Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cinequest - Day 3 - The World Premiere

Day 3 was history. Une histoire, en francais. A story. It began at cinema's birth over 100 years ago and gained its independence on March 2, 2007 in the USA's Silicon Valley. I took this photo to commemorate the forefathers of filmmaking. No need to run screaming from this blog. It will not hurt you.

Chris C., our co-dp and a producer on the film, arrived at our hotel in wee hours of the morning after spending all night on a plane and all morning in the SF airport trying to catch a ride to San Jose. My brothers arrived. Chris B. tasted the Pacific for the first time and had this to say, "It tastes just like the Atlantic, only colder." Chris A. wrote a poem today entitled "Horse Cop" which I will print in the next day or so. Anna Chlumsky arrived from NYC, which brought our grand total to 14. 14 members of Blood Car in San Jose.

Yesterday reminded me of a song, mostly joyful but with some disappointment. Looking back at the photos it seemed to have a soundtrack. It was sunny and cool and it's starting to feel like we're in the right place for once. We were dressed to the nines in the geography. There were short movies and long ones, quiet talks and grand speeches, anxiety and anticipation, gains and losses, fans and lines, questions and empty seats and even a couple autographs.

Most of us attended a couple of the panel forums on distribution topics in the morning and early afternoon. The one I attended was staffed by a handful of journalists and media personnel from various magazines batting around ideas and suggestions on how to promote your film to journalists, fans and the media in general. They pointed out a number of great ideas that I, amongst many others, had not considered and will certainly come in handy for the next festival. There is definitely a learning curve to climb for the distribution side of this industry. At this forum, we marked off a very important item on our itinerary, which I have yet to really touch on yet. This itinerary I made, based on the ideas of Brad K. and Damian D. in Atlanta, GA, includes a list of all the attendees, their San Jose names (My brother Greg's San Jose name is Senator Toughasnails.), and a list of activities. It's a bit hard to explain concisely, but the item we checked off today was "Steal another filmmaker's film idea." Now, I don't know if this person was a filmmaker, but he wrote about film, so that's pretty close. Here it is:

A woman, someone's Aunt, crashes in the Yukon and is trapped for 40 days, struggling for survival. Lord of the Flies meets Castaway meets General Motors. The twist, it's the Chevy Yukon. That's right, a woman trapped in an SUV for 40 days. Will she survive? Check your odometers this summer!

After the forum, we walked around downtown San Jose passing out postcards, keys, and sticking up posters in every storefront that would allow it. We trekked around the San Jose State campus putting up posters and basking in its coastal glow.

I was surprised at how generous a few of these stores were, especially this antique store to the left. From there, we returned to our hotel to rest up before the World Premiere. Today marked our first encounter with San Jose law enforcement as well, courtesy of Chris C. On the light rail system here, the honor system is king. No one takes tickets, you just buy one and hop aboard. However, law enforcement officials periodically check the tickets of people at random and if you haven't purchased one, you are fined $100 or something. Well, Chris C. thought he could outsmart these men and you know what...he did. This officer approached him, asked Chris C. for his ticket, which he did not have. He issued him a ticket, but as the officer was writing it out, Chris C. said, "I'm with Blood Car." He handed the officer a postcard, which seemed to delight the officer, explained that the film was having its World Premiere tonight, illustrating his entire predicament in a charming fashion. Not only did the officer degrade the ticket to a warning, but he issued Chris C. a free day pass for the light rail system.

Back at the hotel, more swag was awaiting us in the form of little buttons, which we all sported on our snappy sport coats, dresses, ties and lanyards. I spent some time resting in my bed trying to sleep as the tv broadcast an endless loop of The Bourne Identity/Supremacy. I become pretty loopy when I'm tired. I had wanted to see Buster Keaton's The General that night before the BC WP, but it would just be cutting it too close, so I became quite irascible and said some things to Katie and Alex about one of the hotel's maintenance men that I probably shouldn't have. I'm not going to apologize, but I am remorseful. All dressed up, we made our way to the lobby to wait for a couple cabs to take us to dinner before the WP. Check us out.

We had a wonderful dinner together and made our way to the World Premiere. Going in to the screening, there was a gaff in the festival's program about our WP screening. In the daily quick schedule, our film was not listed at all as playing on Friday at 1030pm! However, in the alphabetized list of films with synopses in the program, all the information was correct. I also didn't like the fact that you couldn't buy tickets to our film at the San Jose Rep's box office. One had to buy tickets at the main Cinequest box office, at a theater across the street. Those things aside, as we approached the theater, we saw the line. A line of people outside the theater waiting to see our film, our first feature film. From afar it looked like 300 people. Our imaginations and hopes were running away with us. I wish they had taken us on a marathon instead of just a jog around the park. To be frank, I think we were all disappointed with the turnout. Given the generally positive write-ups we received and 'buzz', we expected to sell out the SJREP. We did not. A little over 100 people showed up for the 1030pm show. The theater seats 584, including the balcony. In our favor, Cinequest did move our screening from the Cinema 12 to the SJ Rep because they expected a bigger turnout. We would certainly have packed out the Cinema 12, which is much smaller. Nevertheless, I'm happy our film screened there. I watched it from the balcony by myself, waiting for the turbulent nervousness to fade away, which it does when that first big laugh hits. After audiences see that pornographic pencil drawing of a bj, we pretty much win them over. Thereafter, I sat back and enjoyed the film much more than I did at the cast and crew screening in Dec. I commend the technical staff at the San Jose Rep as well, because the projection and sound were technically flawless. BC never looked better. Thank you. And nice work to Cinequest for our lead-in short film about a lumberjack who doesn't know his face has been sliced off. A funny short.

Even though the quantity of the crowd did not meet our expectations, the quality of the response certainly did. The empirical evidence was overwhelming. People laughed a lot. Alex spotted a journalist laughing during the film, so maybe that will bring us additional spoils. I learned a great deal about Blood Car from this WP by talking to people who loved the film. We have a cult film in the making. Our Q&A was short because they wanted to close up the theater, but we did announce my candidacy for President of the USA in 2008. And that's not a joke. We videotaped it. Hopefully you'll see it soon. I'd like to thank each and every person who attended our WP. Hope to see you on Sunday night at 830p for our 2nd World Premiere.

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