Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Number 5: Submit A Film To A Film Festival

Here is the film. It's only 2 minutes long so you should watch it first:

If I am going to live in the Midwest, I am pretty lucky to live in a town this large and with so much going on. Being a college graduate with a BA in Commercial film and Video Production, I am even luckier that Columbia has a large film community. We have two major film festivals, the Citizen Jane Film Festival and the True/False film Festival. True/False has this film competition called “Gimme Truth”. Each film submitted to Gimme Truth is a 2-minute-or-less profile of a Missourian that is 100% true or 100% false. Then there are three judges who guess if your submission is true or false.

I wanted to make a false film to submit. For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was a competitive musical chairs team. See, that is how my mind works. What is the stupidest more ridiculous thing I can think of? Oh musical chairs. A competitive team. Sure why not?

I had a lot of help with this film. I had tried to make one the year before and didn’t have any help. It did not work out. I actually tried on two separate occasions to make this one work. Both times I asked everyone to come help me, but then I didn’t have a location. The location is very important. Without a good location it wouldn’t be believable. On the third try, we got a location. Monica Senecal helped with this and therefore received the credit of Producer. She got us a space at the first Christian Church downtown. A very believable location for a competitive musical chairs team. What is more believable than a group of people that come together with a common interest at church?

Next, we needed to recruit team members. Matt Davis and Ben Poland, my two Assistant Directors, helped me get people there. We managed to convince some of our friends and family, Rob Bartel, Elaine Martin, Val Davis, Gabe Senecal, Jan Neitzert (my awesome mother-in-law), and Andy to come on down and be the participants by promising there would be cookies. It was important that we had people of varying ages to make it more believable. It was also important there were cookies. Several varieties of cookies. We actually didn’t have too many people, so we filled the negative space of most of the interview shots with people hanging out in the background to make it appear as though there were some more people there than there actually were.

It was very important to me to have the film look good. For this we would need a good cinematographer with a good camera. This is where Logan Lemmon came in. He is a fantastic cinematographer and luckily he is also a nice guy and agreed to help out. Side note: He will die if you  feed him potatoes.

I had actually been working on the rules of competitive musical chairs for several weeks at that point. I did some research on how the game came to be and what some appropriate guidelines for a competitive team would be. After researching, it turns out there are no other competitive musical chairs teams anywhere in the world (or at least that haven't had any info about them on the internet- if you're out there, let me know...). I explained all of the rules to our team members the day of filming. They did a great job considering they learned everything just 20 minutes before we began. And judging by their interviews, they are all pretty good liars. Actors. I mean actors.

After we finished shooting I spent the next two days editing down over an hour of footage into two minutes of pure mocumentary gold. Then, I tried to convince Andy to help me burn it to a disc so I could submit. Since he was pretty busy (he was teaching a film class at the university and gearing up to shoot a feature all while in the middle of shooting a short) we didn’t burn to a disc until late the night before it was due at the T/F office. This meant I would have to go over and find the offices downtown on my lunch hour. I mean lunch half hour.

By the time I found the offices and climbed all the stairs that lead up to them, I was sweaty and out of breath. Partly due to nervousness over having my film selected, but mostly because I am ridiculously out of shape and there were a lot of stairs.

I busted in to the office and exclaimed between loud obnoxious breaths “I…Have…a…film…for…uh…is… this…Gimmetruth!?” They were in the middle of a meeting and all looked up at me. I sure felt like a world class idiot. Until this one woman, the only one not at the table and sitting at a desk said sweetly “Do you have a Gimme Truth to turn in?”
“Um, uh huh”  
“Oh great!” She said
I walked out of there thinking, I hope these people don’t remember who I am when they watch my film.

On the way back to my car (I had to park a block away before I climbed all the stairs, hence the sweat and heavy breathing) I decided to stop in to one of my favorite restaurants (Main Squeeze) for my favorite sandwich (The Grilled Cheese Deluxe) to congratulate myself on accomplishing goal number 5. After all, my goal was merely to enter a film into a festival. I had no idea I’d actually get IN!

The next few days I went back and forth thinking, I totally got in! How could I not have!? And, I didn’t get in. I just know it. I didn’t get in.

Finally, by Tuesday before the event was scheduled to take place, I got an e-mail with the subject “Congratulations Gimme Truth Finalists!” I got in! I got in!

I was so excited all week! My whole family and most of the friends in the film (and some who weren’t in the film) all came to support me. We went out to dinner first and then arrived at the theater early. I couldn’t have been more excited. They played my film first. Everyone laughed at all the right times. Afterwards I was called up on stage where each judge was allowed to ask me one question to help them decide whether my film was true or false. Two judges guessed “True”, and one guessed “False”. SUCKAS!

After all the films, they announced the winners. After they named the third place winner, I thought, I’m not gonna win. I know I’m not. They called second place and I didn’t hear my name. I thought for a second and was like, Wait! That’s the name of my film! I won second place? I won second place! Woo Hoo!!! The best part about it was that the entire time I was completely not expecting it. I walked around with my trophy glued to my hand for the rest of the night. 

It was all definitely worth it to keep going even though things were not going my way for my first few attempts. I cannot wait to submit to next year’s festival. I am already thinking of some ideas… 
Above: All dressed and ready to go to Gimme Truth!
Below: Andy and I at dinner before Gimme Truth. (Photo by Ben Hendrick)
Above: A Filmmaker on stage with the host, Johnny St. John, and the judges.
Below: Me with judge, Ameena Mathews, and our trophies after the films

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