One of my favorite DVD/Blu-ray review sites has reviewed my unreleased work-print cut of my film which, for those who don’t know (is there anyone who doesn’t know at this point?), was taken away by the producers and distributor and re-cut into something unrecognizable from the original film. Though there has been quite a lot written about this cut and its history, having a review at DVDBeaver is quite an honor for me. I thank them for their interest and support and the very nice review.
This is what happens when good films fall into the wrong hands. The dark indie comedy CUMMINGS FARM directed and edited by Andrew Drazek, produced by and starring Jordan Kessler, written by and starring Ted Beck, as well as Adam Busch (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), Laura Silverman, Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, Yasmine Kittles, and Edrick Brown was terrifyingly retitled ALL AMERICAN ORGY by home vid distributor Phase 4. Yes, the characters in CUMMINGS FARM spend much of their time talking about a well-intentioned orgy, but this film is a far cry from the low-grade AMERICAN PIE-type fare suggested by this almost-too-comical-to-be-true re-titling and wretchedly misleading cover art.
Now before I bash Phase 4 too much, let me just state that without distribution of some sort, it is almost impossible for a film, no matter how good it is, to reach an audience of any meaningful size. So it is a good thing that CUMMINGS FARM found a distributor and is out there for the public to see. The negative side is that it has a completely misleading title that would, most likely, scare off those audience members who would most appreciate the film. And anyone renting this title based on the name and cover art, would more than likely find themselves a bit baffled and disappointed by the non-exploitative dark comedy of the film itself. Case in point: the large breasted, sexy vixen taking up most of Phase 4’s video cover for ALL AMERICAN ORGY? Not in the film. Nope. Sorry. Want to see the artwork for the film created by the filmmakers themselves when promoting their movie at film festivals?
Quite a difference, aye? The above poster is very appropriate to the mood and tone of the film. Now CUMMINGS FARM was never meant to be a film that would end up as the toast of the Academy Awards, but it was, nonetheless, meant to be a fun and witty film dealing with relationships, sexual attraction, insecurities and friendship. And it’s a good movie –not a masterpiece of cinema, but solid– that moves effortlessly between hilariously funny moments and disturbingly frank and uncomfortable ones. The interactions between the film’s cast of confused characters searching for some meaning in their lives is not the stuff of low-brow comedies. Shot on an estimated half a million bucks in Louisiana, CUMMINGS FARM is not a film thrown together by a bunch of frat boys looking to have some fun and make a quick buck. There’s heart in this film.
CUMMINGS FARM– er, ALL AMERICAN ORGY– was shot on the Red One camera and looks terrific. Performances are solid all around. This is a true indie feature and worthy of more than Phase 4 chose to give it.
Of course, this is Hollywood and the tale of CUMMINGS FARM’s journey to distribution is not a unique one. But that makes it no less disappointing. Or wrong. Clearly, this distribution company could care less about the film they were releasing. Like so many films, marketing overrides everything. The work itself, the people involved and, perhaps worst of all, the audience.
Luckily, with the exception of the name-change, the film’s trailer has basically stayed the same as when it was still CUMMINGS FARM. And, unlike the new poster art, the trailer does give one a much better sense of the film they are about to see. So ignore the large-breasted vixen and Phase 4’s absurd definition of “marketing” and watch the trailer below. And if you like what you see, give the film a chance. I did. And I was very pleasantly surprised.