Seattle Debrief

I’ve got to say, the Science Fiction Short Film Festival was an amazing experience. The trip itself was nightmarish — there’s nothing like having your travel agency neglect to actually book the ticket, and then try to stick you with an additional $480 charge if you actually want to make your flight. And neglect to inform you that the cost of your hotel room will unexpectedly skyrocket for the second night of your stay.

But despite all of that, the festival itself was fantastic. First, I participated in a special teachers’ session at the Science Fiction Museum; basically a live director’s commentary and Q&A session. (It’s kind of nice to know that Seattle-area teachers are going to be using “Machinations” to teach students about visual composition in film.) And I got a free pass to the museum and the Experience Music Project — not a bad way to kill a couple of hours before the festival proper.

(Speaking of commentaries, I should take a second to note that we have finally added a new entry to our long-neglected podcast: A commentary on “Machinations” with me and D.P. Adam Young. Enjoy.)

As for the screenings themselves, I couldn’t have asked for a better venue. The Cinerama Theatre is a surprisingly well-kept, 800-seat theater with a huge curved screen. And a good old-fashioned balcony. The filmmakers had prime reserved seats, of course — and we needed them, as the theater sold out both screenings. And that’s an audience of regular filmgoers, not a crowd stacked with the filmmakers’ friends and family.

The quality of the films varied, as one might expect. In some cases the concept was intriguing but the execution lacked. In others those two factors were reversed. A few films missed on both counts. And some were right on the money. Some personal favorites of mine were “Transgressions” (which ended up taking home the Grand Prize), “The Un-Gone,” “Maklar, Anyone?” (the Audience Favorite winner), “Singularity,” and “TV Man.” I also enjoyed “Haunted Planet” and “Face Machine,” and got a real kick out of the animated romp “The Tragical Historie of Guidolon the Giant Space Chicken.” The space effects in “Mizar” were absolutely asonishing (and on full 35mm film, no less). And I want to make special mention of “Agnieszka” and Douglas Trumbull award-winner “13 Ways to Die at Home”; I definitely enjoyed both of them, but they both fall firmly into the category of “What the hell was that?

We didn’t take home any awards — not that we expected to, given the quality of the competition and the fact that there really weere only three awards given. But the audience really seemed to love our little picture; and in that theater, that was really some reaction. Talk about a rush. And even beyond the films, the experience of being to able to interact with other filmmakers and film fans was priceless.

Of course, lest I leave the experience thinking all was well with the world, I was brought back down to Earth on the return flight, where I had what was supposed to be a four-hour layover at Midway airport. Which kept on creeping later and later, until it reached nearly the six-hour mark. Sure, I was able to sit and watch the Superbowl (or at least the first three quarters) in an airport bar in Chicago, but that novelty wore off pretty fast. Didn’t manage to crawl out of a largely-abandoned National airport until one in the morning. Lost the whole day just trying to get home (and had to get up for an early meeting the next morning).

It was so worth it.

While I’m rambling, I might as well add a few quick news bullets:

  • Thanks to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse screening, Tohubohu has taken in its first appreciable revenue; at just over $100, it doesn’t really begin to cover the amount we’ve spent on production (and the even greater amount we’ve since spent on promotion), but it’s still a really nice feeling to get that check in hand.
  • Still no news on any potential awards from the National Film Challenge, and we probably won’t know anything until Filmapalooza in March. And that’s assuming they post any announcements immediately: While we’d certainly like to have a representative in attendance, our budget is pretty much spent after the aforementioned Seattle trip...
  • The Internet Movie Database now has reasonably complete listings for both “Quite ContraryandMachinations” — so if you worked on either of those films, be sure to give those entries a look to make sure you’re credited properly (and even if you didn’t work on either of them, go give them your ratings and comments)!
  • The 2007 48 Hour Film Project for Washington, D.C., will take place over the weekend of May 4th through the 6th. Clear your calendars...