Our first of two screenings at this festival was Saturday at 815pm. We knew we'd have some stiff competition from other films and an Edward Norton event so we hit the streets out in front of SFF HQ to fill the seats. Armed with our usual array of t-shirts, cards, keys and buttons, we stopped anyone and everyone. We started late because we were all very sleepy from the drive+party the previous day. But the sun was out and the patrons were teeming.
I confess the swag at this festival was better than at Cinequest. On check-in, a handful of us received a wonderfully convenient tote bag complete with emblazoned SFF logo, a plastic cup similarly emblazoned, a voucher for a free t-shirt and vouchers for comp tickets to the films. Unlike Cinequest, where your badge entitles you to just walk into whatever screening you want, in Sarasota you must trade in your voucher for the desired screening. Having carried around an overloaded backpack for the entire Cinequest festival, this compact tote was a blessing.
To add to the list of what I love about BC at film festivals is how we look as a group wearing our BC t-shirts. They look fabulous together. In the moon doc last night, the astronauts interviewed spoke of the unity of nature and man and all life when describing the feeling of being on the moon and looking at planet Earth from a great distance. Well, in the microcosm of BC, I feel that unity, that fraternity and solidarity, at film festivals. To make that connection might seem harebrained, but I've noticed in my travels with Blood Car up to this point that irony and coincidence and fate are prevailing winds that rustle our hair and clothes when we least expect it. Disseminating BC, on an atomic level, is an act of universality, of congregation.
During the day, I felt like our film might get lost at this festival. It's big and there are many important films and filmmakers here. Well known celebrities attend. I think we also felt like the demographic for the festival might not be right for a film as niche-driven as ours. Sarasota is not a young people town and our film, though its appeal certainly spans ages and races, is certainly more oriented toward a younger, cultier audience. We screened in one of the Hollywood 20's smaller screens with 110 seats. I put that out of my mind as I passed out postcards and buttons all day long. It's one of my favorite activities at film festivals. I love it. I particularly tried to approach some of the older folks to see what their reaction might be. Most were very nice. One woman I handed a postcard to took one look at that blood spurting gas pump and said, "Ew!" She made a face like I handed her a picture of raunchy zoosexuality.
Our number one job at festivals is to make sure each and every festival volunteer wears a Blood Car button on their shirt or lanyard. We stop them and affix them ourselves. At Cinequest, we had other filmmakers out on the street promoting their films. Not here. We were the only ones. In this picture, Emmi is sticking some young Russkie's backpack with a BC button. Make note of her awesome earrings.
We met two groups of folks who drove from Tampa to see the film, which is about an hour's drive. The first group was a trio of fans of the genre. The second was my Aunt and Uncle. I see them only a once or twice a year and I was happy that they were able to see the film on the big screen, where all films are meant to be seen. As 8:15pm approached, we tried to pull in people who were going to see multiplex movies. I was almost able to convince a triad of teenyboppers to ditch the abomination Disturbia and see our film, but I failed. Oh well. I went back to the inn where Hugh and Emmi were staying and changed into my suit. Suggested attire for Saturday night's party was 'chic-casual'. I wore my presidential suit hoping to deliver my speech to the BC crowd, but given the small size of the theater, Alex and I thought maybe it wouldn't fly. At this point, we really weren't sure how the film would be received. Attendance came in around 65-70, which was a little disappointing, but our grassroots work on the streets really paid off. We recognized over half of the audience as people we spoke to that day. We talked the film up to this guy and look what he bought. Squint and you'll see the words Blood Car. He doesn't look happy because I told him to look hip-hop and flash those tickets at me.
Before the film began, Alex was invited up to introduce the film and he dedicated it to his mother and...believe it or not, Mary Wick, the cab driver who drove us home that same morning. She was in the audience with her daughter. Holly Herrick, the festival's other great programmer, at the sight and sound of the cab driver dedication, said, "You got your cab driver to come?! That's awesome."
After the screening and Q&A, we were transported via Mercdedes to the local ABC affiliate, where Alex was to be interviewed on the local news. Though they couldn't show a good clip because a good BC clip doesn't exist that isn't offensive or disgusting, the interview went well and you will be able to see it on our website very soon. Seeing Alex with that brassy BC t-shirt on live local tv news was quite a treat. I watched it from the green room with our Mercedes driver, who, in his early days did theater with David Strathairn. After the interview, he drove us to the after party. Unfortunately, Alex and I missed the Edward Norton auction in which some woman paid $7500 for a two hour lunch with the man. Katie was there and she witnessed it. They one-upped the extravagance tonight by holding the party in conjunction with a tour of homes in Sarasota, which are currently on the market. So we walked around in homes we'll never be able to afford with free drinks and jumbo shrimp in our mouths. Plus, SFF hired girls dressed as mermaids for festival goers to take advantage of with photo-ops. I happily obliged them.
On a final note, the dive bars here have the creepiest, most ominous names, e.g. Memories and The Witness Cafe.