10 Years of Memories

Year 10! How in the world did we make it this far?! This inspired creation that almost closed it’s doors after year 2 has grown into the largest and most prestigious film festival in Oklahoma, and it has literally taken a village to get us here. In reviewing the past decade, we’ve reminisced about some of our favorite memories. Here is a cumulative top ten list:
1. 2004 was the first year deadCENTER experienced a sold-out, standing-room-only screening. “Okie Shorts” was held in the cussing hot back room of the IAO Gallery, windows were covered in plastic to make the room dark, and folks were crammed in like sardines (shhh – don’t tell the fire marshal). At one point, some smart soul opened the garage door and people stood in the mildly breezy alley to watch films and drink beer. Since then, “Okie Shorts” has experienced repeated sold-out screenings. deadCENTER has always been dedicated to supporting our Oklahoma filmmakers, and it is with sincere pride that “Okie Shorts” is now held in the largest house of the festival, the 400 seat Kerr Auditorium.

2. In 2005, Melissa Scaramucci set the bar for parties at a film festival. After a near catastrophic film mishap, Melissa offered Brian Hearn’s house for our first ever – and now notorious – After-After Party. Everyone caravanned over to Brian’s house after Melissa spread the word making sure Brian was the last to know – just in case he didn’t want us there. People stayed at his house until the sun came up and the After-After Party, complete with another staff inspired annual tradition – Bobo’s chicken (Thank you Ian!) has been a festival staple ever since.

3. In 2006, deadCENTER hosted its first Wednesday night Kick-Off screening of “Stomp, Shout, Scream!” on the lawn of EK Gaylord and 3rd Street. deadCENTER hired someone to walk around in a Skunk Ape suit and had the crowd scream “Skunk Ape!” every time they saw one in the movie. We even had a surprise interactive element of unforeseen sprinklers, although it seemed to fit with this campy beach horror flick. Peter Dolese grabbed trash cans from the Untitled Art[Space] and volunteers helped chase the sprinklers to cover them. It was an eventful and memorable first event for sure.

4. In 2006, a local businessman gave deadCENTER a home: office space, desks, telephones, computers and technical support all for free. Before that, the festival had been run on home computers by volunteer mommies on cell phones. 2006 was also the first year deadCENTER could hire a Clubhouse Captain (now COO, so serious), Kim Haywood. The opportunity for free office space and a full-time employee was a defining moment for our festival. We couldn’t have done it without this under-the-radar saint or the commitment of the Kimmishioner – whose around the clock dedication inspires our continued growth.

5. deadCENTER is known for treating filmmakers very well. In 2006, Cacky Poarch offered filmmakers “The Goldfinger Treatment”. What she was offering was a ride in her new gold station wagon where she would play the inappropriately loud Shirley Bassey song, “Goldfinger”. One visiting film critic feared this invitation, stating in his festival review, “Not sure what she was talking about, but hoping it didn’t involve an empty field and a lot of crying.” This comment has been immortalized on google alerts about the festival.

6. In 2007, a record breaking 1,800 people came out to enjoy a film under the stars on the Closing Night of the festival. Although it had been promised to the LA Film Festival, deadCENTER was able to snag the World Premiere of the Flaming Lips documentary, “UFOs at the Zoo: The Flaming Lips Live in Oklahoma City”. Wayne Coyne was in attendance with confetti guns, smoke machines and friends walking around in inflatable suits. It was an awe-inspiring sight and an amazing night.

7. 2008 marked deadCENTER’s first year to have an event on Historic Film Row.  The Kick-Off event was held in a newly refurbished space and it was the first year deadCENTER actually closed down a street for a screening. Audience members were given “mouthgardens” and a record number of six hundred people came out on a Wednesday night to enjoy the award-winning Oklahoma film, “Rainbow Around the Sun”.

8. In 2008, The Flaming Lips held a special sneak peak of their film, “Christmas on Mars”. It was the first time the Oklahoma public was invited to view the film that took 10 years to complete. The Flaming Lips crew erected an enormous circus tent behind Oklahoma Rocks and hundreds of adoring fans stood in the rain to witness this epic event free of charge. Staff huddled under canopies, dressed in trash bags, to help assist the screening process. Wayne Coyne was there all day to coordinate the event and then introduce and discuss his opus.

9. 2009 marked the first year deadCENTER created a full-scale community event before our Closing Night Film. On the corner of EK Gaylord and 3rd, “Peace Love and Wavy Gravy” zenfully began with twilight yoga free to the public. The celebration encompassed booths of local merchants and non-profits and families enjoyed picnics on the lawn while being entertained by a line-up of musicians and singers. Before the Awards Ceremony, the director, producer and Wavy Gravy himself arrived and were escorted to the VIP area complete with an over sized thrown for the peace activist king, Wavy.

10. On June 16th, 2009, Lloyd Kaufman wrote a blog entry about his deadCENTER experience that made us all blush and then smile with pride. Here is a portion of this film legend’s comments:

Last weekend I attended deadCENTER Fest in Oklahoma City, the Gyno operated and incredibly well-organized festival showcased a slue of brilliant films and relevant panel discussions on the state of Independent Cinema. I mention that deadCENTER Fest was organized by Gynos (more politically correct term for woman) because it was the best run film festival I’ve ever been to! The G.O.C’s for the festival (Gyno’s in Charge) were Melissa Scaramucci, Kim Haywood, and Cacky Poarch. They took care of every detail, everything at deadCENTER went on without a hitch or a glitch, they are all perfect human specimens!!! The Film Fest was refreshingly idealistic, untainted by the cynicism and evils of Hollywood. This was truly a film fest for Independent films, supported and organized by lovers of Independent film…I recommend deadCENTER Festival to all filmmakers, regardless of experience or genre. This is Uncle Lloydie’s highest endorsement.

Thank you, Uncle Lloydie. We love you too.

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