Interview with Vic Mignogna, Part Three: Music and Final Questions


Photo by Natalia

 Click here and here for part one and part two of the interview, respectively. 

Since I knew Vic was an accomplished musician, I decided to ask him about his love of music. The answer I got was the longest of the interview, and one of the most fascinating. But perhaps you Full Metal Alchemist fans just want to know what I asked him about that show. That question is near the end of this post. 

G: When did you first become interested in music, and what kind of music is your favorite to listen to?

V: When I was very young, I starting singing. I would sing in church. I didn’t play any instruments, but I sang. My mom played the piano in our church. So I would sing in church a lot, and I would sing in school. When I was seventeen years old, I was attending a boarding school. I was going to a boarding school in South Carolina, 12 hours from my mom, where I lived, and a friend of mine invited me to go with him to Kmart. He said, “Hey, I’m going to Kmart, wanna get a ride with me?” and I [was like], “Sure.”

So I got in his car — I’ll never forget [it]: [a] yellow Camaro. And we got in the car and he put in a cassette tape, actually an eight-track tape, of Barry Manilow. Now the school that I went to — this is an important point — the school that I went to was a very strict Christian school. We were not allowed to listen to music like Barry Manilow or secular rock, pop music. So, it was a bit of a coup that he was doing this secretly, in his car, y’know, so as not to get in trouble. I sat in the passenger seat of his Camaro, driving to Kmart, and I’m listening to this music and I’m like, “I like this guy. He’s unpretentious. There’s an honesty, an emotion to [it]. I like the music. And he kind of sings in the same vocal range that I do. I like it.”

We got to Kmart, he said, “You comin’ in?” I’m like, “No, I’ll sit in the car and listen to the music.” He came out, we went back to the campus, and…Christmas break was a few weeks after that. When I went home for Christmas break, what do you think I did? I went to the music store and I bought every Barry Manilow record I could find, and I took ’em home and I listened [to them] and I fell in love with his music. He plays the piano. I didn’t play the piano. I didn’t play anything. But, I went back to school, after Christmas break, and I started telling my friends [whispers], “I love Barry Manilow. Don’t tell anybody. I like him.” And I told that to one of my friends named Jay.

Jay was a year younger than I was, but Jay played the piano, and Jay liked Barry Manilow, too. And Jay said to me, “Hey, why don’t we write a Barry Manilow song, like a [Barry Manilow] style song, like that?” He’s like, “I’ll write the music, and then I’ll record myself playing it on a cassette. And I’ll give it to you. You listen to it, in your dorm room, and you write the lyrics.” So that’s what we did. And I listened to that cassette ALL the time, while I was working on the lyrics. So I memorized that song exactly the way Jay played it on that cassette. I could hear every note, right?

One day, I was walking across the campus and I was walking by these little practice studios. I don’t know if you’ve seen ’em. A lot of schools have them. It’s basically a closet. A row of closets with a piano. And it’s where musicians would go to practice their instrument. Tuba…piano, guitar, violin, whatever. So I’m walking by one and I go in and sit down at the piano. [Demonstrates with his fingers] Started plinky-plunking around; I didn’t know what I was doing. But little by little…I sounded out…what sounded like.. a chord, of the song that Jay had recorded on the cassette. And then I started moving my fingers around, to what I heard, what I remembered the song sounded like, and before I knew it, I had figured out how to play that song exactly the way Jay played it on the cassette.

From there, I started playing the piano more and more and more and more. I learned theory, I learned chord progressions, and I learned how to transcribe music on manuscript paper. I continued writing, playing, singing, to the point where anything I heard I could play, and then I started writing songs and then I started recording those songs, and like…forty years later — [whispers] thirty-five years later — music has become such a huge part of my life. I’ll sit down at a piano and play anything that I’ve heard, and…love it, and it’s all because [of] Barry Manilow. So imagine my elation at getting to meet him, last year, at a concert that he did, and tell him what a huge impact he had on my life.

At this point, I was told by Sakura-Con staff that I had time for one more question, which was perfect, since I only had one question left. Vic, for his part, apologized for taking so long with his answer.

G: [In response to Vic] That’s okay [laughs]. No worries. All right, so one of my friend’s sisters wanted me to ask you this question. If you were Edward Elric, would you have done anything differently in your quest to find you and your brother’s bodies?

V: …..



I probably would have started drinking milk.

G: [Laughs]

V: Probably would have made me stronger, maybe have made me a little taller…

G: Thank you.

V: You’re welcome.

While that was the end of my interview, I have a postscript. Talking about Barry Manilow encouraged one of the other people in the room to ask him, privately, if the rumors are true that he hates gay people. His answer was to all of us, so I’ve included it here. Since I’m working off notes, instead of a recording, the wording captures the spirit, if not the letter, of his reply. This was the only time in the room that he got remotely angry. He denied the allegations, and then zeroed in on why he thinks people have attributed these rumors to him.

V: You know what it is. It’s because I’m a Christian, so I must hate gays. Am I a Christian? Yes. Do I hate gays? No.

After staying to sign autographs and take pictures with anyone who wanted them, our time with Vic Mignogna, great voice actor and greater human being, was over.


Photo by Natalia


Interview with Vic Mignogna, Part Two: Star Trek, Fans, and Fan Conventions


Photo by Natalia

In the second part of my interview with Vic, we talk about fans, fan conventions, and his first love — Star TrekYou can find part one of the interview here.

G: Since you’re a big fan of Star Trek, and you’re in a [Star Trek] web series, have you ever gone to their conventions and have you ever met the other people —

V: Oh dude —

G: –who played Kirk?

V: Seriously?

G: (laughs)

V: When I was a little boy, I made my own uniforms and went to Star Trek conventions. There weren’t anime conventions. We’re talking, I mean, I don’t want to scare anybody, we’re talking forty years ago. Forty. Years ago. In fact, I don’t even know if you know this, but comicons [comic cons] began as Star Trek conventions. Star Trek started the whole idea of fan conventions.

I went and I met these actors, and I was like — y’know — I was wide-eyed and so enamored that I was actually shaking hands with Dr. McCoy. I was actually standing in front of Scottie and there’s Sulu and Uhura and.. I couldn’t believe it. Chekov. The only person I never met, he never did a convention that I was able to attend, was Bill Shatner. So imagine my elation when I was asked to be represented by the man who represents William Shatner at the events that he does, like an event manager. Books you into comicons. So he started booking me into events with Bill. And he and I have now done many events together, we’ve had dinner together, we’ve hung out together, we went sightseeing in Dubai together. I can honestly say he’s a friend, and the little boy in me is over the moon that these people that made such a big impression on me and literally determined, in many cases, the — y’know — the trajectory of my life I now know, personally.

Everytime I see Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, she says, “Hey, baby, c’mere. Gimme a hug, gimme a kiss.” She’ll hug me and give me a kiss. And George Takei and Walter both know me — Walter Koenig who played Chekov — both know me on a first-name basis. Bill [Shatner]. I had the privilege of introducing Leonard Nimoy at Phoenix Comicon a few years ago. So it’s really, it’s really a thrill to…to have come full circle, so to speak.

G: What’s the most memorable fan encounter or interaction you’ve had?

V: If you had asked me that ten years ago, I might’ve have one, but I’ve had too many. I’ve had too many significant, moving, impactful fan interactions. I’ve done several Make-A-Wish Foundation [events] with fans. I’ve had the privilege to talk with fans who have gone through horrific loss and tragedy that…shared with me that my work was somehow able to make an impact on them or encouraged them through a difficult time in their lives. Those moments will never be lost on me. I will always be humbled and really really overwhelmed by the fact that something that I’ve done has meant something to people.

I have had several fans come up to me in the course of an autograph session and…lean over the table and look at me and say, “I know how much this is going to mean to you when I say what I’m about to say. You are my William Shatner.” And I just, I just almost tear up. The thought — you know what I mean — that my work could mean anywhere near to somebody what he and Star Trek meant to me when I was young is a blessing beyond what I would ever have imagined.


Photo by Natalia

G: As was mentioned [by a previous interviewer], it is Sakura-Con’s 20th anniversary. What are some of your favorite things about this convention?

V: Well, I’ve done so many shows that were poorly organized and poorly executed, poorly planned, that I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for shows that are well-executed and well-planned and well-organized. Sakura-Con is definitely one of the best I’ve been to, and considering how big it is, that makes it even more of an accomplishment: that it would be this big, and they still are just so on top of things.

I sat in opening ceremonies this morning, and watched that drum performance, and I’m just sitting there in the front row, looking at the lights, looking at the camerawork on the screen — the image mag on the screen — looking at the fog machines, and thinking, “These people know how to put on a show. This is fantastic.”

So that’s one element of it. The other element of it is the kindness of the fans. It’s just such a wonderful fandom. I mean, fans, wherever I go, are awesome, but I can truly say that my experience at Sakura-Con is, in its entirety, every element of the convention experience is…stellar. It’s as good as it could be.

Next time: The final part of my interview with Vic Mignogna, where we get into his love of music and more!

Cosplay Photos are Finally Up!

We interrupt my interview with Vic Mignogna to bring you a special announcement: the cosplay photos are finally up! Here’s the link:

I’ll be posting the rest of my photos from Sakura-Con by the end of the month, so check back here periodically or follow my blog to get updates. Most of the photos were taken by Natalia, but a few were taken by me. I’ll be going back and editing the photos (and attributing them properly) in the coming months.

Here’s a few to wet your appetite. Enjoy!

Interview with Vic Mignogna, Part One: Acting, Voice Acting, and Caller ID

Back in April, I had the chance to interview Vic Mignogna (last name pronounced Min-YAH-nah) for Sakura-Con 2017. The interview was a panel-style interview, where each member of the press went in turn. Out of five press groups, I went third. Helping me with the interview was my photographer, Natalia (Nat), who took all the photos you see here, as well as most of the photos during the Con.

Because the interview lasted about 20 minutes, I’ve split the interview into three parts. All questions asked in the first part are presented in their original order, except for the third question, which came in the second part of our interview, but I felt made more sense to include here.

G=Greg, V=Vic, N=Nat

G: We’ll start at the beginning. What first got you interested in voice acting?

V: I never set out to be a voice acting. I just loved acting. And what started me on my love of acting, to be quite honest, was Star Trek. When I was nine, ten, eleven, my parents had just divorced, and my mom and I were living in a little apartment in Monroeville, Pa. I came home one day from school and turned on the television — this little black and white 19 inch television — laid down on the floor in front of it, and here was this TV show, Star Trek. I watched it and I loved it. So the next day I watched the next episode and I became obsessed with it. I loved the stories they told, I loved the characters, I loved the characters relationships to each other, I loved the imagination of it all…and it made me want to do what they were doing.

So I found myself going back to school and auditioning for school plays, and then taking acting classes and going to acting camps: summer camps for acting, drama, theater. That took me into high school and college, continued acting, continued auditioning for things, performing any chance I got. And…that took me into my adult life, auditioning for community theater, and church programs, anything, again, to just…act. Do something I love doing.

And one day somebody said to me, “Hey, you should try auditioning for this place in town here in Houston. They dub Japanese anime and they need actors.” Well, all I heard was, “They need actors.” And I went and auditioned. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I had no idea where it would ever go or what would ever become of it. To me it was another opportunity to act, which was something I fell in love with when I was nine and ten years old. And that’s how I got into the industry, and….I never set out to be a voice actor. I just wanted to act. And voice acting gave me the opportunity to do it.

G: Who were some important mentors for you, and how did they help you with acting or voice acting?

V: Well, I never had any voice acting mentors because I’m kind of the old guy in the industry it seems now. I dunno how that happened. How did that ever happen?! But, y’know, I’ve been doing it for almost twenty years now.

As far as acting is concerned, I’ve always enjoyed the work of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy. The people that were in Star Trek made a big impression on me. I don’t really follow any particular actors except I have such nostalgic affection and feelings for the Star Trek actors. But as far as voice acting is concerned, I didn’t know anybody. I mean, everybody talks about Mel Blanc, who was the voice of Porky Pig and…Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny, and all that. He was amazing. But that’s not anime. You don’t really do voices like that in anime. Anime is a little more grounded in reality, in more real people kind of thing. So, I didn’t really know anybody in the voice acting world when I started doing it, didn’t have any mentors.

G: Who are some voice actors you admire now and why?

V: [Thinks about it] Laura Bailey, Caitlin Glass, Steve Bloom. People that I know personally and that I’ve done a lot of shows with and I have an enormous amount of respect for their abilities.

G: When you’re doing an English dub for an anime, do you take any acting cues from the original Japanese performance, or do you create your performance separate from the original?

V: No absolutely. Absolutely. There are three factors in a voice actor’s performance. The first factor is what the director wants. He’s ultimately responsible for the dub, right? So his ideas and his thoughts on what he wants you to do with the character, how he wants you to perform a certain thing, that’s one of the factors.

Another contributing factor is the actor himself. My ideas about how I want to do something. A good director will hire a good actor and then let the actor do what he does. Not try to control him and puppet him and make him imitate [the director], “Okay, do it just like I do it,” but let the actor do what he does. And hopefully the actor will bring some interesting things and some fresh ideas and some good performances [to the table].

So what the actor brings to the table is one factor, what the director brings to the table is another factor, and thirdly, what you mentioned: the original Japanese. Sometimes, the original Japanese is spot-on. Like, you don’t even have to hear the original Japanese to have the same instinct to do exactly what they did. But then there are other times when what the Japanese guy did does not really work in an English setting. Sometimes a reaction might be bigger or wackier than you think it should be. Sometimes he’ll make some interesting sound and you want to do something equivalent, but not the same thing. Or sometimes he’ll have a line of dialog that may not make any sense in English.

So, sometimes the Japanese actor will have some really good ideas, emotional cues and performance ideas and you’ll hear it and be like, “Oh I love that. That’s what we should do.” But then sometimes you’ll have different ideas and sometimes the director will have different ideas. So those are the three different factors.

G: So switching to kind of a…not as serious question.

V: Okay…

G: Do you ever call up your friends and leave them messages as different characters?

V: [Big laugh] Y’know what, I used to do that until the dawn of caller ID. I literally used to do it for fun until caller ID came up and then your friends knew who was calling, so it kind of defeats the purpose.

I called a friend once and I left him a message and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I was like the landlord of some building and made up this huge story. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. And he called me back and goes, “Thanks for the message,” and I’m like, “What?” He goes “Caller ID, dude. I knew it was you.” And I’m like [bangs the table with his fist].

G: Which characters did you used to do?

V: Oh it wasn’t even a specific anime character. It was just some weird…some weird, y’know, hic. [does a Southern accent] Texas. Y’know. Kinda guy. I’m calling from so-and-so. Come on down to the office. [normal voice] Whatever. Just making stuff up. Again, it was funny until they knew it was you, and then, like, what’s the point?

N: Y’know you can put star 67 before the number and then it blocks caller ID.

V: I have heard that. Yes. I have heard that. I should do that.

WOMAN’S VOICE (Sakura-Con employee): Don’t encourage him.

N: Sorry.

Next time: My interview with Vic Mignogna continues!

Update on Sakura-Con 2017 Posts

Hello everyone!

Apologies to those of you who are looking for photos of your cosplay on this blog: I have over 1,000 photos to sift through, so please be patient. Here’s my plan with regard to Sakura-Con 2017 posts:

  1. Vic Mignogna interview (multiple parts)
  2. Aaron Dismuke interview (multiple parts)
  3. Cosplay (with a link to all my Sakura-Con 2017 cosplay photos on flickr)
  4. Sakura-Con 2017 highlights (with a link to all my Sakura-Con 2017 photos on flickr)

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing out the transcripts from Vic’s and Aaron’s interviews. I have about 10 minutes of audio for the former, and about 20 minutes for the latter. Because SIFF begins next month, there may be a gap in what I post when, but I hope to have at least part one of my interview with Vic up by next month. If all goes well, most of the posts should go up in June, while my final post should be up by July.

Thanks for your patience!

SIFF Interruptus

Normally, I would be covering the Seattle International Film Festival next month. Due to professional and personal reasons, however, I’ve decided not to cover it this year. I’ll still be attending its movies, and I’ll still be working at one of its venues, but I won’t be writing about it here, or (as happened last year) on Twitter. The professional reason is that I’ll be working more hours this year than in the past, and so will have less time to write about my festival experiences. The personal reason is private.

I will, however, be covering Sakura-Con this weekend, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. I’ve got a couple of interviews lined up, and I’m excited about the panels and events being offered. I also have a new photographer helping me out with photo-taking this year (and, more importantly, being in charge of lugging my camera around). Hopefully I’ll post my entries before the end of April, and may even write a few posts during the Con itself!

Until next time!

P.S. While I’m not covering the festival, I do wish to draw your attention to SIFF’s new layout for its website. It’s pretty!

SIFF 2016: Highlights and Observations


Opening Night Gala (Thursday, May 19)

IMG_0886For the first time in the seven years I’ve attended the festival, opening night didn’t have great weather. It also didn’t have any guests from the opening night film, which makes me wonder if there was a Q&A after the movie ended (the cast were still enjoying the society in Cannes, possibly at a cafe). If SIFF had held it a week early, the weather would’ve been gorgeous, but on Thursday night, it rained, though since the rain didn’t start until after 7 in North Seattle, I’m hopeful that everyone was inside the venue before it began.

It turned to a light drizzle by the time I arrived for the gala proper, and had dissipated by night’s end. As happens with movies made by people with the last name of Allen or Polanski, controversy followed the selection of Cafe Society as the opening night film (and led to an article here from the executive director of Reel Grrls), but it did open Cannes, and it did put butts in seats. Since the only thing I’m privy to at SIFF is how to make a good latte, I can’t tell you why it was chosen over other films, and speculation is for cable news.

Since I had a big dinner, I didn’t have much of the food at the Opening Night Gala, though it looked delicious. The music was great, too, and since I always find myself directly in front of the speakers, I remembered to bring earplugs this time, which means I could hear the day after. The only mishap involved using a cheap bottle opener to open bottles of sparking water for some lovely ladies, cutting my finger on one of the bottle caps. When the bleeding stopped, I went back to dancing, though I missed the conga line.

Best Films of the Festival (That I Saw)

Best Overall: Our Little Sister (Kore-eda Hirokazu)


Photo courtesy of SIFF

Kore-eda Hirokazu’s latest film employs genius Kanno Yoko’s touching compositions with a story that is lighter and funnier than most of Kore-eda’s other films, but just as profound. In fact, I’d put this one up there with his best (Maborosi, After Life, Nobody Knows,  possibly I Wish). The plot is simple: three grown sisters discover they have a younger step-sister at their father’s funeral and invite her to live with them. Kore-eda deals humanely with each sister, and while the dramas they deal with are small, there is such warmth in the film that only people who confuse darkness with depth will mind.

Best Documentary: Tower (Keith Maitland)


Photo courtesy of SIFF

This intense film uses actors and actresses to recount the first person experiences of several people affected by the first school shooting in U.S. history, which took place when a sniper climbed the clock tower at the University of Texas in 1966 and began firing on the people below. The filmmakers use the same kind of animation seen in Linklater’s Waking Life, along with actual footage, to give the audience the sense of the extreme heat, heroism, cowardice, and fear that people felt on that day. No explanations are given as to why the sniper did what he did; his name is not even mentioned. This film is about the people who were affected by the gunman, not the gunman himself. And while a late segue into more recent school shootings fumbles a bit in linking together all of these tragedies as stemming from the same cause, it is the only stumble that the film makes. One could argue that the epilogue drags on too long, but I welcomed the breather after the intensity that preceded it.

Best Archival: Dragon Inn (King Hu)


Photo courtesy of SIFF

While Chimes at Midnight is the better achievement in film, it still has issues with the sound quality, something that may play better on speakers with less punchy bass, where Welles’s lines tend to turn into rumbling gobbledygook. Plus, while I admire Shakespeare and this film, particularly the images that now have a clarity to them lacking in other incarnations, Dragon Inn is more fun to sit through, with an equally excellent picture restoration and flat, monaural soundtrack that doesn’t temper the shrieky highs, but luckily doesn’t have many shrieky highs to contend with. Both are great archival restorations, but Dragon Inn edges out Chimes at Midnight for watchability.

Most Thought-Provoking: A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (Iwai Shunji)

photo courtesy of SIFF

Photo courtesy of SIFF

I’m not sure if this film belongs in such exalted company as the films listed above, but it will make you think during its three hours, and no shot is superfluous. My one issue is with an act of cruelty that occurs within the first hour, when a man who is supposed to be the friend of the female protagonist secretly frames her for cheating on her husband and ruins her marriage. No explanation is given for his behavior, unless he thought he was doing her a favor. There are hints that he’s in love with her, but those hints are dropped once the main story begins. Then again, if we are to take the work as satire, he is more deus ex machina than person and doesn’t need to be logical. Part of the fun in the film is seeing where the plot goes, so I won’t spoil it for you here, other that to say that there’s delightful ironies throughout, such as when a group of strangers playing family members act more like family toward each other than actual family members do. But the film stays in the memory, and the ending is perfect.

Director Iwai Shunji with translator (l) and moderator Eddy Dughi (r)

Translator, Iwai Shunji (director), Eddy Dughi (SIFF moderator)

Other great films: The Bacchus Lady, Beware the Slenderman, Chimes at Midnight, Tickled, We Are X

Male Directors, Female Leads

Many of the films I saw this year starred female protagonists in female stories directed by men. In each one of them, I thought how different the film might’ve been if directed by a female. Even Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister, while a sensitive portrait of family life among sisters, includes romantic angles that are less out-of-place due to the conservative nature of Japanese domestic life, but less progressive than what the characters of Take Care of My Cat experience in South Korea. A Bride for Rip Van Winkle has a main character who’s a porn star, Where Have All The Good Men Gone included discussions about boyfriends (briefly) in a film about finding a lost father and escaping an abusive one, The Bacchus Lady is about an elderly prostitute. And yet, the films center on multi-faceted women, most of whom are independent from men or had boyfriends but didn’t rely on them. And neither The Bacchus Lady nor A Bride for Rip Van Winkle are meant to titillate, but focus on society’s ills against women and how women carve out their place in the world, regardless.

Secret Festival

One of the reasons I attended Secret Festival this year was that, a few years back, the Fools picked Secret #2 as the best film of the festival. Not wanting that to happen again this year, I went to each screening, only missing Secret #3, due to illness. When the ballots came out this year, Secret #3 was the Fools pick for best film. *Sigh* All that I can tell you about Secret Festival is that Dan Ireland’s spirit was evoked during it, there were lots of bananas, and we witnessed Richard Gere dancing to a song from Flashdance.


Unlike previous years, I decided not to write about the Q&A’s, except to post photos and maybe a few interesting sound bites on Twitter (search @litdreamer #SIFF2016). The tweets didn’t include much information about the guests, however, so here’s a picture from each one I attended, with identifying information included (excluding Iwai Shunji’s, which is above).


Where Have All the Good Men Gone: SIFF moderator, Rene Frelle Petersen (director), Jette Sondergaard (actress),Marco Lorenzen (producer)


First Girl I Loved: SIFF moderator, Kerem Sanga (director), Ross Putnam (producer)


The Eyes of My Mother: SIFF moderator, Nicolas Pesce (director), Jacob Wasserman (producer)


The Final Master: Xu Haofeng (director), Xia Li (producer), SIFF translator, Dan Doody (SIFF moderator)


Beware the Slenderman: Sophie Harris (producer), Dan Doody (SIFF moderator)


Shortsfest Closing Night: Alexander Lewis, Artemis Shaw (directors, “Single Room Occupancy”), Ofir Klemperer (composer, “The Apartment”), Yotam Wax (director, “The Apartment”), Patrick Haggerty (subject, “The Saint of Dry Creek”), Dan Doody (SIFF moderator)


Tower: Megan Leonard (SIFF moderator), Keith Maitland (director), Sarah Wilson (cinematographer)


The Bacchus Lady: SIFF moderator, E J-Yong (director), translator

 Remembering Dan Ireland (Sunday, June 12)


The tribute for Dan Ireland, festival co-founder and director of one of my favorite movie experiences from the 40th Seattle International Film Festival (The Whole Wide World), occurred on the afternoon of June 12, the final day of this year’s festival. While SIFF treated it like its Secret Festival in that it didn’t announce what was playing and would disavow any official account of the program, it did not require signing statements of secrecy, so I’ll tell you what the tribute entailed and then there’ll be no way to verify what I write. 🙂

I entered the theater to a slide-show onscreen, with photos taken throughout Ireland’s life and career, as well as a weepy soundtrack (“We’ll Meet Again” played during the segment that showed slides of Ireland growing up and hanging out with friends). Then Artistic Director Chief Curator and Festival Director Carl Spence said a few words. He first met Ireland when he (Spence) was 23. Reading from a note written by Darryl Macdonald, who co-founded the festival with Ireland, Macdonald mentioned sneaking out with Ireland to see films when they were seven and their first year at the Moore Egyptian Theatre (1975), as well as their first SIFF (the following year). He wrote he’d miss “Dan’s constant positive energy” and his “twisted sense of humor.” In the background showed the banner seen above. Then came a highlight reel (which Ireland put together) showing clips from all of his feature-length movies: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, The Whole Wide World, Living Proof, Passionata, Jolene, and The Velocity of Gary. Then we heard from his sister Judy and younger brother Tim — briefly from the former, at length from the latter.

Tim wondered why Seattle claimed Ireland as “Seattle’s own” when he grew up in Vancouver and also lived in Portland, though he realizes now that Seattle has as much of a right to claim his as the other two places, since he left such a mark here. Also, before his death, he didn’t know the depth of his brother’s relationships. At least ten people told him at the memorial service in L.A. that “Dan Ireland is my best friend.”

“Without a doubt, Dan Ireland really loved people,” he said.

Despite this, he mentioned that Ireland was bullied when younger. One year, he only received two Valentine’s Day cards from his classmates! The story I enjoyed the most, though, was that a young Ireland used to call a movie theater in Vancouver to see if the films being shown there were in Cinemascope or Panavision.

After his siblings spoke, the lights glowed less and the screen filled with clips from some of his favorite movies, including All About Eve and Lair of the White Worm, followed by a “Trailers from Hell” sequence in which he talks about helping to bring John Huston’s The Dead to the screen. It finished with Richard Gere, as King David, dancing to “What a Feelin'” from Flashdance (see Secret Fest above).

We ended with a 35 mm reel of clips shown for the directors guild called “Precious Images” — the first time this reel had been run — and the movie Pillow Talk, which was one of Ireland’s favorite movies, also on 35 mm. To be honest, I didn’t much care for it, though seeing Rock Hudson pretend to be gay during one sequence in the film (when he was actually gay in real life) was interesting, and Doris Day putting on her stalkings was sexier than most woman taking off their clothes. Still, the highlight of the remembrance was hearing his brother speak, and the highlight of all my Ireland experiences remains seeing his personal 35 mm print of The Whole Wide World two years previous.

In Conclusion

I’d hoped to have this post up by the end of June. Here we are in August, and it’s finally up. To be honest, this post was mostly finished, but I kept procrastinating on posting the photos of all the Q&A guests I took, though when it came time to actually post them on the blog, there ended up being not as many as I feared.

Of all the festivals I’ve worked, covered, and volunteered in, this one ran the smoothest, though that may be because I didn’t observe any movies occurring at the new venues that appeared this year, such as Majestic Bay and the Arc Lodge (for brief runs). It could also be because most of the people running the venues have been doing this for years.

Also, this was the first year since I’ve worked at SIFF that I didn’t go to the Closing Night Gala. I did go to the Super Secret Staff Party, but since it’s super secret…

Finally, I thought the festival trailer this year and accompanying song kicked ass:

Until next year!

Sssshhhh! It’s a secret.


Secret Festival. None dare speak of what goes on within this four-day festival-within-a-festival. Those who mention the creations which screen in shadow are never heard from again. What happens in the dark stays in the dark.

This year I shall be attending this adumbral ritual. I can never disclose the names of the films I see; they are referred to in the guide as Secret 1, Secret 2, Secret 3,  and Secret 4. Within this hidden world I may find a masterpiece, or a film unworthy to be called a film.  No plots revealed, cast lists mentioned, or directors lauded. Just generic praise, or generic cursing. Unless my transmissions cease. Then you shall know I am among the damned.


Another Year, Another Festival

What is SIFF? A word. What is that word SIFF? Air. A trim reckoning! — Who hath it? He that loves film. (Photo courtesy of SIFF)

The 2016 edition of the Seattle International Film Festival begins May 19 and continues through June 12, though press screenings began today. I’ve decided to do mostly tweets this year, so follow me @litdreamer for those (or check out the sidebar on this blog). Most movies I see are worth only 140 characters. Some are worth none. For the few which inspire me to paragraphs, I shall post posts here.

One thing I’m curious about is if there’ll be a tribute for Dan Ireland, one of the founders of the festival, who passed away last month. Two years ago, I saw a print of The Whole Wide World with Ireland in attendance. A beautiful film that I loved so much, I started seeking out Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories and other tales. A highlight of the 40th Film Festival, as was his short film, “Hate from a Distance” (you can read about both films here). I’m guessing the death happened too close to the festival to program a separate event, but perhaps something will be put together for Opening Night.


I’ll keep you posted, and see you at the movies!

Note: You can find the entire lineup for this year at

Photos from the Greenwood gas explosion

Shortly before 1:45 this morning, an explosion echoed through Seattle. My roommate and I were both up when it happened. It sounded like a heavy dresser falling in the room above us, followed by a loud boom.  What actually happened was a natural gas leak ignited several blocks south of us, annihilating one building and damaging surrounding ones. Later that afternoon, I walked down to where the remains of Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros, and Quick Stop Grocery were surrounded by police, caution tape, and utilities personnel. These are some of the photos I took.


The north blockade started at 87th Street. Business owners who worked in the cordoned off area were escorted to their businesses by a police officer.


To the east, police blocked off everything west of Phinney Ave, which runs parallel to Greenwood Ave N.


The police had the sidewalks blocked off on the southern side of 84th Street. Despite their building being damaged by fire, the employees at Greenwood Chocolati Café were busy giving firefighters free coffees, which I witnessed shortly before snapping this photo.


The fire was out by 10:30 am (source: Q13 Fox News), but firefighters were still pouring water on it when I took this photo at 2:23 pm.DSC_1808


Notice the interview being conducted across the street, and the giant hole in the road.


Glass on the ground near Greenwood Chocolati Café.


The side of Greenwood Chocolati Café. Still open despite damage to the windows. They are on the corner of 84th and Greenwood, just across the street from the blast.


All that’s left of Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros, and Quick Stop Grocery.


As I headed west down 84th, I saw other windows broken by the blast.


There was even debris on the roofs.

For more information on the blast and fundraisers to help those businesses and employees affected by it, go here and here.