Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Week Later

It's been a week since Duluth and I've been in a bit of a funk. Not that I fell in love with the town per se but more with the experience. New sights! New people! New films! Slowly getting accustomed back to SF life, which is all terribly familiar. Admittedly, I haven't got around to much editing. Don't worry Kickstarter backers. It'll get done by the expected deadline. I designed the film to be a quick edit. Most scenes have little cuts and I just have to sit down to crank it out. I'm thinking a beer, carrot, editing marathon tomorrow night. Yes, carrots. Editing is unsexy but it's where the movie really gets made. It's where I can control YOUR emotions.

This last Sunday & Tuesday, my "Muppetless Movie" played at the SF Indiefest. A decent appreciation. It played in a grab bag of local shorts. As usual with my films, it's over before you have any idea what the hell you just watched. (I'm all about repeated viewings!) I did a Q&A both times & got to throw in some silly jokes. When asked how people can follow me, I mentioned they should just walk behind me when I leave. I also gave my address and said my door was open to any ladies who wanted to watch some rare Muppet tapes. Oh public persona me. Maybe I got used to the attention in Duluth, but I was a little jealous when I saw the other filmmakers with huge globs of friends there. On Sunday's screening, I had two friends & a chicken show up. I get the film has been online for a while and seen by most, but it did feel weird after getting so much recent praise to be standing there alone by my giant Muppetless poster, expecting celebration but merely getting back on the bus home. Is this how Coolio felt after Gangsta's Paradise dried up? Fame is a fickle mistress.

All this said, I gave one more interview this morning to a writer at San Francisco Magazine. Except it wasn't about me at all, but more about my Oscar picks. He wanted to know what San Francisco filmmakers would choose vs. the academy. As I've seen almost none of the nominated films, I felt a bit like a sham bullshitting answers. I argued that the best film I'd seen was "It's Such A Beautiful Day" & was pissed it wasn't even nominated for Best Animated Film.

Before I left Duluth and to fit some newly acquired items in my suitcase, I gave away some of my "famous" winter clothes to the homeless. I still have my parka if anyone wants to buy it. I've been significantly colder in SF, mostly because I am underdressed everywhere vs. Duluth where I wore everything including the bed sheets. For those wondering about the Duluth Goodwill VHS tapes I bought, I've watched them all. By far the highlight was the Bible Sing-A-Long tape. If you're a Christian, that tape will make you an atheist. Watch kids who can't sing, can't act, can't dance, and who may actually be 32 and suffer from some aging disease sing about the animals on Noah's ark. You may even sell your soul to the devil just to turn the tape off. I think it may even surpass my copy of "Don Cooper's Musical Games" as the most troubling vhs I own.

I've already started thinking about the next film project. I think I'll piss off the classical music world this time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DAY 18: Granny Panties

They call soda "pop" here. I tried something called Mello Yello. It tastes like the result of a lemon & Mountain Dew having sex.

An hour or so ago, I had a drink with Alex Gutterman. He's directing the feature film in town, "In Winter." Nice guy and I appreciate him cutting the small talk and go straight for the philosophical discussion about why we do what we do. I said there was obviously something wrong with us to devote our lives to this medium. He projects a Nov/Dec 2013 release date on his film. Both films deal with similar topics - love, lost, animal songs - well, maybe I'm just doing the animal songs. It might be neat for my film to be the short subject before his feature. A whole film program of depressed cold people!

Got a few more random shots of Duluth today and made my ex-apartment clean & tidy. A few hours were devoted to figuring out how the hell I got my microphone stand in my suitcase. Traveling today was sponsored by the good samaritans who rescued my car from the snow fort that developed in the recent blizzard. This niceness continues to astound & upset. With my last day here, I figured it's finally time to get some souvenirs. Therefore, a trip to the store "I Love Duluth" seemed promising. While the word Duluth was everywhere, I was highly disappointed in your regional merch. It seems Duluth is in denial about its winter. Not a damn thing featuring snow or cold or anything. The store made Duluth look like a Hawaiian resort. The beer openers & magnets all had Amazonian frogs & Aborigine figurines. I finally settled on the two least lame mugs they had. And seriously, why even bother with Superior merchandise. That mansion ain't all that.

Well folks, this completes my Duluthian experience. Tomorrow morning, I'm driving back to Minneapolis on a plane back to Orlando San Francisco. I truly had a great time here and I certainly will remember it always. It was a small adventure but an adventure nonetheless and I hope to have a kick-ass film as the result. Stay tuned folks. The story's not over, just inconsistent. I hope you've enjoyed reading. I've enjoyed being an unreliable narrator. See ya round Duluth!

"Duluth is....I don't know" Lisa Luokkala   

Monday, February 11, 2013

DAY 17: The Beginning Of The Ending Of The Whole Shabang

I leave Wednesday, just when I started to get used to it all. It's going to be weird not wearing 12 pounds of pants. My car is currently surrounded by snow. Not exactly sure what to do about that. I have till Wednesday morning to figure it out. Due to it's condition, I took the bus over to the University of Minnesota Duluth for my last scheduled interview. Take a listen. The bus was on time and quick. I give my brief experience with Duluth Transit the Thumbs Up and I'm sorry for putting all my coins in at one time and clogging it up.

I was treated to lunch by my friend Deven who took me up the shore to the New Scenic Cafe. Delicious but we ordered far too much. The best part was the hot chocolate in giant steins. Go there for that at least. Also, at the end of the meal, they give you a little book where you can write your thoughts. Naturally, I wrote "Duluth Is Horrible" and signed it. I also came across the best piece of poetry I've seen here, ripped it out from the book, and am now going to transcribe it for you:

"Well here we are 9:16
What day is it?
Yes, I have three chickens; Penny, Juama, and Big Bad Blackpants.
I call them "big dummies" and "dumb animals" about 63 times a day.
When you see a deer, it feels like it was there just for you
And everything's going to be OK.
The artwork is not by seven & eight year olds. 
Like and I'm not even like an art major OMG
- Chuck Chuck Bo Buck Banana Fanna Fo 2/10/13

Tonight is my official last night in my apartment. I'm kicked out tomorrow. I will the miss flower chair, the portrait of Jesus by the toilet, the free cereal, and the mysterious Channel 117. I asked the owner what it was and she said she was a pro domina and to torture her clients, she ties them up and makes them watch it. That explains the gimp chained up behind her clothes in the closet. Doesn't seem to make much sense to let him loose now.

With tomorrow's last day in Duluth also comes tomorrow's last official blog post. I will keep up writing as necessary, occasionally writing "Yep, I edited today. It looks ok." I know a few of you have become obsessed with the mundane details of my life and I'm sorry I won't be filling you in on those notes back in California. Considering doing an audiobook of this blog, might be a nice compliment to the film to include on the DVD. (It's only 20 minutes. Might as well fill the damn thing up.). It's only 5:41p, there is still some trouble I could get into before I leave...

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Boy, this town has a major drug problem. The crack just pours from the sky here. 

It's Winter Storm Orko. Who comes up with these names? Is it one guy? Is it chosen by committee? Does it just come mysteriously in a dream and made into a Kickstarter project? Snowed in, I started looking at all the footage. It looks really good. Now comes the editing part, which is when all magic disappears. Watching the same clips over & over, tweaking it by fractions of a second. Luckily, this movie has alot of long takes which will make it easier but despite its charms, I'll be incredibly sick of it by the end of March. The sacrifices I make for you people to watch a decent flick. 

Here's some more media about me. From the SF Chronicle, a short blurb about Muppetless Movie:

And here's two pictures the Duluth New Tribune posted from Day 1. Notice my model pose in the second one:

I rested last night and got even more today, being trapped in the house. It seems now is as good a time as any to post this clip from one of my all-time favorite shows, "The Mighty Boosh."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DAY 15: And You May Ask Yourself...Well, How Did I Get Here?

I had so many offers to go out and get drinks tonight. I'd love to. I really would. But I'm just too tired and after being outside most of the day, a little too comfortable in my warm apartment. It's been non-stop since Wed and it's nice to just chill on my bed tonight.

Today became a full-on shooting day starting at noon. The first part consisted of getting a few more shots of tourist attractions, including Enger Tower, a giant tower in the middle of nowhere. I trudged through the snow to get there, getting a couple crappy shots of it. I also fell down. From there it was on to the zoo, where I filmed a man continually breaking his pencil trying to draw a lynx & a cougar. The wolves & bears were even active today. I swear a bear waved at me. I was told that one of the bears was a reject from an Alaskan zoo where he kept escaping and eating the barnyard animals.

Finished up the night filming the movie's "ex-girlfriend", Theresa, wandering around Downtown Duluth. This is one of the few parts Duluth really is featured and I can hear the outcry already. "Oh, of all the beautiful things in town, he had to go and film the ugly stuff." If that doesn't piss them off, then the geography of Theresa's walk will. "Hey, she went down Michigan St. and now she's on First but why did she go right on Superior. WHERE IS SHE GOING!?"

Last night, a group of new friends invited me out for a night of drinks, with each bar subsequently worse. We started at JJ Astor with its rooftop views, swank decor, and a small jazz band playing cuts from "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg." From there, we took a swift dive in quality at the Stargate/Builders Bar in Superior. It's like Hawaii threw up in there but I did get a free whiskey soda out of the deal. I also couldn't pass up a chance to perform a little karaoke magic on Blur's "Song 2" and Beastie Boys "Intergalatic."

From bad, we went to worse, across the street at the Centerfolds strip club. What a dark sad little place. There was a rather large stripper there. From behind you couldn't tell if she was wearing underpants as her g-string was swallowed up by her robust buttocks. Like a bad car accident, I couldn't look away as she pushed a man's face into her big floppy breasts. She looked about as into it as one sits waiting for their laundry. Still...she did have the biggest boobs in the place. Problem is, she had the biggest everything in the place. We ended the night at Curlys where I was treated to a delicious apple pie shot. Centerfolds was worse than Curly's but plenty of dreams have died there too. I forgot to mention we got to all these places via some sort of car/monster truck/bus hybrid which must have been stolen from the Indiana Jones ride at Disney World. If you feel a little off today, it's probably because the world turned off its axis when the vehicle made a right turn. All in all, my degeneration tour has been one of the highlights of my trip and I thank Nadia & Ryan for having me. 

There's a not a single photo of this man that isn't blurry.

Friday, February 8, 2013

DAY 14: Snow Very Close

Did an hour long interview on the Walt Dizzo radio show last night. Probably one of my best. Well at least, we talked about more than just if I think Duluth is really horrible. In fact, I broke the exclusive last night that it really IS horrible and that I'm secretly making a documentary about how terrible the town & the people are. EXPOSED! For this venture, I traveled over the bridge to Superior, Wisconsin. I wasn't purposely driving slow. That's just how fast my car is. Upon first glance, Superior reminded me of a snow-capped Stockton. Lower-income housing and more urban sprawl. Even the UW campus seemed familiar somehow.

This morning, we completed the karaoke scene at the Round-Up. I'm looking forward to this part in the movie and it's the one place where all the central characters collide. I'm pretty damn proud of my original karaoke tune "A Bear, A Hedgehog, Or A Monkey" too. Our star Shane May does a great job on it, though he'll never believe you. From there, over to the most beautiful bench at Lake Superior. When it wasn't available, we settled for that one bench behind the Portland Malt Shoppe. We stood out in the cold waiting for a truck to stop making noise for a good thirty minutes. We watched over the frozen lake. I watched PA Tony attempt to walk on it. I came up with the idea that I should walk into the movie at the very end and tell a few bad jokes. Nobody was listening. I agreed to have a local photographer come by and take a photo for his Duluth Survey, but was surprised and slightly offended he wanted everyone but me in the photo. That's like going around and taking pictures of my kid. It better be a damn good photo.

After illegal parking at a college and annoying some students, we ventured over to the mall for some guerrilla shots of our tourist couple. The only opposition came in the form of a skinny unintimidating janitor with long hair, who basically said he wasn't going to do anything but somebody could. We were in & out and I had a slice of pizza from Barro (the s had fallen off). We also did a quick shot of the tourists at the aquarium. Maybe I'm spoiled with Monterey Bay, but I found it to be a little, um...lacking. While nice looking and would be terribly impressive in someone's home, it was pretty underwhelming for the money. I've seen more fish at sushi restaurants. Sorry Great Lakes Aquarium, it was just my first impression. I'll still go on a second date with you sometime.

Cinematographer Kevin, Soundman Jason, the PA's, & most of the actors are wrapped but there's still a few more things I'll get tomorrow before WINTER NEMO traps us all inside. I must go out and have some drinks tonight too because of this. TTFN.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Of Course It Was DAY 13

A smirk gleamed across the girl at Walgreens' face when I asked if there was a toll to take the bridge to Wisconsin. Hey, we don't have these free bridges in the Bay Area ok? Tonight, my media tour continues as I appear on the Walt Dizzo radio show. We'll be playing some original tunes, talking about Duluth, & contemplating whatever is fun & fancy free.

This morning my cinematographer's car broke down as we were out shooting tourist attractions. That pic of the Depot was enough to break his serpentine belt. When asked if Kevin had any words for the blog, he replied "No comment." Hopefully his car will be fixed by tomorrow and a special thanks to production assistant Libby for rescuing us. Because of this auto fail, we did have to reschedule one scene on the weekend but otherwise, things have been running relatively smoothly. Well outside of nearly everyone in the cast & crew get insulted & threatened by the hometown drunks at the Round-Up bar last night. We'll be back there in the morning when there just won't be enough time to get plastered.

Yesterday, I was given free reign of the Duluth News Tribune offices and whenever given that opportunity, I put 5 women in fanciful latin dancer costumes. Sorry, no spoiler pics. From there, we went over to the Blackwater Lounge to get a guerrilla shot of HOT Duluth nightlife (see, the film IS fictional), over to Chris LeBlanc's house for his role as the redditor troubled by litter box problems, and we went to 1:00 am getting our lead, Shane May carrying boxes & stalking people. It was a cold outdoor shoot. I was told I looked like Kurt Russell from "The Thing." I felt I looked more like Kenny from South Park.  

Today, we got the awkward date scene at Bellisio's & the anything-but-hot sex webcam scene. It all looks fabulous and the credit there goes to cinematographer Kevin Horn. This will certainly be the most polished looking of my work thus far. My prior films generally tend to have the early 80s music video aesthetic. I hope nothing gets lost in the gloss. I think it will be a good film. Pretty artsy fartsy, if you're into that. The tragedy will be really tragic and the comedy will be really absurd. It's a personal goal to adequately gel those two. I've played around with it in some of my other films (Chickens In The Shadows has been said to be really dark despite "Taste The Biscuit") but I think "Duluth" will be more of a drama with comedic elements than vice versa. I'm excited for the finished product.

The local news came by to do a story while we were filming yesterday. Here's that interview with behind-the-scenes footage: Ok, seriously what's with my hair? It's just everywhere. I really look crazy. Like a totally insane European director (despite being from Stockton, CA). You can actually see the insanity, like this man truly has no idea of where he is or what he's doing. This is all true by the way. I just don't remember being so obvious. I finally am the pretentious artist type I tried so hard for so long not to fit into. Can somebody CGI a beret & a glass of red wine into my interview scenes? 

Well off to do some radio and back to filming at 8:30 tomorrow morning! Please drive safely.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

DAY 12: The Vincent Gargiulo Media Blitz!!

I don't have much time to talk. We start filming in a few hours and I still need to tell myself that I'm smart enough, good enough, and that people like me. So in lieu, here are a bunch of articles that came out TODAY about my work.

Here's one from the San Francisco Bay Guardian talking a little about Duluth, David's Pizza, & my Muppetless Movie which is playing at the SF Indiefest Feb. 17 & 19.,0

On the local front, here's one from the Duluth News Tribune telling you where I'll be so you can properly stalk me.

Fox 21 News is coming later to the set, so there will probably be a story on TV tonight. The lesson here kids is if you want anybody to pay attention to your rinky dink short film, go to a random place and offend it. 

Occasionally, I like to check out the analytics of this blog. Here's what people searched for to find it. Notice anything funny here?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DAY 11: Filming Eve

I really hope my cast/crew appreciate me braving the elements to make sure we know exactly where we're shooting, even if it means making huge fashion fopas and getting Niagara-like amounts of mucus in my balaclava. But don't let's start.

We start shooting tomorrow and it will be the busiest day of all, doing almost twice as many shots than on Thu & Fri. The largest amount of cast will also be on hand. At one point, there will be 5 women dressed like this. Along with cast/crew, I'm told the local news is coming by as well as random fans & onlookers. It'll be a long, crazy night. I apologize now to the crew, but IT GETS BETTER the next two days. Why pack it all into three days? Purely financial reasons. In shoots like this, I use my "good enough" approach.

Today was jam packed getting ready for tomorrow. I stopped by Ace Hardware to get some supplies when I heard an old man complaining he had to come all the way from West Duluth! Buddy, I came all the way from California to go to this Ace Hardware. I went to the grocery store & Walgreens & the post office & ended the outdoor day, going along the lakewalk looking for "the bench" where our lead sings the title song. It was bloody cold.

I'm afraid I'm going to have cut tonight's entry short. Tomorrow will likely be short too. I have to finally do what I'm here to do and that requires rest. My curlers are in and my cucumber mask is on (Hey, I'm gonna be on tv ok!) Goodnight.

Monday, February 4, 2013

DAY 10: You've Made It This Far

I love this apartment I'm staying in but whoever lives above me walks way too hard. I shouldn't hear every footstep you make.

We start filming Wednesday and today has been spent making sure everything is in order. Had an rehearsal with Shane, who plays the Lead. He's required to sing two songs. My songs are not the easiest things to sing as I have no use for traditional song structure but we spent a good time working on the songs and with some practice, I think he'll knock it out. I know he will. After Shane, I visited with Nadia who's playing the Adult Webcam Performer. That scene is improvised so we just went over the tones & emotions of the character. We wondered if she would perform on the bed or the couch. I don't believe we came up with a definitive answer. Which would you pleasure yourself on?

From there, I went to the Goodwill store to buy some dweeby shirts for the Office Worker character. Got em'. I also looked for a plaid flannel shirt for myself, just to look more Duluthian but nothing really spoke to me. I did however find some great VHS tapes. As some may know, I collect the worst in VHS tapes. Today, I scored "William Wegmen's Alphabet Soup", the cult film starring Siamese twins, "Chained For Life", "Bible Sing-Along For Kids" (featuring the Sunshine Kids), and something called "Treasures Of The Snow: A Classic Study on How Principles of Life Were Applied To Family Conflicts." This last tape apparently was previously owned by John & Kathie of Bemidji, MN. I hope they worked out their issues. There was another video which I did not purchase called "Honesty featuring The Indian Cinderella." I didn't wanna know.

When I returned home, I received a phone call from Justin at NBC News 6 in Duluth who wanted to do an interview. He wanted to do it live in person on camera so I was forced to put my pants back on and head down to the studio. I was surprised we did it outside. I haven't mentioned it, but yeah, it's still cold here. That story goes on tonight around 10:00p. I told him to edit it in a way that made me look evil, just to keep the fury alive. Everyone asks me if I think Duluth is horrible. Not really. Parts of it are but that's every city. Even good ol' San Francisco where I reside certainly has horrible stuff - too expensive, can't park anywhere, massive homelessness, and cold & overcast in Summer, for example. The interviewer asked me why people would watch something called "Duluth Is Horrible." I'm sure they rather watch that than "Duluth Is A Beautiful Place." Sounds super boring.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 9: What's In A Name?

The other night I went to a house party and met somebody who was cold, cynical, and the opposite of this Minnesota Nice thing I've experienced. We immediately hit it off and she invited me out last night. I was sure she was going to stand me up, so I was amazed and slightly disappointed when she was actually there. However, she left within 10 minutes proving she has enough Minnesota Nice in her to make sure I got there before ditching me. Luckily, she left me with some interesting & nice people. One such lady named Kate gave me a book of her poetry and then escorted me to Tycoons, where she gave me a lesson about how the highway was created. I gave her a motivational speech about feeding off the people who fucked you over in life. I met other people: an older man who said his thoughts were not important, the director of the local Burlesque troupe, and a younger man successfully pulling off Grandpa's clothes. I've been terribly social here and been wondering why I'm not this cool in San Francisco.

My film is a sociology experiment. What seems interesting is that the press is making it bigger than it actually is. It's 20 minutes of just people moping around in some silly art movie. This is a threat? I can't wait till its done and actually shows here. What a shitstorm that'll be! The last time I got this much attention for a title was for my film I Am Jesus Christ, but even then I wasn't once mentioned on God's blog. I watched that Google Fiber video in which Google is presented as a little girl in a tracksuit who comes to Duluth to send old ladies on jets. This video is far more damaging to the town than anything in my film. And Mr. Mayor, I'm still awaiting my puppy dog.

I'm enjoying my celeb status here so much that I've decided to open a new midwest video division. I already bought the space and it'll be called Vincent Gargiulo's Horrible Productions.

Artist Rendering

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 8: Terribly Boring Post About Writing Emails

Today has been the most exhaustive day yet and I haven't even left the house. I made my casting decisions this morning and then proceeded to spend the next couple hours trying to coordinate everyone's schedule. I think I finally got it. Then, I sent emails to everyone letting them know they've been cast and the schedule. I sent emails to those who didn't get in too. It's almost an entirely Duluthian cast. Most do not have alot of acting credits to their name, but I feel confident in all of them.   

Last night, I sang a few tunes at the Round-Up karaoke bar. We're filming there next week. My haunting renditions of the Doors "Touch Me" & Ray Charles "You Don't Know Me" brought down the house and prompted hugs, high-fives, and suggestions to go on American Idol. I suggested maybe Duluth Idol but they were convinced I was ready for the big show...I also got feedback on my boots which apparently make me look like I'm "from the country." I'm just glad I figured out a few days ago that it does matters which foot they're on.

What Am I Doin' Hanging Round?:

Friday, February 1, 2013

DAY 7: I'm Too Sexy For This Balaclava

NOTE: If you're an actor who tried out for the film, I will be sending emails tomorrow. I believe I made my choices but wanna sleep on it. 

Besides I have karaoke to attend! Going to make a research trip out to the Round-Up tonight. I was there earlier today and talked to the manager. He's letting me film there but it will be in the morning, not at regularly scheduled karaoke times. That is now. And I just want to see the setup. I guess you'll know where I'll be tonight if you wanna say hello or kick me in the balls.

Speaking of saying hello, I was having dinner with Meghan & Bryan at the Duluth Grill and sure enough I was approached by someone who recognized me. They shook my hand, said they liked the title and my other films. I could get used to this celebrity business. Incidentally, I've never had fish served to me in the shape of a cinnamon roll.

Today was the coldest day I've felt yet. My nose hasn't quite been the same since this morning. I blew my nose and a penguin came out. The weather prompted me to pull out my arctic clothing. So get ready girls, here now is a fashion show just for YOU.