Sunday, September 23, 2007

VIP Limousines

What’s it like hanging out in a dozen-or-so limousines all day? Kinda cool actually. Jason, Jeremy and I shot a few hours of video footage and took a few hundred still photos of the entire VIP fleet at various locations through town today for some of their promotional stuff. Each of the limos had it’s own style and feel and each had a coolness all its own and it was great to be able to fit various “scenes” with various groups of extras into the different vehicles and create a lot of the different looks that you typically see in limos. And speaking of looks, of course you get those everywhere you go.

So, after riding around in high class digs all day, it was not without a small amount of sadness that at the end of the day I got in my Explorer. And to top it off, I had to actually open my own door and drive it myself. Ah, the little people.

VIP Limo

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kansas International Film Festival – Sunday, Day 3

What’s the best BBQ place in KC? I ask this question every time I go there and I get different answers from everyone I ask. One person’s favorite is another person’s least favorite. So every time I go, I try somewhere different and eventually I’ll be able to answer the question for myself. Last year at KIFF, I went to KC Masterpiece and Gates. This year we tried Fiorella’s Jack Stack and while it was panned by some, we had a great experience there and my meal was more than enough for the whole day. Plus it was right across the street from the theater, so major convenience points were awarded.

So the last film that we were going to be able to see was “Red is the Color Of” and it was a real treat. I’m always a fan of color when used right in a film and the color red was like its own character. The film was laced with beautiful shots and imagery and with the painting theme, everything looked very vibrant. Irina Björklund was the lead actress and her beauty and grace carried the film. Writer/Director Anne Norda was in attendance and treated us to the best Q&A of the weekend. Everyone in the audience really responded to the film and there was a significant amount of enthusiasm in the dialog. The session went on so long, we had to vacate the theater to let in the next film. After leaving the theater I had a nice, long chat with Anne and I told her that one of my favorite parts of the film was the music and she filled me in on the back story about how the lead actress did all of the vocals and that she and the composer Peter Fox developed the original score for the film. Beautiful soundtrack. Check out Irina’s music on the link below.

Red is the Color Of

Irina Björklund

So, that was our weekend. Huge, huge thanks to KIFF for treating us so well and for putting on such a great festival. Thanks to Ben (festival president), Brian and Ben (theater owners and festival board members) for treating us so great and a special thank you and shout-out to Rachel for helping us with everything and making our visit so much fun. We look forward to her and her husband coming up to OFF’08!


If you’re in the area this week, be sure to check it out.

Kansas International Film Festival – Saturday, Day 2

What’s the best way to start off your second day of a film festival after being out way too late the night before? Well, going to the Rainforest Café with hundreds of screaming kids, right? Not necessarily MY first choice, but since J & J were traveling with their families, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. And my chicken fried chicken was pretty good, so no complaints.

So day two started off with “Midnight Clear,” a film starring Stephen Baldwin set in the days leading up to Christmas. The plot intricately weaves between five lonely strangers as they randomly cross paths and dramatically impact each other’s lives in ways none of them could imagine. It’s a beautifully written and wonderfully performed film that keeps you guessing as to the outcome of each of the central character’s outcome. Screenwriter Wes Halula was in attendance and we enjoyed a great Q&A session after the film.

Midnight Clear

After the Q&A and briefly chatting with Wes, I snuck next door to catch the end of the documentary “Strictly Background” so I could hear director Jason Connell’s Q&A. I really wanted to see his film as well as it dealt with the lives of professional “extras” in Hollywood so I wanted to at least meet Jason and see what he had to say about the film. The audience really enjoyed it and were enthusiastic during the talk so it’s a film that I’m looking forward to seeing.

Strictly Background

After lunch at the legendary Backyard Burgers (at least it’s legendary to us) we headed back to the theater to check out the documentary “From the 50 Yard Line,” a film that documents the lives of the 229 students during a season in a high school marching band. It’s a great premise and the filmmakers did a fabulous job of showing the ups and downs in high school band life and the emotion and sacrifice that it takes to be a nationally recognized band program. And I felt guilty for every time that I left a football game at half time to get food and drinks and missed the marching band. Director Doug Lantz and producers Dave Johnson and Dan Lantz were in attendance and gave us an additional enthusiastic look behind the scenes at his award winning documentary. One of my favorite moments of the Q&A was early on when Doug asked the crowd of over 100 people how many of them were in their high school band. I believe Jeremy and I were the only ones without our hands up. Oh well, they’re all band nerds anyway, right?! If you get a chance to see this film locally (hint hint) I recommend that everyone come out and see it.

From the 50 Yard Line

Our third and final film of the day was Irish import “Speed Dating,” a comedy about…well…speed dating. Actually the film was about so much more, with comedy, intrigue, drama, spies, cops with turrets, plot twists, and crossword puzzles, and yes, there was speed dating. The uniqueness of each of the characters and the fantastic performances in this film really propelled the story forward and kept you interested throughout. Director Tony Herbert was in attendance and fielded questions from an enthusiastic audience after the film. I love Irish accents, so this was a great film for me.

Speed Dating

So what happens after the last film of the day? That’s right, two words: After party. There’s as much if not more drama and intrigue in our trip from the theater to the club as we’ve seen in any of the films so far, but I’ll leave all of that for another time. Yes, we did EVENTUALLY find the party after somewhat narrowly escaping with our lives on a few occasions. Next year for the trip we’re packin’ heat. Nuff said.

So, the after party was at the incredible jazz club The Blue Room on historic 18th & Vine in downtown Kansas City and we were treated to some of the best live jazz I’ve ever heard. Lisa Henry was performing that night and she was blowing the doors off of the place. Her band was phenomenal and after a set, she introduced another guest member of the band, none other than saxophonist Bobby Watson. I’ve got Bobby Watson CDs in my collection for crying out loud, so it was a thrill to see him and Lisa performing. Most of the filmmakers that we met throughout the day were there as well so it was a great night of jazz music and film talk. Who could ask for more, right?

Lisa Henry
The Blue Room

Kansas International Film Festival – Friday, Day 1

Road trip! Jeremy Decker (festival director), Jason Levering (executive director) and I headed down to Kansas City this weekend to check out the seventh annual KIFF. After working a full day on Friday, we hit I-29 and headed south in hopes of catching the final film of the evening. With me behind the wheel and the state troupers off doing what they do, we made the quick jaunt in no time.

After we got to the hotel and unloaded, we headed out to meet with film publicist Nancy Platt and Producer from Ministry Machine Productions Aaron Laue. It was great to hang with them and talk film-stuff for a while before heading over to the festival.

Once we got to the festival, we checked out the film “Everything or Nothing.” Sadly we missed the very beginning, but we were able to get up to speed fairly quickly and really got into the story. The most compelling part of the film for me was the lead actress, Natasha Melnick, who’s incredibly beautiful yet incredibly painful performance really propelled the story and forced the viewer to be emotionally involved. After the film, director Gary Chason got up and treated the audience to a Q&A and gave us some great inside looks at the film. We were also surprised and thrilled to find out that writer Sue Rock and lead actress Natasha Melnick were also in attendance so the Q&A involved them as well. After exiting the theater (since this was one of the last films shown on Friday) we made our way to the festival after-party where we were able to spend more time with Gary, Sue and Natasha, as well as producer Lou Manitzas and ended up partying to well into the night. Since the Saturday films didn’t start until after 1:00 in the afternoon, getting back to the hotel after 2:00am isn’t a horrible thing, right?

Everything or Nothing

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kansas International Film Festival

Jeremy, Jason and I are driving down to Kansas City this weekend for the opening weekend of the KIFF. If you’re in town, come over and see us, we’ll be at the theater all weekend. That is…umm…with the slight possible exception of Saturday night when I might sneak out to see NU vs. USC.

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