Saturday, October 12, 2013

Raindance Day 1

RAINDANCE DAY 1 (which was Wednesday Sept 25)

(Because I was constantly dragging my butt back to the room at midnight and having my first meal of the day just before getting into bed, I missed posting daily updates about Raindance... So pretend you're in that old UPN show SEVEN DAYS and can go back in time, so all of this is happening *right now* instead of a couple of weeks later...)

It's 3:30 on Wednesday in Los Angeles, 11:30 in London... back in my room after the opening night party, hoping to sleep tonight.

Last night: no sleep. And I can't sleep on planes or in any moving vehicle, so no sleep since, um, Sunday night. Last night when I arrived in London my body said: it's day, why are you trying to sleep *now*? I took Melatonin, didn't help. Took some over the counter sleep aids, didn't help. So today I was 95% coffee. I didn't eat anything, because I was too tired to be hungry. I stopped by the Raindance Office to pick up my badge... and told them I was feeling exhausted. I corrected the TOC on the Story Blue Book in a coffee shop, then had to run back to my room to dump my laptop and then run to the opening night film. Yes, I actually ran. And even though part of my journey was by tube (subway) - that involves lots of stair climbing.

Made it to opening night film sweating like crazy - walked the red carpet, had that photo above taken, was interviewed on camera, talked to brilliant actor Jon Campling (who is in a film here at the end of the fest called SLEEPING DOGS), went in to the lounge before the film (complimentary champagne)... and felt dizzy, like I was going to pass out. I mean *really* dizzy. There was a moment, there, where I thought I might be dying. I wondered what the repercussions would be if I died on opening night of the film festival? Would the show go on around me? Would a dude dying on opening night increase ticket sales? I really felt like I was going to hit the floor any moment...

A pair of nice people helped me get to the "green room" where they had a sofa, and they got me some cold water and one of the Raindance volunteers gave me some sugar packets and told me to put the sugar under my tongue - this worked for her. It also worked for me. I’d had no food... and I take my coffee without sugar, so that may have been part of the problem. Low blood sugar. The green room was much cooler than the lounge (filled with people, no A/C that I could feel), and in no time I was feeling *much* better. I think the lack of sleep, lack of food, lots of running around just added up to me running out of steam.

Oh, I guess I should mention the venue. This year opening and closing nights were at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square - where they hold all of the Hollywood movie premieres in the UK. Last year when I was at Raindance, I saw the SWEENY movie there after the fest. It wasn't very good, and the ticket cost me about $25 once I translated the money. But this year, I just had to flash my badge to get in. It's a nice cinema - mentioned the lounge - a nice big bar on the middle floor. Cinemas serve beer and wine and both sweet and savory popcorn. Opening night meant free champagne... but I didn't drink any.

I was fine the rest of the night (though still in need of sleep) and the movie was great...

Movie: HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS a doc that's presented as an infomercial, but packed with great info and interviews about the War On Drugs and how we are not winning it at all, but it's costing us $25 *billion* a year. Oh, plus all of the cost of jailing a bunch of addicts who can still get smuggled drugs in prison. They had great interviews with drug dealers (including the fellow who invented crack cocaine), drug suppliers, DEA Agents, lawyers, prosecutors, creator of THE WIRE, 50 Cent, and just about anyone else involved in the "war".

David Simon who created THE WIRE talks about how there are really no jobs in the inner city anymore... except selling drugs. So that's what people do to make a living. Then we get great interviews with drug dealers (as infomercial success stories) about how they were 12 years old, family without income, and they started selling drugs and made hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their first day. They could pay the rent for mom and dad! Simon says part of the solution is to get jobs back to these sections of America - they used to have manufacturing and good union jobs, now they only have drug dealing.

They also interview a bunch of nice middle class white kids who sell drugs because it's better paying than any other job available. One kid in Beverly Hills began selling drugs in high school, and eventually moved up the ladder to become a local legend. And the two older white guys they interviewed also began as kids - though either was from Beverly Hills. Part of the backstory on all of these guys is that they began as users, became addicts, and part of the reason they became dealers (and worked their way up to importers) was that they could make money *and* feed their habits. By the way, all of the drug dealer folks interviewed had tons of charisma and great friendly personalities - these are not your evil movie drug dealers, these are the folks you want to hang out with... and do drugs.

One of the most interesting interviewees was an ex-police officer who was on the drug task force in Texas, where they *regularly* planted drugs on suspects and did no-knock SWAT raids... often on the wrong house. So they'd plant drugs there to cover their mistake. This police officer finally quit the force... and now does undercover surveillance of police drug task forces - exposing how often they plant drugs on people. He's busted *hundreds* of police officers planting drugs, which makes you wonder. But, you see, drug busts get a police force some of that $25 billion, so they will do *anything* to get a lot of drug busts. Though the doc had an agenda, it was surprising how many people interviewed talked about planting drugs, and how the money in the drug biz corrupts *the police* and the *DEA*. All of this money spent - and we are no closer to winning the war... in fact, we are further! They looked at one country (sorry - don't remember which) that decided to legalize and tax all drugs... and then use that tax money on addiction programs. And they have succeeded. The doc presents a solution to the war - that busting people doesn't cure their addiction, so they continue to use drugs (even if they are in prison); but spending (less) money and focusing on the addiction side of the problem removes the demand for drugs... and dries up the problem. By the way - USA is #1 drug use per capita in the world, and has a huge chunk of the population in prison for drugs. We're #1! So we are losing the war on drugs with the *bust 'em* method. Film was *entertaining* - showing you each "level" of the drug business and how you can make great money by moving up the ladder.

The great thing about our digital world is that the director of HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS shot an introduction *for* the Raindance Film Fest (since he could not be here in person) from a jail cell (or set) a couple of days before the film aired, sent it to London through the internet, and it showed before the film. Instant big screen entertainment!

After that, I breezed through the closing night party at Cafe Du Paris - missed the band which is always way too loud for a film crowd - then headed back to get some sleep... but I'm writing this instead. Tomorrow afternoon I teach my first of *7* classes. Really need to sleep tonight!

- Bill

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