OSWEGO — Frank Dietz, a former SUNY Oswego student, Hollywood jack-of-many-trades and award-winning filmmaker, will screen and talk about his and Trish Geiger’s documentary “Beast Wishes: The Fantastic World of Bob and Kathy Burns” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, in the college’s Campus Center auditorium.
The free presentation will put an exclamation point on three days of appearances by Dietz — an actor, animator, script writer, director and sketch artist, to name a few of his hats — in a variety of classrooms on campus. He will talk about his career and the film with students in theatre, cinema and screen studies, art and broadcasting as the guest of Kathleen “Kitty” Macey, professor of theatre.
“As a student here, he was a theatre and art major in the early ’80s,” Macey said. “He was in our first production of ‘Wait Until Dark,’ and we are going to do it again in November.”
When the Blackfriars student theatre organization decided to reprise “Wait Until Dark,” Macey, who has kept in touch with Dietz, said she thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to get him here?”
Dietz plans to meet with current cast members of the play while he’s on campus Oct. 21 to 24.
Labor of love
Geiger and Dietz produced and directed “Beast Wishes,” which chronicles the story of horror and sci-fi film aficionados Bob and Kathy Burns, who have spent their lives nurturing the creative spark in talented people, many of whom went on to become award-winning masters of the Hollywood makeup and special-effects industries.
The Burnses also have put on legendary Halloween displays at their Burbank home, and assembled a vast collection of kitschy props and other memorabilia.
“Beast Wishes” won a 2012 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award for best documentary, the same title at the Louisville Fright Night Film Fest, and honors at other festivals.
Formerly an animator for such Disney films as “Tarzan,” “Mulan” and “Hercules,” Dietz clearly loves the film’s subjects and the documentary.
“Beast Wishes has turned out to be so much more than just a good film,” Dietz said after their work was nominated for the Rondo. “It seems to transcend the confines of the Monster Kid universe, appealing to audiences who are not into these genres. It helps those people have a better understanding of why we love what we love. Bob and Kathy, by example, show us we can embrace our bliss, and that it’s okay to be who we are.”
John Landis, director of “Twilight Zone” and “An American Werewolf in London,” wrote of the documentary: “We loved it! You did a wonderful job capturing what is special about Bob and Kathy and their unique spirit. … the film clearly demonstrates how and why they are held in such esteem by such a wide range of impressive and wacky folks.”
Dietz formerly was an actor, appearing in such cult classics as “Zombie Nightmare,” “Black Roses” and “The Jitters.” He wrote scripts for many independent features, included “Naked Souls,” “Cold Harvest” and “The Magic in the Mirror.” Dietz created “Sketchy Things,” a series of classic monster sketchbooks, and won Rondos for artist of the year in 2007 and 2008.
His diverse career provides a vivid example for theatre and other students, Macey said.
“I think students need to know you are not going get a big Broadway gig right away, but it’s all these little things that will add up to your career,” she said. “There are many paths to the goals you set up.”
Artswego, the college’s arts presenters, provided a grant to help support Dietz’ visit, Macey said.
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