Four Star Video Heaven played host to a special live radio broadcast of two WORT programs early Friday afternoon, in which filmmakers featured in the Wisconsin Film Festival stopped by to chat about their works.
The center portion of the video institution located just of State Street was cleared of its used-DVD and t-shirt racks to make way for the impromptu studio. "Four Star asked us to do it," says Laura Miller, the interim news and public affairs facilitator for the community radio station (and friend and one-time co-worker of mine). "It sounded like fun," she continues.
The live broadcast was split into two segments, running from noon to 1 p.m. and from then until 2 p.m. this afternoon. The show inside Four Star, run by WORT engineer Laura Gutknecht, was actually streaming online, picked up back at the station's studios for broadcasting over the airwaves.
Several visiting filmmakers appeared during the first hour of the broadcast, a modified edition of "A Public Affair" hosted by Jan Levine-Thal. They included Curt Ellis (a writer and cast member for King Corn, Phyllis Redman and Eric Breitenbach (the producers and directors of When Pigs Fly, Ross Riege (the cinemaphotographer for It's Happiness: A Polka Documentary), and Wendy Schneider (the producer and director of Cut).
"Levine-Thal talked to the documentarians to really reveal what the beauty of their movies," notes Miller. "I learned something even though I haven't seen the movies."
The second hour was devoted to a rare live edition of Mel & Floyd, one that featured both of the named hosts as well as the ubiquitous Mr. Smarty Pants.
Their first set of guests were Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda of Blame Society Productions, who were grilled by the guffawing trio about their creation of the Chad Vader series.
Besides giving the basics behind the online phenomenon, they also discussed their filmmaking plans following the release of Chad Vader Episode 8 later this spring. They are planning a screening of the entire series thus far on Friday, Apr. 27 at the Willy Street Co-op.
In addition to their as-yet-unannounced plans, the Blame Society team plan to return to their other series, including Super Shooters, McCourt's in Session and Fun Rangers. Sloan also demonstrated his Yoda laugh, a good impression that competes with his computer-aided rendition of the Vader voice.
Despite the live setting, it's a typical Mel & Floyd, with laughs dominating the duration of the show. Four Star, meanwhile, continues to do business throughout the show, the cash registers ringing and the printers chattering as patrons pick up their home movie experiences for the weekend. This traffic is pretty steady, in fact, with patrons paying varying amounts of attention to the radio broadcast.
The final set of guests are the trio of minds behind festival hit Chalk, namely Mike Akel, Chris Mass, and Mike McAlister. These Austin-based filmmakers appeared over the final twenty minutes of Mel & Floyd, discussing the story behind their "fake documentary," the positive critical reaction to it, and the regular comparisons between Madison and the capitol of Texas.
The response here to Chalk has also been encouraging for the filmmakers. The screening at the Wisconsin Union Theater on Friday was in front of the largest crowd they've experienced so far at any festival. "The audience was phenomenal," says writer and director Akel, particularly the teachers with whom they spoke following the screening.
They're hoping to bring the film back to town later this year, perhaps at the new Sundance 608, thanks to their distribution deal with Morgan Spurlock. The also shared their future plans, which include a possible TV deal and a new comedic project about crazy parents in Little League baseball.
They also praised New Glarus Spotted Cow, which they tried late Thursday night with festival director Meg Hamel in the Memorial Union Rathskeller.
As for WORT, the broadcast went very well, Miller notes. "We'll hopefully be doing more and more broadcasts like this in the future."