‘A Christmas Story’ convention to premiere documentaries about director, film

November 23rd, 2008 by Ralphie

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Director Deren Abram hiked into the Florida swamps to find the lost film location where Bob Clark filmed “Porky’s.” Abram’s documentary “ClarkWORLD” examines Clark’s eclectic career, which included “A Christmas Story,” sex comedies, movies about talking babies and horror. “ClarkWORLD” is one of three documentaries premiering at the upcoming “A Christmas Story” 25th Anniversary Celebration and Convention on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 28 and 29.

Nostalgic nods to Christmases past weren’t the only films the late Bob Clark directed. Zombies, slashers and sex-starved teens were in his repertoire, too.

A new documentary, “ClarkWORLD” sheds light on Clark’s career, including his trademark movie, “A Christmas Story.”

“ClarkWORLD” is the centerpiece of the “A Christmas Story” 25th Anniversary Celebration and Convention. The event unites actors from the movie and fans at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel and A Christmas Story House and Museum in Tremont.

The convention — Friday-Saturday, Nov. 28-29 — premieres three documentaries.

A group of “Christmas Story” fans visiting the Christmas Story House and Museum explain why the film is a must-see in “Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold ‘Christmas Story.”

In addition to “ClarkWORLD,” convention-goers can hear from the child actors in “Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold ‘Christmas Story’,” and follow two super-fans as they track down the movie’s locations and memorabilia in “Road Trip for Ralphie.”

Look for details in the Nov. 28 Friday! Magazine, or go to www.achristmasstoryhouse.com.

“A Christmas Story” follows 9-year-old Ralphie, who desperately wants a BB gun for Christmas. The movie, based on stories from Jean Shepherd’s book, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie and the late Darren McGavin as the Old Man.

The Christmas Story House is the Tremont location where scenes were filmed. Fans have flocked there year round since it opened in 2006.

“ClarkWORLD” is the convention’s culminating event. Director Deren Abram examines the highs and lows — financially and artistically — in Clark’s eclectic career. His credits include such diverse fare as “Porky’s.”

Abram was a teen when “A Christmas Story” was filmed, but later he worked as Clark’s production designer on “SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2,” “The Karate Dog,” “I’ll Remember April” and “Blonde and Blonder.”

Clark, 67, and his son Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, died last year in a car collision in Los Angeles caused by a drunken driver. Proceeds from the Cleveland screening will go to the local chapter of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Abram, who lives near Chicago, coped with his friend’s death by making “ClarkWORLD.” It was therapeutic to interview others who had worked with Clark, such as Kim Cattrall, Jon Voight and Denise Richards, he said. They remembered Clark as a mischievous guy who was extremely prepared on the set.

A television interview with an adult Billingsley and Clark serves as a thread tying the film together. Billingsley morphs from chubby-cheeked Ralphie to the executive producer behind this summer’s blockbuster “Iron Man” and the upcoming comedy “Four Christmases.”

Actor Scott Schwartz, who played Flick — the boy who gets his tongue stuck to a flagpole — in 1983′s “A Christmas Story,” talks to director Bill Szarka, left, for the behind-the-scenes documentary “Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold ‘Christmas Story.’ ”

“Christmas Story” fandom hits the highways in “Road Trip for Ralphie,” a documentary produced by Canadian fans Tyler Schwartz (no relation to “Christmas Story” actor Scott Schwartz) and Jordie Smits. They spent two years tracking down the film’s shooting locations.

They recovered costumes, Miss Shields’ chalkboard and items used in the film as the school was being gutted. Their treasures will be displayed for the first time at the convention. “Road Trip” screens Saturday.

Director Bill Szarka compiled interviews with young cast members in “Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold ‘Christmas Story.’ ” It screens both days.

Szarka gathered footage at last year’s convention, focusing on families who have made the movie a holiday tradition.

The actors talk about how they were cast, the fun they had on the set and the secret of how filmmakers got little Randy’s arms to stick straight out in his snowsuit (styrofoam blocks in his underarms).

“Shooting Your Eye Out” reveals fantasy sequences that were cut from the film. One scene showed Black Bart and his henchmen robbing Santa, but the footage has been lost.

“That must have been unbelievable,” Bill Szarka said.

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