Here's what I wrote about Fateful Findings when it screened at last year's Seattle International Film Festival:
- FATEFUL FINDINGS In the shower.
What is it that takes a bad film from being boring-bad to kablooey-brain-amazing-bad? Whatever it is, Neil Breen’s Fateful Findings has it in spades. Chronicling a man’s campaign to expose government secrets and reconnect with his magic-spirituality soul mate, the film never stops exploding with awfulness, from wooden dialogue to spit-take-worthy action sequences and mind-bending plot points. It’s a negative masterwork, easily the peer of The Room and Miami Connection, and all fans of awesomely terrible cinema need to see it.
This weekend, Fateful Findings is back at SIFF Uptown, where it screens both Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30 pm. I still recommend that you see it. A key component of the film's dazzling weirdness is the filmmaker's accomplished visual sense, on display in scene after scene offering impressively composed shots, containing action at the sort of dreamlike pace that makes you wonder if you're in the hands of a spellbinder but then something happens that's so hilariously dumb your brain twists. It's wonderful, and the ending is one of best endings in cinema.
Yesterday, I sent an email to SIFF programmer Clinton McClung, to see if he'd be up for answering some questions about the film—how it came to be in SIFF, how the director responded to be showcased in a "so bad it's good" context, etc. In response, he sent me an info-packed email that answered every question I had and then some. To read McClung's wonderful treatise on the hows, whys, and whats of Fateful FIndings, proceed to the jump.
For now, here's the trailer.
From SIFF programmer Clinton McClung:
Fateful Findings was a SIFF submission. It was first watched by another programmer (former Stranger film critic Andy Spletzer), who passed it on to me because he knew of my commitment to best/worst film experiences, and figured that this was a film I could possibly enjoy.
I did a quick internet search on Neil Breen and learned that his previous film I Am Here….Now, played at Cinefamily in LA, a great indie cinema with creative and outre programming, in a series they call HFS (Holy Fucking Shit). That got me pretty excited to check out this new film, Fateful Findings. So, I took home the screener and...my mind proceeded to be blown.
Watching the film brought some obvious comparisons to The Room: a writer/director/star self-financing a sort of vanity project without any really consideration for the technical side of filmmaking. The pacing, shot construction, acting, editing, continuity…none of it quite gels. But there was something else going on here: an element of scifi and mystery, a weird political agenda that I couldn't quite understand, and an almost Lynchian level of absurdism. I've seen a lot of amateurish films (A LOT!), and most of them suck. But when a film has that certain sense of "otherness", like the filmmaker has something buried in his psyche that absolutely has to be expressed even if they don't have the skills or if it doesn't make much sense to anyone else…well, that can be special. Fateful Findings has that in spades.
I instantly wanted to screen the film in our Midnight Adrenaline program, a section of the festival where we are really encouraged to experiment. Each year we find great horror and genre films, but it is harder to find that elusive film that just makes you think, "Now this could be the next cult movie". Something about Fateful Findings just clicked in that regard, so it was really a natural fit.
I did hear some feedback from people who felt that including a "bad" film in the festival was a slap in the face to all the great films that don't make it each year. But to me a "bad" film is simply a BORING film. Exploring the world of cinema means all kinds of cinema, and there is a true sense of discovery in seeing something completely unique and original, no matter the perceived quality. I can honestly say that I have yet to see another filmmaker quite like Neil Breen. (Also, it was just one screening in the midnight series - nothing else was sacrificed for Fateful Findings inclusion)
I have not met Neil Breen, and so far have only exchanged a few emails with him. When I told him we wanted to include the film, I was honest and said that the film was weird and somewhat flawed, but that I also truly loved it and found it charming, interesting, and fiercely original. He was very professional and thorough. He did send me an email about his bio, noting quite correctly that he was not a practicing real estate agent. That was something that our team found doing web research on Breen, and obviously one of the big myths about him out there. I was glad he helped clear that up.
I hope that no filmmaker or artist feels too bad about their films being watched in a way that perhaps wasn't intended. Once you put a piece of art out into the world it takes on a life of its own based on how people respond to it. Ever since screening Fateful Findings, people have been asking me "When are you bringing Fateful Findings back? When can we meet Neil Breen?" That means the film has truly connected with the audience, and I think that is a true measure of success.