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Out on the Town with Damien and Marilyn

Damien Valentine, better known as Darth here at Machiniplex, and his mother, Marilyn, came through Los Angeles a week ago and along with Ingrid and my partner, Lisa Morton, we hit the town and had dinner at three great restaurants.

Damien recently celebrated his graduation from college and Marilyn rewarded him with a trip to the U.S. where they took a tour of some major tourist spots while losing enormous amounts of sleep in the process. Still, they both looked good when we helped them move from downtown to a hotel just off of the Hollywood Freeway.

First up was a Saturday night dinner at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills. It's a wonderful location on top of a mountain looking down over the Valley. We were fortunate to get a window seat and the early-evening view was spectacular. Both Marilyn and Damien love steaks, so they both had two hefty ones, much to their delight. Ingrid brought her son along and he was pretty well behaved. We were all so stuffed, I wonder how we managed to get up from the table. No wonder the Romans at lying down so often.

Next, it was Don Cuco's mexican restaurant in Burbank. A very popular spot that was filled with partying, mexican food loving people. We were crammed into a small booth, but when the food came were forgot about the tight fit. Our waiter suggested we take a picture with sombreros and you can see the result at the top of the page. I really think the women should have worn the sombreros, but what do I know.

After Don Cuco's we wanted some good gelato so Lisa and I took everyone to Pinocchio's Italian Deli in Burbank. The gelato was fabulous and we chatted and took pictures for quite a while.

Then on Monday night, we decided to hit another Mexican restaurant (Marilyn told us they have dreadful Mexican food in the UK), this time it was the landmark El Coyote restaurant in Hollywood. After a bit of a wait, we had even better food than at Don Cuco's. Our waitress was enchanting and the conversation was lively. Both Damien and Marilyn loved the place.

Lisa and I were sad to see Marilyn and Damien go. How much fun it would be if we could see them every week. The visit was much too short. At some point we'd really like to visit them in Bath.

Our congratulations to Damien for graduating and thanks to Marilyn for coming to visit! Until next time.....

PS I've learned that they arrived at home safely and are currently sleeping all week to get back to normal.

Montreal Expo Canceled - Becoming a Virtual Event

Last year, organizers Ingrid and Damien enjoyed a rich, exciting, and well-attended Machinima Roadshow event at Festival Arcadia in Montreal. So when the organizer invited us back, and expressed his desire to make the machinima component a bigger and more extensive part of his show, promoting it to us as a turn-key event and possibly including prize money for top films, Ingrid and Damien enlisted the help of Ricky and Phil and created the First Annual International Machinima Expo (MachinExpo, or just "the Expo"). With great enthusiasm, the acceptance of our proposed budget and program, and the need to get an early start in our call for entries and other planning, the four of us booked our travel arrangements and began the hard work and investment involved in organizing such a cool, fun event.


As it turns out, assurances of funding and all the time and effort we have put in have been for naught. Festival Arcadia has suddenly dropped the Expo from its program, including pulling all funding. The reason is not clear. The organizer of Festival Arcadia clearly did not seek funding early or earnestly enough to follow through with his plan to include machinima in the overall program. He also had a sudden 180-degree change in attitude toward machinima, claiming it is not accepted by the industry. Why the sudden withdrawal of funds and change of heart, we may never know.


Not only are we angry and disappointed in this outcome, we are ashamed for acting on what turned out to be empty promises and a handshake. We were in the process of formalizing a contract as recently as two weeks ago. Then last Friday he dropped the bomb on us. We tried to negotiate a smaller, less expensive variation so that the Expo could go on, but he cannot commit an answer soon enough. Meanwhile we worry that our participants and speakers are making plans to attend, and we can't in good conscience allow this to go on indefinitely when there is still the looming possibility that the Expo will be cut entirely. In hand with our frustrations are our own losses, both financially and in the time and energy invested.


Thus we have decided to detach ourselves from Festival Arcadia and carry on the Expo in a new form, so that at least the effort invested will not go to waste. We have considered a new venue for a live event, but given how little time we have left and the grueling and time-consuming nature of obtaining our own funding, we have instead chosen to change the Expo from a live one to a virtual one. With the use of voice technology and the flexibility and creativity offered by virtual space, we will still be able to offer the exciting panels and presentations that we had planned, as well as screenings for all the films accepted into the festival and the awards that we were expecting to hand out in person. The one element that will not likely happen is the Roadshow workshop, which was dependent on a LAN. We may replace this with another exciting program. More information on this virtual event will be forthcoming as we hammer out our strategy.


We extend our sincere apologies to everyone who is affected by this terrible turn of events, and accept responsibility for proceeding on verbal assurances in our effort to provide ample time for everyone to make plans to participate. We welcome your comments and concerns. And we hope that this will not discourage you from participating in and enjoying the virtual Expo.


Ingrid, Phil, Ricky, Damien