Today there was little danger of any filmmakers sleeping through their morning screenings. Biker week continued in full force, and guests of the festival’s host hotel were gently roused from their slumber by a beautiful symphony of revving motorcycle engines sometime around 6am.
Not surprisingly, Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of PFF, with a full battery of films, panels, guest speakers, and special events filling everyone’s festival chalice to the brim. The early hours found the Party Pavilion host to Kids Day, an interactive wonderland for young filmmakers. There were HD cameras, Final Cut Pro stations, and an entire green-screen set-up; in short, every tool the tykes needed to put us adults out of a job. Grown-ups require a salary, but kids will work for chocolate.
In an effort to avoid watching these tiny humans hurry us further toward premature obsolesce, Scott Storm and I joined our pals Latha, Ryan and Eli for breakfast at the Scottsdale Village Inn. These are the brilliant guys behind Esq Productions, a revolutionary new company that provides a legal and financial base for independent filmmakers and artists. They’ve spent the last year conducting panels with top professionals at film festivals and educational events around the country, and indeed that’s what brings them to PFF. Imagine the legal know-how of suits stuffed in the bodies of excitable movie geeks and you begin to get the idea of just how cool the Esq boys really are.
While Latha, Ryan and Eli headed to their panel, Storm and I took in a screening of KILL THE IRISHMAN, a derivative and laughable GOODFELLAS wannabe which proved conclusively that Val Kilmer is now the living embodiment of Jabba the Hutt. Things improved greatly when we hit the Live Action Shorts Program, a strong collection highlighted by Brad Jones’ WRITE OF PASSAGE, Michael Maney’s METH and Luke Matheny’s GOD OF LOVE. That last one won, like, you know, an Oscar.
Storm and I then headed back to the Party Pavilion for our panel. The subject was self-promotion, and we were joined by AZ native filmmakers Brian and Dean Ronalds, themselves longtime fixtures of PFF. These are intelligent, funny guys, and I don’t know if our banter over the next hour pleased the crowd, but it sure entertained us.
Halfway through our panel the topic of discussion turned to Crowdfunding, and in an effort to give an example of how one might indeed self-promote, I not-so-casually mentioned that I was running my own Kickstarter campaign for the feature I’m directing this summer, FAVOR. To my delight, this seemed to rev up the conversation and the panel remained locked this topic ’til the bitter end. I could be accused of being horribly shameless or praised for being a good educator; in truth, I was both. (I also snuck in several mentions of Scott Storm’s fascinating upcoming documentary WE RUN SH*T and… oh, look… I did it again.)
After a few drinks and paying a zombie caricature artist render a sketch of me as a member of the undead, it was back to the theatre to see I AM NANCY, a documentary by and about NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’S Heather Langenkamp and her experience as the star of that enduring horror legacy. Ms. Langenkamp was in attendance and graciously indulged fans at a lively Q&A and signing following the screening.
On our way back to the bar, a programmer stopped Scott and I and told us that she’d recommended our film festival documentary OFFICIAL REJECTION to Ms. Langenkamp, who’s been having trouble getting I AM NANCY programmed elsewhere. So we were able to personally hand her a copy, and as a lifelong geek, that felt pretty cool.After a long break to indulge in some more complimentary drinks , I dragged myself into a late-night screening of THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS. Now, based upon my Twitter activity when I mentioned it a few days ago, this seems to be the flick people reading this blog are the most curious about. Well, I can assure you, it’s more than good – it’s cathartic. The doc is chock full of folks saying the things about the Star Wars mastermind that you’ve always said yourself. Han shot first!
Coverage will conclude with the next installment, Day Four…
GREEN SCREEN CARNEY CONTEST!
The response was great last year, so we’re doing it again – Phoenix Film Festival Director Jason Carney is in front of a green screen, and you get to take somewhere. ANYWHERE! Be creative. Be silly. Use that alpha channel magic!
Contest closes Sunday, April 10th. Best entry wins a package of cool OFFICIAL REJECTION stuff!
Paul Osborne is the director of OFFICIAL REJECTION, the acclaimed documentary about the experiences of independent filmmakers at film festivals. He also wrote and produced the indie feature TEN TIL NOON, and is currently raising funds via Kickstarter for his new film, the suspense drama FAVOR. Follow him at www.twitter.com/paulmakesmovies.