Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, October 13, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Fifty-Second Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1470, October 14, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Cleveland in 1966!||Los Angeles in 1968!||Salamander Press #130.|
The first of the Blackbeard/Hoffman "LASFS Film Society" programs was held last week, and I'm sorry to report it was pretty much of a failure. The plans as scheduled proved either unworkable or faultily performed. This is not a condemnation of the program as a whole; I don't think that there was anyone who showed up who didn't enjoy himself. But, as compared with what had been promised, the actual program suffered badly by comparison. The original Film Soc'y schedule has now been completely thrown out, as I understand it, and a new one will be worked up -- one that I hope is realistic enough to succeed.
The first program, as announced, was a showing of the first two episodes of the old serial, "The Spider's Web", plus the first two episodes of another serial; the feature was to be "Forbidden Planet". All this was to take place in the projection room of the Echo Park Recreation Center. There was also a promise of seeing "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", if anyone could bring a portable tv set. Finally, though it wasn't printed in the announcement, we were told that there was a good chance that the man who had been in charge of the special effects for "Forbidden Planet" would be present to give us some behind-the-scene explanations as to how it had been done.
Firstly, for various reasons, the show didn't get started until a half-hour or 45 minutes late. This was due partly to the fact that the crew showing the films (mostly Eric Hoffman) was waiting for people to show up. As is standard with fannish parties (the Film Soc'y hasn't been solidly-enough established yet to get a reputation as an Organization), almost nobody was present at the announced starting time (only Don Simpson, Len Bailes, and myself), and people didn't begin showing up until at least a half-hour late. Because of this, everything was rushed, and we weren't nearly through at 10:00 for "Man from U.N.C.L.E.", even though a tv set had been brought.
Secondly, the Echo Park Center proved to be totally unfit for a film program. The "projection room" was merely a rectangular meeting room upstairs, less suited for film showings than our own Silverlake Playground. The acoustics were much worse; we might as well have been back at the Alpine Playground (the "concrete bunker" of infamous memory). Furthermore, as a City Playground, we were thrown out at 10:00 pm despite the fact that we weren't through (so we couldn't have seen "U.N.C.L.E." anyway). The film program had to be finished at Galt's Gulch.
Thirdly, we did not get all that was promised. We saw the first installment of "The Spider's Web", "Forbidden Planet", and a 35-minute montage of fight scenes from a dozen or so old serials. (I might have missed something here because I stopped for dinner during the move from Echo Park to the Booby Hatch; but I wasn't delayed long enough to miss much.) Of this, "The Spider's Web" was almost completely garbled as to the dialog because of the poor acoustics. (Not that it was really necessary for an action serial of this sort.) "Forbidden Planet" was better, but it was still a 16-m.m. rental print, redone for a standard screen even though the movie had been shot for a wide-angle screen, color faded, and with the noticeable jumps characteristic of the much-used, well-spliced print. If the evening's program had been otherwise all right, this would probably have been passed over more than it was; as it happened, with the audience by then keyed to expect more flaws from all directions, this stood out. Needless to say, the special effects man from "Forbidden Planet" couldn't make it.
Fourthly, the turnout was much smaller than Eric and Bill were counting on to set off a successful Film Soc'y. Only about a dozen people in all appeared, about evenly divided between LASFS fans and Eric's movie addict friends. The evening did turn a profit, I understand, but only because of the number of fully paid admissions ($2.50 for the three announced programs) that were in. Unless a much larger audience appears for the next program the Film Soc'y will go into the red. Eric was talking about replacing "The Prisoner of Zenda" for the third program with Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", because he thinks he can get a print of that without having to pay a rental fee.
Fifthly, everything was too disorganized. Things got off to a late start; Eric came rushing in and got things under way in the manner of a person who is obviously behind schedule (while audibly swearing that Everything Was Going Wrong); we had to pack up and move to the Ayn Shrine in the middle of the program; and we did not see everything that had been scheduled. We enjoyed what we did see, but the sum total of the evening's program was hardly the start of a successful Film Soc'y; the sort of thing to bring larger audiences and more money to future programs.
At any rate, the original Film Soc'y schedule is out the window, and I think this is a good thing. We'll be notified as to the arrangements and program of the second program at a later date, after Eric and Bill have had a chance to look over the situation and decide what's best. For their benefit, I'd like to throw in my suggestions:
For one thing, don't plan on a weekly or even a bi-weekly schedule. That's too often. Most of us find a LASFS Meeting a week enough entertainment; we can't afford to tie up two evenings in a row for our pleasure. (All cake and nothing else rapidly palls.) We can't afford to go on shelling out $1 a week or $2.50 every three weeks continuously, either. I'd say one program a month is about right. Those who're interested in attending regularly can afford it, and can plan far enough in advance to get the one evening free. I'd also advise being prepared to switch to another day of the week in case the LASFS Meetings are changed to Friday evenings -- the Friday Nighters are about to make another attempt, and this time I'm actively supporting them. (Personal reasons; both for my own convenience and because there's too many people now I'd like to see who can't make it regularly on Thursday.)
For another, stick to the Holy Temple of the Great Pumpkin as your theatre. It may not be as classy as an auditorium for your Film Soc'y, but it has good acoustics, is convenient to get to, is comfortable and spacious enough (assuming we don't get over 30 attendees), is cheap (like, free), and is run by reliable fans who aren't going to set a curfew or pre-empt us for something else. In short, it's the best we can afford. Don't try for too much and go bankrupt.
Thirdly, get things set up better beforehand. (This shouldn't be too difficult; first nights are always a hassle, and last week's performance won't be a steady thing.) Start pretty close to On Time; you can allow a 15-minute leeway for latecomers, but once your audience gets accustomed to the fact that you won't start until they get there, and most people don't arrive until 30 or 45 minutes late, you'll never get started any earlier. Show people that if they don't arrive on time, that's their hard luck. I don't think you're going to lose any attendees by insisting on sticking to your schedule, and once people learn to show up by 7:15 at the latest or miss part of the showing, they'll be there.
I think these are my only suggestions for changes. I like your scheduled films, and I think your price is fine -- not too cheap, but All the Traffic Will Bear for any but the diehard film fans, and there aren't enough of them around to keep the Soc'y going. Frankly, I think you're going t have to settle for a small hard core of ten or so attendees for your first six or more programs, until you're able to prove by performance to the LASFS that the Film Soc'y is a responsible, enjoyable group; then the attendance will pick up. Set a realistic goal, make sure you deliver all you promise, and get things organized on a set schedule, and you'll be all right. It'll probably take another two or three programs, but if you can last that out, I think you'll be all right. As to my personal reaction; well, you've got my $2.50 for your first three performances. I plan on attending the next two, and what I see there will make up my mind as to whether you'll get any more money out of me.
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Ted White -- I noticed that Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen went on for considerably longer than the "last completed Piper story" as published in the current ANALOG. I wonder (a) who finished the Ace version, and (b) whether the whole thing isn't still in an outline form as to Piper's original plans for the completed series? And is anybody interested in publishing a collection of the first 4 Paratime Police stories yet? ## Never did get around to commenting on your revised opening to The Man from Broken Crossing, did I? I think it's a vast improvement over your earlier version; it's now a book I'd be interested in reading, if I was interested in Westerns. It still seems to be a little slow -- you haven't killed the sheriff in your first paragraph, you know -- but aside from that, I can't see anything wrong with it. ## Red Dragon also had his own comic book for awhile, for which Edd Cartier drew. Beautiful work.
Bĵo Trimble -- I'd like to see both an ATom and a Frazetta card deck, similar to the Finlay and Emsh decks of playing cards at the Clevention and the Detention. The ATom deck could probably be printed in two colors, like the Emsh deck, at little cost. As to the "monster" deck, what I said was that if we wanted to have a multicolored deck by a professional artist, it'd probably be more than we could afford, considering that the two-color Emsh deck cost $250 to produce (according to Fred Prophet, who had it done). About the only way to have it done would be to get outside backing, and the only pro artist popular enough in outside fields to stand a chance of bringing in backing is Frank Frazetta, who's well-liked among both Burroughs fandom and Monster Fandom. Jimmy Warren is always advertising monster masks, toys, movie stills and the like in his monster zines (CREEPY, FAMOUS MONSTERS, etc.); would he be interested in angelling a Frazetta deck that could also be sold through his zines? (The catch would be to pick a subject we'd both be interested in; if he likes the idea, he may just go off on his own and commission a deck consisting of portraits of Dracula and the Wolfman, which sf fandom would hardly care for. I'd think a compromise could be worked on, though; there should be enough horror scenes in the works of Lovecraft, Kuttner, Bloch, etc., to find subject matter that both groups would be interested in.) If not, would the Burroughs fans finance a Burroughs deck -- preferably not Tarzan, but John Carter or Carson Napier? (If we can't get permission from ERB, Inc., there's always the works of Kline, Fox, Howard, etc., to find similar scenes that should be acceptable to both sf fandom and Burroughs fandom.) This whole thing was in the nature of thinking-out-loud about possible attractions for the Pan-Pacificon in '68; I have no real idea as to whether we could get such backing or not. But it does seem logical enough to be worth looking into, and without such backing, I don't see how we could ever afford a multicolor deck. It'd probably be easiest to just forget about the whole thing and stick to the two-color ATom deck, of course, but still... With better than two years to work on it, how are Japanese printing prices?