Sunday, February 22, 2009

Omaha Film Festival 2009 – Day 1

I’ve been to a lot of film festivals and so far today is the best festival experience I’ve had. The day started like any other day (too early), but waking up was easier because of the schedule for our first day.

We got underway at the conference with actor Daryl Sabara (the Spy Kids trilogy, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol ’09) with an excellent session about his life and his acting career. It’s amazing to hear the story of a 16-year-old who’s basically had a 16 year acting career. He’s worked with so many great directors and actors and had tons of great stories to tell, and the audience was all very engaged. A great way to kick off the festival.

Panel number two was with Mauro Fiore, ASC an amazing cinematographer who’s worked on Avatar, Training Day, The Kingdom, The Island, and Tears of the Sun. He was also the gaffer on Schindler’s list and it was incredible watching some of the clips he’s worked on and listening to him explain the behind-the-scenes of how many of the shots were created. Having an opportunity to watch a film clip, then to have a Q&A with the person who shot it, is a great experience and the audience participation was very enthusiastic.

Panel number three had Visual Effects Artist Neil Krepela, whose credits include Bolt, Heat, Outbreak, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as a couple of Oscar nominations for Cliffhanger and 2010. He had an amazing film reel that went back 30 years and provided the audience with some phenomenal insights as to the role of a visual effects artist on a film. He showed us a powerpoint presentation of a scene from Dinosaur that broke down how the shot was previsualized and all that it took to make the completed scene, then we watched the finished product. Incredible.

The last panel of the day was with Andrew Robinson (writer/director), Jenna Edwards (producer) and April Wade (producer) of April Showers, a film shot here in Omaha last summer. Most of the people in attendance either had some experience working on the film, or had at least heard of it while it was in production, so that panel was very enthusiastic. Everyone wanted to hear more in depth about the film they’d heard so much about, and this was a great opportunity to interact directly with the three main people that put the film together.

The panels wrapped on time at 5:00pm and everyone headed over to the Omaha Community Playhouse for the reception and film screening of Shimmer 2. Ticket sales online had been brisk so we knew we were going to have a nice crowd, and did we ever. With nearly 600 people in attendance, the night was a complete success. I won’t say much about the film but it was an unbelievable night that ended with a Q&A session lasting over 30 minutes with 13 cast/crew on the stage taking questions from a packed house. How can you go wrong? Add to that a 30 minute poster/autograph session with an enthusiastic crowd and you’ve got a pretty good first day.


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