20 July 2008


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.


pacheco said...

Not too shabby of an experience from the sound of it.

For some reason the Julian Schnabel bit made me laugh. I like those "Then we saw -- but we didn't really see" sightings.

Any technology is gonna give you glitches, but I think that's why a lot of fests ask for HDCAM/MiniDV/etc. versions of the films. DVD's, when burned by so many different burners and programs, and with so many different types of DVD's (+R, -R, DL, etc) and so many different regions, they're just begging for problems. But I'm glad everything did seem to work out.

David Lowery said...

Did you fly Delta? They're really wracking up negative points in my book.....

lucas mcnelly said...


it is something of a quagmire to figure out, but when you look at filmmakers on a really tight budget (i.e. all of them), the difference in cost between those and dvd, spread out over a bunch of festivals, tends to add up.

there's gotta be a cheap, universal way to do this. maybe in a couple years we can run festivals off someone's ipod.

it looked enough like him that i did a classic double take

oh, and i flew united.

andyhorbal said...

You're in the Post-Gazette: "A short film called 'gravida,' made by Shadyside's Lucas McNelly, finished second in the annual Now Film Festival, co-hosted by MySpace Film."

lucas mcnelly said...

awesome. thanks for the heads-up andy

Rebecca said...

FANTASTIC news!!!!!! xoxo

(I need to check your blog more often.)

Anonymous said...

Lucas - Thanks for this post. We've had the vicarious thrill of following your picture's journey from conception to fame. I think your just-missed-it-by-two-votes tale is even better than winning ('course you'd probably rather have that camera). Maybe it will inform your next project?