05 August 2007

the premiere update

I keep forgetting to post something about the gravida premiere. While the great reviews are nice, obviously that's not the whole story.

Oh, and I thought there'd be more photos to choose from, but apparently there was an early memory card issue. So it goes.


Prior to the screening, we placed approximately 70 of these posters around the city, mostly in the windows of various businesses. Also, we put the image all over MySpace and email, getting various friendly folk to re-post and forward the information to their contacts. Then, there was the whole getting on the phone and telling people they should show up. We got the premiere listed in all of the events calendars in the city that we could and I would have gotten a preview write-up in both Pittsburgh City Paper and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but my strep throat, coupled with a holiday weekend caused me to miss those deadlines by a day or two. Yeah, that was my mistake, and probably a big one.

So, on to the show...


That's yours truly, pale and gaunt from not having strayed from an editing suite for several weeks and, well, just a little bit stressed out, waiting for things to start.

Rachel Shaw, the film's lead, gave birth to her child (a boy) only 2 or 3 days before the premiere, so she was unable to attend, and Adam Kukic had a play dress rehearsal he couldn't get out of (both of these weren't problems we anticipated when we set the date), so sadly, neither of the actors were able to be there. So, for a hip photo of a star, we have to use this one of Matt Reed (L'Attente), who is neither hip nor a star. Nor is he even an actor.


The people start to roll in. The crew, various friends, people from the community, Andy Horbal. Surprisingly, none of the other filmmakers in the city who's screenings I've attended bother to show up. As you can imagine, I'm a little annoyed at them. All told, when the show starts, there are 45 paid admissions, which at $5 a head puts us below our goal of making back the theatre rental of $250. Surprisingly, there are a number of people who said they would show up and didn't, but there are a number of people I've never seen before in my life.

Anyway, on to the show. First up: music by Jerome Wincek on the banjo, with help from Nate Custer on the guitar. Jerome and Nate are ridiculously talented and despite some tuning problems, they played a great 40 minute set. Here's a photo of them setting up. That's Nate, with Jerome in green standing next to him.


Then, the films. First up is David Lowery's Some Analog Lines, one of my favorite short films. Then, my own L'Attente. The beauty of the Hollywood Theatre, besides the fact that they're very helpful, is the fact that they have a brand-new high-def projection system. L'Attente looks better projected there than it does in any other place I've seen it. Also, there isn't a bad seat in the house (if you don't believe me, ask Andy). It's a really great place to see a film, especially one projected from DVD.

And now, our feature presentation...gravida played smoothly. There was some rustling and shifting in the audience during the beginning and in the middle, but over the final third, they were hushed, silent, maybe even engrossed. As the credits roll, there's some applause, then silence again as they credits continue (at which point I overhear someone say, "that was tremendous"), then more applause. I go up front, thank the necessary people, and tell people they can buy the film on DVD in the lobby for a mere $8 (so can you) from these fine people:


They were also supposed to be able to buy this shirt, but due to a miscalculation, the shirts arrived the next day...grrr...

After that, we had a bit of socializing over wine. Reaction from everyone there was very positive. In fact, I've not gotten any negative reaction from anyone who's seen the entire film. That is, no one who's seen it has given it a thumbs down. Some have been more enthusiastic than others, sure, but they've all been positive overall. Is it a fluke or is the film really that good? I don't know. But if you're curious, there's only one way to find out for sure, and that's by purchasing a copy for yourself. It's a hell of a bargain and good karma. Everyone can use more good karma.


Jonathan Lapper said...


I admire your motivation and energy. I have been involved in the arts in one way or another for years and have found that most people prefer to sit on their butts complaining about how opportunity never comes their way rather than find out where opportunity lay and go there themselves.

After reading your description it is clear you are a dedicated artist, which I prefer to the term "struggling", and have complete confidence you will succeed.

As for people not showing up, it happens I'm afraid. I've had many a people promise to see a performance that never did. Don't let it get you down.

Anyway, I'm going to dpress productions today and get myself a copy of gravida and I hope others in our online film community do so as well. True independent filmmakers like you (as opposed to the ones who somehow manage to get name stars and multi-million dollar budgets yet still laughingly claim to be independent) deserve all the support the arts community can give them.


lucas mcnelly said...


thanks so much.

of course, my "motivation and energy" stretched me so thin I got a massive case of strep throat, so I don't know if I'd recommend it completely. Then again, this is the price we pay for art.

the random people not showing doesn't bother me, really (although it would have been nice). I'm more annoyed at the fellow filmmakers who couldn't be bothered to show up. it just seems the focus of some of them is competition, rather than camaraderie, and that's the complete wrong way to think about these things. but that's a topic for a different post.

awesome. buy a DVD! Tell your friends! Spread the word!

the online community has been very supportive, especially by writing reviews and conducting interviews that have helped promote the film. and there should be more to come (hint, hint).

Karl said...

Lucas, you are so right about the competition, rather than camaraderie among filmmakers. It has been my least favorite fact to come to grips with.

lucas mcnelly said...

yeah, i just don't get it. do people think this is all a reality tv show and only one person is going to be picked? don't they realize that if one person is successful, that makes it so much easier for everyone else?

johanna said...

While I don't disagree with you concerning the competitive aura of filmmaking, I can't help but notice that some other factors are being overlooked. As someone who has always supported the arts in pittsburgh in general and lucas specifically, i can't say that either has done much for me. I've attended everything i could, (which i'm pretty sure was almost everything i knew about), ever willing to share some insight or critique, but i can't remember one instance where lucas has ever done anything for me. he always gets what he asks for; when i ask, it's a different story. (note: he only asked for money and poster hangers most recently...i guess those were the most important things he could think of)

if someone like me whose (freely offered) loyalty and willingness to help out not just once but over several years, can be so easily taken for granted, i can only imagine what it must be like for other filmmakers. it could be really easy for me, then, to just stop lending support, etc., but then i wouldn't be being true to myself. when i help out other filmmakers in this city, i always get my thanks in trade.

plus, i think it's really easy for filmmakers to give off a competitive vibe that just turns people off. you may not be aware you're doing it, but you might. i don't know, that's kind of a guy thing, and i'm not that much of a guy. i love comaraderie, but it's hard to really feel it when you're giving a lot to someone or something that doesn't give a lot back.

Karl said...

I understand that sentiment. Why give when nothing is given? I've asked that question for quite some time. You do things out of love at first and you hope for the best, but when you're good intentions are not even acknowledged you begin to have doubts about the people you're helping.

I know life gets in the way, and one has always bills to pay, so one can't be so generous with ones time when there are other priorities. I've gone down that road, and have found no easy answer. When it stops being fun its time to re-evaluate you're goals, and ask what YOU want out of life.

I try to support others by buying their product. My time for the things I want to do is limited as I'm sure yours is too. I feel that by buying something that someone has created I'm supporting them in some way.

The cold hard fact is that NOTHING is free. I know that other people’s time is a commodity and I've paid for that privilege, but what I miss is the camaraderie of people who are like-minded. They are so very hard to find, and even harder to hang on to.

My only advice is do it for YOURSELF. If you're not recognized by that person or persons for the hard work you put in then address you're concerns to them, and if that does not move them to action it is time for you to move on.

The one thing that re-invigorates me is that their are others out there who share that passion. While making my feature I was lucky enough to meet them, and pay them for their support. It wasn't much that they received, but it was a help to them, and an acknowledgement of their skills. I only hope I can do it again and make a better product.

johanna said...


My professional sentiments about the indie film and theatre arena are that the future of quality work in this city greatly depends upon some changes being made. It's larger than any one person.

And I certainly wouldn't object to being one of the first people to start making changes towards more open collaborations and teamwork. Since I'm someone who doesn't have any problems dropping everything to answer what I would deem to be an important phone call, and I don't have many problems putting aside my own desires and even pride to get something done, it would make sense that I should be one of the first.

But I would need someone else to take my abilities and time seriously and who sees me as an equal worthy of reciprocation. I'm afraid that isn't the treatment I've been receiving. It's a shame, too, because I'm so damn flexible.

johanna said...

Here. I'll take a chance.

Lucas, you once said that you were always up for a collaboration, and I believed you.

I came up with a short film treatment in May and shared it with Jerome Wincek, asking him if he could concoct a rather intricate score for it. He said he just might.

The treatment needs a bit of work, but more importantly, it needs a scene written for it that I would prefer that someone else write, and that I would also prefer be written by a man. I'd like to ask if you could at least meet me for coffee to see if the treatment is something that you could glom onto.

I know you're really busy right now becoming famous and probably still sick, but I'm asking anyway. What say you?

lucas mcnelly said...

if i recall, i said i'd be interested in collaboration, given the right scenario. as in, i'm not locked into my process as it pertains to writing solo and directing my own work.

that being said, i know i don't have time to write my own scripts, let alone someone else's and i'm unwilling to put my name on something that i can't totally commit to artistically (which is a pretty long and in-depth process for me). 3 years ago i would have, but not any more.

(of course, if it's a well-paid gig, that rule goes out the window...call it my "pay the rent loophole")

So, while I'm perfectly willing to give someone a day on set holding a boom mic or being an extra in a zombie movie or whatever, i don't have the time right now to work creatively (i.e. writing or directing) on a project that i'm not 100% behind.

it's one thing to support local film. it's quite another to sign on to a project that's going to require weeks of work.

so i'd be more than willing to give feedback on the treatment (just email it to me), but i'm 98% sure I'd be unable to write something for it.

johanna said...

You said, "Just email me. I'm always up for a collaboration." That's verbatim. I recall because, well, I was there, and I was paying very good attention. Of course, people can change in three years, and that's understandable.

I don't want to just email you a treatment for several reasons, though. And while I can appreciate your not wanting to put your name on something you're not 100% behind (I asked for anonymity on my dpress contribution for similar reasons), I'm not asking you to put your name on anything. How you go about getting credited or not is entirely up to you.

What I'm looking for is a fairly simple process that would require you filling in a space that I'm fairly certain only you could fill. In fact, I'm quite sure of that. I would want your unique point of view to flesh out one scene and one scene only. And if you like, shooting wouldn't begin until the entire thing met with Matt's approval, etc.

The entire thing depends upon your own willingness to treat me the same way that you would want to be treated. That being said, there's no doubt that the writing would probably take weeks of work; there's no getting around that, but I'm still asking.

lucas mcnelly said...

i don't have the time required to do weeks of work on an additional project. my schedule is pretty much overflowing as is. there's just no way I'm going to add to it.

i'm sure someone else can fill that role. if not, well, that's the challenge of writing.

johanna said...

What you're saying is that i don't know what i'm talking about and that you know better than i do. I suppose I can't expect someone raised in a Christian home where the male was undoubtedly the implicit head of the house to take such a risk, let alone someone who has only been writing for seven or eight years.

Your obstinance doesn't substantiate your argument, though. If you won't supply the missing scene, then I probably won't write the short. That's how important that part is to the story. I wouldn't want to make it without your input. But please don't try to insult me with the excuse of not having enough time.