Ship of fools

Childers checks into filmmaking with Delivery Boys

As wildly expensive and grueling as filmmaking is, anybody even thinking of making an independent motion picture is probably a few feet shy of a reel. A cynic might say that the substantial risks of the undertaking are offset somewhat by the fact that most indies are struggling students, film critics, lab rats or other sub-professionals and therefore don't have much to lose. A person with a real job willing to give it up for a life behind the camera clearly deserves either our frank admiration or a comfy new apartment with nice soft walls.?Considered in that light, Atlanta's Stacey Childers might want to let someone know what size straightjacket she takes. Breaking the usual psuedo-slacker/post-modern bohemian filmmaker mold, Childers, before setting to work full-time on her first feature, was like a full-fledged grown-up with a degree in finance and little chance of being forced to move back into her mom's basement (the fate that awaits so many would-be auteurs).

But after 13 years with the Treasury Department, where she toiled for the Man examining financial institutions, Childers said bye-bye to benefits and bank holidays to become a director. "It was kind of now or never," says Childers, who returned to school while still a T-girl to study filmmaking at Georgia State University. The erstwhile number cruncher has directed several student films as well as a series of commercial spots for the Georgia Special Olympics.

Coincidently, Childers' debut project deals with people struggling with just such difficult life transitions. Temporarily titled
Delivery Boys, the project deals with the misadventures of people a little short on direction trying to make ends meet driving carryout. Her brother Michael penned the script, based in part on his own delivery experiences.

Though focus seems to be a strong suit with her, Childers says she identifies with the characters. "They don't know whether to go to college or take the corporate route ... They want to go from point A to point B, but they don't know where point B is yet." Why has she left a full-fledged career for film? Because for Childers, getting to point B means getting
Delivery Boys off the page, onto 35mm film and, she hopes, into theatrical release. "I've always been a film fanatic," says Childers. "When you think of women in film, you think of them as actresses. [But] that wasn't something I was willing to starve for." Directing, however, appears to be worth a few missed meals.

Childers' prior years of "honest toil" were not wasted, though. Childers believes that her years of experience in the world of finance will be helpful in building her new career. "I traveled, I worked a lot with numbers figuring out how to get things done," she says. After wading hip-deep in S&Ls' dirty laundry, wrangling a $75,000 feature ought to be a walk in the park.

Not surprisingly, she initially planned to produce the film herself, but soon realized that it was time to also learn when to call the cavalry. "I started to get crazy wearing all those hats," she admits. Childers and company are seeking a producer/production manager for the film, which may begin shooting as early as mid-August. Other cast and crew positions are still open as well. Those interested in a berth on this particular ship of fools should contact Roby Robeson Inc. at 404-843-8640. Resumes and headshots can be sent to 480 Heritage Way, Atlanta 30328.

Hong Kong goes wrong

This one, I gotta' plug.

When you come across a film flavor that tickles your fancy, there is always a danger of losing your perspective. We tend to cut our movie heroes a little too much slack, throwing discrimination to the wind rather than allowing our faves room to fail. Actually, perfection is inherently tedious, and the odd hollow note tends to humanize screen legends. Kurosawa's genius is underscored rather than undone by wack-job projects like
The Idiot, and we shouldn't pretend a hairball like Instinct qualifies as entertainment just to preserve Anthony Hopkins' metaphorical batting average. We should embrace those blemishes that make brilliance stand out in sharper relief. After all, Sybil Danning movies like Young Lady Chatterly only make us appreciate all the more sublime performances such as those in Chained Heat.

Thus, we should welcome a towering excrescence like
Mighty Peking Man as an exception that helps to prove a rule, a happy accident that saves us all from falling into a slavish, knee-jerk infatuation with one of the world's most robust and rollicking cinemas. Next time someone accuses you of giving your heart to just any old Chinese language film, you can point to this Epicac of a movie and smugly assure them that, to your cultivated and discerning eye, even in Hong Kong, they make films that suck.

And suck it does. Though it is only the third worst angry-ape-cuts-loose movie (trailing, of course, behind the '76 remake of
King Kong, Japan's Godzilla vs. King Kong and Steven Seagal's The Glimmer Man), this Hong Kong sinks about as low as a film can without actually casting Pauley Shore. Distributed by Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder outfit, this ill-advised knockoff of the disastrous Bicentennial Kong uses the rubber-suit-and-miniature-city aesthetic of Japanese kaiju-eiga to follow the fates of a red-haired hominid the size of a skyscraper (the titular Peking Man), dragged to downtown Hong Kong by an unscrupulous promoter and his girlfriend, a perpetually underdressed and totally displaced blonde Jungle Goddess.

If the film's directors like Tsui Hark and Kar-wai Wang represent the Hong Kong cinema at its rich, strange best,
Peking Man'' captures its bizarre and deliriously derivative worst. In fact, if you add the badly translated script, the sloppily dubbed dialogue and the half-assed effects to what would be a fairly thin film under the best of circumstances, you have a shameless display of cinematic atrocity that should bring tears to the eyes of any schlock connoisseur. And since cinéfest will only be showing it at midnight July 21-22, you have plenty of time to anaesthetize yourself before the hurting starts.