I got to the festival a bit earlier on Day 9 so I could catch a screenwriter’s panel called “The Writer’s Hustle“. I was glad to see quite a few people in attendance and many of them had some great questions. Overall, a lot of the information given by the panelists was stuff that I had heard/read before, but it was nice to get a reminder and hear some of their personal stories. I should say though that I’ve read at least 20 books on screenwriting alone, so it’s a subject that I’ve really studied deeply (I’m not bragging, by the way, it’s just something I’m obsessed with). Tomorrow, I will post a lot of the tips given in the panel since it is more than enough to lay out in this post.
After grabbing some lunch, I met up with Amber, my girlfriend and co-writer of our screenplay that was in the competition. We were gearing up for the awards ceremony where we would find out if we won anything. This is us on the red carpet (doesn’t she look lovely?):
Around 5pm, a whole slew of writers filed into one of the theaters as we waited to see if our names would be called. A few interesting tidbits:
- This was the 1st ever screenplay competition for the Nashville Film Festival
- There were over 1,500 submissions in all
The ceremony went by pretty fast…AND THEY CALLED OUR NAME! We won 2nd place (runner’s up) for our screenplay!
I was really excited because not only is this is the 1st festival that I have been to on behalf of a project, but this is also the 1st award I’ve received for a project! Hopefully there will be many more to come.
After that, we went to the Closing Night Gala where they had plenty of booze and plenty of food. The place was PACKED! I met some of the other screenwriters and talked with them about their projects. I really love meeting other writers, we all have some crazy ideas for films! Amber and I got to do an interview together regarding our experience with the Nashville Film Fest and the screenwriting competition. Hopefully they will post it online soon. I also did an interview with TJ Cates for his program, which was really fun.
Synopsis: An eight-year-old girl living on the west side of Chicago finds a neglected toddler and decides to take her home.
Baby Mary was a nice little short film that was compact, stripped free of all fat. It’s a simple story, well told, showing what happens when kids try to take care of kids. Ironically, it portrayed many of the parents as kids, showing that someone can be childlike in the mind, even if their appearances say otherwise. I think we’ve all met people like that, haven’t we?
Synopsis: From the earliest days of the crack cocaine epidemic that plagued America comes this story of Tim, a devoted husband and proud father trying to protect his ten-year-old daughter from the ravages of his mother’s addiction.
This film is one that shows how drug addiction happens to any family, to anyone in the nation, not just “junkies”. It can be easy for someone to write off a junkie on the street, waving them away and thinking nothing of them; have you ever thought about where they came from? Who they were before they were on the streets? What led to the downward spiral?
1982 shows that, by focusing on a normal family unit that becomes splintered when the mother falls back into addiction. It is a patient study of how a father becomes the only parent and feels out of control of his situation. It also manages to inject some scenes that are truly electrified, particularly when the father runs into the dealer peddling crack.
The actors in this turned out fantastic performances, especially the lead actor, Hill Harper. Wow! He made his character’s pain real, portraying a strong man who still feels weak against something he can’t do much about. Ruby Dee pops up for a nice supporting role and Wayne Brady plays against type as the ruthless crack dealer…and really pulls it off! A lot of work seems to have been put into fine tuning the performances and it really pays off.
The 2014 Nashville Film Festival has been an incredible experience. I submitted my screenplay on a whim to the festival and I am very glad that I did. All I wanted to do was meet more people in the industry that I can collaborate with and I was able to do plenty of that! I met so many talented actors, writers and filmmakers that my head is spinning as to what projects I want to pursue now. Filmmakers are known for being a bit reclusive because we are often locked inside our homes, writing and editing. This film festival was a great excuse for us to get out of the house and meet people.
On top of all of that, I got to see some truly great films, many of which I may never be able to see on the big screen again. In fact, there are probably a few that may never get picked up for distribution for one reason or another but I am happy to have had the chance to view them. To watch these films and then go out into the lounge and meet some of the people behind them is just incredible. This is why film festivals are so important, all over the country – they show rare, unique films and give you the opportunity to meet the people who made them.
I really hope I am able to make it back to the festival next year. Will it be for a screenplay? A short? A feature length? Who knows! What I do know is I’m incredibly inspired and can’t wait to get back to work.
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