Leader Board Ad

Monday, April 20, 2009

We Love You Conrad, oh yes we do...Conrad who?

If it isn't already apparent, I like to collect paper. Preferably old paper, however, it doesn't have to be old to catch my eye, and similar to the theme of the previous post, I don't need to find it, sometimes it finds me.

After college, (and before my interest in finding stuff) I was bent on "finding myself", but only if I wouldn't have to go far to look for "me"( I did eventually "find myself", turns out I was just "bent"). I had chosen my path, entertainment/production, but not the medium. Video was accessible and cheap, but film had a mystique about it. The two were at odds, video was years away from looking like film, yet film was just too damned expensive to be involved in - even 16mm film. However, Both became available to me, so I dabbled in both.

I became connected to film production through co-workers at my first 9-5 job, and though they were a rag-tag group, the opportunity smelled of "ground floor". They seemed to know what they were doing and what they wanted, and that was enough for me to follow them. Looking back with my 20-20 hindsight vision, I might have known to steer clear of this group. Why does experience have to be such a wonderful yet expensive teacher? They were schlock horror film makers and I met them while they were finishing up a 16mm feature, "Killer Dead". I got as involved as they would let me, even taking on the role of disembodied arm #1 and zombie #5. The work that had been paying the bills at that point was in film restoration and the experience gleaned from that got me a job in post-production on this film. 5 days a week for 3 weeks I was assembling the work print for "Killer Dead" on a six-plate Moviola flat bed editor in the basement of the director. There was no pay; I worked for meals prepared by the director's Irish mother. She was an excellent cook and at this point I was so enjoying the work, I would have paid for the opportunity. What is it about the Irish and potatoes? I still can't bake a potato to compare with hers! The film, when finished, sat waiting in the can to be sold to a distributor.

Somewhere in all the "experience" I was getting, the production team and I journeyed to Fanex, a convention sponsored by the Horror and Fantasy Film Society of Maryland. These are events where fans can meet and greet the B actors, bit players, directors, writers, and creators of the horror film genre and share the "connectedness". I arrived at the convention with a stack of business cards promoting my film restoration and production skills thinking I would do some networking. I actually chose to spend most of the convention chasing a red-head rather than hang on every word of the film-genre venerable Ray Harryhausen and Jeff Morrow. I did leave my card in a few fish bowls, or at tables because the theme of the convention seemed to be shameless self-promotion.

A few weeks after the convention I got a strange handwritten envelope from the west coast:

I thought, "Who is this?" I had never met this person. How did he come to think I was going book him into a gig? That's a pretty confident signature, he seemed to think he was somebody important. Tucked in with the letter was a newspaper clipping:

The explanation was simple, this guy must have pocketed one of my cards and either innocently or devilishly took a stab that I was going to be a business prospect for him to continue milking fame out of infamy. "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is the epitome of bad movies, so bad in fact that it is not even necessary to see it to know how bad it is, its reputation precedes it. Conrad Brooks played a bit part as a cop in this movie and has attempted to ride its tattered coattails ever since. His letter, with its random plea evokes pity, maybe embarrassment with a whiff of desperation thrown in. This was back in 1990, before I'd begun to date my wife. You might think I would have seen this as the turning point in my life, a sign, or omen that warned: Change careers! This way leads to...Conrad Brooks!

Nope. I went right on working with this group and even invested money into the next project, a straight-to-video movie of an artist who is haunted by the murderous character he has painted. Vaguely similar to "The Picture of Dorian Gray", the evil "Simon" begins killing all the friends and associates of the painter until...I don't think we ever actually finished it. The writer fought with the director, the director fought with the cinematographer and my investment didn't seem to have a fighting chance as no accurate accounting of the movie's expenses had occurred. This backstory may have made a better movie than what we were producing. I eventually severed all ties with these people and found that the only films that interested me were the ones I was projecting at the North Street Cinema. A year later I began dating Julie, she had started as a cashier and moved to assistant manager, and 18 years later she's telling me to stop blogging and come to bed. Maybe Conrad did make a significant contribution to the film industry...he kept me out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Great story of the worst best thing...meeting Conrad.Hey, he was one of those money saver light bulbs I enjoy walking with you on your journeys
    Have a sunny Sunday,



Found something unique? See something here you want to know more about? Start the discussion - I'll respond. Really!