Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conquering McAllen

Well, maybe "conquering" is a little dramatic, but the screening went very well. 95% of those in attendance rated the film "great" or "good." The other 5% called it "average." Now I wish I could say we had an audience of 500, but unfortunately we only had 60. I guess it's better than 20.

I think a lot was learned by our trip to McAllen. Most importantly is my increased faith in how well the film plays. Rich and I have always felt that "Ranchero" would be an audience favorite. As more people view the movie, that opinion is validated. The positive feedback has inspired me to create more opportunities for people to see the film.

It's always difficult to attract an audience for independent film. This is especially true in South Texas. Dave Silva did a tremendous job arranging the theater and bringing in the people we had. For future screenings I'll want to hit the ground earlier. Dave, Roger (lead actor Roger Gutierrez) and I got to town the day before. Next time I'd like at least three days to pass out fliers, do interviews, etc. We received excellent coverage by NBC affiliate KVEO out of Brownsville. Unfortunately, the story didn't air until 5:00pm the night of the screening; hardly enough time to put butts in the seats.

In addition to attendance, screening format was a challenge. In my limited research of screening venues, I've found it difficult to find locations that are HD compatible. For those who are non-technical (like myself) it's hard to find places that have professional broadcast equipment capable of showing high-definition video. We were relegated to showing a standard DVD of the movie. Does this effect the viewers enjoyment of the film? Who knows. However, it does lower the perceived "production value" and takes away from the vision the director Rich and cinematographer Mike Bratowski had intended. For me, a lot of work and cost was put in to attaining the high visual elements the film has. We shot on 35mm film and had state-of-the-art color correction. It's disappointing to see the image degraded because of techinical limitations. Our choice is to either rent high-end equipment, or just live with it.

After returning from the trip and getting past the stress of the screening, I realized how enjoyable it was to be out on the road with the movie. Sharing your work with an audience is what it is truly all about. To impact people mentally and emotionally is why filmmakers do what they do. I wish Rich had been there to hear the comments, see the smiles, and experienc the full result of his work. I can't wait to do it again.

More soon,


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Texas here we come!

     Well, we didn't make the Gotham festival in New York, but we're on our way to McAllen, Texas. On Thursday, November 20th, "Ranchero" will be screening at the historic Cine El Rey. Put together by my good friend and talented actor Dave Silva, this type of screening will be a first for the film. What I mean is, this will be the first time the movie will play for a general, non festival audience. And believe me, it's scary. Not that I don't have complete faith in the film, but this is really the first time that the baby walks on it's own. In festival, I'd like to believe there is a sense of comradarie amongst the filmmakers and an atmosphere of encourgement from the attendees. This will be, more or less, a regular group of filmgoers who are plunking down their ten bucks to see a movie. They're not rooting for their friends or supporting up and coming filmmakers. They are there to be entertained, bottomline. 

     In the interest of full disclosure, let me be completely forthcoming about the make up of our expected audience. It will be predominantly hispanic. When I wrote "Ranchero" and director Rich and I sat down to discuss it, we never felt we were making a hispanic film. Though the lead is Mexican-American and his journey is definitely colored by his heritage, we always felt that the purely human aspect of his struggle trumped anything having to do with race. To me the film is about finding self-worth and that's a battle fought by people of all ethnicities. It will be interesting to see if the audience responds to the universal themes or simply identifies with the characters that they view as similar to themselves. Or perhaps we've missed the mark entirely and will be chased from the theater by an angry mob. I can't wait for the 20th.

     Needless to say, I'll let you know how it goes. The trip will be a nice break from staring at the phone as I await feedback from two distribution companies. I know there is an audience for "Ranchero." I'm just having to work to find it.

     Until next time.