Sunday, September 12, 2010

Recapping a Festival Weekend

So, I was at the Southern Winds Film Festival this weekend with my film, Endings. The weekend started out lousy because I got two festival rejections for the film in a span of about 24 hours. And we hit an armadillo on the way to Oklahoma, which seemed to trigger a "Check Engine" light on the car.

So I wasn't in the best of moods.

But the screening went really well. A small-ish audience, but the people in attendance really seemed to "get" the movie, and they showered it with praise and asked lots of questions at the post-screening Q&A.

I also found out that I won "Best Director" for Endings at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival. The film had screened there two weeks ago, but awards info hadn't been released til the day of this Southern Winds screening. So that was a real boost!

And then I went to the Southern Winds award ceremony, and Endings won the "Seriously Good Movie - Feature" award (which is the Southern Winds name for Best Drama Feature).

And in the midst of all this happening, I also learned that the film had been selected to the Secret City Film Festival!

It was a good weekend, and I couldn't believe my good fortune and the odd timing of the events. Just one of those weekends when I really needed the boost after several rejections of late. Weird how these things come in groups!

Edited to add: I posted that in a hurry, and I forgot to include the main reason I posted this in the first place... namely, I wanted to talk about how gratifying it is to sit with an audience of people who really seem to understand your work and who respond to it in a major way. One filmmaker in the audience - someone I had never met before - approached me later in the evening to tell me that he thought the film was "flawless" and that he kept losing himself in the story and forgetting to mentally critique the lighting, camera work, etc. (he's also a director of photography, but regardless of what you do in film, it's often challenging to just let a film wash over you because we filmmakers are always looking at how things are done - so this was a major compliment). Of course, I know the film isn't flawless (and he said to me, "of course you'd say that; it's your film and you see every imperfection"), but it was incredible to hear another professional appreciate it at that level.

So - this is what you miss out on if you don't go to festival screenings. It's impossible to go to all of them (and I have screened films in two previous editions of Southern Winds before attending this time), but it's so worth it when you do. Festival-goers are usually filmmakers and people who just love smart movies. That's my best audience!