Audience at Alice Fest 2014

Audience at Alice Fest 2014

Picture this. Everyone takes their seats. Cell phones are silenced. Lights dim. The film starts. Then, rather magically, a captive theater audience experiences a film together.

It’s an under-appreciated thing to experience a movie in a theater. As a filmmaker, I prefer to have a captive theater audience in a theater watching what I’ve helping bring to the screen. Of course. It’s kind of obvious why, right? Shared experiences are key. They enrich the experience.

Yesterday at Alice Fest 2014, two of my own films were screened in front of a captive audience for the first time. It was incredible. I want more of that.

Trophy is a short fiction film about the moment when two strangers lock eyes for the first time. It was an experimental film for me: a means to take an idea for a fiction film in my head, put it on paper, and produce a finished film from it. I wrote, produced, cast, and edited the short film. And a lot of my friends and family helped make it, which was one of the coolest things about it.

Watching Trophy with a live, captive audience in a theater was an incredible feeling. To see something you’ve imagined and created put up on the big screen. To hear the audience laugh (when and where you’d hoped they would laugh). To know that you poured everything into creating something new, and people enjoyed the final result.

It’s just … incredible. I want more of that.

My short documentary film, Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes, was also screened for a live audience for the first time. This was an experimental film as well. I blogged about Shannon Johnstone’s work in May 2013 (read the post here) because I really believe in her project. I felt like I could do more, though, so I asked her if I could make a short documentary about it. She was kind enough to oblige. She deserves a lot of credit for that because giving yourself (or your story) to a filmmaker can be a scary thing.

Watching Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes in a theater helped me appreciate all of the struggles I went through to make a film using nothing but my phone. To some people that would seem easy. But once you’ve gotten used to having robust software and talented people collaborate with you, simplifying the process can be incredibly challenging. It was absolutely worthwhile.

While watching both films I got the chance to stop, celebrate, and appreciate how far I’ve come since then. I learned a lot making those films. While they played on screen I saw a lot of room for improvement — and that’s the point.

These two films of mine were experimental. They were designed to be an exercise in filmmaking that would teach me new lessons. They far exceeded my expectations.

There are so many things I want to write about what happened yesterday at Alice Fest. This is one small part of it. I’m a big fan of what Vivian Bowman-Edwards has created. It was an incredible afternoon. I want more of that.