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Thursday, April 6, 2006

Sarasota Film Festival Recap

Director of Photography Evan Lieberman and I had a great experience at the Sarasota Film Festival last weekend. We drove down a few days early to promote the festival and Stomp! Shout! Scream!’s screenings. Our first stop was to catch the Little Steven’s Underground Garage show in Orlando on Wednesday night. The Romantics headlined and surprised us with their all-out Detroit garage rock. The real draw for us was seeing The Fleshtones. They always put on an amazing show, but I also couldn’t miss connecting with lead singer Peter Zaremba after exchanging emails and getting an awesome Fleshtones surf song for the soundtrack CD (coming out in another month or so on Chicken Ranch Records). It was a fantastic, if way too short, Fleshtones performance. Those tourist who wandered into the Hard Rock will never be the same. I also passed along a DVD to Dan Electro, Woggles drummer who was filling in with The 45s on this tour. He played the movie on the tour bus the next day and reported that Little Steven was impressed.

Thursday, we dropped off clip reels to TV stations and made phone calls all day, vying for any promotion we could get. We landed a spot on the local news/talk show Friday at noon on Sarasota’s ABC-7. And an on-location interview on SNN News 6 Friday night at the opening night Gala. I don’t know if the TV appearances sold any more tickets, but it was nice to play local-boy-done-good on TV. There was also a story in the Bradenton Herald the weekend before the festival. The festival invited me to join in a panel discussion, “Coffee and Conversation: Establishing Shots”, on Saturday morning. Despite it’s corn-ball title, this was one of the most interesting panels I’ve seen at any film festival. Panelists included Susan Seidleman (director of Desperately Seeking Susan, She-Devil and Boyton Beach Club, which was premiering at the festival), Lisa McWilliams (producer of documentary Before The Music Dies), and Jenny Abel & Jeff Hockett (producers of documentary Abel Raises Cane). Discussions of everyone’s films, their film festival experiences and even budgets and distribution was really informative for me and full-house coffee shop.

The Saturday screening was 50%+ full with a good amount of audience reaction-- lots of laughs throughout. During the screening, I hauled boxes of DVDs, posters and a folding table to just outside the screening room. There’s was a quick Q & A, then I ran out to man the sales table. My (probably unrealistic) goal is to sell a DVD to everyone who walks out the door. Sales certainly fell short of that, but was a success nonetheless.

Both Friday and Saturday nights had big parties for film makers and Sarasota society folk, with plenty of free booze and good food. The festival really is one of the best I’ve been to with great local support, stellar venues for screenings, and a fantastic program of indie and classic films.

After a short nights sleep, Sunday started early with a podcast interview for Evan and I. Then a noon screening for Stomp! Shout! Scream! This screening was almost a full house, probably 200+ folks. And not all of them friends of the family eihter. It was the first viewing for the local Florida cast- my grandma Theodora Viola; my best friend from High School Rhett; Will who plays young John Patterson; and the beach partying dancing girls-- Brittney, Jackie and Megan. They all said nice things about the film, which is extra rewarding considering they all worked on the film for virtually nothing. This screening had great DVD sales afterward-- a fantastic start to the financial life of the film.

That's Penelope Ann Miller, who was in Sarasota promoting her new film.

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