After twelve months on the travel circuit, I think it’s safe to say that WHATEVER IT TAKES (“WIT”) has finally finished its film festival run. But oh what a ride it was! Often thrilling, other times exhausting, but always an amazing feeling to show one’s film to new audiences across the country.
Instead of reporting about each and every festival, I thought it would be useful to recap my Top 10 memories from this past year. In Part 1 of this blog entry, I’ll talk about memories #6-10:
#10: World Premiere at SFIAAFF
Since CAAM was such a big part of getting WIT made, I thought it was appropriate to premiere the film at their own festival. I had never been to the festival before, and had no idea what the reception would be like. Little did I know that we would have three sold-out screenings with hugely enthusiastic audiences. I still remember seeing a line snaking all the way down the block, and thinking: “That can’t be the line for my film!” But it was… The only slightly disappointing thing about SFIAAFF is that we didn’t win any awards, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?
#9: Not getting into Sundance
Everyone wants to get their film into Sundance. But everybody knows that it’s virtually impossible. However, for us, we actually believed that we might have a good chance because WIT had received so much support from Sundance in getting our film made. They had given us a large grant, they held a special work-in-progress screening for us in Park City, and they invited us to their exclusive Composer/Story Lab conference. Unfortunately, none of that was enough, and we still got rejected from the festival! Obviously, though, I’m still eternally grateful that we got so much help from Sundance in making the film — just would have been nice to get that festival acceptance…
#8: Taco Truck
Food is a major part of festivals. Some have great spreads, others have none at all. But my best food experience just occurred at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. It was midnight, and there were a bunch of us filmmakers congregated at one of the party spots. Unfortunately, all of the local restaurants were closed, and we all had a serious case of the munchies. Suddenly, festival programmer extraordinaire Jason Perdue remembered that there was an all-night taco truck located a few towns away. So we all drove over as fast as we could to the taco truck, ate tacos al pastor to our heart’s content, and finally returned home at 2a.m., sleepy and happy.
#7: Does anyone speak english here?
I was pretty sure that WHATEVER IT TAKES would draw a strong audience response at U.S. festivals, but I really had no idea whether the rest of the world would be able to appreciate the story of an American high school. Through a number of connections, we were lucky to be invited to a documentary festival in Montreal (RIDM). When I arrived in Quebec, I instantly realized why they call this part of the country “French Canada”. They all supposedly speak english, but they much prefer to converse in french (what they call “quebecoise”). On my way to my own screening, I got a bit lost on the streets, so I asked directions from the locals. I am not exaggerating when I say that the first five people I talked to all said to me “No speak english!” Wow… now I was really worried if they were going to like my film. But lo and behold, when I got to my screening, there was a line all the way out the door, and down the stairs! We had two nearly sold-out screenings in Montreal, and the audience was great. I love French Canada!
#6: We’re going to Hawaii!
I had never been to Hawaii before, but I’d always heard a lot of great stories from friends. So when WHATEVER IT TAKES got accepted into the Hawaii Int’l Film Festival, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, my family couldn’t go with me, but I managed to convince my editor to come along. We prepared ourselves for some great screenings and some fun in the sun. Turns out that a 1pm Saturday screening does not mix too well with bright, sunny Hawaiian weather! We only had 10 people in our theater, and the resulting Q&A at the end of the film felt a little pointless and awkward. I’m guessing that people were just having too much fun surfing and enjoying the outdoors. So my editor and I promptly followed suit and spent the rest of our time hiking and swimming on Hawaii’s North Shore. It was awesome… aloha, baby!