Future Tense

All this future-baiting (see below) reminds me of a moment that occurred last week at the Directors Guild of America, where my writing partner Cary Carpe and I screened our new spot for the 7th Annual Filmmakers Alliance Screening. The event served, in part, as a tribute to “Sideways” director Alexander Payne who was on hand to rally the throng of independent filmmakers to overtake the “moribund beast” of the studios.

The spot featured Carpe and I kvetching about the woes of indie filmmaking in an homage (French for “rip-off”) to Gordon Willis’ lauded longshot of Woody Allen and Tony Roberts in “Annie Hall.” It was shot by Abe Levy and cut by Raymond “He Who Goes By Scott” Daigle.

Having had my fill of cocktail-time accolades and my pockets weighted with as many business cards as Virginia Wolf had stones (must I remind fellow scribes that we, by nature, are as acquisitive as thieves and the last people one should ask to read one’s script?) I stepped outside for some refreshing mid-summer Los Angeles air.

“Daedalus Howell?”

I stoked my resolve (and maybe even balled a fist), before turning and absently blathering my line, if a bit ahead of cue, “I’m glad you liked the film, thanks for coming, send your script to my manager Marcus Crescendez.”

A knotted hand seized me by my shoulder. It belonged to a bearded man in a rumpled suit — haggard, as if he had traveled a great distance — a refugee, a fugitive, a hobo.

“It’s me, Howell. It’s Cary. Your partner.” Ah, a hobo.

The old man did bear an uncanny resemblance to my writing partner Carpe who I had left in the DGA swilling green apple martinis and telling bedtime stories to the talent just minutes before.

“I’ve come from the future,” he sputtered, then caught his breath. His furtive eyes searched the DGA lobby for his younger self. “You have to stop me — now — before it’s too late.”

He then pressed into my hand a parcel hastily wrapped in Variety and lurched down Sunset toward Fairfax. I followed, but when I turned the corner, he had vanished. Puzzled, I tore into the trade — a headline caught my eye: “Carpe Flick Hails Humanity’s End.” It was dated 2024. Inside was a revolver, which I jammed into my pocket with all the herky-jerky nonchalance of a drunk zipping his fly in front of a crowd.

Anxiety washed over me like cold oatmeal as I contemplated what this strange visitation portended: “The sonofabitch got a movie made without me…”


Buntel ErikssonJust returned from a month-long sojourn to Goteborg, Sweden, where I was honored to be a guest at the Buntel Eriksson Memorial Film Festival.

Best known stateside for his maritime musical Svanga Langtansfull (The Wistful Waves) and only recently rediscovered in his native Sweden, Eriksson was remembered with screenings of his films, panel discussions and a tribute that saw his frequent leading lady Rifka Benco toss a garland of fuchsias into the Skagerrak bay of the North Sea. A modicum of scholarship on the part of the coordinators, however, would have revealed that Eriksson, though thoughtfully eulogized, isn’t actually dead.

“He’s not dead ? yet,” reminds festival director Mimi Hoeg, who went on to justify the oversight with “We’re a very forward looking film festival.”

The gaffe left Eriksson himself without a proper invitation, though he did manage to attend some of his films’ screenings as a volunteer usher.

“Being ahead of my time, it’s only fitting that I be honored before my time,” the octogenarian Eriksson mused with a generous smile when I chanced a word with him at the Kafe Plastspion. His only misgiving was that his eager-beaver lawyer, having seen a festival advert in the Goteborgs-Posten, had executed his will while he was busy manning the velvet ropes at a screening of his seminal Liten Hund.

“When I went to my apartment, where before I had nothing, now even less,” Eriksson said of his admittedly modest estate. “Everything I own has been inherited by the Swedish Cinema Society. I wouldn’t mind so much if they had left the hotplate. Or maybe a chair.”

Instead of scuttling plans to recreate Erkisson’s apartment as an exhibit in their capacious new Filmmuseet museum and library (let alone return the director’s meager belongings), the Swedish Cinema Society have extended the director a lifetime membership and entreated him “To visit anytime.”