Well, it wasn’t afilm, but rather the filmmakers’ luncheon at Roys. Food was great. But I couldn’t help feeling like the red-headed stepchild at a family reunion. The other filmmakers were nice enough, but when we (Chris and I) said we had done a short, they didn’t say it, but you could tell there was this tone that, “Oh, it’s just a short.” Yeah, it’s just a short, but I went through the same things you guys did. We had a script and actors and crew and post and all that, just it was shorter than what they went through. Sure, I can understand that if you ran a 50-mile marathon and some guy ran the 100-meter, you definitely put out a longer haul, but that’s not to say that you guys weren’t both running and you both ended up in the same place. Just a little bitterness. I mean, my 20 minutes cost way less than 20 minutes of your film; and my 20 minutes makes a complete story. I’m not saying a short has the WOW factor of a feature. I’m not saying you should worship the screen on which my film plays. Just, please, don’t be so rude about it. This is my first film. We all had to start somewhere. Chill.
Of course, then when it comes up we’re from Vegas, well, then there’s even more of that unspoken condescension. Just Vegas. Bah!
So anyway, I left a bit perturbed, but at the same time happy for the experience. That’s what this whole thing is about, has been since the idea to make the film. It’s to get experience. Test the waters. See what this whole filmmaking thing is all about. So, I’m just soaking it all in. What kinds of problems others had, successes, that kind of thing.
I asked Joy Dietrich who directed Tie a Yellow Ribbon if she could see the film as a film or just a sum of its parts and she said that it was somewhat hard to be objective about it, that she would have been happy to have been able to have a couple of weeks away from the film to distance herrself a bit during post. I had the same problem, however I had the chance to distance myself when the film went to Sun for edit refinements and color and sound. With a month and a half not watching the film, when I did see it again, I realised what I didn’t like, what I did like that I wasn’t sure if I liked, all that stuff. An invaluable opportunity.
Different ways of getting funding from grants to private investors, dealig with actors, casting pools, all that kind of info was extremely interesting AND helpful. Don’t regret a minute. And did I say the food was good? I don’t even like fish but the salmon was amazing. Braised short rib on mashed potatoes that were unlike any I’d ever had. Okay, enough about the food. But the dessert… WOW! Okay. Done.
So, I’m leaving there mentally cataloging and thinking about how to apply all I’d talked about to the next film and I get a call from Fernando, the co-ordinator. He’d gotten a call from the projectionist and they were concerned that there was a problem with the copy of “The Bet.” Oh. Shit. So I call the projectionist and they say the film is dark. I say it’s supposed to be dark. They say it’s really dark. So I ask if I can come up and check it out just to make sure. No problem. They can show me on their monitor but not on screen (obviously) since other films are playing.
Apprently, had there been SMPTE bars and tone, the standard practice, at the beginning of the tape, there would have been no cause for confusion. Enough said.
And we’d just talked about the technical issues that could arise during a screening at the luncheon. Joy said the world premiere of Tie a Yellow Ribbon was horrifying because the film was playing at the wrong ratio and the sound was coming in and out. She actually left the screening.
Now, driving home all I can think is “What if it’s too dark? Can I get a new tape made? How will I know if it’s gonna look okay? Will it not be able to screen? Was all this for nothing? It looked fine at Sun, why’s it messed up?” And the other side of my head is going “It’s supposed to be dark. I’m sure it looks fine. Relax, they’re just being cautious.” But of course, I don’t listen to that side. Do we ever listen to that side? I just kept kicking myself for pushing it so far into the darks without really knowing what I was doing.
So I get to the CineVegas HQ, find the theatre manager, Stephanie Clarke – whom I would love to buy a drink because she looked absolutely frazzled but was extremely nice – and she takes me up to the projectionist booth. Never been there before. Pretty cool. So the lady puts in the tape and lets it play a little. I have no idea what she was saying for the first few seconds (I only half-heard her name – Andrea? Adriana? – because I was totally focused on this little monitor, gauging how the film looked. And it looked fine. Actually, it looked really good. She said they were concerned because so much of the midtones were pushed into the blacks that it looked like a mistake. Well, it may have looked bad – who’s to say – but it was how it was supposed to look. Ahhh. Relief.
I asked Andrea/Adriana if it was a nightmare with all the different formats coming in and she gave a look like “You have no idea.” BetaSP, HDcam, DVD, film, 24fps, 23.96, 59.97, NTSC, PAL, lions and tigers and bears. Oh my. So there’s another drink(s) I’d love to buy. People just show up and watch movies and rarely do they have a clue what goes on. From idea to script to pre-pro to shooting to post and even making prints/dubs and all of the craziness just to put put it up on a screen.
But all’s good. And while this is my first rodeo, and I have nothing to compare CineVegas against, if “The Bet” does get into another festival, they’ll have a pretty high benchmark to work against.