Rode up to Hollywood with the folks, as Ken had headed up early to tackle some day job work. Even though it was late morning, traffic on the I-5 was heavy once we got into L.A. While Utah County construction traffic is no cakewalk these days, there’s no way it can compete in terms of sheer number of miles of clogged freeways with The Show that is L.A. traffic. Forgot how much I missed it (memory lane nicely skips that bit).
We met up with Ken and ate at a fancy restaurant (called “El Polo Restaurant” by the GPS lady, but it actually is just “El Pollo Loco”) near the studio in Hollywood. Hollywood was crammed full of interesting characters, from the guy with a countdown sign featuring the number of days to the end of the world (fyi, it’s at 65), to the pony-tailed guy raising funds for his film by working the stopped cars at a traffic light with a cup (he was doing pretty well; mulling that option for the future, actually).After lunch, the folks dropped me off first so I could get set up. The festival had picked up quite a bit from yesterday. Ken had a conference call, so I started looking for the guy who had seen our movie listed in the festival’s press materials and wanted to meet with us. The way he said to recognize him was to look for the guy in the fedora. Problem was fedoras aren’t as rare as they once were (although I still don’t think I could pull one off).
I smiled at the guys I saw with fedoras, hoping for a glimmer of mutual Ah-you-must-be-the-guy-I’m-supposed-to-meet recognition. The first fedora guy looked away (oops), but the second guy was him. We sat down in the catina and had a good meeting of about 30 minutes. About halfway through the meeting, I had this little moment where I thought about the fact that I was sitting in a catina on a studio lot in Hollywood where our film was screening at a film festival talking shop. Plenty of reminders on every turn that this is not the big leagues, but still, a quasi cool moment.Afterwards, Ken and I met the folks walking through the lot. They were delighted because they had just taken the picture of the parking spot of the guy who plays “Castle” on TV. We took some pictures against the celebrity wall in the tent, including one where we were busy waving to imaginary paparazzi. We chatted for a bit with some other filmmakers, including a couple of actors from a movie that was made by a tiny community in Alaska, where there were a total of 18 kids in the school, and that was K-12. I had seen the trailer, and even though it looks far from a polished production, it was fun to hear their story of making the movie, getting it accepted into this film festival, and then how the how community rallied around bake sales, etc., to fund the trip to Hollywood for a dozen of the people involved in making the movie. Passion, I tell ya. The two kids we were talking to were enthusiastic high schoolers clearly having the time of their lives. They were also savvy enough that, when they heard what we did, quickly produced a pair of CDs of their vocal demos for our trip back.
While we were in the tent, met a nice film promoter associated with a distributor who has taken an interest in our movie. She was coming to our screening with her husband, so we knew there would at least be two people in our screening not named Agle.
As I was talking with her, I recognized Amber Bollinger walking into the tent. She also lived in Glenoaks Canyon when we lived there and has since gone into the business, working her way up through hard work from production assistant to producer. Because it had been a couple of years, I re-introduced myself, but she told me that wasn’t necessary – she was here to see our film. Sweet! Now we were up to three non-Agles in our screening. Not that I was counting.Eventually, we made our way up to the Pickford screening room. I was surprised when I walked in to see that the room was pretty full. It included a sizable contingent of Chinese filmmakers. I was curious how much culture shock our movie would be for them.
As we made our way across the back row, I learned that the gentleman I was stepping over was a festival juror. I asked him if he was comfortable and could I get him anything. Fortunately, he chuckled at my little joke.
As one of the festival organizers gave her welcoming remarks, several more people came in. Sure, this was a screening room of 35 seats, but given that I had seen anywhere from zero to a dozen or so in the screenings I had attended yesterday, it was good to see heads in the seats in front of me. Soon, the only seats left together were in the front row, and even those got taken.
Finally, the lights dimmed. In the moments of darkness, I prayed the movie would play. Not necessarily in the sense that it would play well to the crowd, but just that the Blu-ray we had burned two nights ago would actually play. Finally, it lit up the screen and looked and sounded really good.
Then, for the next 86 minutes, I sat there in the dark with mostly industry people. This was not the usual audience of kids and those involved in making the movie that I was used to watching the movie with. I tried to see how this mostly grown-up audience would view this quirky little movie filled with singing fish and dancing Ninevites.When the lights came up, there was pleasant applause and a Q&A session. Good responsiveness. There was a family of Liken fans in the room, which included children, and that was nice to see.
As we filtered out, I chatted with another filmmaker who had come from the stage world of NYC and loved what we had done with this story. Later, in a little lobby area, we had an impromptu meeting with a distributor that I had met yesterday and who had attended our screening. I was curious to get his feedback. He was intrigued. He confessed he didn’t have children and wasn’t sure how children would respond to this movie. He said it in a way that didn’t make it sound like he didn’t think kids wouldn’t enjoy it, but that he honestly didn’t know how kids thought, because he didn’t have any and it had been awhile since he’d been one. We invited him to watch a screener with kids. Nice guy, though. Interested in keeping in contact with him.
Eventually, we made our way back to our cars and the long drive back to Capistrano.
One more day at the festival, including workshops and closing ceremonies. Curious to see what our juror thought. Seems like our movies resonate with some, and with others they just don’t. With a number of notable exceptions, it seems the longer you’ve been in this business, the less likely our movies will work for you. Our juror did ask one question during the Q&A that gave me a little clue of where he stood on this industry-length continuum.
He asked what kind of cameras we shot our movie on. Hmmm…