It is a delicate bit of balancing that comes with making a documentary film. You have to serve the truth, the story, and the audience and all of it at once. As exciting as the truth is it is exciting often because of its subtlety, because of its delicacy, two things that films often don’t have the luxury of having. There have been a lot of documentaries that place fast and loose with the facts, too many I would add, but it is rare when you get filmmakers that find ways to make the truth exciting. That use their skill in storytelling to let the truth speak without letting the movie rule the day. Such is the case with Cropsey, a wonderfully macabre film that dances very closely to being a horror film, too close for some perhaps.
Cropsey is the story of a legend. The filmmakers decide to look into the origins of a folktale and legend they heard as children growing up in New York. It was the story of a crazed killer that stalked Long Island and who would kidnap and kill children and hide their bodies so no one would ever find them. As the filmmakers begin digging into the legend though they start to uncover the horrible truth that lay hidden within that legend, the truth of a murderer who preyed on the innocent. What they found was that on Long Island there had been a series of institutions that catered to the physically and mentally disabled, a place that was to protect these people but which abused and neglected them. When the world found out about these crimes the institutions were closed but in their closing many of the people who had lived there were left behind. Left to find their own way in a world that they could scarcely survive in. This is when the story really begins. It was said that many of these people scattered across Long Island and hid in underground tunnels and in the woods surrounding the institution, surviving on scraps. One by one several children disappeared from the island, and for years no one knew what had happened. When a man who had once been a worker at one of the institutions is suspected of the murders we learn that this is one legend that may well be more horrifying as a truth.
What we follow after the legend then is the reality of a city in horror at the murders of several children and the cry for justice. The filmmakers begin following the trial of this man as another child’s murder is attributed to him. Things take an even wilder turn though when an attempt to contact the suspected killer leads them to become pen-pals of a sort as they search of the truth. What they find though is that murder or not, he is toying with them, and may be hiding more than they can imagine.
It is really rare to get a documentary that is as thrilling as a feature film but this is one of those rarities. This, like Paradise Lost offers no answers, just truth, but it is the path you take that makes the film so amazing. An outstanding film and one that thankfully focuses on the story and not the filmmakers. Highly recommended for not just fans of documentaries but for fans of horror as well.
8 out of 10
As a resident of downtown Flint for over five years now and I am always curious when I hear about ways to fix, save, or enliven Flint. Especially when it involves the arts. Now, I live downtown, the area of the city that is getting the most attention right now, for good or ill. To me, it is for good as the heart of this city is the heart of this county and we need it thriving. I can appreciate the concern that the outlying areas of the city are being neglected in the process but hope that once the city center turns around the attention will be turned elsewhere. We shall see, I suppose.
But, back to what I wanted to talk about.
Downtown Flint is a place finding its face. A place finding its identity. One way to really do that is through the arts. I have been very active in the local arts scene since 2005 and have done what I can to add to the scene, such as it is. There has been talk over the last few years about bringing out of town artists here and letting them set up shop and have the run of downtown so they can create art events and showcase their art. Pretty neat. It is always neat when people want to come to town and take part in the arts community. This city has been beaten up, by itself more than anyone else, for so long that we need all the help we can get.
What concerns me when I read about bringing in outside artists and focusing on these people is that it is taking what little spotlight is here away from the artists that are living and working here. I love the idea of artists coming here and working with our artists and taking part in the established events here and maybe inspiring and creating new ones but I think the focus needs to stay on our artists here. There are few opportunities for unestablished and young artists in Flint and we need to support and encourage those artists, not focus on visiting artists. Too often we let our talent leave the city because we don’t encourage or champion them and we need to change that. We cannot spend money on people to come here and do these things that we don’t let the local artists do themselves. Don’t give people from out of town advantages and spotlight that you won’t give to your own. That is crazy. We need to get artists and crafters and anyone who will come here to take part in OUR events, to take part in OUR scene and to help us create OUR arts community but to do it the other way around is counter productive and mad. It is kind of like inviting company over if you are not willing to clean your place up first. We need to support and encourage what we have then bring in outside influences and inspirations to cheer us on and inspire us to keep evolving the arts here. We are so anxious in Flint to look for outside help, and outside money that we are forgetting that we have the ability to help ourselves. If we are willing to work together and to open our spaces and minds to the artists we have then maybe we can stop the talent loss we have been experiencing for so long. And the thing here to remember too is that it takes no money to support the artists we have here. It takes space, it takes trust, and it takes vision. None of which cost a dollar.
The easiest thing to forget in times of need is that the only way to really be helped is to start by helping yourself.
Well, I can tell you with all honesty that this wasn’t the beginning I had hoped to have for my sorta-book-and-art tour but, well, there was still fun to be had this weekend. Comic Con is always a bit of a mixed bag for me as it’s great to see old friends, meet some new people, and be around the atmosphere but I can’t say I have ever done really well at one. This year was definitely a challenge though as the crowds were pretty focused on what they were there for, more-so it seemed than years before. Something I can appreciate, if not love.
The trouble with conventions anymore is that they are so darn expensive, so expensive that coupled with a fee to park, and then the price of gas well, this all takes from the money that fans come to the con with and thus takes from money they have to use on stuff they hadn’t planned to buy. Heck, as expensive as celeb autographs are it gets to be a wonder that there’s much money at all left. Now, I love this show, and shows like this as I love the novelty of seeing some actors I am familiar with but it does really lessen the occasion that someone might take a chance on my stuff. Though, honestly, a lot of us were not doing really well this weekend, and to me a big part of that was the cost of the event.
Something I need to look at long and hard too though is that maybe this just isn’t my spot. Not that I know where exactly my spot is to sell my books and art but it would seem that a comic con is not it. I have a lot to think about, to be sure, as I have some books to promote and sell, and it’s time to really start doing that.
On the plus, I did meet some great people, saw some people I adore, a couple I don’t like so much, and got to see a couple celebs, which was pretty fun.
Next up is my solo art and book show, let’s hope that goes a little better, shall we?
Hey kids, as of this weekend I am starting on my official/unofficial book and art tour. This is in support of The Kreep Sheep and I will have all my books, some of my art, and all of my awesome on hand at each date.
This weekend I will be in Novi, MI all weekend for the Motorcity Comic Con, a convention I have been doing on and off since 1994. I will have the new book, some art, the other books, and other things and such.
On May 25th I will be at Sweet Harvest Bakery in Flint for a solo art and book show. Delicious sweets will be for sale as well.
June 11th I will be at the Book Bizarre in downtown Flint at the Greater Flint Arts Council from 6 – 9 for a celebration of local and regional writers.
And after that…who can say where Dr. Hullabaloo will appear next. Wherever it is though, it’s gonna be rad, I guarantee you that.
In every land, to every story, there is a beginning and even in a world of magic and hope there is a past, there is a shadow, and there is a story as to how the world came to be. Welcome back to the Kingdom of Man in a time before there were Meep Sheep, before there were Bumble Kitties, and when there was much darkness in the world. These are the stories of the lands, the people, and the places of legend and song. These are the tales of how the world came to be, what made the Great Thicket such a dangerous place, how the Lady Hush first spread her evil and so much more. Here are stories of great darkness but at the heart of all darkness is light and there is much light here as well, such as the light of the love between mother and daughter, husband and wife, and two sisters pitted against a grim foe. If you yearn for a return to the lands of magic where the sky is filled with flying sheep, the hills alive with magical creatures, and where Love is still stronger than all that it opposes then friend, welcome back, welcome back to the Kingdom of Man. This is but a door. You are the key. Welcome, welcome home.
The Kreep Sheep is available for $10.
Also available as an e-book.
The Kreep Sheep – 146 pages.
When we first came up with the notion of doing the Punk Rock Rummage Sale here in Flint there was a big question of – will anyone care? We had been doing indie art shows, my friends and I, in Flint for several years by then but had never done something that was about buying more than art and showing. Our friend Bethany had been doing shows like this in Detroit for a few years and those had been really successful and we were basically using her template of music, arts, crafts, a bar/funky setting, and rummage stuff. It is a great notion and Bethany is a genius for doing them in Detroit so naturally we had to ask her to do this with us. To my surprise we were a hit. Not even just a hit but people loved when we had a new one. Such was the case with this latest one, our fourth. This one had a twist in that it was a day AND night event, where we had just been doing it at a bar in the evening before with a DJ (and bands once) and so it had a bit more to put together but we would up with the same results. People came out, had fun, and bought.
The whole point in doing these things is to create a fun, free event in Flint for people to come too. Sure, we want to make money but we want to make it off of the stuff we are selling. Off of our stuff, not the event. We try to pull in a variety of people to sell, people who want to be a part of it, and we do our best to make sure they have fun and whatever happens beyond that is on them. This latest event was cool for me because I 1. made enough to pay my rent and 2. I sold three pieces of art and gave a piece to friends that really wanted it. As an artist I am still struggling with the value of my art but even though I lowered the price for people I feel like it was the right thing to do to get the art in the hands of people who wanted it. That is what matters in the end, people getting your art that want and appreciate it.
I love these events. They are pretty low stress, easy to do, and are a lot of fun for everyone involved. What I like best though is that we have done a couple a year for two and a half years and we are never obligated to do them. So when they stop being fun, or there just isn’t time or reason to do it we will stop. For now though, they are still important to us and more importantly are still fun, and that’s what matters most.