We’re hosting a Slumber Party Massacre at Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2020
We’re delighted to be debuting in Berlin with a special event at the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2020! FGBFF showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. They’re committed to creating space for female voices and visions, whether monstrous, heroic or some messy combination of the two, in the horror genre. Late last year, we hosted the Best of Final Girls Berlin 2019, showcasing some of the incredible directed-by-women horror shorts featured at last year’s festival.
In the Berlin 2020 programme, we’ll be screening the triple F-Rated ’80s slasher The Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Holden Jones, 1982) alongside Riot grrrl B-movie short I Was A Teenage Serial Killer (Sarah Jacobson, 1993) at City Kino Wedding on Saturday, 8th February 2020.
Slumber Party Massacre | When Trish (Michele Michaels) decides to invite her high school basketball teammates over for a slumber party, she has no idea the night is going to end with an unexpected guest crashing the party – an escaped power drill-wielding killer. Directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown, Slumber Party Massacre was originally penned by Brown as a parody of the slasher genre. Rehashed by producers into a ‘serious’ slasher, Slumber Party Massacre retains its original intentions as a celebration and acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of the genre, offering up an inversion of the male gaze and lots of murders by power tools.
Before Slumber Party Massacre, Final Girls are screening Sarah Jacobson’s classic short I Was A Teenage Serial Killer (1993), AGFA’s recent preservation of which we debuted in Scotland at Weird Weekend 2019.
I Was A Teenage Serial Killer | Sarah Jacobson’s punk-spirited DIY films from the 1990s combine B-movie aesthetics and riot grrrl feminism, standing as a testament to the vision, determination, and raw talent of the Queen of Underground Cinema. I Was A Teenage Serial Killer, a 27-minute short, is Slacker meets Valerie Solanas, as a 19-year-old woman responds to catcalls, condescension, and bad sex the only way she knows how: murder.
The Slumber Party Massacre screens at City Kino Wedding, Berlin, on Saturday 8th February, 2020. Tickets are on sale here.
View the full Final Girls Berlin Film Festival programme here.
Keep up-to-date with the Facebook event page here.
Janice Forsyth invited our producer Megan Mitchell to discusses the rise in popularity of subtitled films on BBC Radio Scotland’s Afternoon Show
Megan was invited on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Afternoon Show yesterday (16/12/2019) to discuss subtitling in films, with host Janice Forsyth and writer, academic and programmer Pasquale Iannone. If you’re in Britain, you can listen to the segment (for the next 29 days, at least) on the BBC’s website, here.
BBC doesn’t currently provide transcripts of its radio shows, so we’ve made one ourselves. Read it below, download a PDF here, or listen along with our subtitled clip.
Janice Forsyth: Now, until recently, subtitles and film and television were restricted to foreign language presentations, but now, well, I think a lot of us expect them as an option, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, BBC iPlayer, which offer so many shows fully captioned or subtitles. It’s great for world cinema and allows viewers to broaden their horizons from their living room but, apart from that, should we be captioning and subtitling everything anyway for reasons of inclusivity and have audiences become more adept at watching and reading at the same time? Well, here to help us explore how things are changing are two film buffs. In our Edinburgh studio, Afternoon Show regular and Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone. Ciao, Pasquale.
Pasquale Iannone: Ciao, Janice. Come va?
Janice: No bad.
Pasquale: No bad! “I’m awright.”
Janice: Awright, son! And with me in Glasgow is Megan Mitchell, producer with independent film exhibitor Matchbox Cineclub. She’s also co-founder – I love this – of the first film festivals anywhere in the world dedicated to Keanu Reeves… and Nicolas Cage. Megan, welcome.
Megan Mitchell: Thank you for having me on.
Janice: Great to have you here. So, tell us about Matchbox Cineclub. It’s such a brilliant title. What does it do?
Megan: So we are basically, as you said, independent film exhibitors which means, really simply, that we screen films across the UK, even though we’re based predominantly in Glasgow. We screen everything, as you said, from classic Keanu Reeves and some cagey Cage all the way through to experimental Japanese cinema, world cinema and everything in between. We’re really interested in cult films and cult audiences.
Janice: Wow, that’s interesting. Park Circus films did something like that you know, years ago, it was like Park Circus, they were based in Park Circus, they’re based in Glasgow, and became huge as distributors. Have they been a kind of shining example to you of what can be done?
Megan: Yeah, and actually we’re really good pals with Park Circus. They’ve supplied quite a few of our titles, particularly some of the harder to get things. They’re a really good resource for us and any exhibitors across the UK, actually.
Janice: That’s great. All power to you. So, what about this, then, this phenomenon? I think many of us who do watch and maybe binge on box sets on the various streaming services, um… Well, I mean, let’s get out of the way the whole idea of actually sometimes it’s not to do with needing them because it’s a foreign language. For me, and sometimes other people, I mean, going way back to something like The Wire, I was so pleased when I discovered that there was a subtitling… there was access to subtitling so I could really understand the brilliant dialogue. Do you, Megan, see that there’s been a big increase in this, in proper, fully captioned, subtitled films?
Megan: Absolutely and I think that younger generations particularly are now expecting that subtitles are on cinema we’re seeing it across not just streaming platforms, particularly Netflix and MUBI, who are captioning 100% of their content, or subtitling 100% of their content but particularly on social media and, you know, with the use of phones, we’ve got captioned content on video content there because no-one’s, you know, turning off their music or putting on their earphones to listen to something when they’re out and about, so I think with the increase of that, that’s leaking through into cinema and what audiences are expecting and I think, as you rightly said, access is a massive part of that as well, that there’s this crossover with people who, you know, aren’t particularly deaf or, you know, recognising themselves as such but finding subtitles massively helpful in understanding what’s happening on-screen.
Janice: Yeah. Yeah. It is fascinating, isn’t it, Pasquale…
Janice: Because, obviously, you know, with Italian cinema, it’s no problem for you and presumably other languages as well, but it is terrific to have that option, but, for a long time, people, some people, would be a bit squeamish, “Oh, you know, “it’s a pain in the neck to have to read the subtitles as well.” Do you see a sea change now?
Pasquale: Yeah, I think so. I mean, there’s this idea that, you know, all non-English-language films are somehow art cinema, they’re art house films, they’re inaccessible, they’re complex, they’re…they’re cryptic, etc, and we know, obviously, that that’s not the case. I mean, granted, there are some of those titles but I mean there’s a huge variety of films of all different types of genres on all the streaming platforms, really. I mean, I was looking through Netflix, and there’s some incredible films. There’s an Indonesian action movie, The Raid, The Raid 1 & 2, incredible film, and of course it’s all, kind of, in Indonesian and it is not an arthouse film, the way we would think of it. And it’s this whole idea of subtitles versus dubbing, ’cause over here, obviously, we’re not really used to dubbing, as a culture, and it feels weird, I think, whereas some other cultures in Europe dubbing is very much the norm and… But, I think, yeah, I mean, it’s this idea of having the original.
Pasquale: And if it’s… If you have to have subtitles, then fine. I mean, there are actually some directors who say, “No, no, I’ve spent ages composing this image, “I don’t want text on it.”
Pasquale: There are very few of those.
Janice: I think most directors would surely prefer that than dubbing. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when we used to have foreign language export/import, or whatever it is, telly after school, so there would be Robinson Crusoe and Belle and Sebastian and it was it was all the dubbing but it was hilarious, because… Certainly, my brother and I just used to spend our time impersonating the very bad English-accented foreign voices. It was very, very funny. What about, Megan, mainstream cinemas? How many mainstream cinemas are regularly screening captioned or subtitled films?
Megan: I mean, I actually took a look at us this morning before I came in, because usually we’re sitting in the mid-teens for subtitled screenings in multiplexes across Glasgow for a whole week. This week, it’s took a massive upswing because of Star Wars. There are 26 subtitled screenings across Glasgow this week. That’s a choice of six films including one screening of Frozen 2. However, if you do not require subtitles or aren’t looking for something that’s subtitled, you can go to Glasgow’s biggest multiplex today and see 60 screenings across 12 films, so I think there’s a massive, still a massive gap in terms of film screening exhibition access. In Glasgow, we’re seeing a massive increase in terms of independent exhibitors actually taking up the mantle of access and doing 100% or trying to achieve increased captions so earlier this year, Matchbox actually took the choice to dedicate 100% of our programming to captioning so that all of the films we screen, regardless of whether they’re English or foreign language have captions and subtitles so that anyone can come along and enjoy the films.
Janice: Is that an expensive business to do?
Megan: Funnily enough, my colleague at Matchbox, Sean Welsh, he is a professional subtitler, so he subtitles and captions for MUBI and freelance so we can do it in-house but we’ve also seen an increase in funding, so that other organisations can reach out to us or other subtitlers and get that. We’re seeing that, on the production side, in terms of distributors for films, they’re still not supplying or producing subtitles so it means that even if people are wanting to screen their films accessibly, they just can’t.
Janice: Yeah. It’s interesting this, isn’t it, Pasquale? I mean, also ’cause, you know, subtitled films you can totally imagine as an education resource for language students.
Pasquale: Totally, yeah, and it’s an incredibly useful tool, as is music, of course, but, I mean, especially with film and it’s something that, you know, when I was at school, when I were a lad, you know, going back to the mid to late ’90s, I mean, you didn’t have that. I mean, you didn’t have the… You had the old… You still had old VHS and DVD was coming in, but it was nowhere near this amount of accessibility that you have now and so a tool, like this language learning in Netflix, is superb. I mean, it just allows viewers to watch foreign language shows with subtitles both in the original language and the English and you can pause it to really kind of absorb what they’ve just seen. Obviously, there’s some series and TV programmes that are better suited for this kind of thing. I mean, I was thinking… I was thinking of some series that are given some flack for their sound, the way that actors mumble, the way that actors… apparently, the Director General of the BBC said, “Muttering is something we should have a look at.”
Pasquale: Back in 2013!
Janice: I love that. So W1A, isn’t it? Yeah! But there was an audibility project apparently in 2009, involving a 20,000 panel of viewers and listeners so this idea of sound and being able to catch every single thing but sometimes you don’t actually need to catch every single thing. It does really depend on the film, on the TV show. And how much is relayed through dialogue, and how much is relayed through the visual side.
Janice: Yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently because, Megan, I’ve been, you know, I was lucky enough to go to a BAFTA screening of The Irishman, so I saw it on the big screen. It wasn’t that big a screen, but it was a big screen And I was really glad I was able to do that. However, I have to admit, during it… I mean, I loved it, I really, really enjoyed it, but during it I was thinking, “Oh, I can’t quite catch what he said there,” and I was imagining that moment where I could pause and get the subtitles up. And I was just personifying exactly what Pasquale’s talking about. It was like, “Wait a minute, enjoy this master at work, “look at these visuals, just take in the whole thing, “maybe later…” Fortunately, it’s on Netflix, so I can look at the subtitles, but it’s interesting about how it maybe affects our experience of just sinking into the film.
Megan: Yeah, but I think in terms of the availability of the subtitles and captions, particularly when you do go to the cinema you might be able to sink into the film a wee bit easier if subtitles aren’t on the screen, but if someone needs subtitles, they can’t view the film.
Janice: That’s it.
Pasquale: Yeah. I think there’s a really interesting conversation around that, particularly with art house cinemas and the idea that they are maybe a wee bit hesitant to put captions on their English language content, even though they screen predominantly foreign language, but they’re not hesitant to put out their wheelchair ramp.
Megan: And it’s that type of same access that they’re providing, so I think that there’s a larger conversation around why we want subtitles on films, and it’s because of the idea that more people can go see these films and enjoy them.
Janice: Don’t you think, Pasquale, that because there’s been a sea change in people like me enjoying, for the small screen anyway, the ability, to do with the mumbling or whatever, to be able to, you know, actually see, read what they’re saying, don’t you think, because of that, there should be less hesitancy amongst arthouse cinemas or wherever to roll out the subtitles and the captions for English language films?
Pasquale: Yeah, I mean, I do think so. I mean, obviously it’s something that happens a lot in other countries but obviously it’s very different over here, so maybe there’s less of this pressure, perhaps, to put it on these screens, but it’s definitely something that happens in Italy in France, where you have cinemas playing all the big hitters, all the big films in dubbed versions, but also with, in original versions as well.
Janice: Yeah. Certainly, thinking about what you’re doing with Matchbox Cinema Club [sic], is there a lot of… I mean, do you go for a lot of foreign language films or is that not what your main thrust is when you’re thinking of programming?
Megan: So, our main, core programme is about films you can’t see anywhere else, so that’s predominantly archive and world cinema, so foreign language. We also have our tent pole, larger weekend festivals, that are a wee bit more mainstream films, but they’re all captioned as well. And, for us, a lot of that is that we’re able to produce those captions in-house but we’re also, you know, able to bring in people – you can see Con Air, maybe on Netflix, but you can’t see it, you know, captioned on the big screen elsewhere.
Janice: Yeah. Just finally, what you were saying there, Pasquale, you were talking about a brilliant Indonesian action film.
Janice: That’s the thing, there’s such a richness out there and I’m as guilty as anybody else of not exploring, you know, the rest of the world’s cinema ’cause there’s so much else to catch up with and somebody like Mark Cousins always makes me feel guilty ’cause he plunges into it all the time, but there’s so much brilliant film-making going on, right around the globe. Yeah, and actually, talk about Mark Cousins, I mean, Moviedrome was a real formative moment for me in terms of film education, that great series back in the ’90s and with Mark Cousins and Alex Cox, but, yeah, I mean, just one look at Netflix, and I was just having a look at the international titles that they have and on their front page, the lead page is The Pianist, the Roman Polanski film.
Pasquale: But I was just looking at some others that they’ve got. They’ve got this terrific film called The Guilty, which is a film, a Danish film. One actor, just one actor in the film, so a bit like that film Locke, with Tom Hardy.
Pasquale: This is about an emergency police dispatcher who takes a call from a kidnapped woman. Very, very spare locations. Very, very suspenseful 90 minutes, less than 90 minutes and you’re done. And it’s a terrific film!
Janice: I’m writing it down. Guilty. Thank you very much indeed. Do you know what? We’ve talked so much, I can only play a little bit of the final song now, but I thought that was fascinating. Thank you very much indeed, Pasquale Iannone and Megan Mitchell. Cheers.
Megan: Thank you.
Pasquale: Thank you.
Janice: And, Megan, yeah, Cage-a-rama 2020 taking place from the 3rd to 5th of January at the CCA in Glasgow, for all your Nicolas Cage needs, hosted by Megan and her team. Thank you very much indeed.
All of Matchbox Cineclub’s programmed is subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. Keep up to date with our events by signing up to our mailing list, here, or find our events on Facebook here. For more information on our subtitling service, read our dedicated page here.
Cage-a-rama 2020 takes place 3rd, 4th and 4th January 2020 at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Buy tickets here.
Matchbox Cineclub are pleased to announce Marco Kyris, Nicolas Cage’s official stand-in for over ten years, will attend our third annual Cage-a-rama film festival at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts on 3rd, 4th & 5th January 2020 and afterwards embark on a UK-wide Cage-a-rama: Uncaged tour.
Marco, who worked with Cage on almost 20 films between 1994-2005, will join Lindsay Gibb, Toronto-based author of National Treasure: Nicolas Cage and world-leading Nicolas Cage expert, for an in-conversation event and a screening of Uncaged: A Stand-in Story at CCA Glasgow on Saturday 4th January. Kyris will also introduce several of Cage-a-rama 2020’s films across the festival weekend: Leaving Las Vegas (for which Cage won an Academy Award® for Best Actor), the first of the fan-favourite National Treasure films, and Martin Scorsese’s urban horror Bringing Out the Dead, the latter of which he will introduce alongside journalist Josh Slater-Williams (Sight & Sound, Little White Lies).
Kyris has also guest-programmed a special opening night screening of one of his favourite collaborations with Cage, Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes, followed by a Q&A. Throughout the festival, Marco will be open to any questions about his “Cage Wage” years, and share genuine call-sheets and other Cage memorabilia from his archive – and might be persuaded to part with them if audience members pose good enough questions. Cage-a-rama’s opening night is sponsored by Drygate.
Directors Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) and Stephen Campanelli (Grand Isle) will introduce their films via specially recorded videos. Joining them are Nicolas Cage aficionados from across the globe, including Timon Singh of Bristol Bad Film Club, Torïo Garcia of the Spanish NicCagepedia, and Mike Manzi & Joey Lewandowski, the New Jersey-based hosts of the much-loved #CageClub: The Nicolas Cage Podcast.
The subsequent Cage-a-rama 2020 UK Tour will feature a 35mm screening of Con Air at the Genesis Cinema in London on Thursday 9th January, and a 20th-anniversary screening of Gone in 60 Seconds in collaboration with Bristol Bad Film Club at Bristol Improv Theatre on Saturday 11th January. Both screenings will be accompanied by Marco Kyris’s short film, Uncaged: A Stand-In Story, and a post-screening Q&A.
Cage-a-rama 2020 highlights Cage’s relationship with directors: from big guns to young guns, from huge budgets to low ones, from his career’s early days to now. The festival features 10 films over three days, closing with the UK premiere of brand-new Nicolas Cage film Primal (2019), to be released by Lionsgate in February 2020. Sunday 5th January also sees the UK premiere of Grand Isle, which pairs Cage with Kelsey Grammer, set to be released by 101 Films. The rest of the programme features Cage classics from some of his earliest roles, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married and Top Gun “homage” Fire Birds, to blockbuster sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets and a midnight screening of Zandalee, his erotic thriller co-starring Judge Reinhold.
Cage-a-rama 2020 Weekend and Day Passes and individual tickets are on sale via Matchbox Cineclub’s online shop. Tickets for Con Air in London are available via Genesis Cinema’s website (genesiscinema.co.uk) and tickets for Gone in 60 Seconds can be purchased via Bristol Improv Theatre (improvtheatre.co.uk).
For the first time, the entire Glasgow Cage-a-rama programme will be open-captioned for D/deaf audiences, and tickets for each film are priced on a sliding scale, £0-8, with reference to our three-tiered guide, so audience members decide what to pay.
Queer Classics’ Lydia Honeybone on queer kinship in 1980s Berlin counterculture
Growing up in the 1990s, some of my favourite films featured queer characters and, coming out as a teenager, they became my idols. I learnt about queer culture from the drag queens played by Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Robin Williams in The Bird Cage (1996), and Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christian Bale in Velvet Goldmine (1998). But, surprisingly, these roles were all played by straight actors – not a single one of them openly identifies as queer.
I began this blog post thinking I’d write a critical text on issues raised by straight actors playing queer roles and, while I still believe there is a necessary conversation to be held about appropriation, and the need for affirmative action within casting, on re-watching City of Lost Souls (Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen, Rosa von Praunheim,1983), and looking back at queer/drag on-screen representation, another question arose: how have we arrived at this moment in cinematic history, where we ‘homonormatise’ our on-screen queers?
While it’s commendable that queer characters have moved from supporting roles to centre stage, from the gay sidekick BFF (see Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)), to more fully realised characters (such as Simon in Love, Simon (2018)), these more prominent roles seem to have been made more palatable for a wider audience, a kind of glossing-over. It seems that in the process of moving centre stage, queer on-screen representation has had to be cleaned up and diluted for a wider audience.
Viewing City of Lost Souls, we soon discover there is no attempt to gloss-over or dilute queer experience. This is apparent in the choice of characters themselves, including Angie Stardust, a black trans lesbian woman and Tara O’Hara, a trans sex worker. Then there is Lila, played by Jayne Country, a trans actress/punk musician of the era. Arguably the campest and most fabulous character in the film – as well as the most confusing – I only realised she was playing a cis woman when the character becomes pregnant! City of Lost Souls intentionally fucks with you. It’s challenging, camp, and slapstick.
Between the cabaret numbers and outlandish punk performances, there are few moments that could be described as ‘tender’, but there is one that stands out. In this scene Angie Stardust and Tara O’Hara are getting ready for a night out, reminiscent of the Werk Room on RuPaul’s Drag Race, or the dressing rooms of Paris is Burning (1990), but during this moment, they discuss their gender identities and differing attitudes to gender across their respective generations.
Tara have a complex exchange about their own gender expressions. Angie is
seeking gender-realignment surgery, and is adamant that, in the narrator’s
words, she “won’t become an old man”. Tara, of a younger generation,
self-identifies as “transvestite”, and “third sex”, not
feeling the need for surgery. Identifying as a woman with the anatomy she was
born with, Tara accuses Angie of being old-school in her mindset.
not been murdered in a homophobic attack in 1983, how would Tara O’Hara feel
about her gender expression? Would she have found kinship in the ballrooms of 1990s
New York, in Paris is Burning, and
the legendary mother Pepper
LaBejia of the House of LaBejia? Schooling the children, she famously said
“having the vagina, that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have a fabulous
Angie is a fierce character throughout, bursting onto the screen in the opening song, telling the staff of the Hamburger Queen to stop messing around and get back to work. In her scene with Tara, this anger is channelled into educating her young prodigy on the struggles the trans community faced, ultimately allowing her to be free in her gender expression. This sensitive and nuanced exchange between these two very different women, is a rare gem of political debate in an otherwise brash, bombastic queer musical!
reason this otherwise inconsequential scene stands out for me, is a shocking indication
of how little progress we, as queer people, have made when it comes to the wider
recognition of gender diversity. I’m left questioning how queer culture has
failed to make the gains we looked set to achieve in 1994, when we celebrated
Terence Stamp’s portrait of Bernadette, a trans woman who performed ‘womanhood’
in her job as a drag queen in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
It is problematic to hold up RuPaul’s Drag Race as the benchmark by which we judge all representations of queerness on-screen, but with viewer numbers through the roof, 13 Emmys and a growing international fanbase, Mama Ru has reached audiences previously unimaginable to drag queens. For many people RuPaul’s Drag Race is queer culture. But, with their questionable stance on trans inclusivity and homogenised beauty standards, is Drag Race partly responsible for the ‘homonormativity’ we find across queer popular culture today? How have we strayed so far from the ’80s/’90s queer representation that was so gender fluid and wholly inclusive?
what makes revisiting City of Lost Souls so exciting and utterly
pertinent. It is a chance to enter into an absurd world of queer kinship, where
a trans woman plays the role of a woman assigned female at birth, a drag queen
self identifies as “the third sex” and her best friend is a black, trans,
lesbian who reigns over their household as a fierce matriarch. The rules of
gender are broken and rebuilt in our viewing of this bizarre, queer
extravaganza, about love, rejection, violence and self-expression.
of Lost Souls never
achieved the box-office success of Priscilla, or even the cult status of
Paris is Burning, but it is an incredible reflection of the Berlin underground
in the 1980s. Indeed, perhaps its relative obscurity allowed it to be so
Ultimately, I hope Hollywood casting directors will realise that they need to do better and start casting queer people in queer roles (like the brilliantly-cast Tangerine (2015)). Until then, maybe we will need to keep looking to the margins to find our contemporary queer idols.
Matchbox Cineclub and Queer Classics present City Of Lost Souls at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow on Monday 18th November, as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO. bfimusicals.co.uk
Tickets are priced on a sliding scale £0-8, and are available exclusively here.
Reptilian aliens, shoegaze and the end of the world. Diet Soda Cineclub’s Teri Williams sets up our upcoming co-screening of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy
Is Gregg Araki the patron saint of the alienated teen? His work, which now spans over three decades, has helmed a wave of new queer cinema that began with radical low budget films like The Living End and is now cutting through the abundant noise of shiny teen TV drama with the excellent Now Apocalypse, a hark to the trilogy that arguably started this whole beautiful mess: the Teen Apocalypse Trilogy. So pucker up, light up, and read on to find out more about how the godfather of rebellious youth framed a generation in neon rainbow colours that remains ever so relevant in this strange, doom-laden landscape we’re living in right now.
Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere were made and released in the mid-90s, when tie-dye and inflatable furniture was in, and Gen Z queer icons Amandla Stenberg, Chloe Grace Moretz and Hunter Schafer were mere twinkles in their parents’ eyes. It’s arguable to say that these three films, and Gregg’s subsequent features like Mysterious Skin and Kaboom! paved the way for a plethora of queer and teen-centric media today. He’s even had a guest director spot on a few episodes of 13 Reasons Why, one of the most talked about teen TV shows of recent times.
The Teen Apocalypse Trilogy was never seen as a critical success. Maybe because most of the film reviewers assessing them at the time were deliberately far removed from the worlds shown on screen – there’s nothing a middle-aged white man hates more than teen disenchantment, disengagement, disaffection. Not to mention all of that ambiguous sexuality, questions of gender identity and complete disregard for populist politics and society. Gregg’s films depict utter doom in the purest sense, where teens find themselves facing alienation and actual aliens, out to pull them free from the crazy world they’re struggling to fit into.
The first film in the trilogy, aptly titled Totally Fucked Up, stars Araki-darling James Duval, who we see throughout a large number of Gregg’s work. His inky black eyes, pouty mouth and Keanu-hair make him an instant pin up in the franchise, but what makes James stand out is his flat, carefree valleyboy accent, often used as narration, particularly in his starring role in Nowhere. He is part of a group of six young gay teenagers who have come together as a family of misfits. Largely filmed with a handheld video camera, the movie has a grainy, homemade quality to it reminiscent to the early work of the great John Waters, and as intimate as the talking head portions of modern reality TV.
The Doom Generation, which is a roadtrip movie, stars Rose McGowan and her iconic Mia Wallace haircut, hurtling through the desolate landscape of nighttime LA with boyfriend Jordan (James Duval) and new arrival X (Jonathon Schaech). Their blossoming triage-ship is wrought with jealousy, confusion, and terrifying encounters throughout the way,
The third film, Nowhere, showcases Gregg’s obsession with alienation in a comically literal sense. Its bisexual hero, again played by James Duval, is on a manic search for the alien race who is taking over his community and friends, stalking him as he navigates his failing relationship with girlfriend Mel and falling for new town arrival Montgomery.
So there you have it. Three films – a portrait movie, a roadtrip movie, and a sci-fi fantasy – each exploring themes of existential doom and teenage heartbreak that, each with their own rad, acidic soundtrack and palette of blindingly neon colours, paved the way for a multitude of queer cinema that celebrates the weird and subversive, an aloof middle finger to the mainstream. And maybe that’s what we need to celebrate right now.
Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy screens at the CCA Glasgow as part of Scalamara Glasgow on Thursday 26th September, 2019. Buy tickets here.
Basic principles, dos and don’ts and tips for promoting your film screenings online
This is intended to provide basic principles and practical tips for making the best use of social media, as an independent film exhibitor. It’s not intended to be definitive, or a magic wand to conjure likes, shares and follows. Different things will work for different exhibitors and different events. If you have any tips or advice to add, please let us know!
Basic Social Media Dos
Have a clear identity for your page
Have a clear idea who you want to appeal to
Be concise – keep it short and economical
Be as visual as possible
Be discoverable – use hashtags (appropriately)
Be responsive – if people engage with your posts, engage with them – and reply to queries ASAP.
Be a real person – e.g. post a picture of you putting up a poster, rather than the poster itself
Use active language and calls-to-arms (Buy, try, “get tickets”, “check this out”)
Post regularly (keeping in mind the requirements of each platform)
Tailor/adapt your content and tone for different platforms
Pay attention to what works well for you, your page and your events
Research – see what other exhibitors, venues, platforms are doing that works and suits you
Experiment – most platforms share information with you so you can easily find what works and what doesn’t
Develop a strategy based on all of the above
Plan and schedule posts
Ask people or accounts to share your content and share theirs
Basic Social Media Don’ts
Post/talk only about yourself/your event(s)
Panic cluster-post at the last minute
Tag random (or friendly but not immediately relevant) people or accounts in tweets and/or pictures
Re-use (i.e. steal) content without attribution
Overuse hashtags, especially “comedy” hashtags
Content | Always ask the distributor if they have marketing material available. This can include stills, posters, trailers, press releases which you can draw quotes and/or additional information from, and also any guidance to follow, especially if it’s a new or recent release – much better to adhere to their release campaign strategy, if there is one. If it’s an older film, you should still ask if there’s material available. There are also various resources online. Look for the website of the marketing team company, if there is one, which often will host marketing materials for download. For posters in particular, try wrongsideoftheart.com, impawards.com or cinematerial.com (the latter requires a small subscription fee). Don’t use images or material from other people’s screenings, at least without permission.
Presentation | You can optimise your images for presentation on the various platforms (i.e. a portrait-oriented poster won’t display fully on Twitter). Twitter now offers automatic cropping of your images in three styles on its new desktop version. Otherwise, you can make reference to the Always Up-To-Date spreadsheet for social media image sizes, which will give you the right sizes for various uses across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. There’s also a free-to-use online re-sizing tool, Landscape, which you can instruct to automatically resize and download images you upload to whatever specifications you need. Sprout Social have produced guides on presentation for images (here) and videos (here).
Any links you use, you can trim so that they don’t display all the unnecessary detail and they will still work. E.g. “https:// matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” can become “matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” and still work as a hot link on all social media platforms. Better yet, you can sign up for a free bitly.com account and, if they’re not already taken, create shortened links, with customised back-halfs, for free. E.g. bit.ly/WEIRDWEEKEND. On Facebook, you can also tag your events in posts the way you would a person, typing @ followed with the event name to find it.
Finally, you know how sometimes a link from another website won’t present properly, i.e. with no image, or the wrong image? That’s often because it’s never been shared before, and you can get around that by testing the link with Facebook’s debugger or Twitter’s card validator.
Timing/frequency | To boil it right down – post once or twice a day on Facebook, a similar frequency for Instagram and as often as you like on Twitter. Facebook in particular would like to encourage you to pay to boost posts or create sponsored posts, so it’s designed to discourage a wide audience for anything you share that involves a ticket link or an event page. You’re less restricted in posting Stories. Likewise, you have freer rein when posting in Facebook event pages – and it’s a good way to keep people interested between announcing your event and it happening. Beware over-posting, though, because non-stop notifications for attendees can be a drag. Getting the best from Twitter requires investment of your time above all else. A tweet has a half-life of about 30 minutes and to get people to engage with your posts, you also need to engage with theirs. In all cases, its good to share content that isn’t about you or (directly) about your event.
You can also use some statistical information to guide when to get the best response from your posts – Sprout Social (NB otherwise a subscription service) offers some insights for the various platforms. Read their “Best times to post on Social Media for 2019” post here.
Subtitles/Captions | Providing these is necessary to make your posts accessible. It’s also a very basic way to increase engagement, since videos are automatically muted on most platforms. Subtitles draw people in. Facebook and YouTube will auto-generate subtitles which you can then edit, or you can upload them as a separate file. There are also ways to create subtitle files separately and burn them into the video. For more advice on any of that, email email@example.com. Free subtitling software includes: Aegisub, Amara, Belle Nuit Subtitler and Subtitle Edit (Windows only).
NB “Subtitles” describe what’s spoken, while “Captions” also include sound and music labels and speech identifiers, etc.
Alt-text for images | This is a very straightforward way to make your posts accessible for the visually impaired – you add text separately describing the images (but not GIFs or videos) you post. On Twitter, you have to enable the feature via Settings and Privacy > Accessibility. On Facebook, it’s a universal feature, although the alt-text is extremely limited in terms of character count. Read Twitter’s guide here. Read Facebook’s guide here. Read Instagram’s guide here.
How alt-text works on Facebook, preparing to post an image:
How alt-text works on Facebook, after you’ve posted an image:
How alt-text works on Twitter (NB you can’t edit after posting):
Sponsored posts | These can be extremely effective compared to print marketing, especially for independent exhibitors who can’t rely on the same reach, footfall or press attention as venues, festivals or bigger exhibitors. Facebook and Twitter are both very good at targeting to specific people, whether it’s people who already follow your page (and may miss your posts due to the algorithm or the speed of constantly unravelling newsfeeds), or a particular demographic, e.g. people who live near your event, young people, or people who like horror films. Facebook is a lot more user friendly than Twitter, though both require experimentation and attention to get the best results. Some reluctance to engage with this aspect of social media is understandable, but keep in mind, if you’re doing it right, you’re showing people something they want to see.
NB If you’re participating in Scalarama Glasgow/West, Edinburgh/East, or Highlands and Islands, and you’re making Facebook events for September, please make your local Scalarama page a co-host. You can also add something along the lines of “Screening as part of Scalarama 2019” to your event description, and make sure to tag Scalarama in your relevant posts, tweets, etc, using the hashtag #Scalarama or #Scalarama2019.
This guide was made for Scalarama Glasgow’s July 2019 meeting, presented by Sean Welsh. Sean is responsible for Matchbox Cineclub and Scalarama Glasgow’s social media. He also planned and operated social media for Document International Human Rights Film Festival as Production Coordinator in 2016 and 2017.
Passes for Weird Weekend, our cult film festival, are £40 (weekend) or £20 (day), and single tickets are priced on a sliding scale, based on your circumstances – you decide what to pay, with reference to our guide. There are three tiers: Free/£2, £4/£6 and £8.
FREE or £2
• I frequently stress about meeting basic* needs and don’t always achieve them.
• I have debt and it sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs.
• I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing.
• I sometimes can’t afford public or private transport. If I own a car/have access to a car, I am not always able to afford petrol.
• I am unemployed or underemployed.
• I qualify for government and/or voluntary assistance including: food banks and benefits.
• I have no access to savings.
• I have no or very limited expendable** income.
• I rarely buy new items because I am unable to afford them.
• I cannot afford a holiday or have the ability to take time off without financial burden.
£4 or £6
• I may stress about meeting my basic needs but still regularly achieve them.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I can afford public transport and often private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol.
• I am employed.
• I have access to health care.
• I might have access to financial savings.
• I have some expendable income.
• I am able to buy some new items and I buy others second hand.
• I can take a holiday annually or every few years without financial burden.
• I am comfortably able to meet all of my basic needs.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I own my home or property or I rent a higher end property.
• I can afford public and private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol. • I have regular access to healthcare.
• I have access to financial savings.
• I have an expendable** income.
• I can always buy new items.
• I can afford an annual holiday or take time off.
*BASIC NEEDS include food, housing, clothing and transportation.
**EXPENDABLE INCOME might mean you are able to buy coffee or tea at a shop, go to the cinema or a concert, buy new clothes, books and similar items each month, etc.
Weird Weekend takes place at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, on Friday 30/08, Saturday 31/08 and Sunday 01/09/2019.