Eric Allen Hatch was an original member of the Red Room. Which sort of makes him partway responsible (along with many other unsung and semi-sung heroes) for Baltimore's Cultural Landscape in The Naughties today because, musically speaking, The Red Room opened the floodgates for modern experimentalists and improvisers to enter Baltimore, and thus for Baltimore to enter them. He was part of the trickle that opened out, decades later, into a rich, rank, silty delta of radical. More recently, his Free First Thursdays Film Series (Oct 2006 - Aug 2008) at the Baltimore Museum of Art was "a mixture of truly adventurous films ... focusing particularly on the visionary film explosion of the 1960s and '70s", with a programming emphasis on the rarely-screened. These days he programs the Maryland Film Festival, ever hot on the trail of helping out the city he calls home by watching movies all day and being nice.
What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?
I’m a film programmer; my year-round day job is with Maryland Film Festival. I sort through hundreds of entries from filmmakers to select films for our festival in May, and travel to other film festivals over the course of the year (like SXSW, New York Asian, and Toronto International) in the hopes of luring gems back to Baltimore.
Prior to this I founded, programmed, and hosted the Free First Thursdays Film Series at the Baltimore Museum of Art (which ran from ’06 through ’08 and favored ‘60s and ‘70s world cinema).
Some people also know me as a former music and film critic for City Paper, and/or as a former manager of the Charles Village Video Americain.
Back in the day I used to DJ around town. In case you missed out on that, spend an evening listening to “Push It,” “It’s Tricky,” “The Humpty Dance,” and “Me So Horny” in a continuous loop, and it’ll be just like you were there.
Most often in my waking life I am listening to music (5-10 hours a day), watching movies (1-4 features a day), walking (3-10 miles a day), record shopping (all my $$$), or reading (data fluctuates wildly).
How long have you done these things?
The BMA series launched almost 4 years ago (R.I.P.); I started working for MD Film Fest full time in January 2007. Before that, I’d done a spot of programming here or there (see “Moments,” below).
Why do you do them? How does it make you feel?
It makes me feel great to connect positively with other people, and one way to do this is through my cultural tastes.
When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? What happened?
Lots of slow-burn, lowercase-“m” moments: curating a 16mm film night at the Red Room nearly a decade ago; working as a member of the MicroCineFest screening committee under Skizz Cyzyk (one of Baltimore’s real cultural heroes); discovering the work of favorite directors like RW Fassbinder, Frederick Wiseman, and Claire Denis; attending double features at the Orpheum and the Satyajit Ray retrospective circa ’96 at the Charles; watching an average of 3 movies a day, 365 days a year from 1998-2004.
How has your life changed or not changed to accommodate that moment's effect on you?
With both film programming and critical writing, my life has become about connecting other people’s artistic accomplishments with audiences. My life’s goal had previously always been to find a way to make a living, however meager, via writing fiction (or maybe screenplays). In the long-term, I’ll have to figure out if that dream has been scrapped or just put on hold.
How has your work affected your life in return?
I have enormous amounts of free time in the summer and absolutely no free time from late February through early May. I get to New York more often and I’ve gotten to know Toronto fairly well. I drink a lot of coffee at Red Emma’s. I’ve met a lot of filmmakers, most of whom are really cool (with a couple of douches in the mix).
What do you dream about constantly?
Launching a gatefold-cover, 180-gram vinyl record label devoted to new Baltimore music; programming and managing a restored single-screen movie theater such as the Parkway on North Avenue or the Playhouse on 25th Street; living in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco; becoming a Hollywood script doctor to raise money for any/all of the above; making a living as a novelist in Baltimore or even New York City; experiencing a Baltimore City with a subway system as extensive as DC’s Metro.
"this is me when a monkey visited the film fest office"
Some true, little-known facts about you?
- Both of my grandfathers lost pinky fingers in separate violent accidents, decades apart.
- A friend of the family named her child Eric Hatch Kim after me, shortly before the entire family was deported.
- I was reared without a television from birth until, fortuitously, the month “Twin Peaks” was first broadcast.
- My middle-school English teacher took a letter grade off a paper for my use of the phrase “Tom Sawyer was raised…”, and asked to see me after class – at which point she angrily shouted at me, “Human beings are REARED; livestock is raised.”
What advice would you give David Lee Roth if he was in the midst of an existential crisis and he came to you and only you for help?
He’s only a name to me, but my gut says move to Baltimore and start a band with Lexie. In general I am happy to listen to people’s problems.