day of driving, and our faster-than-the-speed-of-light trip through New Orleans, we were pooped and wanted to relax a bit before the screening.


So we napped and then had a lovely dinner at Belle's Bistro, just down the street from the arts center. When we arrived at the venue, we were warmly greeted by a bubbly, talented funny young woman and aspiring filmmaker, Crystal Place, our host for the evening.


I always go into screenings with a bit of trepidation. The gnawing question as pre-stage jitters set in, "Will people show up? Are they going to get the humor? Will they fall for the prank at the end of the film?"


I looked around and noticed that the lobby was completely empty, with no sign of the anticipated swarms of people we had hoped to see.


One peek inside the theater and I knew we were in trouble. Only a few seats were occupied. If it had been a smaller venue, it wouldn't have mattered really. But the meager turnout was accentuated by the fact there were a LOT of seats to fill, 300 to be exact! It seemed that the screening of ABEL RAISES CAIN was one of the best kept secrets in the city of Lafayette!


When we were first alerted by South Arts that we had been invited to tour with our film, my dad and I brainstormed the possibility of pulling a prank to help spread the word. But pulling a prank isn't as easy as putting a banana peel on the sidewalk...there is actual planning and pre-production along with recruiting people to help, setting up 'protests,' building a legitimate looking website (a la The Yes Men) and alerting the media. We just didn't have enough time or manpower.


Back in the 70s, my parents 'paid' people with hot cocoa and donuts to stand in line in the cold outside of the movie theater where they were screening their film. It attracted so much attention that they packed the house every night without fail.

But this was forty years ago and modern media consumption in the digital age has totally altered the habits of cinema goers, even those who consider themselves die-hard film junkies.


On with the show, my dad and I had a great time talking with the folks who came and answering their questions. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. And it was by far the coolest space we've ever screened the film. The projection and sound were both excellent. Special thanks to Dennis Thibodeaux, Crystal, and the staff who came to the screening!


While ABEL RAISES CAIN may continue to operate under the radar, we certainly have South Arts to thank for seeing the film's potential and for helping us share my father's life work with new audiences. People are even more overjoyed when my dad comes out from behind the curtain to appear as a surprise guest!