Attention: Enemy By Mike White. "Are you an imbecile?" asked my old buddy Todd Phillips from the headquarters of the fourth annual New York Underground Film Festival...
"Are you an imbecile?" asked my old buddy Todd Phillips from the headquarters of the fourth annual New York Underground Film Festival. He was quickly joined in a conference-call berating of me by his partner Andrew Gurland.
It was February 18th, 1997 and I had just sent them a copy of my latest work, You're Still Not Fooling Anybody. I thought it might be fun for the boys to check it out since Who Do You Think You're Fooling had been such a hit two years ago.
The conversation started in a much more civil tone. Todd informed me that I was past the entry deadline and that he would be returning my check and entry fee within a few days. But then things got ugly.
Not only would they not be showing my work this year, but they said that they would never show anything of mine ever again. That's right, I'm officially banned by the New York Underground Festival. That was even their choice of words. Oh, how I wish I had had a tape recorder available to preserve every word of that telephone call. I would love to have a transcript of that call. I think it would prove to be highly amusing.
Nevertheless, I'll attempt to relay as much information as accurately as memory allows.
Why were Todd and Andrew so mad? They felt that they had been treated unfairly by me. They felt betrayed. Didn't I have a good time when I was in New York? Didn't I get a lot of press? If so, then why did I run back to Detroit and say such nasty things about them in my little magazine?
I couldn't believe that they felt victimized by me. After they would tell me one thing and I would read something else in the papers. Why didn't they let me in on their schemes? Or, did they even have a plan?
I had never been to a film festival before. How was I supposed to know that festival organizers will go to such great lengths to get the word out about their festival?
Obviously I was media-savvy enough to make a video like Who Do You Think You're Fooling, why wasn't I as smart when it came to realizing that they were "playing the media" into publicizing my video and their festival?
Certainly they aren't like other festivals. They pride themselves on being different. Couldn't I figure that out? They had done so much for me. How could I be so ungrateful? How could I write such libelous things in my magazine. Granted, it doesn't have a big circulation, but saying those things hurt the festival. It hurt Todd and Andrew.
Being media savvy themselves, you would think that Phillips and Gurland might have seen that my take on the events that transpired is my own way of "playing the media." I never lied or exaggerated about what happened during this period. I presented the facts the way I saw them. The NYUFF is an institution and they have to realize that it's fair game. And, like I always say, bad press is better than no press!
Phillips, Gurland and I talked for a good twenty-minutes. They so wished that I had talked to them about any misunderstandings while they were occurring instead of printing such spiteful untruths. A phone call, an email, a letter... anything.
To be honest, by the end of the conversation, things seemed to be smoothed over. I had thought that all the bad blood between us had passed. Not only was I not banned from this year's festival; they might even show You're Still Not Fooling Anybody!
But then... on March 3rd I got a package from the fellas. It was my tape, my check, and my press materials. No note. No letter. Just a plain manila envelope addressed to me and sent to the attention of "ENEMY."
Back to Issue 8