Consorting with robots and zombies
Andrew McGregor, co-founder of Graphation Film Festival.
September 15th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Consorting with robots and zombies

What do you get when you put together robots, zombies and comic books?

How about a film festival?

The Graphation Film Festival showcased a selection of short films about zombies, robots, robot-like humans, zombie-like mummies and other life-forms on the fringes of society last month.

Thanks to Carnegie Mellon grad and former Pittsburgh resident George A. Romero, zombies are closely identified with Steeltown, so close-by suburban Oakmont’s Oaks Theater was the perfect venue to celebrate the not-quite-alive.

The festival followed a similar event organizers Andrew McGregor and Josiah Golojuh hosted in the Los Angeles area. The idea: promote new filmmakers and adapt their works into comic books – a twist on the current Hollywood idea of taking comics and turning them into movies.

There’s a lot of talent out there, said Golojuh, and Graphation is simply trying to get filmmakers some exposure. (McGregor and Golojuh, filmmakers who met at the University of Southern California, aren’t averse to a little exposure themselves.)

“We want to create awareness for these filmmakers,” he said. “They’ve sweated and bled over their works, and we want to let people see them.”

Some of the shorts have earned recognition and awards at other festivals – Jesse Griffith’s “Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement,” starring “RoboCop’s” Ronny Cox, is an audience favorite – and many are available online, but more exposure never hurts.

Among the festival’s highlights were “The Curse,”  a love story between a mummy and archeologist told with marionettes and backed by Josh Ritter’s wistful music; “The Man Who Knew How to Fly,”  a stylized story about a 1920s office drone based on a story by Karel Capek (who coined the word “robot”); “The Machine,”  an ominous parable with Terry Gilliam-esque touches about a power-mad robot; and “Goodsam and Max,”  which manages to combine elements of “Mad Max,” “A Boy and His Dog,” old Westerns and black comedy in creating the tale of a hot babe and her cigar-chewing teddy bear in pursuit of “rats.”

Not all the films were fiction. “Nobody Dies When It’s Sunny,”  a documentary by Niles Harrison, follows around a mortuary driver as he picks up bodies – at least one of which he recognizes from his days as a drug addict; and Jonathan Minard’s “Moonrush,”  a work-in-progress, chronicles the progress in sending a privately funded mission to the moon and focuses on roboticist Red Whittaker.

Though many Hollywood films look at robots as malevolent forces – with zombies rating even lower - “Moonrush” director Minard is more optimistic about the future.

“They’ll be part of our everyday lives,” even more so than they are now, he said, only growing more social with time.

Exhibit A for robot sociability was a live performance by roboticist Heather Knight and her pal Data, a robot that has been programmed to tell jokes and – to the delight of the Oakmont audience – danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Knight founded the Robot Film Festival, which brought the robot-themed films to Pittsburgh.

McGregor, dressed nattily in a bright, swirly-patterned French-cuffed shirt and plaid vest, believes that robots, zombies and humans can live together in peace. Robots, in particular, don’t have to be fearsome overlords; they can be useful tools, able to assist the elderly or go places we can’t.

“Technology is only limited by people’s imaginations,” he said.

Posted by
Filed under: Fandom
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Eddie Dartez

    ackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The eighth child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1964, and began his solo career in 1971. In the early 1980s, Jackson became the dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs, including those of "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Thriller," were credited with breaking down racial barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool. `-*`

    Have a good day

    July 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  2. Cougar Dating Information

    This is really interesting, You are an excessively professional blogger. I have joined your rss feed and stay up for in search of more of your great post. Also, I've shared your web site in my social networks

    April 21, 2012 at 3:23 am |
  3. Hanmer Springs Hotels

    Awesome things here. I am very glad to peer your post. Thank you a lot and I'm looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

    April 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  4. tinhorn

    to tea party express: stop taking the money i've put into social security! i will need it later to buy more comic books when i retire. my other retirement fund will actually be able to pay my bills.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  5. A Dweeb

    Seriously Troll Party Express – did you forget that you're reading a blog titled "Geek Out?" None of us would be reading this blog (you included) if we weren't already all dweebs. The point of the article is to celebrate the dweebs who have had the vision and drive to turn their dweeby pursuits into a paycheck. Without dweebs like that, we'd have no art, no culture, no entertainment, and definitely no internet/Geek Blog/comments section.

    So take your jealous self-hatred somewhere else.

    September 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  6. Josiah

    I think they are firmly out of their Mom's basements, they are making art and serving the world by striving to make it an ever so slightly more beautiful place.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  7. Tea Party Express

    Go back to work dweebs. Get outta mom's basement and earn a paycheck.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Is It Lonely Up There On Your Pedestal?

      ^^Funny how you have the time to make such an ignorant comment on an article that wasnt even in the headlines, so that means you clicked on it and read the whole whos the "dweeb" now? So how about you get out of YOUR mom's basement and not tear down other people's lifestyles because you are unhappy with your own. FAIL.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |