Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dancer's memoir reveals church, closer Sacramento connection

"Take It All Off" by Susanne Haines Register, 1978

"Susanne wrote a memoir."

That's was the new fact staring at me via a facebook message.
It would have been nice to know that three years ago when I started this screenplay.
"Take It All Off," by Susanne Haines Register, was released by Beta Books of San Diego in 1978.
The book covers her early life, the Sacramento indecency trial, her reign as Miss Nude Universe and more than a year traveling the country as a headlining exotic dancer.
For the uninitiated,  my screenplay "Pink" focuses on Susanne's 1969 arrest and trial. The case became national news when the trial judge decided that for the jury to determine whether the dance violated community standards they'd have to see it.
News clips and the accounts of the reporters that covered it form the bulk of my research. When the script started it was a 15-minute short film I expected to produce for a few thousand dollars. But when I embarked on expanding it, it never occurred to be to exhaustively research the story before leaping into the feature length version.
Reading the news clips gave me the rough outline of what happened, but not much of a sense of the person. The Bee and other news outlets covered the story, but kept their toe in the shallow end. I knew a little more about details about the Sheriff Misterly and trial Judge Earl Warren Jr., who happens to be son of the former Supreme Court Justice, but as the story went through revisions it was clear Susanne was the star.
Why did she get arrested seven times for performing bottomless? I didn't know for sure so I filled in the blanks. I gave her voice.
The book -- somehow invisible to google searches -- provides tantalizing new details. Susanne was born Susanne Trooper (March 13, 1947) to Frank Julius Trooper and Alice May (Simpson) Trooper. Family tragedy forced her to harden fast as she split time growing up between Sacramento's suburbs (Fair Oaks and Roseville) and Provo, UT. After a tumultuous childhood, she won Miss Placer County at age 16 before finding her way to the stage of Orangevale's Pink Pussy Kat.
While the book is lacking in literary grace, it's a flashlight into the shadowy '70s strip club circuit. Susanne represented the highest ideals of the craft in fighting for free expression, but also saw the lows exotic dance.  
My task now is to see how the new facts fit into my pre-existing world.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New tools allow screenwriters to pitch from home

Sites take the travel out of pitching film, television

In Hollywood, like most industries, it's about who you know.  That gives people living and toiling in LA a huge advantage over people living elsewhere.

Since most agents won't take submissions, most connections come via a friend-of-a-friend (as so I'm told). To give folks like me access  (and to take our money) the pitchfest was born.

Fade In's Hollywood Pitch Festival and are two of the larger ones. The Hollywood Pitch Festival is July 24-26 in Los Angeles. A three-day pass costs $495. The 2015 Scriptfest was May 29-31 in Burbank, with tickets ranging from $300 to $750.

Each pitchfest is a little different, but most involve standing in a hotel ballroom trying to make small talk as you wait your turn to talk to your chosen film exec. All told, you're looking at spending $800 for a day of workshops and five minutes with eight agents, managers or production company execs.

I'm not passing judgment on whether that's a good value, I haven't been to either of those events. They might be worth it for the seminars and networking alone. But in that the information age there are new routes to get your film or television pitch before Hollywood types.

Here are three at to get your pitch to Hollywood:

Virtual Pitchfest 

Virtual Pitchfest allows users to pay to submit a query letter to selected Hollywood agents, managers, and production companies. The cost is $10 a pop, lower if you're buying in bulk. The service guarantees a response within five days.

Greenlight My Movie

Greenlight My Movie allows users to submit a completed short, a recorded pitch or a synopsis to selected agents, managers, and production companies. The cost is $29.95. Most responses come within 14 days according to the service.

Stage 32/Happywriters 

Stage 32 is a multifaceted social network for the world film community, so virtual pitch sessions are just part of what they do.  Stage 32 pitch sessions are sporadically held opportunities to engage in a live video chat with a specific film professional. The 8 minute skype session costs $45 but comes with the added benefit of live feedback without having to fly to Los Angeles.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Historic pussy kat photos hard to find

"Bottomless trial" defendants (tavern owner Leonard Glancy with Susanne Haines (left) and Shiela Brendenson) await the day's court appearance before Municipal Judge Earl Warren Jr.. Sacramento Bee August 27, 1969

Mini-documentary to proceed film, educate public, build audience 

Finding pictures of Orangevale's long-closed Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go has turned out to be much more of a project than I expected. That's one thing documentaries don't come out and tell you: how hard it was to find the historic photos and interview subjects.
When I first started my screenplay "Pink," I was quick to dismiss any thought of doing it as a documentary. But as the project moved along, it became increasingly clear that telling this story as it really happened is also part of my mission.
For those new to this blog, in 1969 two dancers and the owner of the Pink Pussy Kat were arrested and went on trial for indecent exposure after the dancer performed without panties.
The trial became a nation story with Judge Earl Warren Jr. moved the trial to a strip club to allow the jury to see the exotic "bottomless" dance.
This photo, featuring the tavern owner Leonard Glancy and dancers Susanne Haines (left) and Shiela Brendenson, was obtained through the Center for Sacramento History.
The Sacramento Bee photo dated Aug. 27, 1969 shows the three awaiting  the day's court appearance before Municipal Judge Earl Warren Jr.
I've made some effort to find photographs of the club, the dancers, the scene, but in the coming weeks it will be time to take those efforts to a new level, hopefully with news coverage, advertising and an organized effort to hit up the places old men frequent. I'll update the post as more details become available.
The plan is for the mini-documentary to increase interest in the film. Have ideas on ways to find photos and live stories? Better yet want to help track down some of these people?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Screenwriter revisits hometown 'Pow Wow' roots, reconnects with past

Orangevale Pow Wow Days stage area 2015

Orangevale is one of those "where" places.
Any mention of it -- to most anyone -- must quickly be followed by "where" it's near.
"Between Folsom and Roseville," is where I tell people.
In northeast Sacramento County, it's where the sidewalks end.
It's my hometown and the setting of the feature film script, I'm working to turn into a major motion picture.
The arrest and trial of the dancers at the "Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go" became a national story and helped set the rules for exotic dance.
Few people know about this. I'm trying to change that. It would be/will be an amazing gift from my home community.
You can only really be from one place (military brats excepted).
I'm from Orangevale.
I left after high school and while I live in Sacramento now, my interaction with the community is
little beyond visiting my parents.
Being one of a handful of black kids in a community I affectionately call the Idaho of California, was at times a challenge. The late 1990s were certainly better racially than ever, but the late 1990s in Orangevale was not the same as the 1990s in more diverse communities.
I made the most of it. I was student body president (CRHS 1993) so some would say I thrived. But I wouldn't say I fit in. By the time I attended high school at Casa Roble the spittoons were gone, but vail of homogeneous isolation permeated. I often felt treated as the exception to a generally accepted rule about black people.
When faced with the sheer amount of bad country music produced in the 1990s one can either give in and say you like it or fight it.  Hating country was my buttress, protecting my few black points.
Committed to the fight against country, as soon as I had a choice in the matter, I avoided "Pow Wow Days," the longstanding community parade and carnival.
Orangevale doesn't have much. It's an unincorporated spec of Sacramento County that's hard to get to by highway thus maintaining some level of rural charm, but it doesn't have that gold rush era downtown of Folsom or the size, organization and ambition of
Since 1963, the community has been experiencing some level of Pow Wow. As a child, I marched in it was a Boy Scout.
As adult man, sans child, who has experienced Mardi Gras (several times), it's real easy to go curmudgeon on regular old small town parades. They don't throw beads, alcohol must be smuggled and there is little chance of boobie exposure, but there is something that is uniquely community socializing and unifying about parades.
So that extent, there is something unique and great about Orangevale's "Pow Wow Days."
I made a return visit Friday night and Saturday afternoon to tell people about "Pink" and the "Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go."
From a visitors perspective, the event seemed healthy. It's 32 acres, snuggled between other parks and schools, is an ideal venue for an outdoor concert. There were kids galore on the carnival rides, plenty of vendors, a radio station sponsor, and a healthy beer garden. (Though they could step it up with more food variety and serving local beers.)
Loosely based an actual incident, some of the ladies from the Pink Pussy Kat cause a stir at Pow Wow Days in my script. So the visit could also be considered field research.
Another bonus: Saturday I ran into my childhood friend Billy Blackburn. That night, his band Blackburn Bullet bested seven competitors to win the "battle of the bands" hosted by radio station 101.9 the wolf. Billy's already talking about writing a song for the movie.
I was buoyed by the feedback I got from people young and old towards the Pink Pussy Kat story.
Young people were excited to hear about the historic trial. With old people, you could see the sparkle in their eye as they accessed those dusty files. I didn't find the motherload treasure trove of Pink Pussy Kat photos, but I'll keep looking.
 I see a few Rotary Club breakfasts and VFW Hall visits in my future as I continue my search.
Orangevale, here I come again.

Follow the journey by email
Keep up on film project on Facebook
Connect with the Pink Pussy Kat

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sacramento film project in the media, party Friday

 'Tower' guitar finds home 

Ed Fletcher snags one-of-a-kind guitar

Pink screenwriter went from a party spectator to celebrity after he snagged the "Tower Records" Gibson Les Paul Guitar at a post-screening auction. The one-of-a-kind guitar is signed by Tower founder Russ Solomon and "All Things Must Pass" filmmakers Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart. Proceeds benefit the Tower Records Project

Party for Pink set for Friday

Film community, supporters, public invited 

Join us for an exciting night of music, dance and comedy at Party for "Pink" May 1 atVega's Underground in Old Sacramento.
It's an opportunity to share the path we're on with the public and Sacramento International Film Festival attendees. The night will include music from '70s rock cover band Lane 5, period burlesque performances from  Sugar Cane Cheeks and Vivienne Fuego of The Golden Poppy Revue and comedy from Diane Hong. The fun starts at 9 p.m.

Pink in the media

Digital-first strategy takes process to the people 

So many great things happening lately, the media department can hardly keep up. Since our strategy is to talk "Pink" into existence, I'm more than happy to share the process with anyone who will listen. Three great media hits this week:
  • Fellow writer/reporter Rich Ehisen published an inciteful Q & A. He and I talk about how the writing process, film-making, and of course Pink.
  • I sat down with the Junior and Leo Show Podcast talk about everything from how I got into the project to our digital-first strategy. We even talked a little about the news game and new media.
  • Finally, a piece I wrote explaining why the Sacramento film community should be rooting for the web series "Rellik." 

Monday, April 20, 2015

May busy, exciting time on film front

By Ed Fletcher
Early May looks like it's going to be an incredibly busy and exciting time for me. In a matter of days, I'm throwing a party in Old Sacramento, staging a photo shoot and my film short "Goldie" is screening in Seattle.
May 1: Party for "Pink"
May 3: Pink photoshoot
May 4: "Goldie" screening

Party for "Pink" is a chance to generate excitement around my feature film project "Pink" among Sacramento International Film Festival attendees and general Sacramento public.
The free event at Vega's Underground in Old Sacramento will feature 70s rock from cover band Lane 5, burlesque performances and comedy. The fun starts at 9 p.m.

On May 3, I'm turning Sacramento's Blue Lamp back into a strip club for a photo shoot. Behind the camera will be Sacramento photographer and visual artist Melissa Uroff.

Then on Monday, May 4 I fly to Seattle to be on hand as "Goldie," the short film I wrote and produced, screens as part of the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival. It's part of a night of LGBTQ-friendly films and live drag show.