Sick in bed and having missed out on Day 3 of BIFF, I was expecting to do the same with the rest of the festival. Fortunately, after spending a lot of time sleeping off whatever I was feeling, I was able to get up with just enough time to get ready for the closing night.
The night began with an awards ceremony, during which all the jury members came out and presented filmmakers with their trophies. Our NYC filmmaker friends mentioned earlier - Michael Wolfe (director), Robert Nicotra (producer), and Mark Montgomery (producer) - of the film Maybe Tomorrow won the award for Best Narrative Feature in the ‘New Visions’ category!
Then the closing night movie, The Sapphires began. Another movie from the Weinstein Company, it was thoroughly entertaining as well as moving. I was laughing and/or crying throughout. I also found myself dancing in my seat to all the great songs featured. It opens in 2013 in the Spring sometime. You should all go watch it!
After another intriguing Q&A with Jeffrey Lyon and Dan Guando, everyone headed to the closing night party at the Ocean Club Estates via the Heineken party bus. Everyone was enjoying themselves and looking good in their suits and dresses. I was so happy I was feeling well enough to join the fun. I definitely paid for it the next day, but it was totally worth it. We got to meet and talk to so many lovely, interesting people - what a great way to end our first festival experience with Bittersweet Monday.
The day didn’t begin so well. I woke up with a bad headache and nausea, keeping me in bed until 30 minutes before departure time. And our cab driver took us to the wrong ‘Galleria Cinema,’ which we didn’t realize until we were inside. It was 30 minutes before our screening time, and there were no yellow cabs to catch like we’re used to in NYC. Fortunately, Bahamians are apparently super friendly, and one of the workers took us to a security guard, who called for a cab, which arrived shortly.
I know we look too happy for two people who are late to our own screening. But hey, we’re in the Bahamas, and worse things have happened. :)
By the time we got to the right theater, we had just missed the introduction by a festival staff. He spotted us as soon as we walked in and said he told the audience I should be around at the end of the movie.
As expected, the theater was not very full. But the fact that there were people in there at all was fascinating. Once the movie began, I immediately noticed the sound wasn’t high enough. Producer Dave jumped right up and left the theater to talk to the tech people, and it was turned up ASAP. It was still not as full as we would have liked, but it was apparently a system compatibility issue, which we couldn’t help. It was a bit of a bummer, but we could hear the dialogue fine. And the picture quality and color looked good.
There was a short Q&A after. One of the positive feedbacks I heard was something to the effect of ‘it was good to see that it went to that ‘hard place,’ where a lot of films don’t go.’ I found that comment extra interesting and wanted to ask in specifics as to what she meant, but I didn’t get a chance…
And once that was over - phew! - producer Dave and I hung out in the lobby a bit, talking to other filmmakers. Then we were back in the theater, watching movies.
On our way back to the hotel, another friendly Bahamian driver was telling us about all the local spots we should check out, including eateries. It was past our dinner time, and we were starving. So we asked him to take us to the nearest food place, also asking him how to get back to the hotel from there. This man - Keith is his name - said he’d wait for us and took us to his favorite spot, where he seemed to know everybody. We ordered grouper fingers, conch fritters, and ‘sky juice,’ among others, at his recommendation.
It took what seemed like forever in New York time, but Keith was so laid back, telling us it’s fine. Dave even said hello to Keith’s wife on the phone while we were waiting for our food to come out. Eventually, we got back on the taxi and got dropped off at the hotel, where Dave and I had a little feast in our room.
The whole day felt a bit crazy, but not always in a bad way. All in all, I’d say we had a pretty successful day of premiering our movie, Bittersweet Monday.
Last night, producer Dave and I attended the screening of Quartet. It was an opening night event, preceded by red carpet interviews and photos. Attending filmmakers also got to have their photos taken - tho this blurry one is from after everything was over.
When we were all seated, a few people spoke, including Leslie Vanderpool, the executive director of the festival; the Prime Minister of The Bahamas; and Dan Guando, the Senior Vice President of Acquisitions at The Weinstein Company, which is the distribution company for Quartet and also the closing film, The Sapphires. It was inspirational to be in attendance. And once the movie ended, Jeffrey Lyons, the film & TV critic, came out with Dan Guando for an informative and entertaining Q&A.
There was an opening night party on a yacht immediately after, which I’m sure was a load of fun, along with being a great opportunity to mingle with other filmmakers. Unfortunately, I was feeling a bit under the weather. And having our movie premiere the next day - today in a few hours, I thought it was a good idea to call it a night early. I’m glad I did because I passed out as soon as I got back, and I’m still not feeling my best this morning.
No partying for us, but we still got to meet several attending filmmakers at the screening last night. We also ran into our fellow New York filmmakers, Robert Nicotra and Michael Wolfe, who are here to screen their movie, Maybe Tomorrow. It’s always great to see friendly faces.
Our movie, Bittersweet Monday premieres/screens today at 2:30pm at the Galleria JFK Theater 2 in Nassau, Bahamas. It’s my first time showing the movie to a group of strangers, and I don’t know how many people will actually be there. But I’m definitely looking forward to the experience of sharing it with an audience.
I’m a bit nervous. But once this part is over, I get to watch other people’s movies, attend panels, enjoy the sun, and mingle. Wish us luck!
It’s December, and I’m grateful. I have tasted the bitter to appreciate the sweet like never before, and I am still intact. It’s been a long and torturous year, and I’m glad it’s over soon.
A part of this year’s bittersweet satisfaction comes from the completion of my movie, appropriately titled, Bittersweet Monday. And it’s finally making its festival debut next week at the Bahamas International Film Festival. I’m making a much needed vacation out of this trip; I’m going to soak up some sun. Still jet lagged from my last travel, I’m thinking it might be the optimal way to be because I’m tired just the right amount not to get nervous. My sundresses are packed, and I’m ready to go.
Ironically, my filmmaking was only a very small part of either my tribulations or triumphs this year. It kept me busy here and there, giving me a much needed distraction at times. But mostly, it was relatively trivial, thus taking a back seat in my list of things to do and being postponed for this long. Instead, it’s been all about life and family.
Facing a painful situation completely out of my control, I have relearned the obvious lesson to be grateful in the present. I am also less frightened of the unknown in what is yet to be, grounded in the blessings of now. My appreciation for what is, what has been, and what will be moves me in ways I have not known in the past. The struggle will continue, for that is life. But I feel ready to tackle what’s next.
We had our second sound mix session yesterday, and it was thoroughly satisfying- something I haven’t felt in a while. I’ve had some frustrating experiences in the past with post-production that I might have become a tad jaded. Luckily, yesterday reminded me it could be such a fun process.
Working with talented professionals apparently can bring back the lost desire to keep going. I’ve been on quite a hiatus from this movie that the task of finishing the feature was starting to feel like a chore. But the dreadful feeling seems to have dissipated completely in the audio mixing room yesterday, leaving me only with the pure exhilaration of filmmaking. We have another review session this afternoon. It’s going to be a good day.
Next Monday, I have my second sound mixing session for Bittersweet Monday. For many reasons, consisting of mostly personal ones, the sound sessions for this first feature film of mine had to be pushed back several times. The original intention to finish the movie by the end of 2011 has become 2012. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll happen for real this time.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I realize over and over how much of an intense and laborious process filmmaking is, not only during production but also before and after. For an independent filmmaker who is trying to make things happen with limited resources and with a budget that apparently falls under the category of ‘no budget’ according to a recent article I read (I think it was below 100K), the whole process can be overwhelming. I have felt utterly lost at times, and I’m still not sure if I know what I’m doing.
Nonetheless, Bittersweet Monday is finally making its festival debut this December. There’s much to be done, including but not limited to printing and mailing press kit, scheduling and booking travel, and making sure the movie is finished and sent in the right format - all within the next week. With hurricane Sandy, my place is without power; but fortunately, I left town before the storm hit. I will have to deal with the damages when I get back, but I’m grateful I get to stay dry and warm for now, able to concentrate on getting ready for the festival…
It will be my first festival attendance with a feature film. All my other experiences have been with shorts, which I think is easier because you get to screen your movie with a bunch of other people’s. A short filmmaker/film is naturally exempt from the sole responsibility of entertaining for the given 2-hour time slot. With a feature, there’s a bigger burden.
I’m nervous and excited. And a part of me is scared like a little girl. But I know it’s going to be a beneficial experience no matter what because I get to be a part of a celebration, specifically designed for filmmakers and film lovers, with whom I get to share my movie. I have yet to find my audience, and maybe, just maybe, I will soon.
Due to a lot of unforeseen circumstances that I can’t explain without writing a book, Bittersweet Monday has been on an extended hiatus. But we’re back!
This week, we had a meeting and a tour of a sound facility in Seoul, where so many great Korean movies have been mixed, including Old Boy! I was really excited about that… That’s one Korean movie all non-Koreans seem to know. And isn’t Spike Lee supposed to be doing a remake?
Despite the frustration of not being able to finish a movie that’s sooooo close, our inadvertent lag has given us time to reevaluate some unexpected scenes. Now the movie runs at 88 minutes, compared to the initial ‘final cut’ of 95 minutes. We think it’s a good length for the kind of story/movie it is. Hope the audience feels the same.
In the meantime, I have something new cooking up. I’m hoping to make my next feature in Seoul, my hometown - shooting for a summer 2013 production. I have a webpage going up soon, so stay tuned!