Monday, April 27, 2009

IFFBoston wrap up

IFFBoston was like a summer thunderstorm. On a day that was as hot as blazes, it came and went in a hurry. But it was spectacular, memorable, perhaps a tad frightening. And there was a lot of water.

My trip began with a solo drive across the state to scoop up my dad at Logan. It was something like 90 degrees most of the way there. We managed to get lost on the way out of the airport (driving mishap #1) but then did manage to find our hotel near Central Square. I threw the keys to the valet in a hurry so as not to have to fret about driving for a while.

We emerged from the T station at Davis Square face-to-face with the Somerville Theater, crowds of people hovering outside it like flies, festival staffers wearing headsets yelping to stand in this line or that line. It kind of blew me away. What a contrast to Providence! Not only were the film crowds there, but everyone was simply hanging out in the square, loving as I was the long-absent sun and warmth.

We literally had to weave our way through crowds inside to get to the filmmaker's lounge at the theater (awesome), pick up credentials, etc. I almost immediately encountered Brendan Toller, one of the early editors of Tower 37 and an accomplished independent filmmaker in his own right, who was there for his film's screening at 7. If you witnessed our interaction you would have assumed that all the schwag and special treatment and crowds were day-to-day occurrences for us. It was like, "hey - how's it going?" instead of, "holy crap did you see the lines outside and all this free food?" But, you know, when in Rome. We both signed the big poster and moved back upstairs.

Dinner kept me from the festival until later, but my cell phone was abuzz throughout with texts from the descending Tower 37 crew members and friends: Will. Taryn. Kevin. Evan. Jake. Jeremy. Nick. Bassam. I was also catching updates from Daniel out in Newport Beach about the Saturday show (update to come on the left coast, I promise). We hopped in line early and amassed quite a circle of people. As dorky as it might sound, it was great to be in line, outside, just anticipating the screening and talking shop.,

Helga sidebar: Will flashed his iPhone at me in line, happily showing that he was monitoring his renders at Hampshire while waiting. Love it.

The show was packed. Almost a full house, if my memory serves me. Airplane-like, they asked us all to sit down so they could count empty seats and let others in. For a 10pm animation show! We all got our ballots on the way in but I once again didn't cast mine.

I was pleased from start to finish. The entire program was excellent and I am pleased that Tower 37 can keep such great company. The group that hung out later seemed to concur that Undone and Skhizein were both particularly outstanding. The HDCAM tape of our film looked great (thanks, Creative Group) and sounded great, even though it wasn't the full 5.1 mix.

The Q&A session afterward included myself and Hayley Morris, the director of Undone. It took the crowd a few minutes to warm up, but then the questions flowed. We were a fairly interesting contrast up there, me representing a large crew that animated on computers over 4 years; Haley did her film entirely on her own, in-camera, stuck in a little room for 6 months. Wow.

After the show we hunted for a place to hang out, finding Redbones BBQ and lashing together a raft of tables to accommodate our big group. Ending the night over beers and buffalo wings was perfect. There was lots of talk about how to make it to New Orleans in August without spending too much, and of course a continued debate about the films we saw. We finally got kicked out of the place, and I was down for the count by 2 am.

Got lost driving again on the way back to Logan on Sunday, but thanks to Kevin and his phone we still made it on time. The drive back west was again hot, the festival and its craziness already becoming the stuff of legend in my mind. A refreshing storm, to say the least!


Janet Benn said...

Hi Chris,
I went to the Thursday night show, so I missed saying hello to you. Darn! On Thursday, I had to stand outside in the cold for an hour to get in! Crazy NE weather.
Somerville is my home town. I used to go to that theater when i was 12 for 25 cents admission!
I do have the Phoenix pull-out and the festival program, but since you were there, you probably have all that.
So the film was great! Love to know how you did the water splashing - all maya?

Grant said...

This is so Cool! Thanks for describing the experience, wish I could have come to Boston too