I haven't been out much in the last six months. What with my wife's murder and being a single dad and trying to make sure there's money in the bank to pay the bills, getting out in the evenings for some diversionary activities quickly falls to the bottom of the "must-do" pile. Besides, I'm usually just too tired to go out.
Know what I mean? I'm getting old dammit; I just don't have the stamina that I once did for late night celebrations. Still, I couldn't pass up on Travis Tetreault's invitation to attend Heavy Hitting Films' eight annual B-Grade Horror Fest last Friday.
And even at that, it was a very qualified invitation. "Are you sure you're up for this?" Travis asked me with true concern in his voice. "There's a lot of gratuitous violence, you know. And after everything you've been through, I'd hate for you to get upset over this." I assured him I'd be okay. Told him that I was actually looking forward to it.
It's not that I get off on horror. I don't. In fact, you'll never see me at any of Hollywood's silly vampire or living-dead or slasher flicks. They stink. But then, these days I find most of what comes out of Hollywood stinks...
For me, the real point of attending Friday's event was all about immersing myself in local culture. Setting the question of political correctness aside for a moment, what Chili Thom and Feet Banks and the rest of the Heavy Hitting crew (with big help from local producer Stuart Andrews this year) have come up with is such a compelling affair that they have no problem stuffing 1,000 young Sea-to-Skyers into one of the Chateau's usually-cavernous ballrooms for a night of absurdist, crazy, inconceivable, funny, gross, hilarious, disconcerting, troubling, exciting - and ultimately satisfying - film viewing.
The concept is simple. Put a 10-minute movie together, liberally sprinkle it with inconceivable plotlines, wanton violence, bare breasts (plus the odd penis cameo from time-to-time), mix it all in with a post-modern wink to the audience (we're all in this together, right?), and voila, you're ready to compete. The crowd is vocal and the rewards are substantial. In addition to sizeable cheques and in-kind donations from a variety of local sources, the winner of the night gets to showcase his (or her) film at Whistler's own Film Festival later this month. Not so shabby, eh?
And for Whistler's fast-burgeoning filmmaking community - as master-of-ceremonies Banks mentioned a number of times, all the usual suspects were in attendance - it was a wonderful incentive to put something together that would catch the judges' attention. Still, I really wasn't there for the movies. For me, the event was just an excuse to get out and interact with some of Whistler's most colourful (and vivacious) inhabitants.