Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sunscreen Film Festival Day 3 Impressions

By David Salazar

Our film "Messenger" finally got its premiere to decent applause and a rather fun Q & A session thereafter.

But the day was initiated by an intense workshop led by Descendants Casting Director John Jackson who offered up a nice hour of Q & A before an intense one on one with aspiring actors. I couldn't stay the whole time because the workshop lasted until 4 PM (it started at 10:30) and our film premiered at 1 PM. Jackson gave some nice insight into the casting process for the Descendants and even gave away why George Clooney and Brad Pitt's lobbying to be in "Sideways" was adamantly rejected by him and Alexander Payne: (To paraphrase what he said) "Who is really going to believe that George Clooney is a failed actor who needs to marry into an Armenian family; and who is really going to buy that Brad Pitt is a loser that needs to steal from his mother."
Descendants Casting Director
John Jackson

 My brother attended a workshop by David Paterson (not the governor) who wrote the screenplay to "Bridge to Terabithia" which I found out was actually based on his childhood.

Later in the evening we watched talent agent Michael Greenwald talk about the job of the talent agent and his relationships to actors.

Awards Ceremony
After spending some time watching films, we witnessed an award ceremony that consisted of 5 awards and lasted under 30 minutes. The awards were for Best Short, Best Director, Best Female Director, Best Film, and Best Florida-based Film.

The winners were:
Best Short: "The Kook"
Best Director: Andrew Disney won best director for "Searching for Sonny" and spoke to the audience via Speakerphone (he was in LA).
Best Female Director: Lina Gartsman for "House Warming"
Best Film: "Honey Killer"
Best Florida Based Film: "Blueberry Pale Ale"

Tony Armer, Festival's executive director
Winners for Best Florida Film
 The night was capped by a party at the Morean Arts Center.

Favorite Films
I was only able to witness two sessions today, including our film and 6 others, so I will only present my 3 favorites for the day.

"Devil's Canyon"
A revenge tale set in a Western Valley. When the love of his life is murdered, a man sets out to get revenge for her death. The plot may not be all that groundbreaking, but the filmmaking is top-notch with incredible vistas of the American landscape that makes one marvel. Some of the emotional moments of the film are handled with strong tact. One example that comes to mind is when the main character is digging up the grave to set his dead wife into. He takes a rock and starts hitting the ground with it. The entire action is framed (with the exception of one cut to a closeup) in a wide shot that emphasizes the growing frustration and anger of the protagonist. Chilling.

"White Lie"
A psychopath goes on a rampage. Again, not a groundbreaking story, but a sometimes all that is necessary is finding a way to refresh the formula. In this case, the entire film is a series of black and white stills cut together to tell the story. There is no live action or movement, just stills. The jagged style really adds to the fragmentation of the main character's mind and actions, creating a solid suspense thriller.

"Cross Threads"
A pilot for a potential TV series that relates the life of a youth pastor aiming to work for a church and educate its youth group. This preliminary episode certainly gives a tremendous comedic sense that can certainly be developed in future episodes. The strongest element might be the fact that it tackles a subject that many people are either scared of tackling or simply do not know how to tackle: religious education. This episode does not really delve into the deep issues of faith and youth, but there are certainly clues of how these themes could materialize in future installments. If there is one criticism I had with the show is that it attempts to be mocumentary style, and it is precisely when the characters talk to the camera that the story becomes distracting. Otherwise, this pilot showed a great deal of potential.

One more day to go!!!!

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