Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The bostin' Austin Film Festival

You might or might not know that last year I went off on an American road trip. I wanted to see if it was possible to get from coast to coast without giving any money to "The Man"... by which I mean I wasn't going to eat at a chain restaurant, stay in a chain hotel or - and this is the really hard bit - get fuel from a chain gas station.

To begin with the idea was that I'd do the trip, come home and then write a book about it. But when I talked about it with a few friends they suggested it would be a good subject for a film.

Initially I was reluctant... I didn't want to have a crew following me and I didn't want to end up hosting one of those travel shows where the presenter meets a sequence of pre-arranged eccentrics that a researcher has found. It seems to me that when it becomes one-of-those-shows you end up being robbed of the personal experience because you're just going through the motions of a story that someone has worked out in advance... whereas I wanted to actually try to do something and either succeed or fail on my own mettle.

So we ended up making the film in a nice low budget way by just finding a brave film-maker who was prepared to come along in the car with me and shoot whatever happened. No crew. No schedule. Just us, an idea and a car.

I'm still writing the book - which will be out in April/May (I think) but we've spliced the film together already. It'll be shown on More4 in February. I'm really pleased with the result... but it's always impossible to guess what other people will think of things... especially when it's really different to the kind of work I've done before.

The movie was submitted to the Austin Film Festival and I was really delighted when they came back saying they wanted to include it in the schedule. From my point of view it was the best way of getting some proper feedback on the film. The audience there wouldn't have any preconceived notions about what I do because they wouldn't have a clue who I was. They'd just view it as a film from a couple of unknown film-makers. Hopefully they'd enjoy it. Maybe they wouldn't.

It turns out they enjoyed it. I've been really pleased with the reaction. (You can see the audience reviews here.) That was pretty much all I hoped we'd achieve at the festival - just some good honest feedback - but yesterday the news got better still. I heard that we'd actually won the Audience Award for best Documentary Feature. A champagne cork has been popped. Hurrah for things like that.

If you've seen or read Googlewhack Adventure you'll know that Austin, Texas is the scene of one of the lowest points in my life. Right now it feels like I've pulled it back to a 1-1 draw.


deadmanjones said...

Finally I find out what project the flickr photos were taken during; the mystery is over and the waiting (for those of us not at the Austin Film festival) begins. Kudos Dave.

tinpanally said...

HUGE congrats Dave! Will look out for it on More 4 (Home of excellent TV!)

S said...

Congratulations... The subject of the mystery tour has finally been revealed. Looking forward to seeing the documentary and reading the book.

Gordon said...

It'll be interesting to see what you are like when interacting with people in real life. That is, not through the lens of your standup...

Here's to score draws!

Dave Gorman said...

But I don't do stand up.

Ben Paddon said...

He probably means your stage shows.

In any case, congrats! Looking forward to seeing it, assuming it ever airs over here in the US (sometimes, I really do wonder why I moved over here...).

Stephen said...

Fab! Congrats Dave. Looking forward to seeing the film.

Radio, stage monologues (if "stand up" isn't your bag, though you were certainly standing up when I saw your show), books, photography and now movies. A true all-rounder. I bet you want to be Stephen Fry when you grow up.

Maus said...

Great news, well done.

Dave Gorman said...

You're right. I was standing up. But I wasn't telling any jokes. Lots of people stand up while doing things.

More to the point (for me at least) is that the "It'll be interesting to see what you are like when interacting with people in real life..." comment is a perfect illustration of why I was delighted to have the film at the Austin Film Festival in the first place. I just like the idea that some people in Austin watched the film without thinking "I wonder what he's like when he's not doing that." They just sat down to watch a film.

By the way Gordon... this all reads like I'm being sniffy about your comment and that's really not how I feel.

I always get slightly uncomfortable when someone draws a distinction between what's in a stage show and "real life"... because the stage shows are about real life stories. The footage you see in The Dave Gorman Collection, for example, is me. With people. In real life. It isn't anything else.

I hope that when you watch the film you'll decide that maybe there isn't a 'lens' on my 'stand up.'

Anonymous said...

Bostin' news indeed! It must be very pleasing when something like that comes off with even better results than you had hoped for.

I think you should award yourself a celebratory biscuit-break from the writing.

Anonymous said...

Cocking heck Dave, it's an award winning film already and we're not going to see it for another 4 months.

Super news, well done! Chocolate Hob-Nob sort of news.

Unknown said...

That sounds fantastic! Part of what has always drawn me to your writing has been your interaction with different people and cultures, and I can think of few things better than watching (or reading) your experiences crossing a place as diverse as the US. What made you decide on the limitations of avoiding giving cash "to the man"? (I ask although you'll probably just say that I'll find out when I watch it..)

Jayne said...

Great to hear, must have felt very gratifying indeed! And for the other film-maker, a Macca thumbs up to you both!

Dave Gorman said...

Now that I've explained what it was about, I hope people understand why I didn't want to announce it in advance. If I'd explained what it was about I would have got a load of e-mails from people telling me about independent diners and gas stations they know of... and the point was that I just wanted to get in the car and see what we found. I didn't want it to be researched to death, either officially or by well-meaning strangers. I don't really understand why you'd start a journey knowing exactly what was going to happen along the way. What's the point in that? If you know it's possible, there's nothing to find out.

And Jon... yeah, you will find out when you see the film/read the book, but in essence it was inspired by the depressing tour of America I did the year before. 8 shows a week while staying in a series of identikit chain hotels left me feeling like I was travelling around the country but not really experiencing anything very real. That's as much an explanation as I'll give for anything right now... there's a book needs writing.

Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

Damn, this looks real good, and I hope that the book will have your photos in it too... as they are excellent...

Am really looking forward to this now.

Best wishes with the book and... everything

Ben said...

That's great news, Dave! Well done! I'm really excited to see/read this little adventure. It's something I'd love to do as well. It's interesting how your one project feeds into the next, it was the same with how St. Alexandra Dave Gorman was the catatlyst for Googlewhack, and now you're doing this (sort of) off the back of that. I guess that's the real life element again.

Anyway, congratulations.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree about travel programmes in general - the latest Michael Palin series just seemed rather stilted and 'going through the motions', full pre-arranged shots and contrived conversation. Although it was trying to be a series of documentaries rather than a travelogue it still felt disappointing that it had so little spontaneity and was so lacking the excitement and buzz of travel. Maybe Around The World in 80 Days was made the same way but just better directed...

Kitty said...

"I don't really understand why you'd start a journey knowing exactly what was going to happen along the way. What's the point in that? If you know it's possible, there's nothing to find out."

...and again I find inspiration from the things you do. Life is for living and nothing is impossible. Go out and do whatever it is you want to do.

PS: Any possibility this will be shown at other film festivals? It would be a good opportunity to get more unbiased feedback.

Ian Davenport said...

Excellent stuff.

Don't suppose you've made a trailer for it have you? If so, it'd be great to pop it online so we can get a sneaky taster!

(Gimme a shout on the email if you're not sure how best to go about this...)



Anonymous said...

Good to hear your project went well.

Even though the release dates might dictate otherwise, would you recommend reading the book first then watching the film, or visa versa.

I find with most things the book tends to be the better. Due to the larger amount of time available to portray the story, with a film you are limited (ala Googlewhack book vs DVD). However as both are based on a real life event they both represent the same happenings.

Either way let me know.

Unknown said...

Awwww .... you drove around the US and didn't come to see me?!!

But congratulations, smashing news! Can't wait to see it now ...

Anonymous said...

It's great to finally find out what the US road trip was all about. I really enjoyed looking at the photos.

Well done on the reviews so far.

Anonymous said...


you said this..

"I always get slightly uncomfortable when someone draws a distinction between what's in a stage show and "real life"... because the stage shows are about real life stories."

There is a huge difference surely?
It is inevitable as a part of the art of story telling. There are so many ways to tell a story and what to highlight or leave out, it is a great art. To say they are real life stories doesnt do justice to the work you put into constructing the stories. I dont doubt that they are true to your experience but it is in the telling that we make the meaning emerge.. perhaps a conversation about truth and the social construction of our lives is not what is wanted here but they are my thoughts to what you posted..

I am sure you'd have a much to say about the art of good story telling.


Dave Gorman said...


of course there's something that a storyteller adds to a story... but that's as true with a documentary as it is with a stage show. The film is edited. And narrated. And people's behaviour is consciously or subconsciously moderated because of the presence of a camera.

All I'm saying is that I'm uncomfortable with the idea that one way of telling a story is any truer than another.

Anonymous said...

You clever little boy!

Sounds really quite spiffing...

I wait..

With baited breath..

Gino said...

I like that you're so relaxed about it - it's almost as if you just slipped it into the middle of a conversation, "oh, we won the Audience Award for best Documentary Feature at a respected American film festival. So, I was thinking about getting one of those wormeries."
I'd be shitting my pants with joy at this point if I were you. Can't wait to see it! The documentary, not the pants shitting.

Rebeccalatekala said...

The trip across America was brilliant i really enjoyed watching it, and googlewhack adventure was hillarious...for the viewer, I imagine it wasn't for you.


ChocolateFudgePie said...

Hi Dave

I watched this last night for the first time. It was very interesting and I love the idea of using nothing but independent stores/petrol stations etc. I would miss starbucks lattes though.

Also being a vegetarian (as I am also and have been for 20 years) I can only imagine that you really wanted to punish yourself by eating the McD Burgers - yuk!
Not surprised you chucked up at all.

Best wishes and I look forward to your next endeavour.