Like every year, I spent a five day chunk of my life immersed in a film festival, FilmColumbia to be specific. It's a great festival and a truly surprising one considering it takes place in small town upstate New York. You know, that mythical part of the state north of "The City."
It was a great time and over five days I saw 18 feature films and a half dozen shorts. If you follow this blog you'll notice I wrote a ton on the movies the first couple days and then stopped. This is normal. After that the number of films starts to become overwhelming and the lack of sleep starts to get to me and I just stop writing. I did mostly keep going on Twitter though.
I would recommend pretty much everything to some degree but of course there are stand outs. Anonymous opens this week and is worth a watch, even if it's just for the shock value of watching Roland Emmerich not blow up the world in a movie. I fell madly in love with Downtown Express, but at this point it doesn't have distributor, so finding it may be tough. If you like a slow burn, Martha Marcy May Marlene is well worth your time. If you want to be greatly unsettled, We Need to Talk About Kevin should be on your to do list. The Descendants is another great offering from Alexander Payne. Coriolanus can simultaneously scratch your action movie and Shakespeare itches. And finally, My Week With Marilyn is immensely charming and beautifully shot.
But for me, the highlight will be the screenwriting panel on Sunday morning. Writers bring in a piece of their script and real working actors perform it live for an audience. I brought in a section of the short script No Big Deal that I've been working on since the summer. I was a nervous wreck during the whole event. Until someone else looks at my material, I don't really know what I have. All I know is that the idea interested me enough to write and that I've done my best to write it. There were some really strong entries and my script was the last to be read. By the time they got to mine, I had convinced myself that I had written utter crap and it would be booed off the stage.
This did not happen. The actors were Anna Acciani, Gian Murray-Gianino, Kevin Craig West, Lily Balsan, Glen Heroy and Parker Posey. They knocked it out of the park. I couldn't be more delighted with their performances, particularly Heroy and Posey who found a style and rhythm to an older couple in the story that I never imagined. And what they did was more interesting than what was in my head when I wrote it. Always leave space in your writing for the actors to work in. If they're at all talented, they'll elevate your material if you don't put them in a straight jacket.
After the reading there was discussion and the reaction was easily the best I've had at one of these events. People were fascinated with the idea and my plan for making it. After it was over I was able to talk to most of the actors and pick their brains about producing this short. To say it was informative is a huge understatement. And after the whole thing was over I actually had people in the audience stop me on the street to talk about it. If you're writing scripts, get them read out loud, you won't be disappointed.
So that's it. The fun is over and now it's time to go back to reality. And that first day back is pure drudgery. After a high like Sunday, Monday at the regular job is a big let down. No offense to my co-workers, who are lovely people, it's just not the same.