Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day Four

Today we had no meetings, but attended a couple of seminars as we got ready for our screening at 2:30. When we got there at about 2pm, it didn’t look as though there were a lot of people in the lobby. But by the time our doors opened, we had a decent enough crowd of 20 people there. We found out later that several of them were industry types.

Anyone who’s ever made a painting, written a story or a play, written music, recorded an album, or certainly made a film, knows the very strange feeling of watching/seeing/listening to what you’ve worked on for so long and having it appear to be something completely different than what you thought. That’s because you’re seeing it through someone else’s eyes for the first time, and you think “wow, that part is slow here. People are bored.” Or “that part doesn’t make any sense!” Things that had seemed perfectly fine, and even strong, suddenly seem clunky or just plain bad. There’s nothing you can do about those things, except learn from them, and go back and do something better.

There is one thing you can do, though, and that is to develop a better barometer so that you can anticipate those moments before you actually show something to the public. Monica and I have a decent amount of experience at this by now, and I have to say I was pretty pleased with our footage. I didn’t have those moments --- I watched the footage with a roomful of strangers and it still seemed like our film. Nothing seemed long, or boring, or nonsensical. In short, I liked it!

Surprisingly, that’s a huge relief. That means we have arrived at a place where things are about as good as they can be, and we’ve done a complete enough job of reviewing, revising, second-guessing, and deciding to get to the point where we can say “this is done.” A big deal.

So, afterwards, we had an all-to-brief 5 minutes of questions. There were many, and just like our screening at Kartemquin, they all were questions about the content, and about people wanting to know more, and wondering if we were going to answer this question in the film or address that issue (remember, we only showed a 20-minute selection of scenes). We were able to say “yes” and “yes” to those questions, and the conversation spilled out into the lobby after we were told we had to vacate the theatre for the next screening. We had quite a few people tell us how much they liked the film, and give us specific reasons why, ranging from the characters to speculation about how we are all just “ones and zeros anyway, and our information is written in the fabric of the universe. Maybe this one particle will finally prove that idea.” Well, maybe. Different film.

Wendy Sax, my contact and friend from the IFP market in 2003, introduced me to a very engaging lawyer in the lobby. We ended up talking for 30 minutes about deals, dealing, how things get done, how things happen. He’s the type of lawyer we’d hire to look over the paperwork in any kind of deal that we would decide to move forward with the company mentioned from yesterday, or any other company. He would be “our” lawyer, draw up the contracts with “their” lawyers, and angle for our best interests. He was low-key and laid back, and told me I could give him a call next week for advice without deciding to engage his services. He had many years in the biz in LA, then NYC, then settled in to Connecticut where he works on projects that he wants to work on. He gave me some inside scoops on some of the people we may or may not be talking to here at the Market.

Anyway, we were really pleased. Our list of people we’ve talked to who want to see the film is growing. Monica took off to go spend time with her family, and Andrew and I had pizza at America’s oldest pizzeria on Spring Street, then attended an outdoor screening of some narrative films in progress (only after I schooled Andrew in 2 out of 3 games of 8-ball in a gigantic pool hall we happened to be walking past. I got lucky).

Day 5, essentially the last day in the festival, is tomorrow…


andrew said...

I think we got lucky at finding the pool hall. You beat me, hands down...there was quite an amazing run in there.

And - Sinatra in the pizza joint, with Yuengling! Always good signs.

bill rexroad said...

This is all incredibly impressive, Jeff. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with us.