After an eventful week on the left coast, we're back in Pittsburgh. And nearly with a new camera in tow. I've been photo blogging the whole week, so hopefully you've been following along, but here's the larger version.
Unlike normal festivals, the Now Film Festival has pretty much entirely taken place already, so you don't have the multiple days of endless films and discussions. Of course, that's been taking place for months, so you've kind of already gotten that.
I hit LAX late Sunday night and, as seems to be the pattern lately, my luggage didn't. This requires some hanging around until the suitcase shows up an hour or so later. This isn't so bad, really. At least it got there.
On Monday, Sean (the festival director) and I make the rounds. We hit the offices of Now Casting, the main sponsor, and met Rick La Fond, one of the head honchos whose mother owns a art gallery here in Pittsburgh. Small world. From there, we head to the Sony lot to make sure things are set up. This takes all of five minutes, so we wander the lot.
There I nearly run into Emma Stone from Superbad (at least, I think that's who it was) while trying to take that picture, and there's rumors that Seth Rogan is wandering around, but no one knows why. Instead, we go looking for a set that's unguarded. We wander onto the set for Angels & Demons, where they're trying to rebuild a church after the Vatican kicked them out recently. For some reason there's a pretty big circular ramp thing, so if you see the film, let me know if it shows up.
For a minute I thought I saw Julian Schnabel, but it wasn't him. It's a shame too, because he's pretty awesome.
Part of our wandering included a look at some of the Sony/Columbia history. There's large-scale posters of stuff like The Awful Truth and It Happened One Night all over the place. Plus, there's a lineup of Oscars, like this one from On the Waterfront:
And that's probably as close to an Oscar as we'll ever get.
Tuesday we're at the Backstage Theater on the Sony lot and I'm walking around the lot getting more nervous by the minute. There's a glitch with the master DVD that's been put together, and Sean has to scramble to get the other DVDs set up.
And here we are on the program:
Rachel shows up and I'm getting more nauseous by the minute. We walk around to kill time. We look at posters. For a minute I consider throwing up. (I get like this before screenings. Sometimes I drink. Today I don't.)
The screening starts and there's a ton of technical difficulties. The DVDs that played fine on a MacBook Pro and a DVD player are skipping like crazy in the player at the screening room. When you consider that Sony makes a DVD player, this is kind of funny, but not so great for the festival and filmmakers. gravida plays cleaner than pretty much any other film, which is good for us. Afterwards, there's a Q&A that goes pretty well. People talk about the cats in the film and the red light and all that stuff. Afterward, I'm approached by a creative executive from a production company that works with Jose Rivera, the guy who wrote The Motorcycle Diaries and the upcoming On The Road. I mentioned to him that I really hope they don't fuck up the Kerouac film and that I'd be a little scared to tackle something like that. Anyway, he asks about my next project and apparently wants to read it when it's done, which would be super cool.
A bunch of us (Rachel and I and the director and caterer of "Missing Pieces" and Sean's girlfriend) go to a Mexican restaurant while Sean counts the votes. After a few minutes he comes and tells us that "Missing Pieces" has won by a grand total of 1 vote over "gravida". I congratulate Samah (that's the director's name) and when he leaves a little bit later, Rachel and I realize that her husband and small child (who is in the cast, you know) could have wandered the lot during the screening and then voted. The thinking being that no one wants a crying kid during a screening. That, of course, would have been enough for the win. So it goes.
After that, we did some sight-seeing, spent some time on the beach, and generally relaxed. (It isn't often that you finish second in the world's largest film festival.)
And now, we're home. We very well may have something for you soon. Hopefully we can parlay this into some media in the near future. Oh, and on the way home, my luggage didn't make the connection.
19 July 2008
So at long last, we have results. There's a fuller, richer report to follow, but here's the results:
The winner of the 3rd Annual Now Film Festival is "Missing Pieces" (the Rainn Wilson film). This is not so surprising.
But wait, there's more.
In second place, a mere one (yes, one) vote behind is "gravida", everyone's favorite film about loneliness.
A little number crunching reveals that "Missing Pieces" had 4 of their crew in the audience, while "gravida" had 2. So the industry audience actually found "gravida" to be the best film of the festival, the best film in the "largest film festival in the world"
As far as we're concerned, this is easily a win for us.
16 July 2008
15 July 2008
14 July 2008
10 July 2008
Some info on the Now Film Festival finals, via their MySpace page (more comments after the italics):
After receiving over HALF A MILLION votes on MySpace, our top 5 short films (Summer Breeze, My Name Is Lisa, gravida (that's us), Dawn Chorus, and Missing Pieces) have moved on to the final round. After the films are screened the industry only audience will decide which filmmaker receives a brand new High Definition Camera, courtesy of Now Casting Inc.
ABOUT THE FILM FESTIVAL: Voted as Part of the 2008 Movie Maker Magazine's 25 Film Festivals Worth Entering, The Now Film Festival is the world's largest on-line film festival. Every week for 25 weeks we have featured thought provoking short films on the front page of MySpace to millions of viewers. The final five films have gone on to Sundance ,Cannes, and even win the YouTube Filmmaker of the Year Award.
We leave the final decision of the "Best of the Best" to the industry.
We would love to have you, the future of the industry, in attendance as we complete this amazing year. Tickets are free, however seating is limited so RSVP as soon as possible.
Time : Tue July 15, 2008
Doors Open : 7:30 PM
Screening Begins : 8:15 PM
Q&A to follow
Sony Picture Studios
10202 W. Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA. 90232.
TO RSVP : e-mail RSVP@nowfilmfestival.com (tickets are free)
Please include name, affiliation, and how many people will be
Rachel Shaw and I will both be there to represent everyone's favorite feel-good film about loneliness, so expect a report when we get back. Do we expect to win? Nope. Do we have a chance? I guess so. It all depends on what the people there think. So...if you're in the area, get yourself some tickets and join the fun.
04 July 2008
Earlier this year I had a chance to see Ben Byer's Indestructible at a festival. In short, the film is a documentary following Byer himself as he is diagnosed with, then fights, ALS (or, Lou Gehrig's Disease). It's a powerful documentary, a heartbreaking look at a truly awful disease. If it plays in a city near you, try not to miss it.
For example, it screens in Chicago later this month.
Sadly, there is news today about Byer (via the webpage):
Early in the morning of July 3, my brother Ben Byer lost his battle against ALS. He fought up until the end but his body did not match his spirit.
The party that Ben and I were planning for July 17th, to thank all of you, our supporters and friends, will still happen and we welcome you there if you are in the Chicago area. In addition to celebrating the Chicago Premiere of Indestructible, we will celebrate Ben’s life and the legacy he is leaving. He would not want it any other way. The information is below and we hope you will come to celebrate his life with us.
I will continue to work toward fulfilling the mission of ALS Film Fund in raising awareness and change for this brutal disease in Ben’s name, his memory, his spirit and his honor.