Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vail FF Report - Journal & Reviews

Well, I'm back from Vail, and what an awesome time I had!!!

Friday, March 31st,
1:30 - 2pm.

We arrived in Vail. We thought we were going to be in this huge rush, because for some reason we 1) thought that Vail was going to be a 3 hour drive, and it was less than two hours; and 2) had old info on the schedule, 10mph was at 6:55pm NOT 2:50pm.

When we pulled up we immediately saw the slopes, skiers pouring onto chair lifts, and people walking in those clunky ski boots down the streets. There were the typical collections of skis and snowboards outside restaurants just like you see at all ski resorts. So my first thought was, "oh my gosh, how can I come here and not ski???"

Eventually I got over that need. We wandered around the streets of Vail Village for a bit looking for the theater that was playing 10mph. We spotted several 10mph posters! The theater, however, like everything else in Vail, was difficult to find. After a short while we spotted the filmmakers Hunter & Josh who told us that the show was actually at 6:55pm, so we had tons of time to relax! So we walked around for a while longer.

I met the others from the crew and we went to the filmmaker's reception. Jeremy, another assistant editor, and I wandered around the little party (which was jammmmmmm packed!) handing out 10mph shirts and talking to people about going to watch the movie. Many people were buzzing about the movie before we even approached them!

We scurried over from the reception to the premier! Made it just in time too. Unfortunately they had put us in this tiny theater on the first night (only 66 seats) and I was the last person allowed through the doors. Lots of people were turned away.

As the movie started, I was so excited. But the audio was so low that the hum of audience whispering & shuffeling drowned out almost everything. So I got up and asked them to turn it up. A couple of the others from 10mph thanked me afterwards for "saving the day" -- apparently it hadn't occurred to them to ask for the volume to be boosted, and it really could have killed the movie's reception!


10mph (Weeks, 2005)
Two guys quit their jobs in cubicle farms and take to the road on the first ever coast-to-coast expedition on a Segway. Along the way they fall in love with this country's landscapes, with the generosity and warmth of its citizens, and with people who dare to follow their dreams.
Ok I know I am biased, but can I just say..... wow??? H&J told me they had been putting some polish on the flick over the past several months, but who knew it would turn this neat little movie into something so great? And it wasn't just me loving it, the show was sold out both days, and the audience was laughing and cheering! The editing was great, very smooth. The shots were wonderful. There was lots of comedy, and tons of heart. I think even without my bias I would have just loved the movie, and I challenge anyone to see it and not fall for it.


When the credits rolled, the audience clapped vigorously. H&J went up with producers Gannon & J.Fred (both of whom also appear in the film) and gave a Q&A. People had really responded to the movie and they had tons of questions. Afterwards, even I was congratulated by a couple of random audience members!

After chatting with the crew, friends, and random audience members, the hubby & I found a fantastic little restaurant and had a belated dinner. Surprisingly the restaurant (Blu's) was both very inexpensive and very nice (with delicious food!) It seemed really quite difficult to find reasonably priced food in Vail that didn't come from a pizzeria. So, this was a really great find.

After dinner we met the rest of the gang (minus Hunter and a couple others who had already left Vail) at the Red Lion (restaurant/bar/club). After that we all headed back to the condo that H&J had rented for all of us. We had wine, a cozy fire, and lots of fun conversation. But the hubby and I were soon sleepy since we hadn't slept too much the night before. I have to say that there were at least 15 people staying in the condo. There were sleeping bags everywhere. Thankfully because we were a couple, we got one of the bedrooms, and got to sleep on a real bed. We also had someone sleeping on our floor. Good thing we had that room, because the guys in the living room ended up chatting, drinking, and giggling till 4:30am!!!

Saturday, April 1st,

In the living room, the group was totally slap happy and giggling all over the place from lack of sleep. I on the other hand was a tad grumpy. Fact is, their chatter had kept me up till about 3, but I really didn't begrudge them. If I had been better rested, I would have stayed up with them too. The hubby and I and fellow assistant editor Jeremy headed out to catch a day of festival movies. We ended up spending the whole day with Jeremy which was really fun because when I worked on the movie, my schedule rarely overlapped with anyone else's, so I generally only saw Josh and sometimes Hunter. It was cool to get to know

someone else from the crew. It's also fun to talk to someone else who knows stuff about filmmaking. Usually when I talk about projects and movies, I have to be careful what I say so people won't get lost, not so with Jeremy. In fact, he probably knows more about the tech side of film than I do. (Apparently he is responsible also for the awesome trailers for 10mph).

We had lunch at the pizzeria called Vendetta's. I had a pasta dish (Shrimp Farfalle I think) which was really delish, but I must have just reeked of garlic for the rest of the day. (And for the weekend for that matter.) Then we headed out to look for movies.

First up was a movie that some of the others at the condo had been buzzing about last night. One Per Cent, a doc about the top one per cent richest people. It took us soo long to find the place where it was showing (which was actually the back room of "The Lodge"), we almost didn't make it. Vail Village has almost no street signs, so that makes it difficult to find stuff. Aside from that this place wasn't really marked at all. And the back entrance (which was locked) was the

only one we could find. Eventually we made our way in as guests opened the back door to leave the lodge. The room wasn't a great one. It was kind of like a large conference room. The floor wasn't raked, so all you saw in front of you was a bunch of heads and the top half of the screen. This was the room that 10mph played on the second day, so that's kind of a shame. I don't know why a film fest with this kind of notoriety doesn't have better venues. I mean they had one really good one that I saw. But it was way out of the way.

So, anyway, because no one could see the lower half of the screen, every time a title appeared on the bottom (which was often, given that this was a doc that introduced lots of people), the audience was a sea of bobbing and swaying heads of people trying to read.


One Per Cent (Parker, 2006)
********SPOILER WARNING*********
A documentary that begins with an odd take on the rich life that suggests that rich people are just like you and me -- shyah right. But at the end we learn, the doc was all a fake, and we've just been taken in.
So they faked you out. The whole thing was a hoax, and now they are shoving it in your face. So what was the point? Point is, documentaries to some degree are always fake, you shouldn't trust everything you see, and you should be a responsible enough viewer to fact check after you view anything. I know this was a popular flick at the fest, and I love the message. I mean many of you know that I have been screaming this for ages. And I like that there were many people in the audience who had an ah-hah! moment as a result of the tactic, but I just thought it was cheap. And cheaper still was that there were multi layers of fakery. And, maybe it's because every filmmaking and screenwriting class I took had numerous barely 20s kids doing this very same thing in their works, but the whole faked-you-out twist at the end smacks of amateurism. It's like this phase that every contemporary filmmaker goes through. And once you've gone past the phase yourself, you just can't see it as a mature and sophisticated choice. (Like those songs you listened to in middle school that now just sound juvenile and silly to you.) So it was no surprise to me when I learned that this was the first movie these guys have made. The only way I can see this kind of tactic really working is if it's something you layed in the groundwork and developed along the way. Then it's like it was there all along and we didn't notice it till now. That's more interesting; like Sixth Sense, but even that has been such a fad lately, it seems tired.


There was a Q&A after the movie. It was clear that I was one of very few people who didn't dig the movie's format. What bugs me is not that these other people like it, but the people who didn't like it and then decide they do because everyone else is speaking so highly of it. I think these same people are the ones who like all the movies they are supposed to. You know like Crash, etc.. The movie doesn't have to actually be pulled off. As long as the audience is under the impression that they have to like a movie in order to be socially conscious, enlightened,

or more educated than they were before they saw it, then they will like it. And with this movie (***Sorry, another spoiler here***) several people hated (somewhere in their guts) the way that their investment of time and interest had been wasted so that they could be the butt of the movie's big joke, until they realized that they would no longer be the butt of said joke if they "got it." Then they could feel nice and smart, and generally intellectually superior. Ha ha! Clever, clever. But I'm clever too, because I get it. Ha ha. I'll give you that the movie makes you think, and that making the audience that uncomfortable and self-conscious is a potentially extremely effective way of convincing them of your point. But it still just amounts to a cheap trick. Ugh... mixed unresolved feelings about this one. (***End spoiler***)

Moving on...

We headed over to the Vail Mountain School for the next screening. Great venue, but out of the way. We went to go see Jam, which as it would happen, was the movie starring the only semi-celeb that we (actually my hubby - because I didn't recognize him at all) spotted the entire time we were in Vail. I wish we would have gone to see something else. I could sum up the experience of watching this movie in one word: miserable. Still, I suppose I should elaborate, so here goes...


Jam (Serling, 2006)
A car accident occurs on a winding (yet surprisingly busy) back road that causes a traffic jam. Everyone fights then learns to get along when they are stuck for hours in the unbareable summer heat.
From the moment the credits began and the music played, I wanted out of the theater. It was just that clearly awful, right from the get-go. It was stale, the music was cheesy and nasty (think something that might not even make it onto the hallmark channel) but worst of the worst was that this script was the most god-awful thing ever. Who greenlighted this project anyway? They need to find a new career. To say that it was contrived or that character choices and dialog were unbelieveable would be kind. On the other hand, if there had been at least some campiness, maybe I could have enjoyed how bad it was, like watching a John Waters movie or something. But no. It wasn't even interesting enough to get it a Razzie. And the question remains (if you care enough to ask a question): why are they stuck there? Why can't the last person in the jam just turn around and go get help, or even just leave?


Give me those two hours back!
Needless to say, we did not hang around for the Q&A. Instead we ran back into town for a quick bite to eat at another pizzeria (forget what this one was called, but it's the place with all the skeletons in the decor) and had one gobble each of some sandwiches before stuffing them into togo boxes and running back to the theater to see Stalking Santa.

Stalking Santa gets my award for Best Aggressive Marketing. These guys were every-freakin-where. They were in their santa hats and their black, logo tees, jingling bells, handing out cookies, stickers, you name it. And the thing is... it worked. I wasn't all that interested the first couple times I saw them, but by the time we were making our movie choices for Saturday, it was a must see. I had to know what they were raving about (even if it was the filmmakers who were doing the raving).

Stalking Santa (Kiefer, 2006)
A mockumentary featuring a "scientist" who is bent on proving the exitence of Santa Claus.
This movie has a pretty great premise. Even better than the premise is the fun "evidence" the film & propmakers have conjured up for this film. Check out, for instance, this website with footage of Santa by North Pole explorers. Although I really wanted to love this movie, and the idea was super fun, it just wasn't as funny as it wanted to be. The comedy rarely went beyond the surface level. It was like the movie was a one-line joke that you "get" within the first 2 minutes. So what's to keep you from falling asleep through the following 83 minutes? Too bad. This really could have been great. Still I do recommend seeing it. Because even though the laughs were few and far between, the premise is just too fun to miss. This is also great viewing for kids who still believe in Santa (and grown ups who still want to.)


After a very short Q&A the hubby and I said goodbye to the 10mph group and headed back home. It was a wonderful couple of days. Gorgeous scenery, unusual movies, and the filmmaker experience. I must say if you ever in your life have the opportunity to go to a film fest as part of the crew & entourage of a movie that's showing, do so. I couldn't believe the warmth and camaraderie between all of the

filmmakers present. It was so great to all come together to root for a project, and to support others and they us. Other filmmakers met us with such open hearts and accepted our t-shirts and other protionals gladly and discussed our movie with genuine enthusiasm (just as we did with theirs.) There was just this really amazing sense of community.

The weekend was fun. The drive home, however, was another story. We had stayed later than planned because the weather looked great and we didn't think the drive home would be difficult. Naturally, by the time we left, it was snowing, and Loveland pass was, well everything you expect it to be in the winter time. We passed a rollover accident, and a guy in a teeny little sportscar (and a muscle shirt!) who was hunched nervously over his wheel. I hope you made it through ok sportscar guy!



Well, there you have my experiences during the VFF. Don't forget that 10mph is playing in Portland at Longbaugh Film Fest this weekend. If you live in the area, GO CHECK IT OUT!!!!

Back to the full blog...


Teddi said...

Looks like you had an awesome time. Welcome back!

dillon pipes said...

I was at the festival and I also saw one per cent. It was great. have you ever seen a doc do that to people. It made complete sense. to me it seems that you are just bitter that one per cent won the audience choice award over your friends 10 mph. In fact I heard that one per cent got more votes than any other film in the whole festival, not just docs. It was't juvenile in fact it was the only way the movie could show the downfall of audiences today.

Elisabeth said...

Haha! Yep, you got me! I actually really loved One Per Cent, but I lied because I was bitter. I wonder, did this bitterness cause me to hate Jam and not fall completely in love with Stalking Santa too?

Actually, I didn't know who won the audience choice awards till you just told me, since I heaven't heard from my 10mph boys since then, and since the friggin VFF site wasn't listing it (at least as of the last time I looked). I figured 10mph probably didn't win, because I thought I would have heard that. By the way, who won the judged competitions?

Nope -- I am actually not even bitter. But I am wondering about your bitterness. I am gonna guess that you were not there as a filmmaker. Because there was so much a sense of community and warmth between all the filmmakers, that I felt like everyone was rooting for everyone's movie (even me), so I would definitely never hold any bitterness toward any of the filmmakers there. But I also can't write a peachy review either, ONLY because they were nice people.

Not that I think 1 per cent didn't earn it, you're right, a lot of people really responded to it, but the audience choice award (as well as the other awards) is kind of silly. How can you have balanced voting when it is difficult to see some movies (because they overlap with other, more high-profile movies), and there may not be as many people viewing certain ones, because they were put in smaller theaters, and the votes weren't counted after Saturday afternoon (since the ceremony was Saturday evening), which really bugged me since I couldn't put my vote in for Stalking Santa (which I saw Saturday evening.)

You might change your mind on whether or not the tactic in 1 per cent is juvenile if you have to sit through countless student projects that employ that same tactic (over and over and over and over, and each one is thinking, oh aren't I so clever.) And most of them are barely in their 20s and still haven't gotten over poop jokes. Showing the fallacy of moviemaking through a shocking reality shift is a pretty standard choice for someone who is picking up the camera for the first time. They just think they are oh so cool and oh so post-modern. But it's such an easy choice. I don't know how many kids in screenwriting didn't know how to end their scripts, so they just picked one of these endings. It's a cop out. And if you really want to deconstruct, it would take a much subtler and defter hand to construct a reality and slowly peel away at it.

Honestly, I had very mixed feelings about 1 per cent when I walked out, I wasn't altogether against it and I had a very hard time casting my audience choice vote. But I never shook this feeling of frustration and anger that I had wasted time connecting with a fake. (Which audience were you in? In my audience there was at least one woman who expressed similar frustrations.) But, I went with two other people (one of whom also worked on 10mph) and their reaction was totally different from mine. They loved it. Hey, that's why they make chocolate and vanilla, huh?

Something you would know about me if you read some of my other reviews is I am a little picky. I like my movies to be clever, original, make choices because they add richness to the story being developed. And I don't ever like filmmakers who take the easy way out, just because they can, or those who structure a movie in an abnormal way (even if it doesn't add anything to the story) just because they think it's cool. And I don't like to waste my time on movies that amount to little more than a big April Fool's joke (how fitting that I saw it on April 1st). To me, the movie didn't show me how gullible I am so much as how much of liers they are, and it also shows how weak their discourse was. The movie was a one-liner and I had to sit through all that time just to get to the punchline. The movie would have been more compelling to me if they would have either built something up all along, or done the bait & switch early and moved on to back up their claim in other ways.

Come on. We all know we are being lied to all the time. We know that people in positions of trust lie to us (parents, politicians, journalists, documentarians, teachers -- oh and yeah, reality shows are faked). It's old news. Wouldn't it be more interesting to learn some of the more subtle ways that documentaries lie to us? I'd watch that. In fact, maybe one day, I will make that. Who knows.

dillon pipes said...

audienc echoice award is done by counting up a hundred votes. furthermore, it's a doc. no documentary has ever done this. maybe a narrative thriller but not a doc. No twenty year old student has ever done that-- no one has.

Elisabeth said...

haha! Ok, I guess it was all in my imagination then. I never saw it done, you're right.


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