Show Me The Aliens!

 

A Book Of Poetry About Making A Movie

 

By Steve Hermanos

 

© Steve Hermanos, all rights reserved

 

www.ShowMeTheAliens.com

 

*   *   *

 

Cannes 2000—On the Croisette

 

I can’t breath,

Anymore,

In this rubber space alien mask,

Skin roasting, wet in the shiny aliens costume,

As I’m handing out flyers to strangers,

Promoting our one-and-only Cannes screening, of

Show Me The Aliens!

 

Sweat-soaked & panting, I yank off the mask,

Revealing fresh sea air & sun;

 

Having lost Devin, Kirk, Andrew,

Alone, I’ll lean on this cement wall; looking over, below—

My God!

I’ve found it! Voilà!

The nude beach section!

Beautiful women!

 

“Steve!

What are you doing in Cannes?!”

 

I turn, behold!

Annette Insdorf, my Columbia Film professor

Clicking towards me,

In a black cocktail dress,

Gold hoop earrings,

Elegant gray streaks in her black hair;

 

Wiping sweat, I

Remove the moist alien gloves,

Explain,

“I’m promoting our movie,” I offer Annette a baby-blue flyer;

 

The staccato of her heels not slowing,

She grabs a sweat-stained flyer,

Like a marathoner snatching a cup of water,

Offered by a volunteer;

 

“Going to a premiere!” she explains her haste,

Cruising for the finish line.

 

(Three Years Earlier)

 

The Celebration

 

—I—

 

Up to this moment,

I’m a writer;

But The Celebration,

By director Lars von Trier,

Gets mind a-rollin’—

 

The Celebration:

It’s the patriarch’s 60th birthday weekend party,

The 3 dysfunctional offspring

Gather;

The father is

Slowly and devastatingly

Unmasked as a father-monster;

 

A powerful, serious movie,

Almost Shakespearean,

Filmed,

On High-8 video;

Yes, video,

Videovideovideovideovideo;

 

Video tape;

 

Not film.

 

—II—

 

An hour of video tape—

$15;

An hour of 16 millimeter film & processing—

$3200;

 

Sixty hours of filmed footage,

The ingredients,

To prune and slice and arrange,

Into a ninety-minute movie;

 

A hundred-thousand-dollar movie,

Film & Processing bites

Three-fourths

of the pie;

 

But, now, however, yet, still, conversely,

Remove this film cost

And we non-Hollywood,

Non-Independent,

Non-anything

Group of roustabouts

& Comedians—

We need only touch film,

When Daddy Warbucks Film Distributor

Shakes our hand and offers the dollars,

Takes our movie,

To be transferred to film,

& spooled through a projector.

 

—III—

 

We can now make movies.

 

 

We Can Now Make Movies

 

 

Standing outside The Celebration, I phone Devin, tell him,

“We can make movies without film!”

 

D: “No shit, Sherlock;”

 

S: “We only need equipment and seven hundred dollars

of video tape,

feed the actors; this is amazing;”

 

D: “There’s not a ribbon of gold,

Running through the camera

And this makes the actors relax,

When they sense the director’s relaxed,

Not worried about wasting film and money,

The director doesn’t have a producer,

Breathing down his neck about,

Wasting film;”

 

S: “Wow.”

 

*  *  *

(Click here to ENJOY THE FILM

& please pay the three whole dollars,

& go through the whole credit card rigamarole,

To watch it, and not just the trailer.

Thanks from the filmmakers,

US.

Now back to the book of poems.)

*   *   *

 

 

Half The Job

 

 

Half the job,

Making a movie,

Is hauling equipment,

Down stairs,

Into cars and vans,

Out of cars and vans,

Up stairs;

 

After the day’s shoot,

Then it’s,

Down stairs,

Into cars and vans,

Returning it,

Repairing it,

Replacing it,

Buying boxes of video tape,

Cables and connectors at Radio Shack,

Trying (and failing) to make friends @ 34th & 10th @ ornery B & H Video;

 

Phoning for sandwiches, paying, picking up the crew food;

 

Conducting Time,

Like Leonard Bernstein,

 

Letting crew and actors depart the set,

When we had agreed.

 

 

The Funny People

 

 

My wife’s snappy comments

Crack me apart;

The greatest pleasure is being

Surrounded by the funniest people;

Who can stand the

Humorless?

 

Aaron Rudelson (Mr. Borsht)

Showed in London

And the cracks ricocheted

At 8000 RPM,

References from Aristotle to

Dog poop,

Dry humor counteracting the rain,

Just like the Brits.

 

 

The Greatness of Devin Crowley

 

 

Almost all first films

Suck;

Because the acting sucks;

 

No one gets paid

Much of anything,

Actors nervously absorbing

The director’s nervousness &

Uncertainty;

 

And these films,

I find,

Unwatchable,

(also, the camerawork

Usually,

Is as static as a sunken ship);

 

As Kirk & I & Andrew & Aaron & Marcos

Set the lights, camera, sound for the Ms. Rinehardt interview,

Devin and Kim Reinle (Ms. Reinhardt) sit in the corner on the floor,

Talking low,

Discussing the Ms. Reinhardt character,

And the scene we’re all preparing to shoot;

 

Devin and Kim laugh at an idea Kim uttered,

“That’s great!” says Devin.

 

Filming the scene,

We all must bite our lip,

Grimace,

Force ourselves,

Not to crack—

 

At “cut!” we burst

Into laughter.

 

**THE UFO Museum

**The pub scene figuring we’re toast

 

 

In The Can

 

 

The film in the can

(51 tapes),

All is shot,

Arms and back,

Sore from hauling,

These last four days—

 

The Mr. Borscht On The Couch

   “Because I’m in love with you” Scene;

The Jared Interviewing Himself Scene;

The Jared Hypnotized Scene

The Flashback-Abduction

Jared Interviewing The New Cameraman

Jared at the Bar

Jared in the Bear Costume;

Days & Days of shooting,

All the shooting, done;

Wow;

 

I order in,

Ignore the phone,

Sleep most of three days.

 

*  *  *

(Click here to ENJOY THE FILM

& please pay the three whole dollars,

& go through the whole credit card rigamarole,

To watch it, and not just the trailer.

Thanks from the filmmakers,

US.

Now back to the book of poems.)

*   *   *

 

 

The 4th Editor

 

 

It takes 4 editors;

 

1,2,3 don’t know comedy;

 

Marcos, the 4th,

Performed with us,

Wrote with us,

Knows comedy better than any of his girlfriends;

 

On his home editing system,

Surviving crashes and sleepless nights,

Marcos delivers a sharp film;

 

But, we find, he’s irreversibly,

Braided all the sound together,

Our dialogue now twined and glued to the Rolling Stones’

“Sympathy For The Devil”

No, we don’t have the rights to that, um…

We can play it at festivals,

But in no way can we sell this film

Accompanied by Beatles & Beach Boys & Duran Duran;

 

“Huah! Huah! Huah!” Marcos guffaws, “What do you expect?

The computer crashes,

I don’t have the storage space,

You pay me shit.”

 

 

The Hope (haiku)

 

 

But still we’re hoping

When we show it, distributors

Will give it a life.

 

 

The No Dance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, 2000

 

 

412 films

are gonna run

this week;

at all the festivals;

 

How to get

The meat

In the seats

For Show Me The Aliens!?

 

We stencil two yellow windbreakers: INS

(Immigration & Naturalization Service);

 

At the longest line for a Sundance Film Festival screening,

We have No Dance Festival friends

Waiting in line;

 

Andrew and I, in the yellow

INS

Jackets,

Hand out Show Me The Aliens! flyers, stating,

“We have reason to believe these

Aliens are in the area,

Are armed and dangerous;

Please be on the lookout for them;”

We blast through 250 flyers.

 

A black limo pulls up to the crowd,

The crowd notices without being impressed,

(They’ve seen limos before);

 

Devin & Kirk, in our shiny space alien costumes,

With the big heads and rubber hands,

Emerge from the limousine,

To roiling laughter,

In slo-mo B-movie alien walk,

Approach the line,

Touching people,

Shaking hands,

Devin & Kirk find our planted No Dance friends,

Theatrically hypnotize them, voodoo style,

And our friends transform

Into zombie slow walkers,

Aliens abducting them into the limo,

And the audience cracks up,

As more and more of our friends in line,

Are hypnotized and abducted,

Aliens-style;

 

Andrew and I, INS agents, appear, “There they are! Stop those aliens!”

We run to the aliens!

Wrestle them a moment,

Before Kirk,

Alien hand to my head,

Jimmy Swaggart-style,

Hypnotizes me,

& I zombie into the stuffed,

laughing limo;

Devin & Kirk get in,

Doors close,

Leaving a laughing line to whoops and applause

As we go;

 

That night,

We pull in 143 people,

Most of any No Dance audience;

At the closing ceremony, we win

An abundance,

Of awards & trophies,

Including Best Marketing;

Thank you, No Dance;

 

 

“Distribution”

 

 

Distributor: “You can be the first film ever

Distributed over the Internet!”

 

S: “How are people gonna watch it?”

(this, the dial-up era)

 

They’re not offering us a dime,

Up front,

And there’s that Marcos problem

Of all the sound tracks,

Tangled;

 

Six months later,

The Internet distrib

Poof,

Disappears.

 

*  *  *

(Click here to ENJOY THE FILM

& please pay the three whole dollars,

& go through the whole credit card rigamarole,

To watch it, and not just the trailer.

Thanks from the filmmakers,

US.

Now back to the book of poems.)

*   *   *

 

On The Flight To Cannes

 

 

The sun rises over France;

 

In the galley,

Asking the stewardess

If our proposed gag is OK,

She laughs;

 

From the overhead,

We pull down duffel bags,

In the galley we don,

The alien costumes,

Go up the aisles

Offering, “Show Me The Aliens!” flyers

For our screening;

 

We have met,

Some of these

Seated players—

Others—

Could be anybody,

Somebody to distribute

(and buy)

our film;

 

The stewardess knocks

On the pilot’s door

It opens

We wave hello,

He lifts the intercom,

“I see we have some

unexpected visitors”;
 

They give us the mic,

Devin says,

“Come to our screening on Wednesday

And you won’t be abducted!”

 

Many in the plane laugh,

Some laugh though they were trying to ignore us;

We return down the aisle, to applause.

 

 

To Be A Filmmaker

 

 

If you’re a filmmaker

Life is a shark;

Keep going forward

Or die;

When the project stops

While writing

While making

While editing

While distributing

You die;

 

One project must hopscotch

To the next

Look at Woody;

No American,

Has made as much as he,

Regardless of recent random quality,

The volume is a glorious mountain.

 

 

Atlantic City

 

Inside the Aliens! body,

Rubber hands, rubber head,

On the Atlantic City boardwalk,

I’m handing flyers,

Promoting our screening,

The Atlantic City Film Festival,

At the pier-mall,

Across the way,

From the losers exiting Harrah’s,

I implore, “Come see ‘Show Me The Aliens!’”

 

They glare at the flyer,

Front,

Back,

Searching for a buffet deal,

Or discount parking;

 

I turn and our crumpled yellow flyers,

Are blowing into the Atlantic;

 

Devin & Kirk

Remain in New York,

I’m alone;

One man, one car, one Aliens! costume;

 

The last time I was here,

I was selling baseball cards,

At a baseball card show,

departing AC with $9000

In small bills,

Feeling like a criminal,

A winner,

Awesome;

 

The voice of God,

Or P.T. Barnum,

Tells me,

“There’s only so much promotion,

One man can do”;

 

Removing the costume,

Bright October light

Cooling my scalp, neck;

The rubber head’s stink dissipating;

 

Up in the film festival,

A passel

of ninety teenagers,

Mostly boys,

How did they get here?

 

They laugh at all the right moments

Howling, guffawing,

Understanding;

 

Driving up the

Garden State Parkway,

Again,

A winner;

 

For now;

 

But who’s gonna distribute?

 

 

The New York Film & Video Festival

 

 

Exiting the old Volvo,

Devin and I pull out

Four cases of booze;

 

We create a bar

In the screening room;

 

Moviegoers mix a drink,

Sit,

The lights dim;

 

Aliens! images flash,

Laughter blasts,

Rolls, tumbles,

Cackles, snorts,

Echoes, crescendos.

 

 

Sept 10, 2001

 

Few things better in life

Than playing poker with funny,

Smart folk;

Our game @ 116th & Broadway

Ends,

I’m up $55—a decent amount for one night;

Walking Broadway at 2:15 a.m.,

To 77th Street, Miles Davis’ Street, My Street;

 

The clock radio

Clicks 10:00 a.m.: “The second tower has just fallen!”

Fear trembles the report’s voice;

 

I stand naked in my living room, thinking,

“My life has been pretty good;”

 

I go to the fire station;

One fighter is there, pulling on his heavy rubber coat;

Across the street, his buddies

Are kicking passengers off

A city bus

All their fire trucks gone,

Downtown;

 

I ask him the question,

He replies, “Go volunteer at a hospital,

They will be pulling a lot of people

Out of the rubble”;

 

He sprints to his buddies,

Commandeering the city bus;

 

I eat a Greek omelet

Gulp iced tea

At the Manhattan Diner,

77th & Broadway;

The TV anchored from the ceiling,

We watch the destroyed World Trace Center

Vomiting smoke;

 

Eating,

We wait for a bomb

To blow,

In the odd calm,

Everyone’s brain,

Thinking the same thing;

 

At home I grab two pairs of film-equipment-hauling gloves,

A better grip

If I must lift a body onto a stretcher—

 

Outside St. Luke’s Hospital, on 59th,

I ask a policeman,

“I’m here to volunteer.”

“Great,” he says. “I need help;

Everyone else is at the Trade Center.

Seal off these side streets.

There was a truck bomb downtown at St. Vincent’s Hospital,

St. Luke’s might be next,

Let’s control the traffic”;

 

So I

Organize

The people

The volunteers

Coming in to help

And we put up chipped, blue, police barricades

On the four entrances to the

Two streets;

 

A couple on Rollerblades

Screams at us

Cause they “Need! Need! Need!” to pass

To retrieve their dry cleaning;

 

We hear about

The Pentagon, while

F-16s scream;

 

A video crew

For a local talk show

Wants to interview me,

I suggest,

“You guys should drop your equipment

and help!”

 

One ambulance arrives

We cheer,

Doctors stream into every hospital orifice,

But right now there is nothing for the doctors to do;

 

We figure,

The hospitals are filling from downtown to uptown,

& soon the ambulances will start crowding us here;

 

But no—

The hours go—

The ambulances don’t begin crowding us;

 

At the Twin Towers,

We realize,

You’re either crushed dead,

Or not;

 

After such a crappy summer,

The sky is sea blue

As the day ends

A hospital administrator

Thanks me for organizing;

I mumble and shrug;

 

It’s what producers do.

 

 

Failure

 

 

The boiler,

Is broken,

It is 37 degrees,

INSIDE;

I’m in my long underwear

And coats,

On my thrift-store

Naugahyde recliner

Sipping coffee

Watching a Yankees game

From last summer;

 

No one wants to distribute our film;

I’m out of Intel;

 

Overnight, the stock market bubble burst;

Sucking out the money,

Rendering

Independent Film,

The most deserted desert in the world;

The ride has stopped, and the man barks,

“Everybody off!”

 

Dreams remaining immaterial,

I gotta get a job;

Back to the mind-numbing magazine copy-editing of putrid death?

 

Where?

 

Before Columbia film school,

I couldn’t sell a novel,

And now,

I can’t sell a movie.

 

*  *  *

(Click here to ENJOY THE FILM

& please pay the three whole dollars,

& go through the whole credit card rigamarole,

To watch it, and not just the trailer.

Thanks from the filmmakers,

US.

Now back to the book of poems.)

*   *   *

 

 

Cryogenic Freeze

 

 

To Citibank,

Devin & I,

Carry our British Airways flight bag,

Full of Aliens! tapes;

 

In safe deposit booth

We arrange the tapes,

1 through 53;

 

Clanking the lid shut,

The box slides into the wall,

A mausoleum coffin;

 

Devin is off with a Dutch girl to Amsterdam;

I’m off to San Francisco to teach Creative Writing,

And sell condos;

 

This is not what I had imagined

As I watch him going away,

Across Broadway, up 72nd,

More distant at each step,

But I still see him there,

And onto Columbus he goes,

An immoveable apartment building,

A million tons of brick and cement and pipes and people,

Cuts the line of sight;

 

I failed to ignite his career,

Him, a genius of comedy,

A guy everybody likes,

The world will be denied,

More films by him,

Or films in which he hilariously acts,

The world, the world, the world;

 

I haul belongings out to the stoop,

Sell a thousand dollars worth of the last 9 years;

I sweep and mop my apartment,

Saying goodbye,

The floors scraped

From cases,

Of film equipment,

And costumes.

 

 

Rob and Billy

 

 

Years ago,

After a party on Broadway & 82nd

(Maybe it was 1987)

I walked out alone,

Noticing on the island

Two men hugging and laughing and back-slapping,

One little, one big—

Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner—

Yes it’s them;

 

Was anyone else on Broadway at midnight noticing,

Other than I?

No;

 

Two years later

When Harry Met Sally,

Comedy,

Emerges;

Rob Reiner, our heroic progenitor from

This is Spinal Tap.

 

 

Kirk Davis: Warrior

 

 

“I’m going to direct a feature, man,”

sayeth Kirk Davis;

 

He dispels

My disbelief

One question

At a time;

 

I remain in San Francisco

Nothing more than a seller

Of condos;

Kirk holds to NYC,

Having hooked up with

A husband-and-wife team

Who love his script,

Screen Door Jesus

 

Through a thousand arguments with the husband/wife,

He makes his film;

A unique genre:

Religious comedy:

Buy it on Amazon;

 

Other than a few emails of script notes,

I had nothing to do

with “Screen Door Jesus”;

Devin performs a tiny acting part,

Another monument.

 

 

The Future Arrives

 

 

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

 

I’ve got a boy;

Devin has a boy and a girl;

We’ve each married wonderful women named Karin;

 

Google,

Youtube,

Twitter,

A home-editing system drops to $2000;

 

Now we can

FINISH,

Now we can

DISTRIBUTE;

 

Xmas 2007,

I’ll be visiting NYC;

I phone the 72nd Street Citibank,

To arrange a date

To rescue Show Me The Aliens! from the

Safe deposit mausoleum;

 

I am informed

Devin

And

I

Both,

Need to be there

With our safe deposit keys,

At the same time;

 

He, in Amsterdam,

I, in San Francisco;

 

I ask the bankie,

“How’s about if he signs a power of attorney?”

No.

“Is there ANY other way?”

No;

 

Our tapes, our tapes, our tapes,

Untouchable in a metal box in the bank

On 72nd & Broadway;

 

Youtube

Google

Twitter

Will enable us,

To publicize

For Free

We will sell

Without distribution,

We are the distributon;

Shweeeeet!

 

A year later,

Again on my way to NYC,

I call in to the bank,

Figuring I might as well try;

 

A new manager sez,

If we sign specific forms,

Correctly,

I should be able to

Liberate

The 53 mini-DV tapes;

 

Did my ears just hear right?

 

And I find,

All the old bank playas

Have been swept away in the financial tsunami debacle,

Leaving new bankies,

Tossing me daisies and pleasant tidings,

 

Really?

 

“I hope you take cash,”

I say to the guy

Who’s come to the bank

To drill the lock

Of our box;

I sign more forms

It takes him five times as long as usual,

He says, sweating,

Drilling it out;

 

I’ve waited this long,

I can wait another half hour…

 

I take the box to a cubicle,

Flip the lid,

There they are,

Again,

Tapes 1-53;

And now our movie,

Our sound!

Can be untangled!

 

Walking up Broadway,

Past the used book vets,

The Beacon Theatre,

Fairway supermarket,

Big Nick’s Burger Joint,

The bag with our tapes secure as my son in my arms;

 

I sit on a stoop,

Across from the old 77th Street brownstone,

The old, top-floor apartment

stuffed with film equipment:

This failure

Will be transformed

To a flavor of triumph,

To be determined.

 

*  *  *

(Click here to ENJOY THE FILM

& please pay the three whole dollars,

& go through the whole credit card rigamarole,

To watch it, and not just the trailer.

Thanks from the filmmakers,

US.

Now back to the book of poems.)

*   *   *

 

 

Vimeo

 

 

It’s Kirk who finds it,

Vimeo.com,

“Check ’em out, man”;

And so we do,

After loading all 53 magic tapes,

Onto a mega-Mac;

 

And we pull in great sound tracks,

From shockwave-sound.com,

Tracks composed around the globe;

 

The Mac does not crash;

There is no Marcos to twine all our sound,

And the tracks remain perfectly parallel,

A rail yard with no switches;

 

And yes, finally, here is our movie,

Show Me The Aliens!

 

You can watch it right now,

 

www.vimeo.com/ondemand/showmethealiens

 

It’s alive!

 

And yes, of course, definitely, I agree,

 

It’d be great to be broadcast,

On Comedy Central,

Or IFC,

To be available on Netflix,

Or Amazon,

But we’re getting there;

 

Just please do us a solid, a favor,

Don’t just watch the trailer,

Rent the film for 300 pennies,

Or buy it for 500,

Make some comments on our Facebook page;

 

It’s been a long road,

Devin and I have each,

In vastly separated time zones,

Outrun death;

 

Let us know,

That we make you laugh;

 

This long road will’ve been worth,

The thousands of hours of life;

 

Click here!

 

 

Never The End

 

 

Oh, I am full of thanks

To offer this film;

 

Oh, the thanks,

To be, finally,

One tiny piece,

Of caramel-colored sand

On the beach of Comedy

A single castanet clack

In the bodacious comedic film symphony:

Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Keaton, the Marx Bros, Mr. Preston Sturges, The Thin Man, The Pink Panther, Lewis and Martin,  John Belushi, Mr. Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Gilda Radner, Spinal Tap, The Big Liebowski, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, The Hangover, Part I, Bob Odenkirk & David Cross, Bridesmaids;

 

We have no stars,

Just a bit of brains,

Persistence,

Laughter.

 

 

—Roll Credits—

 

Click here to watch the film

 

www.ShowMeTheAliens.com

 

 

(Abundant thanks to one of the funniest people ever, Adam Klein, currently of Guelph, Ontario, who proofread this book of poems)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMTA!

Don't Get Abducted!

© 1889-2222, A.D. No More Rice + Beans Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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