Vans Warped Tour '98: Where Punk and Pictures Meet
by Amanda N. Nanawa
You know you're getting old when you're surrounded by teens sporting
some novelty shirt their 20-something sibling once wore when they were
six. I thought I could blend in with my Banana Republic top, but it
turns out that the preppy look is still out.
Musical caravans are like variety packs -- all your favorite stuff is in
a nice, big bundle. Since 1995, Vans Warped Tour has established itself
as a preeminent traveling package celebrating punk, hard rock, ska music
and the extreme sport of skateboarding -- all in the spirit of raging
hormones and independence. Last summer, it was jokingly regarded as the
"testosterone tour" when it made its run in NJ against the fledgling
Lilith Fair package that celebrated female musicians.
Thanks in part to the hiatus of Lollapalooza, crowds flocked to the
Warped Tour where it has already earned a respectable spot in the hearts
of skateboarders and punk rockers everywhere. On its fourth year,
Warped returned to Asbury Park, NJ and had expanded to include a Ladies
Lounge (named after a restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA) devoted to female
professional athletes, musicians, and publishers; and the unique
attraction of a film tent. When indieWIRE first reported the tour's
announcement of including an indie film tent (11/26/97), it sounded
almost too good to be true. "We'll get more people involved in it next
year," says tour producer Kevin Lyman of Lyman Productions. "But it was
a good test. We're tryin'."
They're not exactly showing "The Governess", but they are showing music
and skate oriented projects that would appeal to young audiences. The
Warped Tour has introduced itself as a viable traveling film festival,
exposing films to the audience for whom they were made for. The 20x30
tent area houses two large screen TVs connected to VCRs for simultaneous
playback. As flustered concert goers enter the dark air-conditioned
tent, they see green and red inflatable couches waiting for their
occupation. Before they know it, they're in the tent relaxing, and
watching films and videos.
"There's only two places on the Warped Tour [where] you can get air
conditioning," says Lyman, "-- the Ladies Lounge and film tent. As new
attraction[s], I use that and suck 'em in there. Warped Tour is all
about a lot of fun, so we put that inflatable furniture in there so the
kids [can] have fun [and] can lay out. But, for me, they're [not] just
[going] in there to cool off, they get exposed to something else. The
next thing you know, they're sittin' there watching the full thirty
minutes of a film."
Projects are presented as trailers rather than a full screening. Also,
previews of "BASEketball" and "Child's Play 3: Bride of Chucky" also
screen, both as sponsors to keep the film tent operating and to attract
more viewers into the tent (air-conditioning and funky couches can't do
it alone). Additionally, squeezed between the docs and features are
music videos of bands on the Warped Tour and a trailer from Manga Video,
the distributor of such Japanese animation as "Ghost In The Shell" and
One of the films that has received a healthy viewership is Douglas
Cawker's "Born To Lose". Sandwiched between a skateboarding documentary,
"The Sixth Sense", and the "BASEketball" trailer, "Born To Lose" was
able to garner attention from some of the teenage viewers. Despite his
appearances at numerous fests such as The Florida Film Festival,
Exground on Screen (Weisbaden, Germany), and the IFFM (New York City),
Writer/Director Cawker insists that "it's like [getting] into 35
festivals with the right audience".
"Born To Lose" tells the tale of a fictitious Los Angeles punk band
called The Spoilers and how one man finds a comforting self-destruction
in drugs, which ultimately effects the band and people around them. Of
his film, Cawker said, "I happen to choose a subject that was quite edgy
and dark which a lot of [distributors] shy away from. The reason I made
it, was that I really felt that I hadn't seen Hollywood films or even
films from the United States that really depicted the world that I lived
in -- the underground music scene. So, I felt I had to make this. I was
really driven. . . at any cost actually."
Any cost meant selling his house, which he inherited in Toronto, Canada,
and moving to Los Angeles, CA where he used his newly acquired funds to
finish the film; and worked on productions for Roger Corman and Quentin
Tarantino. "What I learned [from Roger Corman] was how to make films
inexpensively, and be creative with your budget. You don't need hundreds
of thousands of dollars. What I learned from Quentin, was how driven and
focused you have to be to see a major motion picture through to
To complete his mission, Cawker invited reps from Bomp! Records to a
screening with the hopes that if they liked the work, they would offer
their extensive catalogue of songs to a soundtrack. The wooing worked.
Cawker ended up using songs from artists such as Iggy & The Stooges, The
Modern Lovers, and White Flag. "Born To Lose" was also Bomp! Records
first soundtrack. Cawker enthuses, "I don't think that most [films]
would have worked like mine worked. Their music was perfect for my
On a down note at the tent, there was no real list of films or a
showtime schedule, so you had to guess what project would suddenly pop
out. "For our first year, it was a good experiment and we'll grow,"
confides Lyman. "That's what the Warped Tour's always done, trying new
things ourselves first and usually someone will step up and say 'Hey,
you know what? I'm really good at this and I want to be part of the
What Lyman would like to see happen is for other film festivals to take
advantage of their tour and encourage cross promotion. One aspect they
will improve upon is bringing the filmmakers along on tour. "Next year,
I'd like them to be more involved, spend time on the tour talking about
[the films], meeting the kids," says Lyman.
Lyman is also adamant about hiring a programmer, "...someone [who] is
into indie films more than myself...and would be able to work with me
because I have a good knowledge of like the skate action films and
things that we could blend into." They will stick to using a
videocassette format due to the wear and tear conditions of the tour.
The tour has to be given some credit for forging ahead on the film tent
idea, despite its helter skelter programming. Its a work-in-progress.
But that won't stop them from making a call for submissions which will
be announced once the tour ends its North American dates.
[To submit a videocassette for consideration to screen in Vans Warped
Tour '99, call Lyman Productions at 909.482.4902 around
[To learn more about "Born To Lose", check out the film's site at: