Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The Story of Donald and Dot Clock

Submitted by Roger DeBris

John Edmund Parcher wanted to make his own damn movie. A decade of work as a part-time audition actor (entertaining casting directors who called him in to read for hundreds upon hundreds of roles) led him to realize that waiting on anyone to open doors for him would not work, and that the few times he was actually hired would not do. Several short film projects with a variety of aspiring directors gave him the where-with-all to finally make a feature film. The only problem was, what would the film be about?

Sometime in the mid-nineties, somewhere in the Midwest, was a daily newspaper with a tiny blurb proclaiming, "Donald and Dot Clock Found Dead in their Home." The story went on to state that the cause of death was not known, that the police did not suspect foul play and that there was no evidence of suicide. What happened to Donald and Dot Clock? This was the burning question that brought forth the idea for John Edmund Parcher's first feature film and transformed Parcher into "Donald Clock" for the silver screen. However, the "Dot" character was still missing.

At a reception after a random Sundance screening, John Edmund saw a tall, wiry, striking female figure, with a unique aura about her. He approached her and introduced her to the idea of Donald Clock and the part of Dot. Her name was Eugenie Bondurant, and she originally hailed from New Orleans. She said yes and several years later the first day of shooting began.

First time director, Michael Kowalski, was studying film in the Anthropological Department of the University of California. He had made a few short documentaries, including his final graduate thesis project. John Edmund had met Michael on a Greyhound bus ride from back east to Los Angeles. Michael expressed interest in the "Donald and Dot Clock" project and brought along a writer who came up with a loose outline of the story. The initial script played around with elements from "Marty" and "Ben," a shy loser and a rat. Since John Edmund was a strict Vegan for the past twenty-five years, the writer created several scenes as a dark satire, including a beating with dead rabbits, skinning rabbits, as well as a talking skinned rabbit.

The filming itself lasted twenty-three days and was spread out over four years. The first rough cut was shot over thirteen days and was cut on a Light Works system at Disney Studios. The editor of a Disney feature allowed Michael and John Edmund to sneak in and cut "Donald and Dot Clock" on the sly. The editor had dated Eugenie in years past. The first rough cut spanned two hours and needed a lot of work.

The director would spend the next eight months or so figuring out what to do. Finally, a crew was gathered and additional scenes were shot, and others were re-shot. Between film shoots, numerous ideas were shot on video in order to test out various plot developments. The footage was then plugged into the film on a Mac Final Cut Pro system Michael had set up in his home, the Disney show having been completed.

A dedicated group of professionals donated their time and showed up time and again; camera operator, gaffers, grips, and the actors who performed in a variety of roles. The director of photography, Mary Beth Bresolin was Michael¹s girlfriend and they had gone through an ugly breakup just after the principle photography. Despite this, she came and shot the film every time she was needed over the course of the four years it took to reach completion.

The filming took place in each participant's homes (actors, director, and producer) and all over Los Angeles without permits. One of the big "special effects" in the film took place when Donald throws himself into the La Brea Tar Pits. After he climbs over the fence and jumps towards the tar pits, the close up insert is that of John Edmund as Donald sinking into a kiddy pool filled with molasses, soy oil, and some dirt, to duplicate the tar pit look. This same mix was covered all over John Edmund when "Donald" finds himself in the afterlife, walking through the Los Angeles sewer system where he greets Dot, who had been mourning his death at the spot where she commiserates with rats earlier in the film.

When the film was fashioned into a presentable form, it was left in the hands of the person who got the whole thing started, pulled the train out of the station on the adventure bound for glory. John Edmund Parcher faced the daunting task of launching the film to the viewing public utterly alone.

Through the hundreds of rejections from film festivals including, Sundance, Slamdance, Nodance, Digidance, Slamdunk, Tromadance, and more, John Edmund felt lost, but not without hope, for he was finally found by the Lost Film Fest. The little film festival that could expressed true love for Donald and Dot Clock Found Dead in their Home and has screened the film out of their home base in West Philadelphia and all around the world.

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