Sunday, July 13, 2008

Which Do You Want First - the Good News, or the Bad News?

I'm gonna give you the good news first. We've been accepted to the AOF (Action on Film) International Film Festival in Pasadena. We'll screen Monday July 28 in the afternoon. This actually qualifies as GREAT news, because it's been a while since our last acceptance, and I was beginning to feel like my 15 minutes of fame was over. (No retreat! No surrender!) So we're back in the saddle again.

We were also nominated for 4 awards - Best Dramatic Feature, Best Female Filmmaker, Outstanding LGBT Project, and Best Actress in a Feature - Alexandra Mathews. I am so proud of Lexie, and so glad that her awesome performance is finally being recognized. Spoiler Alert - Every time I watch the desert showdown scene in which she finally speaks, I get goosebumps. Which is crazy, because I know what happens. I wrote it. I've seen it dozens of times. But she gets me to suspend my disbelief every time.

And of course I'm thrilled with myself for that BFF nomination. Now, if only they select a winner by means of roller derby, I'm sure I can put on my kneepads and snag that award.

Funny thing about the LGBT nomination. One of the directors of the festival called me and asked if the part of Lola was played by a ... "transgender individual". Yes indeed, I replied. He then asked if I would be offended if I were to be nominated in that category. Not at all, I replied. In fact, it would be an honor. The character of Lola is supposed to show an LGBT character trying to get through life just like the rest of us disenfranchised individuals. And if they wanted to nominate me for Best Project Involving a Cemetery, or Best Car Rental Lady Project, I'd take that too.

Just call me Festival Troll.

Which reminds me, I think the Car Rental Lady was a fascinating yet underrated character, layered with nuance, who deserves a movie spin-off. Something like, Untitled Car Rental Lady/Owen Wilson Project. Or Brendan Fraser and the Car Rental Lady. But I digress.

Oh yeah, the bad news? Ironic. I was glancing through the recently posted list of all nominations on the AOF website, and I almost spit out my diet Dr. Pepper when I saw none other than Flyboys. Oh shit, I thought, there goes the Best Dramatic Feature prize. I did a quick mental check - was it made by a woman? Did they have a transgender individual? No and no. And the bad news is actually not so bad at all. We are not competing against Flyboys in any of the categories. (I think they're in some category like Best Overall Feature). So they won't have to peel my fingers off the coveted Best Dramatic Feature prize just yet ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fallbrook Film Festival, Part 2

Defying Gravity screened at the FFF on Sat. April 26, one week after the Riverside International Film Festival screening. Fallbrook is a wonderful small town in the northernmost part of San Diego County. This was their first film festival, but you'd never know it. Everything was a class act, from the Opening Night party up to the awards ceremony. We met some really cool fellow filmmakers, as well as the Festival Directors.

The local newspaper ran an article about the festival, with an emphasis on 'Defying Gravity', as I could almost be considered a local girl. (Escondido and Fallbrook are both North County.) We got a B+ review, and the reviewer wrote some very nice things like ""... a funny, poignant and always interesting little film, built on well-designed characters and a fine story." Here's a link to the full article: North County Times Article.

Fallbrook Film Festival invited us to participate on a filmmaker workshop panel, which we (Craig and I) gladly did because we are always happy to share our complete lack of knowledge with people less knowledgeable than ourselves, because it makes us feel more knowledgeable.

Our screening was held in the very quaint retro theatre on Main St., and this was the biggest audience we had yet. Okay yes, several of them were my Math Analysis students whom I bribed, I mean motivated, with extra credit. (They - the students, not the audience - also had to answer questions chosen from the following: (1) prime numbers (2) fibonacci numbers (3) perfect numbers (4) Riemann hypothesis. Coincidentally, just this week a mathematician claimed to have proven the Riemann hypothesis using some sort of Fourier analysis, but he was quickly proven wrong.) Actually, this would be a splendid addition to future screenings - a pop math quiz at the end of the movie.

But I digress. As I was saying, the audience was robust. A lot of locals showed up which was very gratifying. A wonderful Q&A session following the screening. It was also cool that Mac and Mario drove down, as did Shanna and Michael with his parents. I managed to get the actors and director on stage during the Q&A, but they kind of hung back behind me. I felt a little like I was taking the bullets. Which as producer, I am happy to do.

A few of the questions asked were (1) Were Mac and Mario already friends before the movie? and (2) Does Mario really talk like that? The answers were (1) no and (2) no.

Mac got to give out his first official autograph after the screening, to one of my students. She did NOT get bribed with extra credit to request that.

Craig and I made it a point to watch 'Flyboys' at its screening the night before. Recall that Flyboys won Best Feature at the Riverside International Film Festival the week before. I have to say, it is a damn good movie. It's about these adorable pre-teen boys who get into mischief on a stolen private plane, and it starred Stephen Baldwin (!!) and involved mobsters, car chases, a plane crashing into a mountain, and a breathtaking parachute rescue. Clearly out of our league, and out of the league of all the other movies in the festival as well. The actress who conducted the Q&A said that the budget was $2 million. Note, this is about 25 times the budget of ours. Do the math.

As soon as I saw the movie, I thought, We're going to lose again to Flyboys. If you look at their homepage, they have won something like 20 film festivals. Most of them small town film festivals. Meaning most of their competitors are little films like ours.

So I am going to go on the record here, even if it comes across as sour grapes, and say, It's not fair. We're not in the same league. It's like putting Napoleon Dynamite up against Titanic.

Craig and I went to the award ceremony anyway, because it would have been bad form not to. We surreptitiously commiserated with other narrative feature filmmakers who also knew we were all going to lose to Flyboys.

Which is exactly what happened. Flyboys won Best Feature Film.

But, the Fallbrook Film Festival also decided to give out a Director's Choice award. I didn't even want to hold my breath for that. But hope springs eternal. I held my breath...

And we won! You can see me in the photo above holding an almost-translucent laminate film strip, which was our prize. What an incredible, magical feeling!