Franklin, Indiana is a unique place. Just off I-65, south of Indianapolis, Franklin at first seems like any other slice of small town Americana. But that is what makes it unique, because the town is much closer to the ideal than most places can claim to be. This may be noted from the civic pride the town shows, with its clean, well-maintained downtown area and restoration projects. It’s the kind of place where when a police car drives past one is tempted to look and see if Sheriff Andy Griffith is behind the wheel. Perhaps most charming of all is the welcoming and friendly way the town supports what has quickly become a tradition for Franklin: The B Movie Celebration!
2010 marks the 4th annual B Movie Celebration. The event is unique because of what it is not. It’s not a convention – there are no vendor halls and celebrity guest signing booths. It’s also not a film festival, although many independent filmmakers are invited to show their works. So what is it? As the name implies, it’s a celebration of “B” cinema. What does that mean? A gathering of people who love the movies that used to fill drive-in screens across the country. But that doesn’t quite cover it either. It’s also an opportunity for filmmakers to come together in an atmosphere that is supportive of their work, both individually and collectively.
This year’s B Movie Celebration had special significance as it featured the world premiere of MONSTER CRUISE, a film shot in and around Franklin. The town is as much a star as the actors featured in it.
"It’s [MONSTER CRUISE] really a love letter to Franklin,” says B Movie Celebration organizer Bill Dever.
Dever, who co-wrote the original story and produced the film, got his friend and another fan of Franklin, Hollywood legend Jim Wynorski, to helm the project and they worked tirelessly on it. Last week, little more than a year after principle photography began, MONSTER CRUISE played to a sold out crowd at the historic Artcraft Theatre on the first night of the B Movie Celebration.
Elsewhere during the weekend…. The Angry Filmmaker, Kelley Baker, was one of the event’s special guests. He spoke to a mixed audience of fans and indie filmmakers about the business of independent cinema. Sharing some of the lessons he learned in the filmmaking school of hard knocks, Baker’s talk was one of the highlights of the show. Another treat for attendees was the talk by Jim O’Rear and Bryan Wilson about UNDERGROUND TV: THE MOVIE. They offered a fun look at a show that did for genre fans in the early 90s what channels like G4 do today, bringing looks at the best of Sci-Fi, anime, horror and technology, with humorous and sometimes controversially cutting edged comedy skits thrown into the mix.
Perhaps it was the feeling on the first night that best summed up this year’s B Movie Celebration. At the premiere of MONSTER CRUISE, before the lights went down, Dever spoke briefly, thanking so many people that when Wynorski took the stage he quipped, “and now we’ll thank everyone else in town.” But that’s not far from the truth. Like the B Movie Celebration, MONSTER CRUISE received a great deal of support from the city of Franklin and its people. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that the B Movie Celebration feels so special. Yes the event has seminars. They show a lot of classic and sometimes not so classic movies. There’s always someone at The Willard Tavern enjoying a beer and sharing a story about a movie they saw or made, but it’s really more than all of that. It’s been said that you’ve really made something when its value exceeds the sum of its parts. If that’s the case, then the town of Franklin can definitely be proud, because they have helped make the annual B Movie Celebration something special. Yes it’s a celebration, but it’s also a little like coming home.