By tully | "Boredom at Its Boredest" by Michael Tully October 31, 2011 at 2:59AM
Dear Boredom at Its Boredest Readers,
This summer, when my good buddy Matt Dentler posted that the time had come for him to retire his indieWIRE blog, I realized that this was something I’d also been mulling over in my brain recently. Over the course of the past few years, my posting at Boredom at its Boredest had calmed way down. This year, it had become a sporadic outlet for news regarding our most recent film (that would be good ol’ Septien). Clearly, something was in the air. It wasn’t just me.
And then, a few weeks ago, I received an email from indieWIRE’s new Editor in Chief Dana Harris informing some of us—i.e., the thinly trafficked, infrequent posters—that our blogs were officially being retired. As of November 7, 2011, new updates to the site would no longer be an option. The archives would remain, but nothing beyond that. Now, it was official. This particular era of history was coming to an end.
The date of my first Boredom at Its Boredest post was April 27, 2004. That’s seven-and-a-half years ago! I was 29 then, just a few months away from turning 30, and though I hadn’t yet done anything of note in the film industry, Eugene Hernandez, former indieWIRE staffer Wendy Mitchell, and Brian Brooks asked me join their network anyway. In that first post, I explain what I planned to do with the site:
“I write scripts and reviews and songs and essays and poems and things. My mission statement for this blog is simply to vent about whatever topics inspire me to write, including subjects that aren’t necessarily “indie film” related (i.e. the genius of the Lifetime Movie Network, my love of college basketball and the mighty Maryland Terrapins, music, etc.). Hopefully this will be a pleasant experience for everyone. And if you don’t enjoy my words and thoughts and opinions, then SUCK IT.”
I always thought of Boredom at Its Boredest as being my own virtual daily newspaper column. I wanted to remain positive and focus on the things that excited and inspired me. But when the time came to finally conquer my self-doubt and rampant insecurity and direct a film in 2005—thanks to the go-for-broke energy of Damian Lahey and his impressive script for Cocaine Angel—it organically morphed into the journal of an independent filmmaker. Merely documenting the production and post-production process was a new element injected into the site, but when we actually got accepted into festivals and that fun part of the journey began, I adopted the spirit of fellow partners-in-crime Dennis Crowley (Teendrama), Brian Battjer (I Keep A Diary), Randy Kim (Hifiny), and Andrew Krucoff (Young Manhattanite), and began to document my travails as a photo blogger. Mind you, all of this behavior came from an organic, instinctive place. None of it was ever calculated to “further my career” or do anything of the sort. I was always driven by a simple desire to express myself. This space at indieWIRE allowed me to do that and then some.
As for the “then some” part of that equation, that would be in reference to some of my more embarrassing posts. Initially, when I conceived of retiring this site forever, I thought it might be nice to collect my favorite posts in conjunction with indexing and archiving Boredom at Its Boredest for my own records. But I only got a few posts in before I realized that was a terrible idea; revisiting some of my more personal posts would just about literally melt me into a pile of terrified humiliation. You see, as an individual who has never had the gift of self-censorship, as someone who is actually compelled to speak as openly and honestly about personal issues to a cringe-worthy degree, I said some things here that I don’t necessarily regret, but I sure as shit have no desire to re-experience them through the crushing prism of hindsight. Instead, I will simply present six of my own personal favorites that immediately spring to mind:
As a filmmaker, there’s no way to concretely prove that Boredom at Its Boredest played a role in my films getting accepted into festivals or my getting invited to fests as a ‘journalist.’ But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. I remember the first time someone introduced himself to me by saying that he read my blog. What a weird feeling! That happened at IFFBoston and it was none other than filmmaker David Redmon, whose own career with Ashley Sabin—Kamp Katrina, Invisible Girlfriend, Girl Model—I continue to admire.
As a writer, this blog did, in fact, play a crucial role in my getting hired to be the Head Writer/Editor at Hammer To Nail. When Ted Hope and Corbin Day decided to launch the site at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Ted asked his friend, producer Mike S. Ryan, if he knew of anyone who might fit the bill. Being the scrappy, fiery cinephile that he is, Mike was immediately reminded of the aforementioned open letter to Sam Mendes I had written in conjunction with the news that he was making Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road into what would I knew would be a shameless and misguided bit of Oscar-bait that would sell my favorite novel painfully short (note: I was right). The funny thing is that this was one of the rare times I got angry and mean on my blog. But it sparked Mike’s interest. He pointed Ted and Corbin in my direction. Fortunately, this was just literally days after I had delivered my gargantuan “The Year in Film: 2007” post. After having spent upwards of a week writing that post, wondering why I had spent so much time on it since I wasn’t earning one penny and was wasting so much precious time with no positive end in site other than a vague sense of completion, this miraculously turned out to be what sealed my fate with Ted and Corbin. When they read my wrap-up, they could sense my enthusiasm, my thoroughness, and my overriding love for movies in general. They hired me on the spot. Almost five years later, Hammer To Nail continues to grow.
In a personal sense, I think I made the joke somewhere along the way that I really only started the blog to find a wife. Again, I will not be tracking down the archive relating the details of the infamous “Blog Crush Party” back in who knows what year that was—’05? ’06?—nor will I be revisiting the posts in which I documented missed connections, crashed relationships, or other lonely pinings for true love. However, at the risk of exposing someone very close to me, I feel like this memory is something that should be recounted.
I met Holly Herrick first by email, after I had submitted my debut feature Cocaine Angel to fellow indieWIRE blogger Tom Hall’s Sarasota Film Festival (Tom has already set up his vital The Back Row Manifesto at a new location; bookmark it immediately). At the time, I had moved back to Maryland to finish the film and try to pay off the debt incurred making it. When Holly, who was responsible for receiving and indexing the submissions in Sarasota, saw my return address of Mt. Airy, Maryland, she became confused. As someone who was raised just one county over in Westminster, Maryland, she assured Tom that this movie could not be any good. But they both liked it and programmed in their “Independent Visions” competition (where we lost to Erica Dunton, whose Find Love was the movie I likely would have voted for had I been a judge). When I got to Sarasota, Holly was one of the first people I met. She was pretty and cool. But she was young. That, mixed with the realization that she didn’t live in New York and didn’t appear to have any plans to relocate there on a permanent basis, prevented me from even considering her as a romantic option (more on that later).
That fall, Holly stayed with Tom in New York and we became buddies as we attended the New York Film Festival press and industry screenings. (On a side note, this was the unforgettable moment in time when Tom’s purchase of Michael Bamberger’s The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career On A Fairy Tale led to frantic lunchtime lunch time readings outside Lincoln Center.) Holly and I didn’t maintain a steady correspondence when she left the city, though there were emails every now and then.
In the spring of 2006, we reconnected in Sarasota when Tom and Holly programmed the documentary film I made with Matt Robison, Silver Jew (we were selected for their “Faith on Film” sidebar). At one point early in the fest, the first chink in our friendship armor arrived, a tiny flicker of actual flirtation in the form of my feeding Holly a crab cake at the festival’s ludicrously legendary “Night of 1,000 Stars” bash (being that we are both Marylanders, this moment attains special cosmic significance). But that was as far as it went, and it was something that neither of us really thought about until some time later.
That summer, Holly landed back in Maryland to spend time with her family. I had yet to move back to NYC, though those wheels were mercifully in motion. Lodge Kerrigan was in town showing Keane at MICA’s Brown Center. Holly and I connected and drove to Baltimore together so she could watch it while I had a fun dinner with Lodge, the Director of the Maryland Film Festival Jed Dietz, and Mr. Baltimore himself John Waters. Afterwards, we all ended up at Club Charles and connected with Baltimore’s newest filmmaking star Matt Porterfield. That night, when I dropped off Holly in Westminster, she recalls me offering an awkward goodbye hug. The mere fact that it was an awkward hug should have pointed to something in the air, but neither of us paid it too much mind.
Holly returned to New York for the 2006 NYFF P&I screenings, which is when we began to hang out a lot more together. I remember going to parties during IFP week, then returning to Park Slope and delivering nonchalant farewells as we headed to our respective homes. Just an innocent, “Bye,” and that was that.
The night of Sunday, October 7, 2007, things changed. Holly had gotten it in her head that she had a crush on me, and while just about everyone I knew over the past year or so had wondered why I wasn’t pursuing Holly—seriously, I was confronted on this topic by countless friends—I was just completely and totally over the idea of playing the long-distance-relationship game. Holly was great, but I wasn’t going to budge. Long distance was not an option.
Cue Tom Hall, the figure who unintentionally brought us together in the first place. When Holly expressed interest in me as a possible partner, Tom gave her a seemingly insignificant piece of advice, but it turned out to be the much-needed nudge that would change our lives forever: “He’s not gonna make the first move.” And he was right. I genuinely respected Holly and I would never have allowed myself to jeopardize our friendship by getting into a situation where a line was crossed and my typically dumb male behavior would complicate things to an unsalvageable degree. I had been there and done that too many times. I wasn’t going to put myself in that position anymore, especially with someone I actually admired and liked.
I never made it to the NYFF Director’s Party that night, as I was stuck on the Upper East Side at a friend’s engagement party, but when we ended up at a nearby bar, Holly made her way uptown. The play-by-play can end there. Suffice to say, another awkward discussion outside the bar about whether or not our hanging out in “that” way would have been a good idea was conquered by a deeper desire to do just that. And so we decided to hang out as more than just friends. Good decision!
Here’s the part where I risk exposing Holly, but I think it’s important, not to mention an especially fitting end to the tale of Boredom at Its Boredest. Holly recalls reading my blog one day, back before our flirtatious crab cake exchange in the spring of 2006, back before there was even the slightest hint that we might become more than just friends, when I wrote something sappily confessional like: “I know my wife is out there. I just don’t know where she is yet.” To which Holly said she instinctively thought, “That’s funny. I’m going to marry him.” At which point she caught herself and wondered why she would have such a crazy, irrational thought.
Maybe it seemed irrational at the time, but it sure doesn’t now. Last weekend, in the Central Maryland landscape where we were both raised, Holly and I had a Quaker wedding ceremony in the neighbor’s horse field next to her family’s massive barn. After that truly magical service, which brought tears to my eyes without the aid of musical accompaniment, over 300 friends and family members reconvened back on Good Fellowship Farm to listen to DJ Kevin Barker’s smooth-and-groovy tunes, eat too much yummy food (deviled eggs, crab dip, pig, lamb, chicken, broccoli, ice cream sandwiches, homemade cake!), drink too much yummy alcohol, and watch a spectacle of friends and family members being the best wedding band ever (my 8-year-old niece singing Taylor Swift, my sister Carol singing Fleetwood Mac, my dad singing Galway Bay, Holly’s sister Susanna and her friend Breanna singing “The Book of Love” acapella, and my longtime buds Ben Crum, Craig Ceravalo, David Wingo, and Jamey Huggins playing a set of ten of our very favorite Teenage Fanclub songs). After that, Holly’s brother’s band rocked the house, and DJ’s Randy Kim and Grellan Harty unleashed a dance party that caused Holly’s dad and his brothers to install temporary support beams under the floor of the barn. Then came the fireworks—I’m not talking bottle rockets, I’m talking like Actual Massive Fireworks!—and the glorious site of my wife in her beautiful wedding dress and grandmother’s fancy mink coat standing in a manure pit and lighting a pile of wood that shouldn’t be lit on fire. And then one S’more to make my wish list complete.
My goal in starting and maintaining site was never to land a job, to launch a filmmaking career, or to find the wife of my dreams. It was to simply provide an outlet for my enthusiasm. I have always thought of this blog as a place where I can share my thoughts with the world. If Boredom at Its Boredest had never come along, who knows if I’d be writing these words right now. But the fact remains, there are so many ways in which I can directly attribute my current creative, professional, and personal standing to this site. I am 37 years old, and I have never felt better. I am incredibly thankful to have found the perfect life partner, I am proud to be the captain of the Hammer to Nail ship, and I am excited to finally make Ping-Pong Summer, the movie that I’ve been wanting to make for 20 years. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for everything. More words will be forthcoming elsewhere—HTN, Twitter, Facebook, etc.—just not here!