Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Omaha Film Festival 2009 – Monday, Day 3

The day started off with a nice leisurely morning, gently waking up without an alarm clock, knowing that we didn’t have to be at the theater until after 10:30am to start getting things set up. Wrong! I smartly scheduled an interview on Star 104.5 fm’s morning show for Jeremy and myself. We had to be there at 8:15am (which is a lot earlier than 10:30). But the interview went great and Glennboy and Glo were incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about what we were doing, so it was a no-brainer heading down there and talking about the festival.

Tonight was our opening night film and our first day at our new venue, so we were all anxious to get in and start taking delivery of all of the things we’re going to need for the week. We had shipments of equipment coming in from a furniture rental place, Dog & Pony, North Sea Films, Lights-On, Editech and Midwest Sound and Light, so it was fun coordinating all of the gear we needed and getting it all up and running. The other main task was digging out from under the litany of boxes that had been transported from our homes to Creighton, to the Omaha Community Playhouse, and back to Creighton for the weekend panels, to finally arrive at our new home for the week. The Great Escape Stadium 16 Theatre was an absolute joy to work with on our first day and gave us everything we needed to get our booth up and running. Within about 3 hours, we had things fully functional and we were ready for business. As we worked through all of the technical needs and organized our plan for the week, people started trickling in for our special screening of “The Great Buck Howard” starring Colin Hanks, John Malkovich and Tom Hanks. As the lobby filled up, it was great to see so many familiar faces and reacquaint with people who’ve come to previous festivals. When someone new would come up to the booth and ask questions, I always like asking how they heard about the OFF, and on a few occasions tonight it was great to hear “oh, I heard you on the radio this morning” or “I’ve seen your commercials on WOWT playing all the time.” My favorite response to a person who’d never come to the festival before was “How could I avoid it, I heard about it everywhere!” So huge thanks to our official media sponsors WOWT (NBC) and The Reader, and huge thanks also to the other media outlets that are helping us by promoting the event (Star 104.5 who’ve done two interviews with us, KPTM (FOX) brought a camera out tonight, KETV (ABC) brought a camera out on Friday, and KVNO who will be interviewing all of the documentary filmmakers in a special series that’s airing all week long).

It was a real treat, once again, to have Mayor Mike Fahey get up and give our opening speech and hear him include the Omaha Film Festival among the other great annual events that happen in Omaha. He has come to each of our four festivals and has always been supportive, and for that we are truly grateful. And with that, the festival officially kicked off and the film was a complete success. Everyone seemed to truly enjoy it and we heard tons of great feedback after it was over.
One of my favorite things about the festival, and one of the things that truly makes it worthwhile investing so much time and energy into putting on an event like this, are those special moments and tonight offered one of those moments. For me it was several months in the making, but for two of this year’s filmmakers, it was years in the making. The film “Touching Home” was written and directed by twin brothers Noah and Logan Miller, and it was a story about their lives. They’ve lived pretty interesting lives and people that they’ve known have always told them that their story would make a great movie so after hearing that enough times, they were finally provoked into going to a book store and purchasing a book on screenwriting. The book that was recommended to them was Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 so they purchased it, read it dozens of times and wrote their first screenplay. Then, over the next several years, they wrote 12 more. And when they were going to finally make their first movie, they decided to go back to their first script, in honor of their father, and that’s what gave us “Touching Home.” So I’ve known this story for several months and when the brothers arrived at our theater tonight, I spent some time talking to them, then casually mentioned that Lew was there in the theater and they both freaked out. I went into the theater and brought Lew out and they had an opportunity to meet him in person after years of admiring him and crediting him with basically changing their lives. To be a part of that moment and to see the excitement on their faces makes whatever happens at this years’ festival completely worth it.

The evening ended like so many festival evenings in the past. At Julio’s. They’ve taken care of us so much over the years it made sense to head there for our opening night party and it was another tremendous event. And this year, the bell only rang once. And if you don’t know what that means, I suggest you come to our Julio’s party next year!

It’s 2:00am. I have a lot of work to do before we start day four of the festival, with three screenings running six film blocks. I’m glad I don’t have an interview at 8:15am.


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