Monday, October 17, 2005

And The Award Goes To...

...a bunch of filmmakers that didn't even attend the festival.

Back from L.A. after an incredibly LONG and TURBULENT red eye flight. (Not to mention a woman passed out in the middle of the aisle and a bunch of doctors had to help her. Zero sleep was had by all.)

The Theater
Mann's theaters are absolutely beautiful. The lobby is great. The auditoriums look like they just jumped out of the 30's with this great fabric curtain that rises up just before the movie plays. We'll be posting some more pictures on the site as soon as Alan and Kleiber forward them to me.

The Festival Volunteers
Great people. They knew spotted Kleiber and I and instantly knew who we were. Asked for autographs, gave great feedback, and were incredibly nice and supportive.

The Screening
The screening went well despite incredibly low attendance. There was roughly 35-40 people in a 170 seat auditorium. Disappointing? Yes and no. This was the festivals first year so it was fairly unorganized despite a great staff. There was little to no advertising around the area for the festival, BUT individual films were not permitted to hang any advertising for their screenings. So little to no advertising means little to no attendance. On top of that the price of admission was incredibly steep. $250 for a full festival pass and $12.50 for a single screening pass. Would you pay $12.50 to see a movie you've never heard about AND there's no posters anywhere for it? I have a tough time paying that for movies I'm pretty sure are gonna be good, let alone risking it on some independant stuff. So the 35-40 crowd was the average for EVERY film there. The audience was usually made up of filmmakers from the other films in the festival. After the screening there was a Q&A session that was fun. I love talking about the movie. Most questions revolved around the graphics, comic panels, and music.

The Other Films
Unfortunately, I didn't get in until the last day of the festival so I only caught one film. It was a horror/thriller/comedy called Shadows. Made by a middle aged guy for $15,000 who was upset by the lack of creativity/talent on Cinemax late night movies, so he decided to make his own. Lots of those moments that are built up to be scary but end up being just the character's buddy tapping them on the shoulder. Enjoyed watching it and I'm always proud to see someone just get in there and make a movie, but this story wasn't my cup o' tea. And as a side note, there was one particular female character that took off her clothes in roughly 90% of the scenes she was in. It got to the point where Kleiber and I were just laughing out loud.

The Awards
And thus comes the lowest point of the festival. First they present Christopher Reeve with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sounds great, but...they person presenting the award has never met Christopher Reeve and the person accepting it has never met Christopher Reeve, so it felt incredibly pointless. As for the awards themselves, they were just plain silly. The festival had a bunch of actors from one of the entry films as the presenters, but they were presenting the awards to, yep you guessed it, their own films. That would be like Jack Nicholson presenting the actor for Best Actor to...Jack Nichsolson. Kinda shady. On top of that they presented the Best Film of the Festival as the very FIRST award. Kinda takes the wind outta the sails when you know what the best picture is already, so who really cares about the other awards? Some awards only had ONE nominee, so why even announce it?

On top of the goofy presentations, 90% of the award winners WEREN'T EVEN THERE. So we basically sat for a few hours and watched people present awards to nobody.

There were two types of awards, Judges (decided by the festival staff) and Jury (decided by festival attendees.) But when we talked to some of the festival staff they said that the Jury records were all messed up and most of the films directors were taking a bunch of the feedback scores, giving themselves perfects, and stuffing the ballot boxes. We weren't about to stoop as low.

Lastly, a final critique. If you have filmmakers paying $300 for a plane ticket, hundreds on hotels, & hundreds more on advertising, and you have festival goers paying $250 for a ticket, then you do NOT have a CASH BAR at the awards gala. That is a big old festival no no. Needless to say that most people were out of that gala by 9:00 when it was scheduled to go until 1:00 am.

Closing Comments
Great weekend, had a blast even if we didn't bring home any awards. Curt (the actor who plays Fandango) and his girlfriend Kelly were great hosts, even if they do have all three volumes of Married with Children on DVD. Keep ya updated on festival submissions. Right now we're in the running for a festival to take place early in 2006 in Anchorage, Alaska.