We completed principle photography and we began editing. The editing took place in my house in Studio City. Elliot Wood was my editor. He and I had met at a dog park off of Mulholland Drive. We discussed story and how things would be revealed without going overboard. Elliot was perfect for the job. We shot this on 35mm and had a work print made. I set up an editing suite in my house and went through the trims labeling them for Elliot when he arrived in the morning.
It was quite a process working on a “MOVIOLA”. Most young filmmakers have no idea what a moviolas is. I have to give credit to the editors of the past as they only had a small screen to view their work.
We worked late most nights as we wanted to get the film into Sundance. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with the festival world and really only heard about a few. But never thought I would ever get the chance to be accepted in any of them. So, once we completed post, I filled out an application for the Sundance Film Festival and sent it in. A few weeks later I received a letter in the mail with the logo of the Sundance Festival on the face. I was so excited to receive word. I opened the letter and was told that I was too late. Well, I tried.
I spoke to a close friend and Alan Blomquist who was a producer and asked him what he thought I should do. Alan said, the best thing is to screen it and get word out about it. We set up a screening at Tri-Star which is on the Sony lot. I was able to get a 99 seat theater. Alan informed me that I might only fill half the house but I should do it no matter what. At that time, we didn’t have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social network to rely on. It was word of mouth and relationships.
The screening was set for 7pm in a 99 seat theater and I had a guest book ready in the lobby. I gave the 35mm print to the projectionist, she told me not to worry, just enjoy myself. I stood in the lobby and paced, wondering if anyone would show up. Then, they started coming. The crowd was bigger than expected. A motorcycle pulled up in front of the lobby. The rider removed his helmet and turned to me, It was Keanue Reeves. He smiled, shook my hand and said “Good luck man, I’m rooting for you”.
Someone came out to inform me that the theater was filled and there were many more people waiting to see the film. Instead of showing it one time, we decided to show it a second time, a third time, a fourth time and a fifth time. Full house each time. I was overwhelmed with nervousness and joy. It was an exciting time. Everyone loved the film and I was delighted that we, the cast and crew did an amazing job.
It was time to leave the screening room when the projectionist approached me. She asked if I had submitted this to Sundance. I said yes, but I was too late. She told me that John Cooper (Sundance Short Film Director) would be screening the short films and I should leave my film with her. I almost said “no”. What if Cooper didn’t like it? What if the film was misplaced? She assured me the film would be safe with her and she would personally handle it. So, I decided to leave the film and take the chance.
A few weeks past and I received a letter in the mail. A letter that had the Sundance logo on the face, just like the first one I received. I sat on the porch with my Golden Retriever named Indiana. I went through all the other mail and set it beside me. I held the Sundance letter up and said to Indiana; “I don’t want to be disappointed.” I put the letter down and just sat there with Indy and wondered if this whole journey was worth it. It was such a wonderful experience to work with the actors and the crew who gave me their all. I wanted to repay them all for working for me for nothing. They believed in me. I believed in them. I looked down at the letter and lifted it up. Indy sniffed the letter and licked my face. It was time. I ripped open the letter, ready to read; “Sorry, you didn’t make it.” As I unfolded the letter and read the top paragraph: “On behalf of Robert Redford and the Sundance Film Festival we welcome you.” Tears of joy rolled down my face! I was over the moon! I sat there hugging my dog and thanking the crew out loud.
Then, a moment hit me. I remember as a young boy, probably eight or nine years old watching my mother direct a play in Brooklyn, New York and how she inspired me. I wished that she were alive to experience this with me. To share this moment and the moments to come I would have given anything to have her here.
I called Alan Blomquist and told him the great news. Alan said get ready! We’re going to Sundance!!!
TO BE CONTINUED…