Pre-production and a new festival

It’s Sunday, April 28th, and this morning at around 6:30am I found out Julie and I had our short film 5AM accepted to the Hoboken International Film Festival.

About three week ago I received a letter from them, asking some questions about whether we’d be at the screening if we were selected, etc. We had received a similar letter from the Soho International Film Festival.

So, I thought it was a good sign. But then I never heard anything.

I’ve had a head cold for a couple of days, woke up very early this morning because my head was pounding and, again, checked their Facebook page for an update.

I decided to check their website because, you know, I’m obsessing about all of these festivals Julie and I invested in. Scrolling, scrolling… noticing the page is a lot longer than it had been the last time I checked it. Could be good, could be bad.

I got about 1/5 of the way down the page and there was my name, clear as day, next to 5AM.

I just kind of sat there for a second and said ‘you’re fucking kidding me.’

My mom, who sleeps insane hours because her dog runs her life, was up and I told her the good news.

I checked my email and, lo-and-behold, an email from the HIFF saying we got in.

Such a strange morning.

This is days after we found out that we didn’t get into Nantucket, which was a shame.

So, we’re psyched. 2 out of 5 ain’t bad. We’re waiting to hear from the Manhattan Film Festival and VisionFest, among others. But those two are early May notification dates. Fingers crossed.

We have a good time slot, too. Saturday, June 1st, at 2pm, which is the day after the opening night. So, we might just stay in Middletown, which is where the festival is taking place this year.

It’s a good push, you know?

Julie and I, amongst others, are in the pre-production stages of our new project, and this kind of thing can only help booster spirits.

We shoot this Sunday, the 5th, with a cast and crew who I know are going to be just awesome.

I brought on another co-producer, Lynn Mancinelli, who has been ADing and acting in The Thing, amongst a ton of other projects. She’s awesome, very talented, and smart.

Katie McHugh is ADing. She’s great, we worked together on Internet Affairs. Our AD from Internet Affairs, Holly Hughes, is doing too many jobs for me to list, or remember.

We have Mike Wallach, Wally, for sound. He was a suggestion from my make-up artist, Mia Bauman, who I did some work with last year on the short film Sketch.

Marc, James, and Crystal, all people from The Thing, will be there, too.

Our cast is pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. They’re a combination of people from The Thing, or they’re friends of either Katie or Lynn, both of whom seem to know everyone in this city, to some degree.

But maybe I’ll save them for the next blog post, and take a nice group photo.

Sunday should be a lot of fun. I have one more edit on the script, but we’re pretty close to it being done.

In other news tomorrow I’m meeting a filmmaker, to be the DP on her project. Should be fun. Other than that… that’s about it. I wanted to share some videos I’ve watched over the past month or so that I thought you might enjoy.

This is a teaser (kind of) for a web series called DADS (NSFW):

This is a cute animation I saw on Reddit. It is a thesis film:

STRANDED from Donia Liechti on Vimeo.

Finally, this is a Tropfest finalist, Cargo:

Awesome, right? Such fantastic stuff out there.

I hope you’re all well. I appreciate the continued support on the projects we’re working on, on 5AM, and just in general. I’m quite sure it will all lead to wonderful things.

Thanks for reading.

John

Post Film Festival Screening

Had my screening of Julie, Producer Julie’s and my short film 5AM at the Soho International Film Festival last night.

It was great. All of my fears were unwarranted. One fear in particular was that something would go wrong with the blu-ray disc I provided for the screening.

It looked great.

We were paired with a 4 minute short and a 90 minute feature. Big theater, seats 300. I’d say there were 100 people there, which was nice for a Tuesday evening.

After the initial nervousness, I was able to relax and enjoy the process. Got through the Q/A without puking. Odds were at 50/50.

It was really great.

I want to thank the following people.

Karen, for coming out, even though she’s been sick and working stupid crazy hours.

Chris, Danira, Herman and Jeremy for making it out on such short notice.

Marc and James. Two really supportive guys who go out of their way to give me work on a great web series.

Genever, Angie, Heather and Don, Lisa, and Kelsey for taking time out of their evening to come by.

Mom. She knows why.

My Uncle Steve and Donna for making the trip out to the city. Thank you both so much.

I hope I’m not forgetting anyone.

Here’s a nightmarish picture of me and the ever youthful Producer Julie on our red carpet premiere last night.

Again, thanks for everyone who came out. We really appreciate it!

Fingers crossed. We’re waiting to hear back from a couple more festivals.

John

My short film screening is tomorrow

It’s 12:30 and I’m practicing answers.

“Why, yes! It was a challenge to shoot this picture. Such a good question!”

Kill me already, would you?

I’ve been going to most of the screenings at the Soho International Film Festival these past couple of days. My back is still in enormous pain… so, that sucks. But I have some meds that are helping, and I get to see a back specialist some time in the near future. Let’s hope he’s addicted to surgery and wants to cut me open. 50/50 odds on back surgery. Worse comes to worse, I get a cool scar that people will never see.

So, yeah. I’ve been going to the screenings, met some nice people, saw some good films. I’ve been staying for the Q&A’s and I am nervous. I have had two people come up to me and say “HOLY SHIT, YOU’RE THE GUY WITH THE CAT!”

“Uhhh… yeah. That is me. How the hell -”

These people were recognizing me from my intro video I sent to the festival.

So, that was awesome.

What else. Gosh. I don’t know. My mind is thinking about standing up in front of people and having to answer questions in a unique and inspiring fashion. We’re paired with a feature called Waking. I think it’s called Waking… let me check.

Yes, Waking.

Should be fun, I’m looking forward to it.

Long day tomorrow. I have to pick up the poster we made for the screening, I have to drop my cat off to get a radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroid, and I have to press my white shirt. Which is a big fucking deal and will take an hour.

Couple of great people coming out tomorrow night. I’m really looking forward to it!

I think I shall sign off now and practice my pageant wave. Yeah.

Thanks for reading.

John

Dealing with film festival rejections

Ok, so. Didn’t get into Cannes. We can all now laugh at my previous enthusiasm.

Didn’t get into Be Film. That was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought we were a shoe-in for an underground NYC film festival.

This last one stings. We didn’t get into the London Sci-Fi festival. I was really surprised about that.

So, as of right now, Cannes not withstanding, we have heard from 3 of the 11 festivals that Julie and I applied for. We have our screening at the Soho Int’l Film Festival on Tuesday, so that should be fun.

We are waiting to hear from Hoboken, Visionfest, Hollyshorts, Palm Springs, Nantucket, Seattle, First Glance, and the Manhattan Film Festival.

A lot went through my mind after we didn’t get into London. The main thing was, maybe Soho was a fluke. Don’t get me wrong. I know people spend a lot of time and energy and effort with their films and send them out into the world to be judged, in the hopes of becoming a selected film. I am thrilled to be going to Soho.

But maybe the judge who watched our short at Soho had food poisoning that day, and was having delusions and hallucinations and said “Yes, fine, yes! Anything, but please make these visions go away!”

It’s possible, right?

Sure, unlikely. But possible.

Forgive me. It’s been a banner week.

On top of the two (three) rejections, I lost both my sound guy and my back-up sound guy for the pilot. I finally got a paying DP gig and, an hour after the acceptance phone call, I throw my back out so badly that, as of this typing, I cannot sit down without my body screaming in pain. I’m standing as I type this. Very uncomfortable.

On top of that, yesterday, I had three interviews. Two were make-up possibilities for the project, and one was to be a producer on a short film. After discussing make-up with the two artists, I realized just how little I know when it comes to filmmaking, and it was an eye opening experience. And not all positive.

I’ve sorely underestimated both my pre-production and my budget on this project. Problems to solve.

The producer. Nice guy. We got along. Had quite a few tastes in common, when it comes to film. Get me in a room where I think I know what I’m talking about and I cannot stop. There was a distinct point where the man had to reel in the conversation and I could see a ‘please, please stop talking’ pass over his face.

A good first impression. The pain did not help. Everyone was sitting, all day. Just the worst.

Today I have to try and make it to my doctor’s office as a walk-in. See if I can get some pain medication, then head over to the Landmark Sunshine Theater to register for the Soho Festival. Then I have to figure out how to either deal with the pain for 4-5 hours, or come home after registration, lay flat on my back, and then head to the opening night party.

If I don’t get pain killers, alcohol might help.

A final thought.

I’m not sure when this idea crept up, and it’s not an original thought. I’m sure most artists, writers, filmmakers, have thought this at one time or another.

As I was coming home the other day, I had two distinct ideas and, at the time, they seemed fantastic.

I had dialog coursing through my head, I had simple scenes set up, and I thought this would be a great project to do with my new acting friends. Just to keep busy, you know.

I started writing the first idea and all of a sudden it started falling apart on the page. All of a sudden, it wasn’t such a great idea, it was a mediocre idea, and then it started getting into the cliche region and I shut my computer and I was frustrated.

I started thinking about the… I don’t know what to call it. The belief that the things we come up with, the projects, the stories, the insert-creative-thingy-here… that they are all good ideas. And not only are they good ideas, other people will definitely think it’s a good idea, too.

What the hell do you call that? Confidence? Vanity?

I had to take a big step back and look at the project and come to the conclusion that, yeah, it’s not as good as I originally thought. Which is fine. That has to happen.

I have no idea where I’m going with this. My back is killing me, and I’m seeing spots.

Dealing with film festival rejection. It sucks. It happens. Be happy with what you’ve been given (and I am) and move on.

There’s a great saying about artistic projects. They’re never completed, they’re just abandoned.

Shitty week. Yeah. Problems to solve. Our first shoot day looms greatly.

Awesome evening ahead, pain aside. Fingers crossed I can get into the clinic and that they believe me, and don’t think I’m trying to score pain meds to sell on the street.

Thanks for reading what has surely been just detritus. Or flotsam. Or some other pretentious word that amounts to garbage. I’m gonna try and lay flat on my back, see what happens.

John