June 12--In the end, the experimental film "Duluth Is Horrible" may be a terribly good promotion for the future of the city as a film location.
Vincent Gargiulo's 17-minute work made its debut Tuesday night at the monthly Explorers Club at Zinema 2 in downtown Duluth. It is shot beautifully in all that is February in the Twin Ports. Gargiulo said after the screening that his experiment in finding a location at random paid off and Duluth makes for a welcoming place to film.
"It's disgustingly easy to get locations and actors here," Gargiulo told the audience.
About 50 people attended the early screening with more than that lined up for the late show, including Duluth Mayor Don Ness.
The film currently isn't scheduled for subsequent screenings.
Gargiulo used the debut and return to the city from the West Coast to film another piece here, a take-off on Disney's "Fantasia."
"Duluth Is Horrible" is a departure from the 30-year-old's previous shorts, mostly done in madcap Second City Television style with fake shows and fake advertisements, including one spoofing the 1980s through the lens of a children's television show.
Another work fused in real film clips, including a portion of the film made for Duluth a few years ago to lure in Google Fiber.
The Duluth work is a turn left, Gargiulo said. The film lacks in any extended plot and rather features dour vignettes stitched together touching on love lost and loneliness.
"It feels to me like a big departure," he said. "I tried to challenge myself to do something dramatic."
After all the attention received for the title of the film leading up to filming in February, it turns out every town in Minnesota is "horrible" because the names make the lead character even more sad.
Shane May played that character and sang that St. Paul and Proctor were horrible, too, "all towns in Minnesota remind me of you."
May said the final film is "just what I expected it to be," although the stage actor, director and filmmaker was a bit uncomfortable seeing himself on screen.
When an audience member asked about improvising with the actors, May was quick with an answer.
"There was no need for improv because the script was so brilliant," he said.
A sheepish Gargiulo thanked May for the compliment and was surprised to see the larger audience waiting outside for the second show.
He mocked the part of big-time movie director as he surged through the throng, pointing at people.
"You're a star. You're a star. You get a car," he said.
Gargiulo said he likes Duluth better in the February chill than the 80-degree day he met Tuesday.
"Winter has more character," he said. "Or maybe it's just what I got used to."
He called the filming a "personal adventure for me." He said many of the scenes come from his life experiences and he won't give up experimenting with his ideas, calling his style influenced by "artsy-fartsy" films.
Gargiulo showed that he learned a bit about Twin Ports culture when he joked after yet another question about the name of the film.
"The film was sponsored by the Superior Chamber of Commerce," he said to big laughs.
(c)2013 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)
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