REACTIONS TO THE FESTIVAL
Originally written on October 29, 2007
I was nervous about the screening. This would be the official second screening of Unimatrix 384 at a festival, but the first official screening of my final cut. When I wrote about my experience with the 2006 Hunter College Spring Film Festival, I mentioned that my film had been shown at the wrong aspect ratio (1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1). The difference between that version and the final cut (besides the framing issue) is that the final cut is five seconds shorter than the version that played at Hunter. The five seconds that were cut out were at the very end where the film fades out to the end credits (the final cut version fades out as Logan and Jessica start to get up, whereas the Hunter version showed them getting up and walking away before fading out to the end credits). This time, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any problems.
FilmFest Reloaded is a weekly film series run by Bill Woods, who’s also the programmer for New Filmmakers, a weekly film series that plays at the Anthology Film Archives in lower Manhattan. It was through submitting Unimatrix 384 to New Filmmakers that Bill Woods came across my film. Earlier this month (more than a year after submitting to New Filmmakers), he e-mailed me about which date would be good for me to show the film (as part of FilmFest Reloaded). I e-mailed him back, picking the 16th and also sending him the necessary info. He sent another e-mail confirming the date and time, as well as giving me more info about the festival and where it screens (Karl’s Klipper Restaurant & Bar, a block away from the Staten Island Ferry station in Staten Island). I was a little disappointed that my film had not yet played at the Anthology, but I was honestly grateful to get the film screened at all.
With the start time at 8 p.m., I wanted to get to Staten Island early enough. I took the Staten Island ferry for the first time ever and stood near the front of the ship for the entire ride. It was awesome! Everyone should do it at least once. But I digress…
I got to Karl’s Klipper at 7 p.m. and waited outside for nearly an hour, looking to see if anyone I knew might surprisingly show up (I know how busy people are). At about five to eight, I went inside and nervously waited. Bill soon showed up, and the equipment started to get set up. There was a small crowd, but I tried to remain calm. Once everything was set up, Bill told everyone what kinds of films were going to be shown (films that were sci-fi in nature) and even introduced me to the crowd (noting that I was the only filmmaker who showed up). I gave a brief introduction, basically saying, “Hi. I’m Jake Thompson, and tonight we’ll be screening my sci-fi short Unimatrix 384. I hope you all enjoy it.” After the applause, the screening started. First was an animated short that had been made several years ago. The not-so-good quality of it was mainly due to the fact that it was a VHS copy that was being screened. Then there was Brobot, a 2005 short co-directed by Brian Lonano, director of the recent award-winning short Electrical Skeletal!. That, I believe, was followed by a short about an android couple who illegally create (or adopt) an android child and pay the consequences for their actions. Unimatrix 384 was saved for last (I guess as the main event, but I don’t want to sound arrogant). As it screened, I was a nervous wreck (on the inside; I tried to look calm on the outside).
I was so glad when it was over, but I was even more glad to hear the nice things being said about the film. Bill asked if I wanted to do a Q & A, and I agreed to it. It went on for about ten or fifteen minutes. Afterward when I spoke with him, he mentioned a possible screening of Unimatrix 384 at New Filmmakers during the first quarter of next year (January, February, March). He asked me if there was a specific date I had wanted and I told him any night would do.
After being so nervous, I would mark the Unimatrix 384 screening at FilmFest Reloaded as a success. I was pleased with the positive feedback on a number of different things (color scheme, sound, relevancy, etc.). Although my film has been a few votes short of making it into some other film festivals, I have never heard of or encountered any negative criticism of the film. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I just find it surprising that not even one person has had anything bad to say about it. I kind of see it more as a confidence booster for me as a filmmaker; at the very least it tells me that I must be doing something right. Anyway, it was an overall good night and experience, and I’m looking forward to what I hopefully think is the next screening of Unimatrix 384.
[NOTE: The New Filmmakers screening never happened.]