Monday, April 18, 2011

Post DIFF thoughts- He said/She said

Jonesy:  It's been about a week since The Dallas International Film Festival has come to a close, and I feel I still haven't fully recovered from that ten day of complete movie fun and madness.  With this being our second time around, I felt more confident going into the festival knowing more of "the ropes". 

What I learned and did differently this time around:

Tickets: Last year, I thought I had to stand in line to get a ticket for every movie I wanted to see.  Nope!  Pass holders get into a special line and enter the movie first!  (Yes, this seems common sense, but hey, I was a rookie back then.) 

Parking: I also learned where NOT to park when seeing movies at The Magnolia in Dallas.  Did you know they have a parking garage?  I didn't last year.  I parked in a random parking lot during the day and didn't have a problem.  However, when I returned for a 10pm show, I parked in the same area, and when I came out at midnight, low and behold, no car!  Now, no one would steal my car because it looks like it has leprosy, so I knew it had been towed.  I called the cops and was given the address of the impound.  Then, my phone died, so I went into Blockbuster, sobbing, and they let me charge my phone.  I called a cab to go to the towing company, which ended up being a 20 minute drive away in a what can only be described as a glorified alley, paid too much to get my car out, and got home at 3:30am.  Lesson learned.  This year have a charger, which I do, and park in the correct area, which I did. 

Utilizing the Lounge: Also, last year the festival lounge was within walking distance from the Angelika Dallas theatre.  We didn't realize last year that it was open to press the whole festival (we thought it was just open to filmmakers), so we never frequented the lounge to hang out between showings.  So, we were dead set on taking full advantage this year.  However, they switched the location to the Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas, which was gorgeous but a pretty inconvenient location not anywhere close to any of the theatres.  Unfortunately, we only made it down there once. 

The movies:


Things I wish I had seen:
1) Parked
2) Five Time Champion
3) Wild Horse, Wild Ride

What I plan on doing different next year:

Hydration:  The first Saturday of the festival is the busiest.  If the schedule works out, you could see up to five movies that day.  I saw four, which was fantastic; however, I forgot an important aspect that I needed while traveling from venue to venue living off popcorn...water.  For most of the day, I forgot to drink water.  I didn't realize how dehydrated I was until Javi and I were in line for WUSS, and I felt lightheaded.  Thankfully, he had a bottle of water with him that he kept refilling all day and that woke me up.

Snacks:  Between gas, drinks, and food, a festival can get expensive.  Next year I am planning on keeping snacks with me so I can cut costs wherever I can.  Plus an apple or trail mix is a whole lot better than junior mints or popcorn.

Networking:  Talking to random people I sit next to in the theater or in line isn't particularly easy for me, yet I know, in this field, networking is key.  I plan to step out of my comfort zone more next year and meet more people.  Also, always find out if people have a twitter because if anything, you two at least have the festival in common. 

Final Thoughts:
The overall experience of the festival is something I wouldn't trade for the world.  Sure, I was exhausted by the end of it, but that's all part of festing.  There are always tweaks needing to be worked out in a big event like this, but I have a feeling the DIFF crew will work out the bugs from this year, which means there will be new bugs that'll show up next year. 

The experience of seeing a movie with people who love movies as much as we do is always the best part.  My favorite moment is when the audience irrupted in applause in the middle of GREATEST MOVIE because we were so engrossed at what was happening on screen.  Seriously...who cheers at a documentary except movie fanatics??

I just got to work on somehow making time for a normal sleep schedule next year.

Javi: This was a big deal, as I'm sure everyone who follows us on Twitter and Facebook knows, because it was the first time we were in a festival as press. Plus, we got totally awesome and stylish T-shirts made thanks to the beautifully talented Julie Fitzgerald! I'd say I can't wait for the next super long and draining festival.  Hopefully you guys enjoyed our rather speedy reviews!

What I learned and did differently this time around:

Food: As ridiculous as it sounds, I made sure to pack various snacks and bought an aluminum water bottle to keep me going. I packed raw almonds, Clif bars, some dried fruits water, and a 5 Hour Energy that I never used. You'd be amazed how draining it is to watch 5 movies in one day. All of the snacks I had were high on protein and were meant to keep your energy up. Oh...and some delicious chocolate covered almonds ;-)

Notes: I have always heard of people taking notes during movies. I never understood this because I can usually remember most of the things that happened. Given that my schedule was going to be pretty packed before I got around to writing reviews, I took to taking notes in my Moleskine Movie Journal. It was such a life saver, and considering how the days started to blend together, I was forgetting details like crazy. Thank goodness for all of my notes.

Breaks: Since it would just be Jonesy and I, we worked it to have some days off. I had a Monday and Tuesday off, and she had a Wednesday and Thursday off. This was good for a few reasons. First, to get our minds together and to get a chance to catch up on our writing. Second, since we're not comfortable enough doing interviews yet, our focus was solely on movie reviews, so we tried to get as many as we could out. This is also good so our lives didn't get too messy. We're not as lucky as some and have day jobs (unfortunately).

The movies:
4) PARKED/ THE RUNWAY (they're both Irish, it's OK) 

3) IRONCLAD (I walked out of this movie out of sheer boredom)

Regrets(didn't see):

What I plan on doing different next year:

Plan enough time between screenings: This year I made the mistake of scheduling a movie at NorthPark mall, then the Magnolia, and then the Angelika.  Considering there were scheduling problems that delayed things across the board, it was not as bad as it could have been, but 30 minutes between very popular venues with bars and shopping surrounding them sure makes for a stressful time.

Make time for interviews:  This goes along with getting more exposure, but I would have liked to do interviews, but lack of preparation, nerves, and a packed schedule prevented me from doing so.  Trust me, I'll do some next year.

Final Thoughts:

First, I'd like to thank the press office of the Dallas International Film Festival for letting us cover this festival.  Tanya Wright and Emily Hardgrove were of amazing help, and I can't thank them enough for putting up with my ridiculously naive questions. I loved the variety of the venues, from Highland Park Village, to the Texas Theatre, and the Plano Angelika.

Now for the bad(sorry!). Vittorio Verre. I'm not sure what happened with this year's bumpers, but they were not of the same quality as the ones from last year.  I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to put a pompous, moronic, and self-centered character such as Vittorio in front of the movies, but it was completely off putting.  What I don't understand is what the message of the bumper was.  I figured you'd want to promote the magic and greatness of film, not some guy that personifies "style over substance".  At least last year there were two different bumpers which made for good variety.  Kudos to the You Plus Media crew for their bumper involving Metro Diner (RIP) and the Texas Theatre.  That bumper actually made more sense to put in a film festival as it showed the simple, and almost literal, love for movies that was endearing.

Another huge complain I had, which probably has a lot of political and logistic reasons behind it, but man what a drag to go downtown to get passes and screeners and just to be able to try to connect and network with other festival goers.  The Palomar was such a great central location, and I just couldn't imagine how they could have topped it.  This year... they did not.  The lounge was actually great to look at it, and it had a really cool and modern feel for it.  But we could only really enjoy it once.  The location also kept us from getting screeners at the Press Suite which closed at 4 PM, and neither of us could get to because of work.
For the first weekend, there was something wrong where all of the movies were starting late.  Add in Q&A's and there seemed to be a complete mess trying to follow a set schedule.  Apparently, when the schedule was made, the bumpers, which took about 15 minutes, were not taken into account which was the cause for some of these delays.  I just know that the people running this festival know how to rock it, so I'm confused as to how this happened.

Regardless, the experience became a rather enjoyable one, and apart from the time where we tried going to the Lounge one last time and got turned away because it was a VIP event (which we were unaware of), it was such a good time, and we hope to come back again.  Seeing the amount of people out of town coming in to cover this, and the talent involved gave me something which I never get often, which is a bit of pride being from Dallas.

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