Monday, December 14, 2009

A bundle of Tower 37 news today, including a wrap-up from the Artivist Fest in LA by our own producer Daniel. I'm trying not to take it personally, but when I go to festivals I'm lucky to get a Q&A. Daniel gets trophies handed to him, press photos, he gets invited up on stage, you name it. What gives?

Before we hear from Daniel, Bill and Signe are running an encore presentation of the Woodstock Animated Shorts block on January 13th at 92YTribeca, which you Bit Films historians might recognize as the very same place where Tower 37 first screened in NYC almost a year earlier as a part of Hampshire College's Alumni Reel. I really enjoyed the Woodstock program and I strongly encourage anyone in the NY area to check it out in January.

We also heard that the Tiburon International Film Festival is going to be showing Tower 37 in March 2010. This selection is exciting for two reasons: it's my first repeat festival (they showed Catch in 2007), and it's also going to compete with Moondance in the category of "festival with the most of my family members in attendance."

Speaking of Catch, I posted the original animatic for Catch the other day. Boy I had some rough sketches in there, but they served their purpose and I hope people find it helpful to compare the film-as-planned with the film-as-delivered.

And now I give the web over to Daniel, who writes:
I attended both our screening last Thursday and the awards ceremony on Saturday night. I've been in LA for a year and a half but this was my first time at the Egyptian Theater. The festival did an excellent job turning the courtyard in front of the theater into a festival space where audience members and filmmakers could all mingle. They had live music and swag everywhere. Very cool.

We played in the Spielberg theater, the smaller of the two screens, but sill a relatively nice theater. I'd say the theater was probably about 70% full...which I think was quite a feat considering it was 7pm on a Thursday night. One of the exec directors of the festival got up and introduced all the films that would be playing (each one had an environmental theme). He also pointed out that I was in attendance and there would be a Q&A following the films, it was at this point that I discovered I was the only person there representing a film.

The screening went really well. Laughs at the size reveal and the dud bomb, "awwwws" at the first reveal of Leed after the helmet pops off and during u5_03 as Leed swims around the pitcher, and gasps of uncertainty when Operator slips and almost hits Leed and as the tower comes apart. It felt like we got the longest and loudest applause of the evening. My only complaint is a technical one. The contrast appeared to be turned up a little too high on the projector, because the blacks were really intense and in some of the shots inside the control room we lost some of the detail in the dark. [editor's note: argh!]

Of the five films, we were the only narrative, the rest were docs. In my opinion, the most interesting (and longest) was Seeds of Change: The ECO Story, about a project to attempt the clean Yangtze River by teaching the poor farmers who work along its banks to use crops that are better for soil retention and thus the earth doesn't run off into the river (there was a lot more to it, but that was the basic idea). This is the second time that I have seen us play alongside a doc and I have to say, I really like the pairing of hard fact and imaginative fantasy. [editor's note: the first time was the Newport Beach Film Festival, which Daniel also wrote about, and there was also the Moondance pairing in Boulder that I attended]

The final film ended and the lights came up, but the guy who had introduced all the films didn't come back in. The audience started to get confused and some people started to get up to leave, so I got up (after being coaxed a bit by the people who came with me, including Tower 37 animator Harry) and ran down to the front of the theater and launched into my own Q&A. We received numerous positive and glowing comments about how affective the film was. I talked about your original impetus for the film, discussed how it evolved during production, and went on to explain how it was produced entirely in an academic environment. After the Q&A ended I talked with the exec director (who eventually came back in, but I was already mid-Q&A). He had been unaware of the academic nature of the project and we discussed how Artivist is a really good fit for our film that seems to stump programmers a lot. He commented how we were one of the few narratives that really fit the fest. On the way out of the theater one of the photographers snapped our photo:

I came back Saturday for the awards ceremony. Definitely one of the most "Hollywood" events I have been to. After the red carpet walk, we headed into the theater where we had reserved seats set aside for us in the front along with a ton of celebrities. We were seated right behind Olivia Wilde from House and The OC who was receiving an award for her humanitarian work. Hank Azaria was also there and also received an award for his humanitarian efforts. At the end of the ceremony, they invited all the attending filmmakers to come up to the stage. The fest uploaded a video of this to youtube.

Overall a pretty positive festival experience!

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