Friday  September 5, 2003


We ate at the Apartment - a good feed bag

The family and I were in Edinburgh last year during the festival and I thought it would be cool to attend with EvenHand in 2003. I was right. Julie, the kids and I all returned this year for another visit to the lovely city of Edinburgh.

The Festival put us up in a little hotel called the Knight Residence. It had two bedrooms, a kitchen (complete with all the modern appliances) and a cozy little living room. The owners were exceptionally attentive and kind. It was all we could do to get up and out of the place in the morning. The neighborhood was a wee bit questionable what with the kids and all, but I think I managed to convince them that the nearby pub featured "Tap Dancing." Yes, Gregory Hines performed there all the time! It's a quirky Scottish spelling!

Proof we were there (Sir Walter Scott Monument)

Upon arrival at the Festival offices we all checked in and collected our badges. While we had sent in digital photos ahead of time, they announced that it hadn't worked for some reason and snapped a new batch of pictures. The atmosphere was one of vague disinterest until Nicola Pierson arrived. The disaffected interns faded into the background and I quickly found the welcoming and accommodating staff that made Edinburgh one of the most agreeable festivals I have attended. Catherine Bromley in the press office arranged three interviews with freelance journalists. None will see the light of day unless the film gets picked up in the UK, but all were very complimentary and optimistic about our chances.

The Brush Shop - one of my favorite Edinburgh stores

Our first screening was well attended and the audience started laughing early. This is a very good sign -- it means they get it. When the audience is slow to respond to the humor in EvenHand it's always a concern; it's a really important element of the film and it makes the ending all the more poignant (I think).

Every audience is different, sometimes in only subtle ways, but I experienced something in Edinburgh that I have never seen at an EvenHand screening. During the climax at the end, there is a moment when a good percentage of the audience will gasp. This has always happened. This audience, however, was dead silent. My immediate thought was that they did not find it affecting, but it became clear in the Q&A afterwards that the majority certainly got it and liked it (also see the fan mail). Is this attributable to some cultural difference? Who knows. It's a mystery.

The Q&A was also different than any other I have participated in. After both screenings the audience was lots more interactive than I have experienced at the various US screenings to date, which was great. There were several spontaneous responses to things I said. At one point I was going on about how filming in San Antonio saved me a significant amount of money and a woman called out "You're pretty cheap, I guess." I said something about the necessity of cutting corners when you're filming on a shoestring, even if it's a relatively long one. Another question prompted a reply that again delved into some creative money-saving strategy. Again, the same woman called out: "So you really are cheap!" My reply was: "I guess it's my Scottish blood." The response was decidedly mixed. I got a few laughs -- and at least one audible hiss. Oh well. Do you suppose great grandmother Laughlin will forgive me?

The second screening was later (10 PM) and not as well attended, but the response was perhaps better. More people stayed for the Q&A, partly as a result of my agreement to turn the sound off on the end credits and get started more quickly. Both Q&A's were moderated by Nicola Pierson, who did a splendid job. The most awkward time at any Q&A session is the first few moments. No one is thinking about questions as they watch the film, so there is always a stunned silence when the moderator solicits the first question. Nicola had several questions to ask me straightaway, thus denying the opportunity for the interminable silence. She also posed several thoughtful follow-up questions after the audience got rolling.

There was one Edinburgh police officer in attendance at the second screening who reiterated what cops all over have said: "You got it right."

This is the good stuff 

We saw only one other film while in Edinburgh: Bellville Rendezvous (now called The Bellville Triplets Les Triplettes de Bellville). After perusing the EIFF catalogue for hours and querying the staff endlessly, this was the only film that seemed appropriate for kids. While it was a very creative and funny animation, which I enjoyed enormously, the kids basically thought it sucked. The lesson here is that most film festivals are geared for adult audiences. Not many people bring their families to film festivals either, unless they masochistically attend as the subject of excruciatingly painful documentaries (see Capturing the Friedmans (a very cool website)).

One of the highlights of the festival was seeing the quintessential Scotsman on Princes Street: Sean Connery! I told one of the staff members and she was skeptical. She said that his brother, Steve, lives in Edinburgh and quite resembles Sean. He apparently also doesn't mind the occasional accidental attention, courtesy of his famous brother. There is no doubt, however, that this Connery was the authentic Sean. He was being shepherded into the theater for a premiere, which is not one of the privileges of being Steve.

A gratuitous reproduction of the Swimming Pool postcard (also screening at the EIFF)

What's next for EvenHand? Read the 9/12/03 journal entry for news on the final round of film festivals and the TV and video deals!

- Joseph Pierson

I noticed the other day that the EvenHand listing on the Internet Movie Database has started getting votes. If you have seen the film (and liked it -- don't be mean!), please take a minute and register your vote there. Here's a link:



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