Our First Film Festival Experience
It felt refreshing and reaffirming to receive the phone call from a programmer at Cinema at the Edge Film Festival extending the invitation to screen Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise at this year’s festival. I’ve had my share of emails that begin with: ‘Thank you for submitting your film ….. ‘ You know immediately where this missive is going and it’s not anything a filmmaker wants to hear.
So instead of the ubiquitous, dreaded “thank you’ email, I got a phone call from a real, live, human being, telling me how much ‘we love your film.’ He wanted to know if it would be my premiere and the answer to that was ‘yes.’
My first thought? What could be more perfect for a film about Thelma & Louise than to screen at a festival called Cinema At The EDGE! I laughed out loud at the serendipity at play … I could see Thelma and Louise in their convertible at the canyon’s edge again. Would they crash and burn or sail into the heavens?
I accepted the invitation and excitedly shared the news with my crew – Stuart Ferrier, my DP and Sarah Ferrier, my editor (and Stuart’s daughter). The three of us got plane reservations for our trip to Santa Monica, California. Yay! Our first festival! Right in the heart of where the seminal film, Thelma & Louise, was born. We would finally have the opportunity to see how an unknown crowd of theatre-goers would respond to our hard-earned labors.
There are a lot of things to do before attending a festival. Preparing the exhibition media, ordering posters, and other materials, choosing production stills, updating the website, and so on. The biggest thing of all is to work on publicity, personal email invitations, social media, press releases and such. That kept me busy up until the day the festival began.
It was fun to meet so many dedicated filmmakers and cinephiles. We had photos taken on the red carpet, had special times to meet and mingle, attended an educational panel discussion about ‘Independent Film Distribution,’ shared indie war stories, and met some members of the local community. For example, Kat Kramer, (the late director, Stanley Kramer’s daughter), went to see our film and spoke to us afterwards about how much she loved it. One of Kat’s many projects is a series honoring “Films That Change the World.” And even with all of this going on, we made sure to take time to get to the beach – only a few blocks away – and walk the boardwalk.
Break out the champagne!
At the awards ceremony on the last night of the festival, Sarah, Stuart and I were sitting in the audience, happily cheering the award winners, when I was completely taken by surprise. They announced that Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise won the ‘Audience Award for Best Documentary.’ I must have looked like a deer in the headlights because I sure felt like one. I had been so focused on preparing for the screening it never crossed my mind as to what I might say if our film was honored with an award.
I was so flustered when I made a little acceptance speech thanking everyone involved, I referred to my editor, ‘Sarah’ as ‘Susan.’ Where did that come from? And I didn’t even realize I had done it until I watched a cellphone video a few days later. OMG. Sorry, about that, Sarah. Stuart managed to capture this magic moment in the video below.
What’s ahead for us?
It’s been a long road and a challenging journey to make this film. It’s roots go back over a quarter century. Now that it’s made its way into the world, a new journey begins. Where will that take it? What will that look like? Some stops along the way will be festivals in the summer and fall, grassroots gatherings, panel discussions, and distribution.