Post Production

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The Editing Page

Breckenridge Wrap-Up



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Colorado was pretty great -- mountains (with actual snow), cool clear air (sullied by the occasional nervous cigarette) and lots of friendly folks and enthusiastic audiences.  While Breckenridge is located at a rarified 9600 feet, I didn't have too much trouble adjusting to the lack of oxygen.   Others weren't so lucky, victimized by the dreaded high altitude headache -- impervious to over-the-counter drugs.

One of the great features of the Breckenridge Festival of Film is that every filmmaker is assigned a liason.  This is a person, usually with no particular connection to the film business, who is in charge of making sure that you are properly taken care of during your stay.  Need transport to and from a screening?   Wondering where to eat dinner?  No problem, just call your liason.  Mine was named Renie, and she couldn't have been nicer.

The other nice thing about Breckenridge was the quality of the films.   I saw five or six indie features and several shorts and liked them all.  I cannot say the same of the LAIFF, a much bigger festival with many more films competing to get in.  The BFF audiences were also shockingly courteous; hardly anyone walked out of the screenings I attended, even in the face of some unfortunate technical glitches.

Cherry screened Saturday night at 7 PM, which seemed like a pretty good time slot.  Upon perusing the catalogue, however, I discovered that the Festival Closing Night Gala started a half hour into our film.  Hmm, which would people rather do, drink themselves silly or see our film?  I decided to check the box office on Saturday morning to see how ticket sales were doing.  If the theater was only going to be half full, I wanted to know that ahead of time.  The cheerful box office lady (as near as I can tell, everyone in Breckenridge is cheerful) punched a few buttons, consulted her screen and announced that Cherry had sold six tickets so far.  The Speakeasy Theater seats about 200, so I was steeling myself to hear her say "thirty-four."  "Six" I wasn't prepared for.  "Don't worry," she said.  I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day.

At 6:45 PM there were actually quite a few people lined up outside the theater.  Considerably more than six.  A pretty good short film, Sporting Dog, played first, then the lights went down for Cherry (with only a handful of empty seats).  Well, things got off to kind of a bad start.  The "Cypress Films Presents" appeared on the screen backwards.  Lights up and the next five minutes spent fretting and peering into the projection booth.  Lights down, and Cherry begins the right way round.  I was able to relax for the first two reels -- the film looked great and the audience was laughing at all of the stuff that's supposed to be funny.

The beginning of reel three was a new disaster: instead of hearing the sound you could see it -- a funny little optical stripe to the right of the picture.   Lights up and ten minutes seriously fretting as people stood up, milled about, walked out.  What a perfect opportunity to bail on a film you don't like!  Plus, it was dinner time and there's that darn Gala in full swing by now.  But, miraculously, by the time the lights went back down every single person that had left the theater came back in and sat down.  Reel four -- it happened again.  Lights up and more people stretching, murmuring, leaving.  But again, they all came back.   Mercifully, the final reel change worked the way it was supposed to.  I did a little Q&A session after the film and that was that.

Oddly, I didn't mind all the technical difficulties.  It was a great test of audience loyalty.  The projectionist (who was seriously overworked) apologized profusely and found a place in my heart by telling me that Cherry got the best audience reaction of all the films she screened in the Speakeasy Theater during the festival.

Other films that I really enjoyed at the festival included Sammyville, a drama set in an intensely bizzare town in Oregon that's called Sammyville in real life too; and Let the Devil Wear Black, a terrific film by my friend Stacy Title that's a contemporary version of Hamlet set in Los Angeles.  It's a great combination of classic Shakespearian tragedy and contemporary themes.

Oh yeah, there was that Siberia screening, too.  It was a strange place to screen a film, but fun.  The jukebox was playing in the bar (separated by a door) and people filtered back and forth during the screening, but the reaction was enthusiastic and the video transfer looked spectacular.  We transferred directly from Digibeta to Beta SP and used a huge Beta SP deck to run the tape.  It's our new state-of-the-art for video screenings.  But really, the Siberia screening was just an excuse to hang out in our favorite bar and drink for free (thanks, Tracy).

If you haven't already, check out The Contest Page for the results of "Name That Movie" and give the EvenHand site a visit to read about our latest project.

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- Joseph Pierson
 
9/30/99

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