Back from Filmapalooza - a belated summation

Hey folks! Andrew here...

Well, this is materializing much later than expected. Filmapalooza is already three weeks in the past, and I’ve been back home from LA for over two. Even so, I believe two or three more weeks could have passed, and my experience in California would still be as richly present in my mind as it is now.

If you need some catching up, I suggest you read my post from before the trip. If you don’t feel like doing that, I’ll summarize: we took first place at the Minneapolis 48 Hour Film Project last June, which granted us an invite to screen at Filmapalooza, which is the international festival screening all 125 city-winning films, which was held at the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Woot!  

Bit of additional background. This was the Jackets’ third time participating in the Minneapolis 48HFP, and our ninth time doing a time-based film competition like it. Yeah, you read that right. Nine. And we’ve done three since then - including Marcus’ one man show - bringing the total up to twelve. Apparently we like doing this sort of thing, whether we come home winners or not.

That being said, it felt really good to finally take home the gold last year. The invitation to Filmapalooza felt like the whipped cream on top of an already very tasty pie. (I’m more of a pie guy than a cake guy.) I was our sole representative at the event, while Eric and Marcus were busy being adults with many very important things to do (or something). I missed them dearly, but I’m really glad I made the trip. I only saw a quarter of the 125 films screened, but what I saw made the trip worth taking.

I’ll get to the films I saw in a bit. Let’s first talk about Keeping Up with the Cloneses - the film that got us there. The film screened at the Chinese Theater on Saturday, February 28th, during the noon block. I was really excited going into the screening, and the packed theater cranked that up to eleven. Previous screenings of the film have boosted my confidence in its performance, and this time didn’t disappoint. The audience response was better than any screening before it. Every joke hit. When the lights came up, filmmakers were asked to stand up and introduce themselves and their film. When I said I directed Cloneses, the room erupted.

For the rest of the weekend, I was approached by folks who saw the film and loved it, which led to some great conversations. I met people from all over the country - Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle - and the world - Cairo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Osaka, Ottawa, Rotterdam, Tirana. While we didn’t win any additional awards for the film - though we got another trophy for our effort - the people I met and response the film received were affirmation enough.

During the Best of the Best screening on Sunday, March 1st, any consternation around Cloneses’ absence quickly evaporated. That screening made me reconsider what is possible to create in two days. Most of the chosen films were dynamite. If you have a few minutes to spare - especially if you’re a filmmaker and previous 48HFP participant - I highly recommend clicking this link and watching the nominated and winning films. I’ll specifically call out Tarot, I-Charon, Symptomes d’Amour, These Dirty Words, KISMET, That Kind of Love Story, and Stoorzender. They’re truly inspiring. They sparked that hunger in me - the drive to be a better filmmaker. Meeting and talking to many of their creators fuelled that hunger further. There was so much passion present. It was a powerful reminder of why I do this.

The rest of my LA trip was also a powerful reminder, or more so a series of reminders with a common theme. I was made aware once again that I am so profoundly fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time after high school. The people I met in the film and theater departments at MSUM continue to sustain a strong community of support, friendship, passion, and trust, despite the space between us and the time that has passed. I’ve been out of college for nearly five years now. These days, my primary form of correspondence with most of my classmates is a passing Facebook comment. It’s easy to forget that a simple phone call can lead to a full evening of reminiscing, dreaming, scheming, discussion, and stupid jokes, old and new. Simple kindnesses become boundlessly enriching. Such occasions, so easily taken for granted, serve as signposts once considered. They remind me of the many right decisions in my life. With them in mind, I hope I can, in spite of fear and uncertainty, continue to make decisions that lead me to people like those I’ve found so far.

Until next time...