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The Making of Cannibal! The Musical, by Jason McHugh


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Chapter 3 - Turning Legitimate

At some point just before or after our big meeting with Virgil, I believe we were all simultaneously struck with the belief that we could actually pull this thing together and make it come to fruition.

We fed off of each other's energy, and began to fool each other and everyone else into making this silly movie. And what greater goal could there have been for us? There was no doubt in any of our minds that making a feature film would be far more significant an achievement than receiving a diploma. This was clearly the most ambitious project there could be for any of us, so we got serious and researched the needs of our feature, gathering frequently at Red Robin to discuss our options.

We'd talk about all the independent success stories we'd heard, and share research on related topics. Pretty soon an "Alferd Packer: The Musical" strategy began to emerge from our collective wisdom (or lack thereof). We started to believe our own hype, which led us into certain steps of action. We soon had a small snowball rolling forward.

After taking several free legal consultations, we decided to work with the most laid-back and easygoing of the attorneys who had been kind enough to meet with us. The lawyer's name was David Walder. He was not an actual entertainment lawyer, but he did have some knowledge of the entertainment industry, which was an advantage. He took us on as clients, both as a good deed and as an interesting diversion from his normal money-making affairs. Soon we were the proud owners of our very own corporation, The Avenging Conscience, Inc.

The name was discovered during yet another one of Bruce Kawin's mega-boring film history classes. One of the many things that bonded us all together early on was a common hatred for so many of our film history classes, and for the pretentious douche bag professors teaching them. We found those classes to be a forum for all the wanking intellectuals, who either reveled in memorizing facts too trivial for Trivial Pursuit (who was the cinematographer on "Birth Of a Nation"?), or buried you in bull shit lectures that dissected the compositional details of each shot beyond reason or comprehension.

We did have some super cool teachers, too. Don Yannacito was an inspirational teacher, relaxed and something of a Yoda figure to us. The world's most famous and renowned avant garde film maker, Stan Brakhage, taught a few cool classes and screened his bizarre movies regularly. And Jerry Aronson, a high-strung Jewish gay man from New York, oversaw the production courses and prepared us for Hollywood in more ways than we could have imagined.

Anyway, "The Avenging Conscience" was this short, crappy little D.W. Griffith movie from the early 1900's about these wood nymphs who have an encounter with Pan. Upon naming our company the Avenging Conscience, we shot a remake of the original film. Ian had a beard and was perfect for Pan, while Trey , Matt, and I put on these tutus and danced around like the crazy little wood nymphs that we were. This "Avenging Conscience Remake" hasn't found distribution, but we swear it's a gem. (Perhaps someday it will be made available here!)

Now that we had our official legal corporation, The Avenging Conscience, Inc., we were ready to form our limited partnership and start financing our project. Cannibal Films, Ltd. was founded, and we were in business.

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