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As a completely independent filmmaker whose sole responsibility is to entertain the paying audience, my strategy for dealing with the opinions of critics and other elements of the film industry is to completely ignore them. However, when absolutely necessary, I will point out giant inaccuracies in reviews written about my movies. In Guy Raz’s review of Wild Diner (Artifacts, “Check, Please,” 5/21), he states that the film contained “one excruciating sex scene.” There are no sex scenes in Wild Diner. There is a 30-second-long scene of two fully dressed people kissing on a bed. If that is what he means by a sex scene, apparently Raz has a different definition of sex from the rest of us.
Here are a few other things Raz got wrong: Wild Diner will be screened in at least 59 additional cities, not eight. The total cost of the film is $40,000, not $17,000. Wild Diner was filmed for $2,000; the rest of the $40,000 went to postproduction expenses, initial distribution expenses, and deferred pay. Raz’s opinion was that the jokes were inside jokes and the dialogue was uninspired. Dozens of people I spoke with after several screenings said the jokes were accessible and funny and that one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film was the sharp, lifelike dialogue. Raz, I think, also missed the clear and simple plot of the movie. There are no scenes where, according to Raz, “various groups of friends laze about, tossing zingers into the air and passing around idle cultural reflections.” Every single word of dialogue and every interaction between characters serve to create a series of vital interconnecting moments that make up the lead character’s journey through the internal world of the diner—a journey that is a simple one with a clear destination.
Contrary to Raz’s observations, Wild Diner’s opening night and the first week at the Foundry were financial and audience successes. The hundreds of people who saw it enjoyed it to various degrees. Some saw it more than once, some said the film was really funny, and others said they’ll have to let it sink in before rendering a verdict. Wild Diner will return to the Foundry or another venue in D.C. in a couple of weeks. It will also be available through mail order. A few words of advice to Raz: If you write about my next movie, aim for an original, accurate review instead of quoting the press release and delivering vague observations that create false impressions. A few words of advice to fellow filmmakers and other local artists: No press coverage is probably a lot better than press coverage by Guy Raz.
Special thanks to the Washington City Paper for covering the event and the audience for attending. See ya.
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