… I was invited to screen my directorial debut, CHOP, at the 15th Installment of a festival called 2300, Plan 9 - The Strange Nights of Cinema in the beautiful city of La Chaux De-Fond, Switzerland. Of course I said yes, thrilled to have the movie play anywhere. I was even more thrilled when they then invited me to attend the festival and be a jury member for their shorts competition. So I hopped on a plane to Zurich and spent an awesome 6 days watching movies, eating good food, and checking out Switzerland.
The festival itself was really amazing, well-run, and had a great atmosphere. It took place in an old temple in La Chaux De-Fond, a relatively small city in the French province of Switzerland. The fest took place nightly from about 5pm until 4am and every single screening of every single night was packed full of enthusiastic film fanatics. What I really loved about the fest was the three-ring circus atmosphere … The temple was decked out in amazing decor, they had a couple of bars in the theater itself to keep the crowd lubed up, and all of the festival workers, volunteers, and organizers got dressed up and made up into elaborate characters … It was kind of like a 6 night-long Swiss Halloween party. No pretension, no competition, just a supportive atmosphere of film lovers.
I was so busy enjoying the festival each night that I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival happenings themselves, but there's a pretty great Flickr page set up that really captures the anarchic, great spirit of the festival right HERE. Check em out, it's pretty cool.
The other filmmaker guests this year were writer/director/FX guru Ryan Nicholson and my mentor (and the guy who gave me my entree into film), Lloyd Kaufman. It was really great to meet Ryan and to get a week to re-connect with Lloyd and his lovely wife, Pat … Also a pleasure to get to see both of their new movies with a crowd on the big screen.
Switzerland itself is like something out of a storybook. I understand that the weather there can be largely overcast, but it seems that California came with me, because for a good portion of the time I was there the Swiss enjoyed blue skies and unseasonably warm weather.
I managed to get out of La Chaux a couple of times. I took a day trip to the city of Lausanne to hang out with my good buddy Olivier, who lives there. Olivier played "Dolphin Man" in Citizen Toxie and it was great to catch up with him after an almost 15 year absence. Here are some shots from Lausanne:
The festival organizers were kind enough to plan several day trips for the guests of the festival. We went to this weird old mansion that had been turned into some kind of bizarre museum/interactive horror collage/serial killer's den called The Phantom Train.
The place was 5 stories crammed to the gills with horror movie memorabilia. I was disappointed that after all the years of work, I couldn't find anything Trent Haaga related … then I went into the bar/lounge, and was rewarded by seeing a framed postcard for DEADGIRL hanging on the wall:
Ha ha! I made it into The Phantom Train!
On another particularly beautiful day - my last in Switzerland - we went to the picturesque town of Gruyere (where the cheese comes from):
While in Gruyere, we visited the H.R. Giger Museum, where (unfortunately, because it was pretty amazing) photography is prohibited. But there were a few sculptures outside that were photo-friendly:
After the museum, we grabbed a drink at the H.R. Giger Bar, which you could take pictures in as long as you were buying:
I don't drink liquor, so I had a coffee, but there were all sorts of Giger-themed drinks available. Here's a look at Megan Nicholson's Alien Blood shot (although, technically, Alien blood should be green, right?):
As if the Gruyere day trip couldn't get any better, we then were treated to the best fondue lunch that I've ever had.
The festival was awesome and Switzerland was amazing. The 2300 Plan 9 festival is a hidden gem of the international festival circuit and the organizers really took great care of me. I want to extend my warmest thanks to everyone involved … now I just need to make another movie so that I can go back!
… But there is no rest for the wicked, as they say. I flew out of Zurich directly to the East Coast of the U.S. to do a week's worth of writing on a massive top-secret project that is … NON-FILM RELATED. I signed non-disclosure agreements, so I can't really talk about it, but I can say that the project was awesome and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Stay tuned, because once this thing hits the streets, I'll be telling you all to take a look at it.
… Finally, after two weeks in hotels in two parts of the world thousands of miles apart (and thousands of miles from my home), I returned to Los Angeles and the rest of the Haaga family rested and invigorated …
… Where I locked myself down for a week and finished the first draft of my new Lifetime Channel movie, which I turned in Friday.
And that's why I've got a moment to do this big-ass blog update: I find myself in the rare position where I don't have an immediate deadline. Don't worry, this break won't last long … and there are ALWAYS personal deadlines that I create for myself, so I'm not gonna be sitting around and sipping smoothies poolside … too much to do!
As always, thanks for visiting my little corner of the interwebs …