I SURVIVED THE NEW YORK INDEPENDENT FILM FEST Image

This was my third bite of the big apple. I first visited New York City at the age of six. I remember staring out of the forehead of the Statue of Liberty. I was scared when my father told me that the arm was closed because someone had jumped. ^ Then, 25 years later, playing in a Veuve Cliquot sponsored pétanques tournament that took place on Bastille Day in Miami Beach; I won a trip for two to New-York City. My father and I spent four days in the city and New York took care of us well. ^ The third time I made to New York City was as an official participant in the New-York International Independent Film and Video Festival. My short film “Going Postal” was going to have its New-York showings. It had its premiere at the Freaky Film Festival in Champaign Ill. and had shown at the Tower Theatre in little Havana, Miami. ^ The story of “Going Postal” and how it made its way into some festivals is what makes it part of the accidental art that I’ve seen in Marcel Duchamps paintings. I firmly believe that I have created my second work of art. ^ The opening ceremonies for the New York Independent Film and Video Festival were held at Madison Square Gardens. I showed up an hour early, eager to take part in the event. Another filmmaker, Pamela Coffey, was also early. We went for a drink and talked about how we made it into the festival. It was both are first films and I told her the Going Postal saga. ^ I wanted to make a film. Not just talk about it but make one! A year ago my first novel was published. That’s when I had the epiphany. Maybe everything I have always dreamt of doing can be done. I quit my ten-year tenure in the service industry to pursue a career in acting, writing and filmmaking. ^ How do you make a film when you have no connections? First you have to have a story. That I had, an after hours-parking lot conversation with a friend turned into the GoPo script. I took the minimilistic approach of devising a one shot film. A suicidal video note. I set my dinosaur era super 8 video camera and became John Pennington for five minutes. I showed the first take to my best friend Ian Falconi who holds the credit of director of my film. He told me that I sucked and that if I wanted to make this work I would have to do a better acting job. EH! I can take direction very well and finally came up wit a final cut. The hard part was done. ^ While in Orlando for a film festival, ridding the tail coat of a documentary I had produced called Maria of the Flowers, I met Megan McInnis of Indielab and showed her GoPo. She liked it and peddled it for me until it made into the Freaky Film Festival in Champaign Ill. My 8-dollar movie was in a festival. I had my shot transferred to beta where it was turned into black and white. It took away all the cheeseness of video footage and added depth and contrast to the shot. The beta copy was transferred to 16mm and thus was cinematic history made. ^ I had a film and from my initial investment of 8 dollars I was in a New York film festival. I was very proud of myself. That is how I found myself walking through the booths that lined the hallways of opening night. Eager filmmakers, proud of their product and promoting it at full throttle with flyers, stickers, press releases and cardholders. One guy even passed around bags of Fritos for his flick “No Socks, No Shoes, Just You and a Bag of Chips.” It was all a bit overwhelming. I could not help myself but think; -wow these people are prepared and good. ^ I roamed the various booths with Pamela. After collecting a plethora of advertisement for all the films we turned the bar into are promotional booth. We promoted our films to whomever ordered drinks above are heads. It is amazing the amount of people that stopped at our booth. ^ I spent the week attending all the seminars, catching as many films as I could and attending every after venue parties. The thing that I got from it all was some friendships. It was nice being surrounded by people with same interest. ^ When I was getting ready for the festival I had no idea what to expect. That’s what makes adventures great. The whole experience left me with a sense of belonging. The more time I spent with filmmakers the more my creative battery charged and I wanted to be home and write. ^ April fools’ day was Going Postal’s New-York Première that encompassed a small audience. It was the first day of daylight saving times and people slept in. The place filled up an hour later. I did not mind. My cousin was there and told me that Going Postal reminded him of a Shakespearean soliloquy. I took that in with a breath of pride. ^ The short film “Indefinable Moods” followed mine. It was a 7-minute computer generated Freudian Dali dream on Prozac. I liked it. ^ Rubbernecking was the first feature length film I saw at the festival. The first notch in the barometer of my expectations. It was a comedy about a traffic jam in L.A. and it made me laugh. ^ One of the things I wanted to get out of my experience in the festival was some knowledge of movie making, promoting and learning from what others were doing. I was lucky to catch a screening of ‘Why is the Dog Howlin’Momma.’ A confrontation between a mother and her son in a Texan motel room. Outstanding actors and lighting. ^ (dot dot dot) was a short film that still lingers. It was good story telling with a camera. It followed the quirky love story of a travel agent and a hairdresser. It was a film that was pleasant to look at and it had a little subtle message of hope that transpired through the courting of the couple that meets in a Laundromat. ^ I also met Daniel Sadler, a Toronto filmmaker and Joshua Weber a New York filmmaker, from whom I learned some film ethics. ^ I learned that if you run into a filmmaker whose film you’ve seen but did not really care for and you find yourself having to talk about it since he saw you at the screening, you pick a shot you really liked in his or her film and discuss it. Move the subject away from the script and into the realm of film art. ^ The documentary Homestead Artifact stuck with me like a part of one of my own memories. The filmmaker’s grand mother tells the story of the plot of land her husband grew up on at the age of ten in New Mexico. It was a perfect documentary that blended beautiful cinematography with the voice and presence of grandma reflecting on the happy memories of life. ^ I attended all five seminars. Filmmakers, distributors, directors, screenwriter, producers and entertainment lawyers talking about the trade. They were all informative but the one seminar that impressed a sense of optimism upon everyone present was the one given by Tania and Cedric Wildbill. They were true independent filmmakers and shared with us their personal story that poured into their film American Cowboys. They were inspiring and I thank them for their advice. ^ Looking back I realize that I crammed a month in a New-York week. Like I said, the whole festival has charged up my creative juice and I surf the sentence wave: –if I can make an eight dollar movie that makes it to New York and L.A. imagine what I can do with some funds. ^ If you want to take a picture of a happy guy just point the camera my way. ^ All the best to everyone.
Fabien Roy is an actor, writer and independent filmmaker working in Miami.

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