I can't even begin to guess how many tickets I have taken at the doors of movie theatres over the years, but its certainly a lot. A lot. I thought it was all behind me, that I'd never take another ticket in my life.
But I was wrong.
This Thursday night I'll be taking tickets at the door of just one screen of the Regal Cinemas 16 multiplex in Crocker Park, Westlake, Ohio. There's a special screening going down, and it'll be up to me to keep out the riff raff.
Or, at least, the riff raff who haven't purchased tickets.
The film screening will be Crops: The Movie. The director, George Butiri is a filmmaker from North East Ohio, and this is his second feature film. The first, Alone, was an incredibly low budget affair, which you can check out now on iFilm. Crops might be considerably more ambitious, but the purse was similarly light. And from what I've seen so far, George has squeezed every cent dry, put every penny up there on the screen. Alone has been left behind in the dust.
Crops takes place in a not too distant future, where a secret service called the Alien Combat Element (or A.C.E defend the earth from otherworldly attack. After an elite A.C.E team come across a mysterious young girl it becomes clear that she might be an important key in winning the war against our alien enemies. Crops offers shamelessly gung ho sci-fi action, the kind of movie that made for rock solid rentals ten or fifteen years ago, but with an indie twist, some homebrew bite and free from studio interference. It was a labour of love for George, like a gun-metal elegy to the golden age of video, when the Terminator squared off with the Predator.
This Thursday Crops gets what I believe is its first public screening. Not a premiere - for reasons I pretended not to understand and chose not to question - but a "screener" showing of the film. Several guests will be in attendance - many of them, I expect potential distributors, but also members of cast and crew and the local media.
I've known George since he helped out on some of my short projects late last year. The Enemy Within was shot by George, and very well too - and he kindly donated some of Crops' soundtrack to play on a TV set in the background. John vs Laura was another film of mine that George kindly stepped in, at last moment, to shoot.
When I was cutting The Enemy Within, over at George's place, he previewed some sequences of Crops to me. One was a scene from later in the plot, which contained a few spoilers I've been sworn to not reveal. Earlier stuff was a lot of fun too, and I particularly enjoyed seeing turns from a lot of North East Ohio's indie-film stalwart actors and actresses. Plenty of them had worked with me, on shorter projects, and I really got a kick out of seeing them in scenes from a big, loud action feature.
Mike Reddy and Adam Griffith made a great double act in my film Gray Goo, and they both seem to be having a whale of a time in their scenes in Crops. I didn't give them half as much to work with, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how they do as A.C.E operatives.
George's big star is being billed only as "Zara" in the press release for the screening. She's his action heroine, hailing from the UK, and an award winning old-hand at various martial arts and stunt disciplines. There wasn't much of her leaping about and breaking heads in the clips I saw so far, but I'm promised that she gets her chance to bust a move in the full film.
Most of all, I'm just looking forward to seeing a genuinely independent film. It doesn't happen often enough. The Regal in Crocker park is a good cinema, too - just about the only place decent presentation can be expected in all of North East Ohio - and I think they'll make sure that Crops looks great on screen.
After the premi... er... screening, I'll let you know what went on, how the film was, and, if it can be confirmed by then, where and when Crops will be released around the world. If you are close enough to come to this special screening, and find out just what those spoilers I'm keeping under my hat are, then visit the Crops official website where the remaining tickets to the film, as well as some for the after party, are available now.