Ten days before KAFF, Kacper Jarecki, director of the film adaptation of Tao Lin’s first novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, emailed me saying it would be small, with only 5 to 10 people. He asked if I planned on attending and I said yes – and that I would be happy to answer questions about my film if anyone wanted, that I was looking forward to it. I imagined the librarians Jarecki worked with at Queens library, who I knew were the cast of the film, would be curious and kind. I can recall projecting the image of a black man (“Andrew” from the trailer) laughing warmly and eating something baked.
I asked my friend Jonny to come with me, telling him basically that I had no idea what to expect – if this guy was for real or not, if the event was for real or not – but that it would be an interesting experience regardless, probably. He said he was excited.
I arrived at Kacper’s building before Jonny, but after the set arrival time as I didn’t want to be the first person there. I recognized Kacper’s voice through his intercom from his videos and his stand up. Kacper waited for me in the hall of his building and I shook his hand. He was wearing a white polo buttoned all the way up, and slim black jeans. He wore a moustache (ironic?), glasses, and had a good hair cut. He told me I was the first person to arrive, and we walked into his apartment.
His apartment was sparsely furnished and elaborately decorated. On display were costumes used in the filming of the movie, a plush hamster in a hamster wheel, and a ladder. There were streamers, the kind one associates with car dealerships, hanging from the roof. It was quiet. Standing in the open, echoey space with Kacper I began to feel very self conscious. Where were the 5 to 10 guests he had written of? Would it just be him and I and Jonny watching our films together in his strange apartment? For two and a half hours? The possibility seemed excruciating.
Coming to these questions, I said “awkward” as a gesture to break tension. I immediately regretted it. Kacper looked away and made a slight wince. He said again that he hoped people would come.
I asked him if he had any beer and he said he had only snacks and water. The snacks and water were displayed on a table in the corner of the living room. I asked him if he minded if I went and got beer to drink in his apartment during the film. He said sure.
Outside I considered ditching KAFF. I called Jonny and met him at the beer store, where I tried to relate to him my feelings of dread, and at the same time responsibility and obligation. I felt very anxious. We ran into our friend Kavi, a close friend of Zachary German and his girlfriend Jamie Sterns. It wasn’t clear to me whether Kavi was in the neighborhood for the screening or for an unrelated reason. I think I spooked and confused her.
After talking to her for a little while I learned she was here for the screening, and that Jamie and Zachary were also coming.
I returned to Kacper’s house, and introduced him to Jonny. Jonny asked Kacper questions and remarked on the decor. On a large monitor mounted near the front door we saw Zachary, Jamie and Kavi arrive, and Kacper buzzed them in. Kacper had heard of Zachary and mentioned ordering his book for the Queens library. Zachary seemed to get along really well with Kacper. He seemed unusually comfortable.
After 30 minutes or so, we gave up on the people Kacper had invited. None of his cast – his librarian colleagues – came to see themselves in the premiere. We sat down and began my film, Franz Otto Ultimate Highballer.
Jamie liked the film and asked if she could show it at the gallery she manages in Chelsea. Kacper presented me with an award for best documentary. Between the screenings we chatted with Kacper, getting to know him a little more. He said that the reason the apartment had so little furniture was he spent most of his time with his mother in Brooklyn. On Kacper’s desktop there was a picture of a cat. Jamie asked him if it was his cat and he said yes, but she had died. Everyone expressed their regret upon hearing this.
Kacper introduced his film. It was around 90 minutes long. The part of Andrew, the protagonist of the book, was played by a 30-something black man. His love interest was a black woman of around 50 years. I had not imagined these people looking like this when reading the book, which lent the film a very absurd quality. Every scene was filmed in front of a green screen with background images from Google image search. The choice of images used as backgrounds indicated an eccentric and absurd humor. For instance, the car Andrew drives in to deliver pizza was shown as a souped up lime green race car – photographed during a race. The acting was beyond poor, sub-amateurish, ‘half-assed.’ Every scene was scored with quiet classical music.
Afterwards we all clapped and discussed the film, which we all liked. Zachary told Kacper that he should hang out with us. I told Kacper that I wanted to be cast in his next film. We left feeling good.
Later that night I asked Zachary if he thought Kacper was acting, or performing, and he said no, there was nothing that would lead him to believe he is not for real. He told me that Kacper had given his book a mere two stars on goodreads.
I wrote Kacper to thank him, and he wrote back saying he liked my film. He then wrote that he had autism and limited social skills but that it was “altogether a real blast,” and that he would consider casting me in his next movie.