Two weeks ago we had the world premiere of one of our new short films, "We Had Plans," at the 19th NYC PictureStart Film Festival. As a filmmaker who tends to stick to more comedy & genre films, I was a little anxious about what the audience reaction would be to more of an intimate drama. It was my first time directing something so small in scale, but rich in nuance & emotion. I suppose I'm used to being able to judge how the audience feels about one of my films because of the laughter that fills the room or sharp gasps from the crowd, so this was a new experience for me as a filmmaker.
In a small space, there was a nice turnout of at least 40 people. We screened in a lineup of 7 films. All the others in this particular lineup were so strong, in production value, performance and, most importantly, story. I was blown away by the films and have since gone on to like their pages & reach out to the filmmakers that I did not meet personally via social media. Kelsey & I are incredibly proud to have screened amongst such lovely shorts. (I will say though that while we loved the other films, it was disappointing to be literally the only female filmmakers in the bunch.) In terms of our film though, we were very noticeably the shortest short, and the only one to take place in a single room between two people (notably women) having a heated discussion. I wondered how the audience would feel, especially considering we followed a whimsical, landscape-heavy piece (with a gorgeous aesthetic, I might add). As it turns out though, people were engrossed in our film! I could feel it in the room that, while our brief runtime may have surprised people, it no less enamored them. Kelsey heard one audience member in front of us whisper to his companion, "I liked that one," as our credits hit the screen.
After the screening, we were only able to chat with a few people, but we got some wonderfully surprising feedback. One audience member I had previously met at the Queens World Film Festival, who coincidentally ended up at this screening, said he loved it and that he was on the edge of his seat just as the film cut out, leaving him wanting more. Wanting more was a frequent comment from the audience. Another filmmaker from the lineup, whose film was just beautiful, said to me that he truly loved our film (when I went over with the intention of telling him how much I loved his). He said that he's been wanting to make a film in one space, but has found it difficult to execute. He said to be able to pull that off and take people on a journey with characters and tell a story in such a short time in such a confined space is a real accomplishment and we did that for him. He was "swept up by it." His words were clearly not just flattery, as he had no need to give such raw feedback, and I was utterly shocked and grateful to hear such a lovely assessment. (I wish my feedback for him was as eloquent, but I was so overwhelmed by what he said to me that I just kept using the word love in relation to all aspects of his film.) His friend, who is not a filmmaker, also chose to say something to me before I walked away and said that she loved the film too, and that it felt like watching someone trying to express themselves, and instead just making you feel it. And she emphasized that she "felt it." That was such a wonderfully odd bit of feedback that I really appreciated because I think it's a compliment to all of us, from Kelsey's writing (who was very much putting herself on paper in a vulnerable way), to the actors giving breathtaking performances, to my collaborations with Peter, our DP, and Jordan, our editor, to bring it all together in an intimate and sincere way. (And of course, we did not do it alone, we had an amazing crew of people who all added their personal touches to the film, making it work in many subtle ways).
Anyway, we ended that night feeling pretty great. So far, the film has been rejected at two other festivals (ones I knew were long shots, but I crossed my fingers for anyway). We're waiting to hear back from about 4 more. Hopefully we'll be able to share this short with more audiences before we put it on Vimeo next year. In the meantime, enjoy photos of us at the NYC PictureStart Film Festival below.
Photo credit: Mark Jude (pulled from NYC PictureStart's social media). Additional photos from the festival overall found on Facebook.