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Corn Dog 7

Corn Dog 7 was a wonderful piece of serendipity, a film that sort of fell together with the kind of innocuous ease that prompted a lot of similar projects which utterly failed to fall together with anywhere near as much ease. The idea of doing a film called Corn Dog 7 had been with us for a while, almost ever since we'd seen the Corn Dog 7 fast food joint in Pecanland Mall in Louisiana on one of our many cross-country pilgrimages to Project A-Kon. That name, we felt, and quite correctly too, was silly as hell, mostly for the presence of the number seven in the title, as if implying that the name of the eatery was simply "Corn Dog" and that this was the seventh iteration of its existence. It brought up thoughts of Blake's 7, a British sci-fi series with a nearly equally nonsensical seven in its name (one had to count a ship's computer and Blake himself to get the titular seven characters) and the notion of a bunch of crazy adventurers calling themselves the Corn Dog 7 followed rather shortly thereafterwards, along with the obvious point of having rather less than seven people in the group. So on the trip home from A-Kon 6, we stopped at Pecanland for a bite to eat, and grabbed a shot of the sign to use for a title screen, which has to be against some lameass law or another, like we cared or care. About a year after, we learned that there was in fact a Corn Dog 7 right here in town, in one of the many malls we'd filmed Men In Black in. Bastards, making us drive all that way.

Right after getting back, Matt Buffington invited the bunch of us to his parents' lake house for a much-needed post-vacation vacation. It seemed the perfect opportunity to shoot our new film, which, like many Hollywood gems in the tradition of Deliver us from Eva and A Million to Juan, had a title before having an actual premise. Fortunately, Kevin Costner's then much-publicized talent for spending sperm whale-sized lumps of money on sperm whale shit-sized lumps of sperm whale shit put the idea of mocking his upcoming sperm whale shitpile Waterworld into our heads, and with a lake and a boat awaiting us at the aptly named "lake house" it seemed the perfect way to while away our vacation time, as a break from all that tedious rest and relaxation.

At the time, we'd seen a few trailers for Waterworld, and we knew: A. Water. Big player. B. Girl with map tattooed on her back. C. Bad guy wears eye patch. D. Some kind of floating colony. E. Costner had gills. F. Female lead got naked. G. Would probably suck. On the other hand, we didn't know that: A. The villain would at one point have a big ugly eye bulging out of his head. B. Animals would be seen cavorting about the shores of the dry land, once it was found. C. Someone would drop their binoculars and point, screaming the name of their enemies, who were approaching in motorboats. That crap we just got lucky on. So we told everyone to bring "post-apocalyptic clothing," and whatever prop weapons we could get. Lauren Forrester, who had actual though admittedly non-maplike tattoos on her back, decided to come along as well. Plus, Matt B. had just made a pair of mechanical arm props, ostensibly for a Tetsuo costume for Ozone Commandos. Both turned out way too bulky for that purpose, but could certainly be used for a cyborg nemesis the likes of which had appeared in masterworks such as Spacehunter and Metalstorm-both of which were in 3-D and had stupid subtitles-and seemed perfect for this film, even if we knew damn well there would be no robots in Waterworld. With a suspiciously effortless effort, we had this project tamed and tied to a leash. We spent the first day scoping out the locations (a boat and a yard-pretty damn minimalist, frankly) and writing the script. At some point in the process of fixing burgers, Matt B. asked who wanted their buns toasted, which got in the script by osmosis. Next day, we figured, we'd shoot the sucker.

Next day we shot half the sucker. We couldn't actually take the boat out on the lake, which forced us to get a little creative with the camera angles if we wished to avoid, as we did, getting the land in shot, which we also unfortunately did. Get the land in shot. We did, I mean. We're not demanding you get the land in...oh piss off. We avoided filming the land, and failed a bit. And then we went home, and the second half of the film was going to be shot somewhere else that wasn't a boat, whether we liked it or not. Luckily we did. Like it. You know. There was a cool clifflike cliff near(ish) to Dave's place that looked rugged and barren and had a big fence with No Trespassing signs we used to climb over so we could shoot illegal fireworks off the cliff and yell "fuck the system!" real quietly. For the next two months we added to the originally somewhat bare-bones cyborg suit, edited the first half of the film, and finally shot the rest. The day we filmed the cyborg fight was hot enough to boil a sperm whale and there was enough water in the air in which to immerse one, which made it uncomfortable enough for those of us wearing only one layer of clothing, compared to Matt B.'s three layers of costume. It was just as well that he didn't pass out from heatstroke, since he was standing with his back to a good fifty-foot drop which it would have been painful to fall the length of. Luckily we all stayed conscious, none of the confused passers-by called the cops, we fucked the system and got out intact. Two weeks later, editing was complete and we had a big old middle finger to flip to the long-delayed release of Waterworld in the form of a smartass video that had cost about five bucks to make and was completed four days after the real film hit theaters.

Despite our general smug pleasedness, there was a downside. Our planned-for three minute short had ended up at over seven and a half minutes long, way too long to feel like a real movie trailer, and way too long to see as many times as we ended up seeing it subsequently without getting way tired of it. Our first real parody trailer (other than the somewhat obtuse Flexible Metal Hose Co. vs The Universe), it tended to feel too much like a short film rather than an ad for a supposedly longer one, and once we had made the jump to digital editing, the notion of recutting Corn Dog 7 began to tinkle in my mind, or something less urinary-sounding. So in the spring of 2003, nearly eight years later (Holy crap, time can fly, can't it?!) I commenced the editing of Corn Dog 7 mark II, basically because the hard drive with all the Ozone Commandos footage I actually wanted to be working on was on a vacation to the exotic land of Emergency Data Recovery. The new cut took almost as long as the old one, though the completed film would be over three minutes shorter, notably enough without appearing to be genuinely missing anything. It would also feature a great many more special effects, and the 3-D program which had seen some rudimentary use in Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and Dig Dug would get a real workout, recreating the boat, the floating city, the lab on New Harbor, and even the cyborg for one crucial shot, and enabling us to actually show the boat out on the ocean.

I've always had an inordinant fondness for this film, one which I had a great enthusiasm in assembling the first time around, staying up all night editing, making models, nearly setting the bathtub on fire. It was a film that, despite its flaws, felt like a decisive step in the right direction. I've found that for whatever reason it came upon me in the first place, that energy returned for the encore editing stint, a factor always useful when battling against a computer that deep down really doesn't want you to succeed. However, despite a valiant effort, my plastic pal who's often rather unfun to be with was unsuccessful in defeating the creation of this new cut, allowing you the viewer an extra three minutes to spend on your own life and affairs than you would have otherwise had. Of course, if you were that concerned about not wasting your time, you've done yourself as great disservice by reading this whole self-indulgent rambling, but it's too late now. Those minutes are gone, and it's all your fault!

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