I'm afraid the Interstate looks pretty much the same all over. By day it's tolerable. Coming back at night it was like the old driving video games where all you see is the stripes on the road.
Sooooooo ???? How was the drive ?
Seems like classic small town with a state university right next to it. I ate as cheap as possible so it was all Wendy's.
What's Hammond like ? How was the gumbo ?
What did you wear ?
I was determined to do the festival promo thing so i made this special occasion TWO shirt.
and....oh yeah....How was the festival/screening ?
I got there in time to check in before the first show on Friday evening.
My official festival badge and one of my TWO promotional cards:
They had a "drama" program in one venue and a "comedy" program in the other where TWO was going to be shown the next day so i went the comedy route. The shorts on the program (all live action except for one) were mostly unmemorable. The two features (both live action) were pretty good.
You People was about some people who create a "racism" board game. The acting was a bit "B-" but still, a funny concept that mostly works.
Dynamite Swine was much better. I'd describe it as a caper movie about a guy trying to dispose of an impossible gambling debt. Impressively fast-paced except for the end.
Saturday morning was the "Children's" program. I was very doubtful about the idea of a 9:00am Saturday morning time for a Children's Film program. Who is going to be brave enough to drag their kids away from the TV and the video game machine to go see stuff they've never heard of? But parents with children in tow did arrive.
I got worried again during the first few short subjects that preceded TWO. They were definitely not holding the kids' attention. They were talking to their parents, rustling with their popcorn, getting in and out of their chairs.
When my turn came I was prepared to introduce TWO by talking about the animation process, and A:M and the SVN thing but i could see this was not the crowd for that. So I quickly mentioned TWO was based on the book by the same guy who wrote "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", I mentioned my own part as animator (three whole minutes!), song writer (two!) and voice of the Scarecrow, and also that TWO is the first ever animated feature completed by an internet collaboration.
Once TWO got going things quieted down. The kids stopped talking, they stopped messing with their popcorn, they stayed in their chairs and watched the screen.
The Hammond Regional Art Center is normally an art gallery, re-purposed as a movie theater for this occasion. Here you can see TWO up on the wall with the other art. The room was much darker than it appears here, I shot this with a long exposure so you could see something besides the screen.
TWO looks good big!
One girl did start crying during the Tin Head in the cabinet sequence, I don't know if it was because of that. Her aside, i got the sense that they were all following it and into it. Everyone applauded when the credits rolled.
Immediately after TWO I hosted the "Tin Woodman of Oz Quiz" where audience members could win TWO DVDs and TWO-Shirts for remembering key details of TWO.
See how you do on this...
Quiz category: The Scarecrow.
Q: Who prefers to be stuffed with straw? (drag over the black box to see the answer)
Q: Which character stopped Woot from puncturing the King Loon?
Q: When Woot first meets the Tin Woodman, who is playing chess by himself on the side?
Q: What character gets turned into a straw bear?
Q: What character do I (Robert Holmén) provide the voice for?
Q: Who is the most important character in "The Tin Woodman of Oz"?
This clever young man was one of the TWO-shirt winners and immediately put it on.
The prize shirts were like mine but with the Tin Heart on the front (with no text) and the TWO logo on the back.
After TWO there were a few more short subjects including the rather longish "Jasper Goes to Bishop" which mostly succeeded in reducing the size of the audience. TWO was certainly the highlight of the morning program. Afterward, several adults sought me out to tell me how much they liked TWO. One woman really, really liked it, "Your film was magical!" she said.
And, out of the blue, I got this comment on Facebook later:
My son won one of the t-shirts yesterday. He loves it and is still wearing it. He's also been talking non-stop about the film. Is it available anywhere?
The afternoon shows were "Experimental" and "The Best of the Fest". I went to the latter.
The top-prize winning Comedy was I Ran Against Us, a live action feature, where Iran threatens war with the US unless this guy and his ex-girl friend get back together. Very well put together and amusing despite the iffy premise.
I didn't really get into "Chasing Che", the winning documentary feature, by and about an Iranian man who decides to re trace the path of Che Guevara's life. He never really explained why this was important or why Che Guevara is significant in Iran.
I also wasn't real big on "Natasha" a 30 minute drama that consists almost entirely of a guy talking on the porch at a party with his ex-girlfriend, trying to figure out why she's not into him. Turns out... she's just not into him.
List of all films on Festival
Next was the informal dinner where the various film makers got their awards.
Here, festival directors Martie Fellom (left) and Alan Marsh present A:M Films with a "Silver" award for Children's Feature:
It's even laminated, so it's dishwasher safe!
I'll try to think of a way to make a downloadable, and printable version so everyone can have one for their wall.
Their award structure is a bit different than most festivals. They give a "Platinum" to things they regard as top notch, and some "Gold" to things that were also very well done, and everything else that was good enough to make the festival program is a "Silver". So that's why TWO is a "Silver" Children's Feature even though it was the only Children's Feature. I would have shown up even for a "Pewter" award, I'm happy that TWO got even this small recognition.
All of the live action features I saw were very well done in writing and directing and technique (and most of the acting) and just as entertaining as as the movies labeled comedy we see at the malls, with none of the obvious continuity and performance problems that TWO has so I'm flattered that TWO was even programmed. However, they probably don't have any more chance at real distribution than TWO does. A little bit too niche subject matter and, obviously, no stars.
On the other hand Robert Rodriguez got noticed making shoestring features that were just as niche and starless as the features I saw here. Maybe there's a chance for them. But I won't bet on it.
The most deflating part... hearing how "long" it took for these guys to shoot their films. 14 days for "I Ran Against Us"! That's probably long for a production where no one's getting paid and, of course, there's Pre- and Post production on top of that but still... there's nothing like that in animation. Now I know the real reason Brad Bird wants to do live action.
On an absolute level TWO is not a finely made film, but on a practical level it seems to work with an audience that wants to be entertained. They like the characters, they like the songs, they like the story. Certainly we've all sat thru professional productions that didn't hit those marks. (can anyone actually remember any song that Phil Collins wrote for a Disney movie?)
I'm glad I got the chance to see TWO with an audience and see them enjoy it first hand and I wish you all could do that too. Thank you to everyone who contributed to TWO, even the not-finely-made elements , because it wouldn't be a movie without them.