Monday, July 26, 2010

Film Festival Hangover

The St. Louis Filmmaker's Showcase has been around for ten years now. This year was the tenth anniversary. I've been in it as an actor four times and as a crew person several times but this is my first time as a director and writer of a short and it is a different experience.
First, my name was in the program- and on the website.
I think my dream was always this big but it took until now to really begin the journey of bringing it to fruition. The vision of the story in my head one year ago- gosh was it just a year ago I wrote it? It was.
I began the festival as a volunteer- watching everyone else films, listening to the seminars, enjoying the ambiance. Tuesday night was my big night and the theater was packed. Friends from my childhood showed up, people I hadn't seen in years-
Of course, my film was not the only one in the program and that made it even better. I knew my film was going last (course I didn't tell anyone) and that was an extra treat for me. The other films were a nice warmup. It was great to see all the other films and the ranges of talent and... well, let's just focus on the positive and knowing I was going last made it easy to relax and enjoy the whole program.
The beauty of watching my film with an audience of people who have never seen it before is the reaction is so pure. OH- they laughed! They got the humor. I know it was a ghost story but I have light moments in there- they really got it. They gasped when the ghost appeared. I saw a few people jump- good. Noise from a reactive and an engaged audience is music to a writer's ears.
After, I was mobbed and it was terrific. My friends came up to me and congratulated me and I felt so wonderful. Then a strange thing happened, one perhaps that I should have anticipated but don't know how I could have. Strangers came up to me and recognized me as Marissa's mother- she is mini me, so the resemblance is obvious (Marissa, of course had the lead role) so, they told me how much they enjoyed my daughter's performance, which was wonderful but after a minute, I realized they thought I was just the mom- not the writer, not the director- in fact they were scanning the crowd and asking- "where's the director?"
Several people were shocked that I was the director, even more shocked that I was the writer. I was really amused by this little side effect!
We all went out later and had celebrations at Blueberry Hill and it was a very fun night but I was waiting in huge anticipation for the Closing Party on Thursday night. This is where they announce any awards and also when they announce which films move on to the St. Louis International Festival in November- that is a biggie.
The awards came first- and the very first one announced was Best Performance by a Juvenile and it went to Marissa Roman! Wow! That was fantastic! I was so thrilled for her and for us! Later after many other awards, we got our second award of the night: Best Horror Short! Woo hoo!
Surreal. Really, I don't make films for awards but it sure doesn't suck to get them- and all that hard work and pushing for the best and pushing for better than just okay- it pays off. Mostly it pays off in the eyes of an audience that is entertained- of course I want the critics to love it but it is about the joy of sharing the art. It's the creative force that won't be denied.
So, the end of the evening we have reached the point where we find out whether my film will be shown in the International festival. Chris Clark reached behind him and got "The List".
There were 65 films in the showcase and the first sentence he uttered was "We have chosen 25 films to go through to the International in November."
My heart stopped for a second. 25? Those odds sucked. That meant 40 films were not going through. Then, he said "in alphabetical order"- which meant I had to wait til he got to the P's!
But this is a story with a happy ending because my heart soared when he said "Play Dead"- we are going through-
The last thing I have to tell is that Chris gave out the special awards and one of them went to me. He called me on stage and said,
"Don't ever let anyone tell you because you're a woman that you can't do this. You have blazed your way into this film festival with a very impressive piece, and next time someone tells you that you can't do something, I want you to tell them that you have a dick." And he gave me a hand carved wooden penis charm. I love it.
On my next film shoot, I'm wearing it as a necklace.


oldprof said...

Way to go, Vanessa! We were with you in spirit all the way. But about the dick, with all the powerful women in Hollywood these days, do you really need one?

VanessaMRR said...

No- of course not- it was symbolic support Chris was giving me- I've known him for about 8 years and he has watched me struggle and grow- and actually be condescended to as a woman and really he was saying- you go girl and don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't.
I took on a genre that is typically dominated by men- and I think he was acknowledging that.

ariadnetaige said...

That is amazing, Vanessa! Congratulations.

Contra Yogini said...

Yeah, I concur w/ oldprof, you hardly need a dick :)

Congratulations, Miss V.!!