The AFF blimp, a beacon of independent film, was restored to its rightful owner yesterday - the Atlanta skyline.
Though tonight was our Atlanta premiere, the day began rather quietly in contrast to the bustle that would follow that night. It rained. I saw last year's Palme d'Or winner, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. I updated the FWW site with our screening information.
Our day-of-screening promotional approach for AFF differed a bit from the past two fests. We didn't stand outside the theater right before showtime like carnival barkers trying to pull in the cinematically undecided. Our weapon of choice for Atlanta was email and myspace, targeted at family, friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends. It seemed to work because when we arrived around 8pm for our 10pm screening, there were only about 50 seats left out of 300(not 350 as originally reported).
Alex drove THE blood car used in the film to the theater and parked it right in front. Blake M., our FX man from the film, came out and reinstalled the blade that chops up human beings so they can be readily converted into a combustible fuel. We left the trunk open so passersby could see the trunk where so many promising souls met their makers in the film. Typically, you might think this would be the beginning of a rather wild publicity act to promote the film, e.g., we dress in old tuxedos and coax you into undergoing a questionnaire and some minor tests and we determine what your personal mpg would be if you were fed to the blood car. World's Fair/EXPO material if you asked me, which the US has not hosted since NOLA in 1984.
We all hung out at the Independent, which moonlights as the Filmmaker's Lounge during the day(providing free Stella to badgeholders) and is located above the theater, as the line formed for the premiere. That night, it should have been renamed Cheers. Familiar faces all around plus many new ones. Friends dragged their friends. The sky went dark. The moon went red. The line lengthened. I'm quite glad the rain subsided because then the experience of seeing a roller-coaster sized line for BC would not have happened. I felt nothing but overwhelming joy at the sight of this. I wish I could amputate pieces of each film festival we've hitherto attended and combine them into a Blood Car frankenstein's monster. The fact that we enjoyed a bird's eye view of the line form only magnified how impressive it was. My small digicam's flash doesn't have much throw, but even a panoramic camera couldn't have contained the line. It reminds me of a 360 degree picture I once saw from the top of Mt. Everest, which to Nepalese natives is known as 'the forehead of the world'. Humans are lucky to have binocular vision because that necessitates moving around to see everything. I couldn't see the entire line from one place. It was that long.
During the pre-screening gathering, Alex O. was in the theater with the festival and projection staff to ensure the film received the best possible exhibition, which this time around was off digibeta instead of HD. Alex considered renting an HD deck himself for the screening, but for some reason, that was not permitted. He was quite concerned about it because there had been several problems with the projection and audio at films throughout the festival. Great World of Sound, which Alex worked on, ironically, had some stinging audio problems during its first screening. Satisfied, he joined us in the lobby and people were ushered into their seats and the final 50 tickets were bought and sold. As in San Jose, it was a complete sellout! Festival volunteers toted in benches to accommodate more patrons. I recognized so many faces. Friends we hadn't seen in ages turned up with new jobs, new watches and even wives to see the film. Not one protestor.
I wanted to watch the film with the hometown audience and I did. We all did and we all enjoyed it like it was new. Hugh B. and Adam P. usually watch it. Katie and Tony and I watch it often, but perhaps not as frequently. Alex usually does not watch it, but he did tonight...most of it anyway. We also decided to resurrect my presidential speech from Cinequest for this screening because of the hometown crowd and the whole blimp business.
Alex saw one woman walk out of the film and look a little troubled. He approached her and thanked her for attending, stating that, "I know the film isn't for everyone." He said she seemed really bothered by the film and said the film needed a disclaimer about the content and that she didn't know the film contained pornography/pornographic material.
Most people stuck around for the Q&A. We were able to recognize a number of the crew members who worked on the film for their efforts, which was gratifying. The tone of the Q&A continues to be a balance of behind the scenes stories and stand-up jokes. Robert P., production designer, whose mother was in the audience, joined us on stage during the Q&A. I don't think the mic was ever passed his way, but several design/FX questions were asked. We threw out a few t-shirts and wrapped it up. Afterwards, down under the screen, we were mobbed and tried to carry on as many conversations at the same time as possible. It's difficult because you want to talk to everyone, but you basically have to conduct McConversations.
I was so proud to see such support for the film. Thank you to everyone who attended and expressed their kinds words about the film. I apologize to everyone who I did not have a chance to speak with and thank personally for spending your Thursday night with us. I promise you all that you will spend another Thursday night with us sometime soon, in a movie theater, with a big screen, watching a Fake Wood Wallpaper film.