Pop Geeks’ Hoboken International Film Festival Interviews
Between Pop Geeks, my former writing base RetroJunk, and one article for Retro-Daze, I’ve done over 100 interviews over the course of almost 12 years. All of these interviews were set up online, but on Thursday, May 24th, 2018, I did my first set of interviews in a new way. I live in Greenwood Lake, NY, and my hometown is the current home of the Hoboken International Film Festival, a noted film festival created by filmmaker and former judge Kenneth Del Vecchio. Originally taking place in Hoboken, New Jersey, as befits the title, the festival has moved locations several times over the course of the past few years, and in 2017, it ended up in Greenwood Lake. With the assistance of festival press coordinator Lisa Munjack, I was able to do some interviews on closing night of the 2018 Hoboken International Film Festival, and here are those interviews, starting with Ms. Munjack herself. Although she doesn’t have an IMDB page, she does have a foot in the world of show business via her work with the HIFF, which can be further explored both on her business website and at the festival’s official website, so I decided to ask her a few questions before the red carpet was truly active.
Johnny: How did you first become involved in the Hoboken International Film Festival?
Lisa: I was working at the New York Post, which was a sponsor of the Hoboken International Film Festival, and then when I started my own agency, I came on board to help with the marketing, sponsorship and publicity.
Johnny: Alright. What’s been the most rewarding part of working for this festival?
Lisa: Seeing all the people in this town get dressed up and come out, and also seeing people flood the town on Greenwood Lake, going to the restaurants and stores, dealing with the mayor and the chamber, and watching the filmmakers. I have to say watching these filmmakers on the biggest night of their lives has been extremely rewarding.
Standing on the press line was fascinating to do, but as it was my first time doing so, I did have some struggles in trying to figure out where I was supposed to stand.
Before all that happened, though, I interviewed Kenneth Del Vecchio himself as he made his way down the red carpet. I asked him about the films at this year’s festival, as well as about politics, where we differ as I lean towards the liberal side of the political spectrum (although I forgot to mention that directly) and he doesn’t, and whether they would impact a movie’s chances of making it into the festival.
Johnny: What films surprised you the most in terms of quality at this year’s Hoboken International Film Festival?
Kenneth: Well, nothing really surprises me when you’re making movies for over 20 years, and I’ve made over 30 of them myself, and when you run a film festival and get about 1500 films a year, everything pops out of the woodwork. Every type of creative, dramatic, crazy, wild, sad, happy, smart, stupid movie…I can’t really say there’s anything that really surprised me in the way of film-making. I can say that we’re lucky that we have so many submissions that we can cull out 10% of the absolute best from all kinds of fantastic projects at this film festival. There are so many dramatic features that are in it, like Bullitt County, Never Heard, Monsoon, A Dark Place, as well as comedies like The Streaker and Bernadette. It’s a really great selection, and those are just some of the feature films.
Johnny: Alright. If I may be so bold, you have something of a rightward tilt politically, so speaking hypothetically, if Errol Morris, who won Best Documentary at the Oscars in 2004 for The Fog Of War, and also did films like The Thin Blue Line, were to come and say he had a documentary he wanted you to screen, would you accept it?
Kenneth: I don’t know who he is. Is he extremely liberal? I can answer your question broadly. This is a mainstream film festival. I let in all sorts of projects that I disagree with politically. I don’t just accept films that are along my political thought process, which, by the way, are pretty zig-zagging. I’m really more of a Libertarian-type thought process, although I’m a lifelong Republican. Art…If I agree with it, tremendous. If I don’t agree with it, but it’s a great piece, I’ll put it in the festival and sometimes it will win awards, too.
Mr. Del Vecchio produced the music video for “In The Building”, the Hoboken International Film Festival theme song by Mike Flowerz, and I thanked him for allowing me the chance to be an extra in the video. You can see me on the far left side of the screen in my Rolling Stones hoodie from the 3:11 to 3:17 marks.
I milled around the red carpet, and about 20 minutes or so later, I got to ask a few questions of Joyce DeWitt, who has won the Excellence In Acting And The Arts Award at the previous year’s Hoboken International Film Festival.
Johnny: You won the Hoboken International Film Festival’s Excellence In Acting And The Arts Award in 2017. How did you react when you found out about that honor?
Joyce: Indeed, that’s the perfect word. I felt very honored. I think any time you do something that comes from your heart, that you have a passion for and you want to give to other people, and it’s received in that way, is a bit overwhelming, but it’s wonderful.
Johnny: Alright. Who would you choose to win the 2019 Excellence In Acting And The Arts Award in 2019 if it were up to you?
Joyce: So you’re talking about next year?
Joyce: Well, one of my all-time favorite actors is Ed Harris. If he were the recipient next year, I would be excited. I love his work. I love the quality that he brings to the characters he does. There’s such truth and honesty and depth and compassion, even when he’s playing a darker character. The integrity and the everyman quality of his work and the characters he creates? I am a fan, and his wife as well, actually.
Johnny: Okay. Well, that does it for my questions. Thank you very much, Ms. DeWitt. Also, I purchased an autograph of you from The Hollywood Show several years ago.
Joyce: Well, it’s very nice to see you, then.
As it got closer to the awards ceremony, there was a bit of a time crunch, but I was able to ask a question of Karen McCullah, the screenwriter of Legally Blonde and Ella Enchanted, who received the HIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award In Writing.
Johnny: You’ve written some of the most original screenplays of the 00s and New 10s, but it appears that this is the RE decade…Reboots, reunions, remakes. What’s your take on all of that?
Karen: Reboots? I enjoy them as long as they’re well-done.
Johnny: Are you afraid that someone might reboot, say, Legally Blonde?
Karen: No (laughing).
Johnny: How did you react when you found out you’d be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award In Writing from the Hoboken International Film Festival?
Karen: I was very honored and touched, although I’ve only had half a lifetime so far.
Johnny: I hope you have a lot more great scripts in the future.
After some positive words about my dancing ability from Mike Flowerz, the composer of the Hoboken International Film Festival’s theme song “In The Building”, I finally had the chance to ask some questions of actress, comedienne, Playboy veteran and festival ambassador Julie McCullough. Ms. McCullough was the inspiration behind my work on the HIFF red carpet this year, and I’m hoping that this small interview I did with her will lead to a bigger interview down the line.
Johnny: What’s the best film that you’ve seen at the festival this week?
Julie: My favorite, in particular, is a movie called Bernadette that I loved. It’s a studio film out of the Chicago area. I really loved it. It was all students and I thought it was fantastic.
Johnny: Are you still a vegetarian, and if so, have you had difficulty finding places to eat in Greenwood Lake?
Julie: No, absolutely not. Almost everybody has something I can eat. I’m a hardcore vegetarian, and I’ve had some wonderful food since I’ve been here.
Johnny: Before you head in: If you could pick any film of yours’ to screen at this festival, and do a Q&A about as part of a revival screening, which film would that be?
Julie: Probably 20 Dates, because 20 Dates was an independent feature and didn’t make it into the Sundance Film Festival, but did make it into what was known as the Slamdance Festival at the time. It ended up being bought by Fox Searchlight, and wound up being a massive hit at the film festival. Because it was a small independent film about a man trying to make his first film, and trying to find true love, and that’s what the purpose of the film was, I think that’s a highly appropriate work for a film festival to screen.
Johnny: Alright. Well, that does it for the questions for THIS interview. Before you go, may I just get a picture? I like the style. I like how it combines the steampunk and the Playboy altogether.
Julie: Yeah, I put bunny ears on it. It’s lots of fun. It was nice to see you. Thank you.
Johnny: Thank you very much.
Finally, before the awards ceremony began, I had the chance to speak to Tia Carrere, this year’s winner of the HIFF’s Excellence In Acting And The Arts Award. We made our way out of the tent where the red carpet was for our conversation, and I asked about her festival experience and some other matters as well.
Johnny: When you found out you were receiving the Hoboken International Film Festival Excellence In Acting And The Arts Award, how did you react?
Tia: I thought, “I’m not worthy!” (Tia and Johnny laughing), and then the next thought was, “Wait, I’m too young!”, but no. It’s always a great honor when people appreciate your work. My girlfriend Julie McCullough came to the festival last year, and when they invited me up, I said, “Of course!”.
Johnny: 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Wayne’s World 2, which ended with Cassandra Wong and Wayne Campbell back in love again after Bobby Cahn tried to separate them, so where do you think Wayne and Cassandra would be in 2018?
Tia: Well, if you go to People’s website, I just did an interview with Stephen Surjik, the director of Wayne’s World 2. We’re talking about doing the film.
Johnny: If there is a 3rd Wayne’s World, it’s definitely going to have to be something different, being as public access is dead and the Internet’s alive.
Tia: They could livestream on the Internet.
Johnny: That’s true. That about does it for my questions, and as Wayne Campbell would say, you’re still a babe.
Tia: (Laughing) Thank you.
Johnny: …And thank you for your time.
With that, my first evening on the red carpet wrapped up. It was an interesting experience to do interviews this way, and I look forward to the possibility of doing more interviews of this type next year, as well as the possibility of a more in-depth interview with Julie McCullough. Either way, I’ll be returning to my main form of doing interviews on the phone soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for some new Flashback Interviews soon.
June 7, 2018 @ 2:39 pm
Do you mean the Joyce DeWitt froim Three’s Company? Last I heard, she had turned into a complete recluse. Very surprised to see her here.
June 25, 2018 @ 9:10 pm
Sorry for not responding to this sooner, Peter. Yes, that Joyce DeWitt. She’s not a recluse. She often does autograph shows, usually with later Three’s Company stars Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes.