inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #0 of 84: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 1 Jun 00 17:06
    
Inkwell.vue is delighted to introduce independent filmmaker Greg Harrison.
Greg has been in the film industry for more than a decade. He has paid his
dues working on commercials, music videos, documentaries and features.

Greg's directorial debut, GROOVE, is an exploration of the San Francisco
rave scene. Its premiere last January at the Sundance Film Festival landed
a large Sony Pictures Classics distribution deal. It's slated for public
release next week.

Leading the conversation with Greg is Frances "Frako" Loden, a film reviewer 
with SF Weekly, lecturer on film at California State University Hayward, and 
archivist of Japanese film at Pacific Film Archive. She is also a film 
reviewer for a public access TV station in Berkeley, California. Don't call 
her "Frances"--she'll answer to "Frako" if you rhyme it with "taco."

Please join me in welcoming Greg and Frako to inkwell.vue.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #1 of 84: mother of my eyelid (frako) Thu 1 Jun 00 22:03
    
Greg, how are you? I know you returned recently from a press tour for
"Groove" that covered Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York,
Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta in under 10 days in May 
(details at http://groovethemovie.com/FMdiary_list.html). You must
have been wiped at the end of it, especially since it was your first
publicity tour, right?
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #2 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Thu 1 Jun 00 22:28
    
I am completely exhausted.  The months since Sundance have been
full-speed with no breaks.  The press tour is the final push before the
release of the film.  It's a great experience to tour the country and
speak to various people about the film, but flying everyday, doing
press for 8 hours, then flying again can be extremely taxing, I'm
discovering.

It's funny, most people (myself included) assume that when you sell a
film at Sundance, you immediately proceed to a white-sand beach and
drink mai-tais.  Not so....
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #3 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:05
    
By the way, I should say that Greg's film "Groove" has its premiere on
Tuesday, June 6th at Sony Metreon, San Francisco. Greg and crew really
had to dig in their heels for Sony Pictures Classics to let the movie
premiere in its hometown, and I'd like to hear details about that
negotiation down the line, Greg.

Also, everybody who reads this is invited to attend "Groove"'s
premiere party on Tuesday, June 6th at 9:30pm at 1015 Folsom Streeet
(at 6th Street), San Francisco. Hosted by www.spundae.com and featuring
DJs John Digweed, Wish-FM, Dmitri, Polywog, Forest Green, Monty Luke
and Jerry Bonham. Most of these DJs appear and spin in the film.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #4 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:11
    
"Groove"'s run, however, is NOT at the Metreon. It opens June 8 at the
Embarcadero Cinemas, San Francisco, and June 9 throughout the Bay
Area.

Greg, do you feel like you are "missing" anything by having this
enormous publicity machine support your very first feature film? Do you
feel like somehow, instead of wowing Sony Pictures at Sundance and
winning a distribution deal right off, you expected to scrabble through
a number of poorly publicized, under-the-radar movies before hitting
it this big?
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #5 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Fri 2 Jun 00 09:13
    
Absolutely!  The entire Groove Team is stunned.  Not that we didn't
believe in what we are doing, but the odds of being able to get into
Sundance (around 2000 entries for about 40 slots) is slim, and getting
a distribution deal (2500 features made in the U.S. a year, 5-10%
getting any kind distribution) is even slimmer.  

I still feel very much a beginner as a writer/director, though my
extensive background as a film editor helped me navigate through
production.  Still, nothing could have prepared us for stepping through
the looking glass.  It's truly the indie filmmaker's dream to have
this kind of situation happen.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #6 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 12:22
    
On the whole, what did you think of the press tour experience? Did you
get the questions that you hoped you'd be asked? Specific examples,
please!!!
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #7 of 84: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 2 Jun 00 13:36
    

Definitely want to hear the details!

Congratulations to you on this tremendous success, Greg.  I would like to
say that the film is absolutely stellar, in my opinion, at least, and I
can see why Sony would want to grab it.  

Does the invitation to the premiere party include the screening of the
film or is it entirely afterwards?  

And, just a hostly note:  If you are not on the WELL and have questions
for Greg Harrison, e-mail them to inkwell-hosts@well.com and we will see
that they get posted.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #8 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 15:27
    
As I understand it, admission to the premiere screening and admission
to the party are totally separate. Everybody on the "Groove" mailing
list, whoever sees the website (www.groovethemove.com), and anyone
seeing this now is invited to the party after the screening.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #9 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 15:27
    
As I understand it, admission to the premiere screening and admission
to the party are totally separate. Everybody on the "Groove" mailing
list, whoever sees the website (www.groovethemove.com), and anyone
seeing this now is invited to the party after the screening.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #10 of 84: among fiends (frako) Fri 2 Jun 00 15:30
    
Hell, why not post it twice?

Greg, to expand on my question about your publicity tour. Apparently
you had a brief interview with a Time magazine journalist, who told you
that the article would treat not just "Groove" but "Better Living
Through Circuitry" and "Human Traffic" (other current films with
similar subject matter). But was the actual result the cover story on
Ecstasy? ("What Ecstasy Does To Your Brain - The Science - The Rave
Scene - Inside a Crime Ring")
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #11 of 84: Darren Headley (halcyon) Fri 2 Jun 00 18:25
    
Which brings up a question I'd like to ask.  What did you gather from the
making of this film about the rave scene.  What are your thoughts on the
sudden surge in negative coverage of the rave scene in the media lately?  Do
you think your film has portrayed the scene truthfully, both the good and
the bad?
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #12 of 84: Fred Heutte (phred) Fri 2 Jun 00 18:28
    
Hi Greg, welcome to the Well and thanks for doing this!

Since this inkwell conference is geared toward writers, I wonder if
you could elaborate a bit on how the script was developed and how you
defended it (I guess that's the best way to look at it) through the
process of shopping it around Hollywood, as you described at the Web
site and elsewhere.  What is the gravitational pull of Hollywood on
indie scriptwriting these days, and how did you deal with it?
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #13 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 06:58
    
Welcome, Darren--I gather you're a very new user, thanks for coming
right here!

And nice to have you here, Phred, a veteran of the rave scene!
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #14 of 84: No, I thought. I'm not crazy. I'm an adventurer. (fom) Sat 3 Jun 00 11:26
    
I loved Groove. I'll definitely go see it again next week when it's in
theatres. And the party sounds stellar -- Digweed himself! I thought that
whole little end part of the movie was one of the sweetest parts; I won't
say more for fear of posting spoilers.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #15 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 11:38
    
That sweet scene was all the Sony Pictures Classics people could spare
me in lieu of a preview videotape. And in three-quarter inch!
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #16 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:09
    
Hello again.  Sorry it's taken me a bit to respond to the last couple
of rounds of questions.  I'm actually in Seattle with Groove at the
Seattle International Film Fest.

Speaking of travel, in reference to Frako's post (#6) and Linda's post
(#7) about the press tour (which is still going on):

On the whole, I've been struck by how intelligent the press has been
thus far in exploring the subject of raves.  I was ready for attacks,
given the current barrage of sensationalized coverage the rave scene
has been getting lately in mainstream media (60 Minutes, Dateline NBC,
etc.)

I've talked to Time, CNN, Newsweek and most of the major newspapers
around the country and, while most of the interviewers knew nothing
about the scene, they were honestly trying to understand things and
asked many intelligent questions.  It funnny, I think just as much as
the press has simplified and villified the rave scene, I think I found
myself unwittingly simplifying and villifying the press in my mind.  I
was pleasantly surprised.

Now, Linda asked me to be specific, so here goes:

Number one question: "What can you tell me about the drug use in the
scene, and have you gotten any negative response for showing drug use
without a moral consequence?"

It's funny how everyone asked me if I was getting attacked by the
media, but NONE of the media was actually attacking me!  Strange.

The weirdest question: "If a DJ is a god, what part of the bible does
he represent?"
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #17 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:13
    
In response to Frako's post (#10) about the Time Magazine article:

Yes, I spoke to Time for about an hour and the interview was a portion
of the cover story about Ecstasy.  Specifically, Groove, as well as
the other rave-themed films you mentioned, were included in
rave-focused article, which was part of the cover.  The Time coverage
is a perfect example of some rather impressive, balanced reporting, I
thought: the writer himself came to the conclusion that, while there is
drug use at raves, it is the MUSIC which is the lifeblood of the
scene.  
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #18 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:34
    
While not moralizing about the consequences of drug use, scenes from
"Groove" did give a few tips about how to use drugs:

1. Take a deep breath.
2. Watch while you're saying while under the influence.
3. Eat dinner before taking any.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #19 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:35
    
4. If you're not feeling it in half an hour, eat this orange.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #20 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:36
    
In response to Darren's post (#11) regarding negative press coverage
of raves and Groove's representation of both the good and the bad in
the scene:

I think the press coverage often goes negative on raves for a couple
of reasons: first, the simple, sensationalistic stuff makes better
headlines ("14-year-old found dead of a drug overdose at a rave.") 
It's unfortunate that the sound-bite world of today's news often has
little room to explore the intracacies of the rave experience.

Secondly, the more subtle aspects of the experience are very difficult
to ascertain for an "outsider" (ie - the emotional experience of the
music on the dancefloor; the real community vibe created by a group of
open-minded, creative people coming together; the non-verbal,
non-intellectual but very powerful feeling of giving up one's sense of
self to a group experience).  Most people from the outside see the
superficial facts: Drugs, loud repetitive music, people jumping up and
down.

Part 2: Groove's dealing with the good and the bad....

It's always been my intention with Groove to capture authentically the
scene, in all it's wonder, joy, humor, insanity, and confusion.  Drugs
DO exist in the scene, and I wanted to tell the truth, both good and
bad.  That said, I never wanted to invoke a moral judgement as a
filmmaker.  My guiding principle was not the question "Right or wrong"
but "Why?"  Why are people drawn to this kind of experience?  What is
the human experience?  

While drug overdoses are an obvious tragedy, I felt that there were
other, far more pervasive "traps" of the scene and drug use.  They were
just more subtle than a drug overdose.  For example, I knew I wanted
to show that yes, it is possible to have a positive experience on
Ecstasy, and that experience may even lead to real insights about one's
life.  But that very same peak experience can lead one into a trap
over time, as one continually tries to recreate and live in that peak
moment, slowly disregarding one's life as a whole and eventually just
living for the next party.

In the film the character of Leyla, a disenchanted rave veteran from
New York, says to David, the newbie that is having his first
experience: "I never had a friend die on me, never O.D.ed, and I always
thought I was on the brink of something."  I think a powerful rave
experience can feel like The Answer to something in your life, and you
can feel that you are on the brink of solving the problems in your life
through the experience.  However, this isn't always the case.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #21 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:41
    
"It would occur to me that I'm alive." 

David says this high on Ecstasy, and although the audience laughs, I
know just what he means and the joy it brings to feel that.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #22 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:47
    
In response to Fred's post (#12) regarding the script development and
defending it during the money-raising stage:

The script was based on my own experiences in the SF scene roughly
between 1994 and 1996.  I started the treatment for the script in
November of 1996 and interviewed a lot of people in the scene.  I
collected as many "truths" about the scene as I could, constantly
searching for situations, characters and relationships that felt like
they organically emerged from the scene.  I was careful not to
superimpose a false drama for the sake of "punching up" the script.  

It's funny, though, because when I initially looked to Hollywood for
funding, that's EXACTLY what they wanted.  Without exception, every
company wanted to add a gun, or gang violence, or a drug overdose. 
They wanted to "raise the stakes", "punch up the script", or "make more
happen".  My favorite line, after I expressed not wanting to go in
those directions, was: "Hey, don't worry.  I'm not talking about
tearin' down the house, I'm just talkin' about painting a few walls." 
Gotta love the Hollywood-speak.

So, I guess I defended the script by simply not budging on that
particular point.  I just didn't want a moral consequence to film.  So
instead, I started my own company, came back to San Fran, wrote a
business plan, and started raising money through private sources.  It
was a completely overwhelming process as had no business background,
but being an entrepreneur allowed me to have the creative control.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #23 of 84: Greg Harrison (greg-harrison) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:48
    
By the way, HELLO PHRED!  Thanks for having me at Inkwell...
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #24 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:48
    
It's strange to me that it's taken this long for the mainstream US
press (Dateline, 20/20) to start screaming about the dangers of
Ecstasy, when the howling's been going on for years now in the UK and
Australia. I think part of the motivation for the sensational media
treatment is that, yes, a few of the dead users had used it for the
first time. Of course, others may have been using it on successive
weekends for a long time, which is not the recommended way to use
Ecstasy.
  
inkwell.vue.76 : Inkwell.vue Raves About Greg Harrison's GROOVE
permalink #25 of 84: among fiends (frako) Sat 3 Jun 00 12:50
    
A question I had, Greg, was what words you used in the initial stages
of your pitch. Did you compare it to other successful films? Did you
come up with a high-concept wording to describe "Groove"? Was it called
"Groove" from the very beginning?
  

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