OK, technically we won for best Illinois short. They had a category for films made in Illinois or Wisconsin. Really nice folks up there.
Off Book is getting its Chicago premier on Tuesday! It’s playing on the Midwest Shorts night at the Midwest Indie Film Fest, alongside some other great shorts.
The screening includes five short films and an opening night reception that starts at 7pm.
It’s a really wonderful and up-and-coming festival in Bloomington, IN. The dates are August 10-12 and I’m planning to drive down with some of the cast & crew, plus some filmmaking friends that are also screening that weekend at Middle Coast. And Off Book also got in! I love festivals that are driving distance because my recent life has been sadly bereft of road trips.
Our talented editor, Paul Myzia, put together a really sharp trailer for Off Book, which has been rolling along nicely on the festival circuit (playing Middle Coast in August and Austin Revolution in September).
Here’s the trailer:
Catching up on some great news from the past month for a few of my projects.
- The film premiered last month at the Twister Alley Film Festival and was nominated for best screenplay, best actress, and best supporting actor in the short film category. And it took home the award for best comedy short film.
- I was nominated for best director at the Portland Comedy Film Festival last month.
- Off Book was the winner of the Los Angeles CineFest for May 2017.
No official announcement yet, but I have word that it will be premiering soon at a film festival…
A new untitled project
I’m directing a short that I wrote on June 10. This is my first directing project in a year and I decided to make something quick and relatively inexpensive while getting together money and a script for a feature film.
The new project is basically my version of a rom-com, if the film ended after the meet cute because everyone was so traumatized.
Two weekends ago I attended the Portland Comedy Film Festival. I only saw shorts there, although there were a couple features that played before I arrived. Here are a few that I both enjoyed and are currently available online.
Cauliflower, directed by Natasha Straley
Groundhog Day for a Black Man, directed by Cynthia Kao
Jihadi Street, directed by Yulia Fomenko
I still don’t know how I feel about this one but it’s so rare to see a comedy this risky and I really want to see what Yulia does next.
If last year was about learning how to plan for and execute production, this year has been learning about festivals.
I’ve had mixed feelings as one short has been doing very well on the festival circuit and the other one, the one that I put all my money (and credit) into and basically poured months of my life into–that one, The Deadline, is 0 for 9 so far with festivals.
Some of the ones I applied to were long-shots, but some were not. Like the Portland Comedy Film Festival, where another film I directed, Off Book, got me a best director nomination but The Deadline wasn’t selected.
The frustrating thing about it is the lack of feedback. You just get a letter that invariably states that “there were so many great submissions this year but we had to make difficult decisions.” I guess there’s no real easy way to say no to people. And it would be a tremendous amount of work to write a personal note to everyone that submitted.
I’ve been showing The Deadline to some filmmaker friends, ones with more festival experience to get their feedback. Mostly I’ve gotten the response that at 13 minutes and change, it’s hard to program. The sweet spot for shorts is 3-7 minutes. So I cut a minute out of it and I may cut another minute and a half out of it in the next month to see if that improves things. It’s not ideal — I would rather show a truncated version than let the original version sit on my hard drive. But I’ve been able to find areas where the story slows down a bit, places where a cut doesn’t change the story, just changes how its told.
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to cut when the sound is already mixed and the score was written for a certain length. I can kind of cut around the score or use audio effects to hide the cuts in the soundtrack, but there’s not much leeway in certain areas.
Off Book is only seven minutes and it’s more of a typical comedic structure with a high concept that gets executed pretty efficiently. It’s definitely easier to program and more of an audience-pleaser, while the Deadline meanders a bit more and sits in some moments longer, which makes it less likely to get a shot.
Anyway, I don’t wallow in the defeat. I’m making another short next month and have plans for a feature, maybe even as soon as this year. Making The Deadline was like going to film school and in a way this is the final lesson. Regardless of how it does, it was worth it and I stand by the work.
I went to Woodward, OK this weekend to the Twister Alley Film festival. I’ve been to festivals before but never had a film that was up on the big screen (I’m not counting web series). It was an amazing experience, the kind of thing I think about whenever I go to a theater to see a movie. And I met a lot of amazing and friendly people and saw some really fantastic stuff. Twister Alley was just named a top 50 festival to attend for filmmakers by Moviemaker magazine and I can see why.
Off Book was nominated for awards in several categories and took home the award for best short comedy film.
And this week I found out that the film will also be playing at the end of May at the Portland Comedy Film Festival.
More good news on the festival front!
We were accepted to the NYC Web Fest, which takes place November 13 & 14, 2015 in New York.
They haven’t released the schedule or the location details yet but you can get updates and check out the other great series on their website.