Buffalo is full of people helping to cultivate cinema and we want to celebrate those involved. The Cultivators is a new monthly feature in which we highlight individuals who are integral to the presentation, promotion and production of film here in the queen city.
THE CULTIVATORS #016
Founder/Director of Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival | Filmmaker | Author
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
My mother raised me alone and didn’t drive, so I was a child of television. When we lived in Dunkirk we would walk to the Regent to see movies. I watched everything the Sunday Afternoon Movie showed: Tarzan films, Don Knotts comedies, Ray Harryhausen films. Then Channel 29 came along with Sci-Fi Theater and Channel 2 had a 4pm weekday movie, which showed a lot of gangster films.
I have an uncle who’s been in distribution all his life and I visited him in Washington D.C. and New York City during summers. He would take me to double features every night.
It’s hard to choose just one. My uncle took me to my first midnight movies: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Slaughterhouse Five, and George Romero’s Martin (during its original run) among them.
I remember Slaughterhouse Five being a particularly interesting experience because the theater had a small screen and foldout chairs without risers and I had no idea what the movie was—going in or even halfway through it. I was around 12 and there was a sense with all three of these films that I was seeing something taboo. I love that sense of adventure, which is something my film festival partner Chris Sciol and I bring to our event.
I’ve lived in New York State my entire life, more than half of it in Western New York. I grew up in Fredonia and moved to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts where I studied filmmaking. I lived there for 21 years, during which I made three feature films and managed several movie theaters—including the Angelika Film Center and the Paris—and several video stores—including Kim’s Video and Two Boots Video. My first role as a film programmer was at Two Boots Den of Cin, a screening room in the basement of a video store/pizzeria.
My wife and I moved to Buffalo in 2003 to buy an affordable house and start a family. During our time here I’ve made several films, worked as a manager for Dipson Theatres, had 14 books published, and founded two different film festivals: Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival and now Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.
More bodies in seats for our festival, less artistic discrimination, and more down time between area festivals. Buffalo has a nice mixture of sports enthusiasts and arts supporters and the support for festivals is finally catching up to the interest in other arts.
Ten years ago the Jewish Film Festival was the only festival I remember in the area. Now there are more than I count and most of them are crowded into the fall, which is bad for everyone. This year one festival moved from April to September, another moved from August to September, a five-in-one festival launched in September, and now another is starting in November on the weekend Buffalo Dreams starts.
It’s great diversity for cinema lovers and good for filmmakers, but frustrating for all of us trying to distinguish ourselves. People only have so many brain cells to keep track of which festival is when and where and what films are screening at them with only so much time to devote to seeing specialized fare. Most of the festivals have distinct identities and missions, but making the differences clear to the audience is a challenge.
We run in early November every year, and place an emphasis on genre films—action, horror, sci-fi—but show family films, docs, and foreign films as well.
- Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
- When the Shooting Stops… the Cutting Begins: A Film Editor’s Story by Ralph Rosenblum and Robert Karen Ph.D.
- The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb
- The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco by Julie Salamon
- Cult Films by Will Dodson
- Incredibly Strange Films by V. Vale and Jim Morton
- Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
- Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman
- The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto
- You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again by Julia Phillips
TOP TEN FILMS
I’m a big fan of 70s films of all genres and have a wide range of tastes, which is reflected in the Buffalo Dreams programming. My Top Ten therefore changes every day of the week. But today (in alphabetical order) they are:
- Billy Jack , directed by Tom Laughlin
- Goodfellas , directed by Martin Scorsese
- The Graduate , directed by Mike Nichols
- It’s a Wonderful Life , directed by Frank Capra
- Kiss Me Deadly , directed by Robert Aldrich
- Little Murders , directed by Alan Arkin
- The Maltese Falcon , directed by John Huston
- Planet of the Apes , directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
- Taxi Driver , directed by Martin Scorsese
- Three Days of the Condor , directed by Sydney Pollack
Film stills from left to right, top to bottom are Tarzan the Ape Man, Don Knotts, Ray Harryhausen, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Slaughterhouse Five, Martin, Two Boots Video (photo from Wall Street Journal), Lynne with Ryan Bellgardt and Josh McKamie (the filmmakers of Army of Frankensteins), and the Angelika.