Written and directed by James
Morrison, this short film began as a play.
"The film was originally a ten-minute play Riad directed. We were in the L.A. Playwright's Group, and we had an assignment to do a short play with power as the theme," Morrison begins.
PARKING was produced on stage twice before Morrison decided to use it in his first film-making effort. Shot in two days in a parking structure in California, the film cost about $17,000 to make. Actress Riad Galayini, Morrison's wife, acted as producer on the short film version.
The story begins in a shopping mall on a busy shopping day as Ray returns to his parked vehicle with an armload of packages. But he is unable to leave because his car is blocked into its parking space by another car. Ray waits for his assailant to come back so he can return the favor.
Morrison explains, "The hard part was to create an equality between the characters, otherwise there'd be no reason for them to stay."
Ray's argues that his life has been put on hold by Gene, the owner of the blocking car, "I'm trapped here man. I can't move my car. I'm completely at the mercy of your greedy f***ing selfishness."
Gene calmly returns, "There's a rational explanation for the crisis you've chosen to concoct, and I hope you're big enough to hear it though it's clear your indignation carries far more weight than fact."
To which Ray responds, "What?"
Gene argues that with the note he left on Ray's car, he was only asking for a favor. When he offers to compensate Ray for his time, Ray interprets this as payment for arrogance. Ray asks only for a sincere apology which he may -- or may not -- have really received.
Morrison continues, "When the play was performed we just knew it would transfer well to film. The audience response was immediate -- it was so visceral -- you could immediately see yourself in this situation."
This director didn't look far to cast the piece, "Paul and Erich are old friends of ours; I wrote it with them in mind. Well, actually I wrote the part of Ray with myself in mind until I saw Paul do it. He had the inherent everyman-being-wronged quality that I don't have."
There is also a cameo appearance by Lanai Chapman from Space: Above and Beyond, as a passing motorist who pities the languishing Ray.
"That happened to me," Morrison told an audience packed into the E Street Theatre after the Anchorage showing of the film. "I was Ray. The other guy kept apologizing, but I didn't get the feeling that he thought he had really done anything wrong. Since the biggest part of being sorry and making amends is not doing it again, my mission with this guy became getting him to admit that he was wrong. But humility is hard, especially for men. Some men will go to their graves before they will admit they were wrong."
Ray insists, "You are what's wrong with this world. People like you -- you and your kind -- have f***ed up the world for people like me, who go the hard route and wait for an empty space before we f***ing park!"
Despite the explosive anger of the situation, Morrison is able to infuse both dialogue and action with a subtle humor. While Ray rages, Gene interjects. "You spit in my face. It's like you think you can frighten me into submission by spiting and swearing." Ray retorts, "What? You're critiquing my anger?"
Morrison continues, "We call this an examination of the gritty cement and steel belligerence of humiliated testosterone in an urban parking structure. There is nothing uglier, embarrassing and repugnant that humiliated testosterone."
"I feel good about the content of the film. I am more critical of the actual film making, but I learned a lot. After this experience, I don't think anyone ends up with the film they set out to make. For good or worse, circumstances interfere and the film changes as a compromise."
PARKING has been screened at more than 20 film festivals worldwide -- including New Directors/New Films at the Museum of Modern Art, Austin's South by Southwest Festival, Taos Talking Pictures, the Montreal World Festival, the Cork International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Slam Dance.
"Slam Dance is the second year of a festival formed to counter the more established Sundance Festival. It takes place in Park City at the same time as Sundance. It is like Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. It is very small at this point. It was formed by a bunch of fellows who were turned down by Sundance and felt their films should be showing. So they created this. Their motives are obvious; they wanted an alternative to what had become mainstream. That's how off-Broadway was created. Sundance had been the alternative to Hollywood and now it has become Hollywood." Synopsized from an interview by Tom Provenzano for Drama-Logue, an interview by Steven Eramo for TV Zone, a film review by T. Massari McPherson for The Anchorage Press, and an uncredited interview for Film Threat magazine (a publication devoted to alternative and independent features now located exlusively online at http://www.filmthreat.com )
Ultimately, this 12 minute short film was not overlooked by Sundance. It was recently bought by and shown on the Sundance channel.
Click Here for a James Morrison interview about Parking