SoCal Film Fest - notes/recap

Feb 11, 2016 - Thursday, Portland
woke up at 5. took shower and got dressed and walked outside just as my ride (ie my dad) was pulling up. There and back in one day so I just had a backpack with my ipad, a magazine, a hard drive containing the movie. Easy breezy through security and to the gate. My eyes fell on mom w/ stroller, 2 kids and all acoutrements and I both knew exactly how she felt and was so glad I wasn't her. Flight landed in Long Beach at 9 ish. Film playing at festival at 12:30 pm. Charged my phone for a bit. bought a sandwich for later and then took cab to Huntington Beach. Cab drive had no idea where I was sending him and I had to enter the address on his phone app. 

view from library desk

50 bucks later at the Huntington Beach Public Library. Saw fest signage which was encouraging to me that I was in correct spot. Had 2 or so hours to kill so I headed into the depths of the library to work on latest screenplay. (note: here "work" means alternately writing, checking social media, texting w/ family, battling the rising burn of nerves that joins me every screening and so forth.) 

went over to the fountain and ate my sandwich, then headed downstairs to the theater, sort of uncertain about what to expect. As I walked down into the lobby a surreal moment arose when I could hear the tech check in the auditorium, the score (by Jessee Jones) of THE BLACK SEA pouring out of the speakers. In addition to being dark and brooding it happened to line up exactly with my mood, matching my own internal soundtrack. 

I found festival director Guy Davis and talked shop for a bit, noting the excellent weather, the vagaries of running a festival, and our career paths in the past two decades since we both worked for Barbara Turner and attended AFI as Screenwriting Fellows.  As we talked people began streaming in waves for the screening (note: here "waves" means there were 3 people I knew in the audience and oh, less than 10, I did not. Despite the fact that I have many friends in LA and that some cast/crew are in LA I was reminded that OC is not LA so to speak. Also, a weekday early afternoon screen time at a fest can be kiss of death provided your valued metric is number of eyeballs). Most exciting arrival to me was Fred and Rita Sipes b/c they could at last see their son Matt's work in the film. 

The film began. I hadn't seen it with an audience since Boise Film Fest in September. Since then the film has left (or slowly dissipated away from) my daily conciousness. This allowed me to watch the film from a more objective vantage, noting sucessful moments and less successful ones with equal alacrity. At the same time aspects of the film's narrative ribbon through my own personal history (speaking more so of  my life than the writing/production of the film though that's in there too) so said objectivity quickly was overwhelmed by rising surreal sensations, best described like watching a long-contemplated hall of mirrors in a dream that's been put in a blender and then looked at through the back end of a telescope while really drunk and/or high. You know the feeling. There is a scene toward the end of the film (SPOILER) in an MRI machine and I pondered that in two days I would be tucked inside one myself.

The movie ended and Guy Davis did Q & A. The questions from the crowd were about as robust as the attendees, which is to say sort of minimally engaged. (This kind of thing used to bother me but I always recall seeing Lionel Shriver at Annie Blooms many years ago and no one was there except M and myself and she  was alert and gracious anyway. This repeated a couple yrs later when me and M went to see our friend Cheryl read to at a downtown independent bookstore, now a vitamin warehouse i think - to promote her book.) Afterward I did have someone come up to me and ask if my friends were as terrible as the people in the movie. This was funny but made me a little melancholy as there is much more to the film than the surface read, including the sometimes terrible behavior of the people in it. But whatever. This either reflects on the subjective nature of watching movies or my failing as a director or most probable, some parts of each.

I stayed for the next screening Cesium and a Tokyo Girl, which was kind of awesome in an inscrutable way and caught a ride back to the Long Beach airport w/ my friend Clay, who I met at the Stowe Story Lab retreat in May and who has since relocated to Los Angeles. We talked briefly about the peculiarites of Southern California - one of us drawing on living there over a decade ago and the other of recent weeks - and the pursuit of screeenwriting as an enterprise. I went into the airport. Had burrito and beer. Flew home. Met my ride (ie my mom & dad) and went home.

with Rita & Fred Sipes/heading home

Saturday AM I was tucked inside an MRI contemplating watching the film's MRI scene. and so on.

No comments: