Over the weekend, Run N Gun 2022’s main event happened one chaotic Saturday night, at a venue that was freakishly close to my living residence. If any of you attendees stole the rakes from the backyard, please return them before Autumn.
Now, since I don’t often cover this kind of event for whatever reason, I figure it’s best to explain what Run N Gun is. Essentially, it’s a film competition where you have only 48 hours to shoot a film. I’ve done it before years ago, and I have to say it was an interesting experience. But that’s not all, each team has to add three surprise elements. For this year’s elements, the theme was Urban Legend, the object they had to use was a shovel, and somehow they had to work in the line, “That’s the stuff that _______ are made of”. This year’s teams were certainly a lot less subtle at using these back when I did it. In some cases, the shovel was more than just a prop or even a simple background item and almost every time someone used the line of dialogue, the blank space was often filled with either ‘Dreams’ or ’Nightmares’. My guess is people used those terms in their scripts due to a lack of sleep. Plus with Urban Legends being a theme, it seemed like lots of people were making Bloody Mary type shorts. Did nobody hear about the baby in the microwave or the naked ski-girl? Ah well. I guess some people just wanted to aim for horror this year. So what happened at this year’s screening?
Starting with a congested lineup followed by a single ticket scanning man, everyone made their way in and filled up the mingling area getting a chance to chat with each other. People had to squish their way in, but finally everyone took their seats, filling in a little more than half the theatre. But it was only starting anyway. First off, we got an opening speech by founder Joel McCarthy along with Sasha Duncan who was celebrating her birthday, but requested nobody sing for her. This, I can relate to. Their opening was well versed and prepared us for the semi-finals. Now to get into those.
Semi-Finals – There was quite a mix of funny, dark, disturbing, and just weird films to start off with. I’ll explain some of these as quickly as possible, because everyone really wanted to blaze through this night. Starting off was the ever-funny Lovely Mary where Bloody Mary wants a boyfriend but struggles with harsh reality. Next was Brickhouse, which was a film noir about detective trying to solve the mystery of his partner’s death, and boy was this one dark. The Taking focused on a widow and her family of burlap dummies as she warned them of a potential killer. That one was scary funny and made by some people I know, but then I know a lot of people who worked on these. After that, audience got treated to the gross visuals of Insania which was about a man who watched something he probably shouldn’t have watched. I’m not even going to describe what he did in this. After that was The Doorway Desk, a film about a young man who tries to reconnect with his deceased cat Mittens and does so by using a desk that is somehow able to resurrect any deceased loved ones. I don’t know, this one was just weird. Now for the more genius of films, I.P.A. about a newlywed couple going through martial struggles already. Jim is already sick of his wife Nancy, and decides to try an urban myth he read on a beer bottle label to somehow make her disappear. The next one after that was Sweet Sally, a gloomy film about senior citizen Annie who gets a visit from her niece Sally’s boyfriend, who has to explain that Sally is in trouble and needs help. I did not expect it to turn so quickly. Don’t Take Candy from Strangers was a film that got pretty twisted, as a young newlywed couple start their life in their new home together and then suddenly one of them discovers something freaky. Okay, it felt like this one was sort of a combination of the earlier two. After that was a riot of a film called Queen of Spades, made by some people I know, and all about how a man does a ritual on the blood moon in June to turn an ordinary shovel into a lady. Does it work? You’d be surprised.
An intermission happened for about 15 minutes and a lot of people were scrambling out to mingle. Me, I stayed in the theatre and enjoyed the nostalgic music featured during the break.
After the majority of people scattered back into their seats, The first film to show was something I couldn’t even find in the program was a strange chain mail film called The Digger’s Dance, featuring a girl and her backup crew trying to forward a message to avoid getting killed by a man with a shovel. As someone who doesn’t believe in that nonsense, I used to purposely not send these chain messages in an attempt to see if I would ever get visited by a chainsaw-wielding clown or some ghoulish girl. Don’t even ask what I had for precautions just in case.
Now back to the semi-finals, speaking of strange, the next film was the rather absurd RNG-2199, taking place in the future when RNG expects 10-second films done in 48 hours. Why? Because Supreme Emperor Zaytan said so. Who knows what ideas that gave Joel and the RNG crew? Next came a film of silly fun called Don’t Do Crack. Starring Shawn Major, one of the greatest actors I’ve ever seen as one of the greatest characters I’ve ever seen, the Tooth Fairy, who needs a little extra income and has to work a side job in order to do so. Hey, when you’re exchanging kid’s molars for money, that can be costly. The tooth fairy breaks an age old rule and therefore must deliver punishment to somebody’s mom. I remember that ridiculous rule. Funny how that never happened to my mother, and she’s currently 60. Then there was the short and ridiculous film, 7 Years about a guy who swallows his gum. He and his friends are afraid of what this will mean for him. That was just nonsensical, but not as nonsensical as the next film, Watermelon. When a girl swallows a watermelon seed, she becomes pregnant with a watermelon. I’m starting to question where do people find these urban legends? Who comes up with them even? After that questionable film, we got back into freaky and disturbing content with Shattered, all about a caregiver and a retired woman who uncover and discover a dark secret about the woman that was better left unknown, specifically about a broken mirror. Whoa, flashbacks of a past relationship for me, please don’t ask why. The sadness started to advance further with the film Epilogue as a young fellow comes back to his childhood home and finds a letter that his father wrote before he passed on. Some strange things happen as well, but ultimately this film was sad. Then came a mix of feelings with Sweet Sixteen as twin siblings bond over a birthday and go on a trip of wonder and whimsy just like old childhood times. But then reality brings them back to hard times, maybe even a little too hard. The Sandbox came after, and it was a simple but fun film about Lesbian mothers who have to make a sandbox for their toddler’s third birthday, as it’s her wish. But they don’t have the proper tools to do it. That one got a lot of laughs. Finally the semi-finals ended with Shovel God when a newlywed couple (yeah, another one) are haunted by the Shovel God who’s out for revenge over a pretty small reason but it’s pretty big for the Shovel God. It was a silly film, but a good closer for that block.
Intermission/Meal Break – For about an hour or so, everyone was sent either outside or to a gymnasium attached to the theatre for a much needed meal break, with three food trucks offering options of all kinds of foods. I didn’t eat any of it instead having leftovers at the restaurant across the street (homemade meal-type) but I’m sure everyone enjoyed the food anyway. There were some fairly long lines for each of these food trucks and it was a good opportunity to mingle with people before things got really hectic. Yeah, I’m talking about the finals.
Finals – For this one, nearly the entire theatre was packed. It was crazy. To start it off, there was an intro short film set in a post-apocalyptic world when the vicious aftermath of RNG took over the entire planet turning it into a frantic 48-hour multi-film shoot. Maybe it’s a good thing the short didn’t predict my “accidental” death over one bad review, although I may have given the folks at RNG ideas for next year’s content. After that, everyone got treated to a performance featuring a bunch of energetic youthful dancers jumped around to House of Pain’s Jump Around. Midway through it, one dancer duked it out with someone in a lion mask, and that’s when I started to wonder what was happening at the Leo’s. But my questioning got cut short as the final 20 films of the night screened. First came Family Comes First, and no, I did not intend to make a pun of that. A somewhat off-putting story about how two siblings (brother and sister) pay off their mother’s burial in the most disturbing way possible. Hopefully MY mother keeps her burial simple enough so that me and my brother don’t have to interact too much at all. Then came an even more out-of hand film called Shovel Lovel about a shovel that everyone loves and fights over. That one was so chaotic, you could scoop up the craziness with a shovel. After that was The Ginch Pincher, a short film about a gnome that steals underwear. Anyone else getting South Park vibes? As for something more original and better, Taller Tales was a fun animated tale about talking gorillas who gather around a campfire to tell stories about a monster who some of those creatures would call a hoo-man. And then in the sense of interesting came Hardly Mary, which featured the adventures of Bloody Harry who fills in for Mary while she takes a sabbatical. It’s not an easy job though. Next was White Lady, a film about a young fellow who gets haunted by his ex-fiancee’s ghost where they worked. It started out creepy then got kind of funny. We then got introduced to dreadful feelings of dread in House of Feelings, a film about three people who confronted their feelings in a very strange place. Following that was Once Upon A Time In A Bathroom, an overly silly tale about a young woman and her associate trying to sneak a dead body out of a house party. After that lunacy was the lovely and well made film Dirty Sally, about a Bloody Mary parody in love with a man and they have a relationship that turns toxic kind of quickly. Then came D1GG3R, which was a beautiful musical that impressed me. It was all about a cryptocurrency company that went downhill as the employees rebelled against the horrible boss. I never thought I’d see a musical number so lively and charming.
The 15 minute intermission went so fast for this one. Surprisingly a lot of people left the theatre during it as well. At least they got back in super fast.
After our break was the extremely messed up Hellmouth about a detective who finds herself dragged into the depths of hell, confronted by a tall demonic man. Then there was Triangle which focused on three friends going on a camping trip and come across all kinds of freaky discoveries that is sure to ruin the trip for them all. It was even more messed up. Things only got more messy from with Have You Seen This Witch? as a woman looks for power but the whole town is looking for a witch and said witch has no choice but to accept her fate. Boy was that shocking. Things finally calmed down with Longan which didn’t have a lot of freakiness and was a pretty basic looking film about two people starting their work experience operating at a market. The funny and heartwarming Ghost Crush came after with a story about a young woman moving into a house possessed by a loving ghost. There was even more funnies to come such as Brainworms which was about a wooden figure man digging through cereal to find sandworms just like in Dune, Chews Love which was about two women on a date chewing pieces of gum who were in love with each other, and Kubrick’s The Moon Landing featuring the truth behind the moon landing being faked in order to prove every conspiracy theorist right. Spermatozoon was next, and it focused on a couple who discover a shocking secret about their baby, specifically the father not being the baby’s child. That one was weird. Then it ended on A Flush with Danger, a film about a little girl afraid to use public restrooms due to the crazy legend of toilet sharks. There was some child like wonder in this one and I got a good laugh out of this.
Awards – Since the audience choice took quite some time to process, I’ll get to that one later. Things had to get finished quickly so people could either get to the afterparty or get out of there. As a precaution, Joel and Sasha called upon the musical stylings of a man named Andrew who would start playing Wonderwall by Oasis in case anyone spoke for too long. Personally, I enjoy that song and would’ve recommended playing John Mayer’s Your Body is a Wonderland to shut anyone up and even shoo them away faster. Well, who won what? Dirty Sally won Best Writing and Best Actor, Hardly Mary won Best Student Film, 7 Years won Best Youth Film, D1GG3R won Best Cinematography, Best Sound went to White Lady, Hellmouth won Best Art, while Best Directing and Best Ensemble went to Kubrick’s The Moon Landing, even though the crew members claim it as nothing more than a DVD they dug out of the ground. The film to win the most was the highly awkward Shovel Lovel which got Best Editing and Best Film. It also got Audience Choice which says a lot about the viewers and what they enjoy. The audience choice award was better known as the Bruce Blain Memorial Audience Choice Award, or Brucie for short, in honour of the late somewhat great Bruce Blain, who had at least made one snarky comment on an article here and got one of his shorts mentioned in a festival summary on this site. Joel said it hasn’t been the same since Bruce passed on as now RNG doesn’t have someone around to make disturbing comments on everything showing anymore. Looking at some of the things I’ve said about these films, maybe they should consult me if they’re looking for a new troublemaker/shit disturber. I could probably go a little further with doing that just by saying how the venue had some intense horrendous echoing that gave me headaches due to so many people in the audience shrieking like banshees whenever their team or film was mentioned. Or maybe all these horror and Bloody Mary films just possessed them. Either way, a venue that doesn’t reverberate like Echo Caves would be more appreciated. Now for some interesting news, Joel and Sasha announced another new upcoming film festival, Shits N Giggles where people have a little more flexibility and can make something a sloppy short that’s as messy as possible. There’s more info to come on that soon.
Afterparty – A mix of Luchagore pizza and high school style prom dancing long into the night. Since I had a headache and had to get up early anyway, I ended up leaving and heading next door to bed. Funny how this riot didn’t keep me up all night but I got a rude awakening from a house alarm sounding off three times in the morning. No it’s not RNG’s fault, I don’t think. They probably migrated to the nearby park when it was finally closing time. I haven’t gone near the park lately so I guess I’m lucky I didn’t get bit by a rabid RNG attendee. I just hope poor old Mr. Carter down the street didn’t come across any RNG aftermath while walking his dog. Despite the loud acoustics and being situated in a venue connected to another place I have an eternal grudge on, RNG still had its moments and was shown to have a good mix of fun, urban legends, enthusiasm, and nostalgia. Who knows what next year will bring? Or even if my sanity meter will be able to process it? I’m sure it will still be fun.