by Dennis Lazar
First, I should explain how I got here…
A month and a half ago, I entered Heineken’s “15 Second Premiere” contest. It was pretty simple: Tweet out a movie pitch, and if yours is chosen, Heineken will turn the idea into a 15 second full-scale Hollywood production.
My tweet “They clone Abe Lincoln and name the clone president for life. But there’s one problem: The clone is evil.” ended up being the winner. And so, here I was, in New York City, ready to premiere my 15 second movie, Linclone.
Shortly after, I notice everyone has cleared out of the venue lobby. Owen, my “handler” (if I can talk like a celebrity for a second) comes up to me and says we’re ready to go. I can already hear the moderator starting to introduce “my” film. There’s not an empty seat in the theater. Owen then casually mentions that I’ll be introducing the film to the 100+ person crowd beforehand — they said they we’re going to throw surprises at me all night. This was a big one.
I’m not a good public speaker. My voice gets really high (or maybe I always sound like that), my breathing gets really shallow, and if one early joke fails to land, I’m done. There’s no recovering.
I knew there would be a Q&A afterwards, but I figured by that point, the movie would be shown, the atmosphere would be more relaxed, and there’d be less pressure. Having to go out and address the audience right away was terrifying. I didn’t have anything prepared to say.
The moderator finishes his big introduction and I walk out to applause. He hands me a microphone and, as I face the full theater, I say a mental thanks to the bartender who earlier interpreted my request for a “shot” of Jack Daniels as one for “3/4 an entire glass” of Jack Daniels. Then I just start talking.
After some initial “thanks for being here” type remarks, I say something along the lines of “This has been such a crazy night. I just met Robert freaking De Niro.” That got me the early laugh I needed. The rest of the speech was easy.
Seeing the movie my tweet inspired on the big screen in a theater full of people was ridiculous and incredible. How does something like that even happen? By the end of the night I was easily being mistaken for a Heineken spokesman, but they deserved it. They went all out for Linclone, from the actual movie production to the premiere event itself (a night-long party at the Tribeca Grand hotel).
I mean, just to reiterate, I got to meet Robert freaking De Niro.
By the time the Q&A rolled around, I was feeling great. I got to pitch my sequel idea (Evil Abe turns good. Has to battle an evil clone, Teddy Roosevelt.) and talk about the entire experience. The audience was even more receptive than you’d expect for a brand-sponsored event. After that, we had the post-movie party and I drank roughly 97 Heinekens.
We wrapped up the night singing karaoke in a private room with a bunch of people from the event, including the director of the film based on my tweet.
I can only pray everyone realized I chose Nickleback’s “How You Remind Me” ironically.
Dennis Lazar is a former Michigander now living in Chicago. This is his first contribution to Michiganders Post. You can find him on Twitter at @awsommovieideas where he often provides commentary on The Fast and the Furious franchise and the unending awfulness of Adam Levine.