Pick of the Litter: 'By Hook or By Crook'
Recommended at SXSW Film 2002
A Codependent Independent: 'By Hook or By Crook'In the great tradition of Hope & Crosby, Wayne & Garth, and Thelma & Louise come Shy & Valentine, two hapless hunks trying to make their way in the world. By Hook or by Crook, a first film for directors/actors Harry Dodge and Silas Howard, is a buddy movie in the classic sense, except that Shy & Valentine are bad-ass butch lesbians. "In our film, the world accepts who they are. We didn't want to have neon signs around them," Howard says of the film's engaging lead characters, adding that, ideally, they could be played by any gender/sex/orientation. Dodge and Howard are both veterans of performance -- Howard is better known as Flipper in the San Francisco dyke punk band Tribe 8, and Dodge appeared in John Waters' Cecil B. Demented. "Neither of us had actually made a movie or had film training, but we really wanted to collaborate." And what they lack in formal training is made up by the richness of their achingly charming characters. "We wrote two prior scripts, trying to be all plot-twisty and clever," says Howard. "But the characters were flat. So we decided instead to write what we know." Good move. Like character Shy, Howard was raised by her dad, and "the adoption stuff about Harry is true," she says, referring to Dodge's off-kilter Val and her search for her birth mom: "Instead of filling out forms, she made a movie." The buddy thread extended as well to the actual production of the film. The title proved to be telling, as the two filmmakers relied on the grace and sweat of others to complete an 11th-hour remix and edit. "There's nothing 'independent' about low-budget filmmaking," Howard laughs. "That's Harry's quote -- 'independent filmmaking is totally codependent!'"
By Hook or by Crook will screen at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown March 8, 9:30pm; March 12, 11:45am; and March 15, 9:30pm. "Lesbianfilm," a short mockumentary about the travails of making a lesbian movie (made by the Lesbianfilm Collective, including local professor and filmmaker Mocha Jean Herrup, with Dan Janos, Evie Leder, and Gretchen Lee), precedes all screenings. The filmmakers will be in attendance.