coney island film festival

"Hello" at Coney Island Film Festival Recap

Last Saturday was the first festival screening of "Hello" that I was able to attend. Matt Gershowitz, the AD/Editor, and Alexandra Kalinowski, the Composer/Sound Designer, were also in attendance; and we each had a friend or loved one come out to support us. In total there were about 40 people in the audience. We screened in an eclectic block of 6 shorts, mostly about chance encounters and reconnecting. "Hello" was the only one with a supernatural spin on the theme but still seemed to fit in well enough with the others. It also seemed to be a big hit! Coney Island does a kind of rushed, generic Q&A, so no real discussion was had with the audience. But we got a lot of compliments after the screening, and I could tell it was enjoyed by the crowd during it. I'm always nervous when I screen new work for the first time, unsure of whether or not it'll resonate with the audience. But the nerves are sort of worth it for the payoff of the huge feeling of relief and exhilaration when the first laugh or gasp happens across the crowd (assuming the laughs and/or gasps are wanted, which is usually the case with the genre work I do.) This screening was full of laughs and gasps in all the right places, and it was a real joy to experience.  

We've heard back from one other festival that I can't mention publicly yet, but the screening will be in November and I will be attending. And we're waiting to hear back from 2 more festivals. I'm aiming for releasing it publicly online in late November.

Also, the first screening was at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego, which I unfortunately couldn't attend. However, I got some unexpected feedback from some in attendance. It's always especially exciting when strangers reach out after a screening. Screenshots included below. 


Coney Island Film Festival "Juice It" Recap

Three Saturdays ago "Juice It" premiered at the 14th annual Coney Island Film Festival. I was hoping to do this update earlier, but held off in hopes of getting copies of their professional photos from my screening and Q&A. Unfortunately, they haven't released them and may not anytime soon. So, in the meantime, I post this with my terribly out of focus camera phone pictures and will simply reshare it when the good ones go live! (BTW, there are some nice ones not of me, but of the festival overall on their Facebook page). 


As for how the festival went, it was a ton of fun! The thing about public screenings is that, while they're of course what we live for as filmmakers and are incredibly exhilarating, they're painfully nerve-wracking (at least for me) when it's the first time a piece is being seen publicly, as was the case here. I was terrified no one would laugh. To my delight though, the screening was filled with non-stop laughs, and rumbling, belly laughs at that. Some jokes were missed because people were still laughing at the one before. It felt pretty amazing. What was nice to hear, though I feel bad admitting so, was that they weren't polite, equal opportunity laughers. Most of the films that screened with mine were exceptionally funny, funnier than mine even, and a few had way higher production values. They got just as much laughter from the room. It was an honor to screen with them. However, there was one that was pretty weak. I wont specify which, but it wasn't very well done and it dragged on a lot. It just wasn't quite hitting the comedic beats, and didn't know when to let an attempt at a running joke die. So, to hear the audience not laugh at that one, while did make me feel bad for that filmmaker, felt validating in the sincerity of their amusement over "Juice It." People may tell you "I liked it" or even "I loved it," and if you're lucky they'll specify details that stood out to them and why, or explain actual emotions it provoked in them. For the most part though, you never truly know if people are just being polite to your face. What you can gauge though is the energy in the room and, in the case of comedy, the laughter from the audience. I'll stop rambling now, but needless to say, it was a successful screening and made me feel great (even in spite of the annoying cold I had)! 

As for what's next for "Juice it," well I'm eager to get it online for more people to see. I shot it over a year ago, and finished it about 9 months ago. I had hoped for a much earlier premiere for the film, especially considering it was a somewhat last minute project, shot in 2 days, on less than $500. My dream festival was the NBCU Short Film Festival (formally NBC Short Cuts), which happened in the early summer. It was a long-shot, of course, especially since my actors were non-union and no one involved was commercially known. However, I took a shot and set up my submissions to allow for that to be the potential premiere; and it was rejected. At the end of the day, I'm glad the premiere was at Coney Island because they were so welcoming and warm, the audience reaction was priceless, and the festival just has such character (we watched my film on bleachers in a rusted old sideshow). But since I was crossing my fingers for an NBC premiere, two local festivals I could have submitted to last year, I've only just submitted to this month. So it'll be a while before the film is public on vimeo; I'm thinking by the Spring.

HOWEVER, with that said, there has been some other good news for the film. One being that it was invited to screen in LA at the HollyShorts Screening Series late this month or next (they're still settling on a date for me). And more timely, it was chosen to participate in FirstGlance Film Festival's Online Shorts Contest, which launches tomorrow! The contest is hosted by The way it works is that people register for the site for $2 and they can watch "Juice It" and the other 14 shorts in the contest as many times as they'd like for a month. The film that gets the most votes will screen at their 15th annual festival in LA, and the filmmaker gets a prize valuing $2,500 on top of an additional TBD cash prize (a percentage of the $2 fee everyone pays) based on how many daily votes they get. What's really cool about this is that over 90,000 people have participated in watching the films in past years, so I'll have increased exposure. What's not so cool is that the cash prize is not based on total votes, but daily votes, meaning it resets everyday. So if I want to win, I have to nag everyone I know to not just vote once but vote once a day for 30 days straight. I'm just not inclined to do that. However, please brace yourself for a lot of tweets from me about it for the next month (starting tomorrow). No worries, I wont be nearly as annoying as during my crowdfunding campaigns ;)

But in all honesty, if you enjoy the film and have the time and desire to be super supportive, a vote a day or every other day or once a week would be greatly appreciated. Regardless, I hope you're able to watch it during the contest. Or if not, see it at a festival; or worst case, see it when it goes live on the CongestedCat site in the Spring. 

I can't wait to share it with more people & get further feedback. Thanks for reading & supporting!


Juice It: Coney Island Film Festival Official Selection!

Christina's latest short "Juice It" has been accepted to the 14th Annual Coney Island Film Festival! This fest is listed every year as 1 of Moviemaker Magazine's 25 Fests worth the entry fee & makes their list of Coolest Film Festivals, so this is pretty damn awesome.

Also, while it did not make Official Selection for either the 10th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival or the 17th Annual FirstGlance Film Festival, it made the runner up division of both fests! So it will be screening as part of the 8th Annual HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series at the Chinese Theater in LA in either September or October. We'll let you all know the date when we're told. It will also take part in FirstGlance's Online Shorts Contest for the whole month of October. Last year, they got a total of 90,000 votes. If it actually wins, it gets to screen as part of their 15th annual festival in LA in the Spring! We'll be sure to share it when the time comes. 

We've submitted to two other festivals that we'll hear back from early next year. Fingers crossed! In the meantime, we hope you can make it out to the Coney Island Film Festival to support & see the film!