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Indie Memphis Wrap Up

November 7, 2011

It’s been a while for me on blog posts and for that I apologize. I’ve had a wild ride this fall with festivals, films and fun. A film I helped write and produce, Where I Begin, has been active on the circuit the past few weeks, picking up a few awards including Best Mississippi Film at Miss. International FF a couple of weeks ago and this weekend an award at the Maryville Film Festival. With that going on, I have ignored my duties as a blogger, but after the experience of the 14th annual Indie Memphis, I knew I had to try to find a way to explain just what all went on.

The first film I saw set the tone for the festival this year. Jeff, who lives at home by Jay and Mark Duplass was introduced by Craig Brewer who told fond stories of their time at Sundance when they all felt like the new kids and talked about if they would all still be doing this in ten years. Yup, they are and doing it well.  And it inspired me to think that they had stood in the same place as the rest of us newbies, wondering if anyone would watch their movies someday.

The film, about destiny and following your instinct and the signs put in front of you, got me thinking about proper story telling and finding a way to tell universal truth while also entertaining. This film has the perfect mix to do just that. I’ve seen all the Duplass brothers films and this is hands down my favorite of their work so far (and I am quite the fan girl of theirs so that is saying something). It comes out in theaters in March. Mark your calendars.

I spent some time talking with Craig Brewer afterwards about the film and filmmaking as well as future plans. Like the great champion of filmmakers he is, he was encouraging and kind to my future goals as he was with many others this weekend.

After the film and some socializing, I caught the première of the Memphis film Losers Take All  which had the audience enjoying seeing the final product after filming locally. The Memphis Film Commission presented a check to the producers after they participated in a special program that takes on newcomers to the film industry on crew and helps teach them on set. Then 41 percent (I think that was the number?) of their pay is recouped. It is a clever local incentive but the producers did note it helped since the Tennessee Film Commission never came through on the real incentive package (curious to know more about this case).

Later that evening in short films #4: Dark and Stormy I caught a few friends films that I have seen and love greatly including Pillow, Lukos, Murderabilia and got to enjoy Gerry Bruno’s Seven Souls which I hadn’t seen before but was a nice discovery.

I missed out on some other great films that day to hang out at the P&H with the great Coop Cooper and John Beifuss (it was a film critic love fest) before heading to the annual final party graciously held by Chris and Laura each year. It is always a treat and I was happy to spend time with friends from across the country that I only get to see at fests such as this one.

Sunday I caught up with the super talented Tanya Wright whose film Butterfly Rising played that evening. She and Christine Elise McCarthy (her film Bathing and the Single Girl also played) spoke on a women and film panel and took every opportunity to shift the focus away from being “women filmmakers” to focus on being filmmakers and using their time as actresses to help shape who they were as writers and directors. Both women also spoke about taking on challenges and embracing the unexpected in life similar to the tone of Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Both are writers first and Wright championed the writer as the original creator and the reason we are able to work in this business.

While I found the panel to be inspiring and uplifting, I couldn’t help wonder if I was being told something about being better about listening to my instincts and following this filmmaking thing through. As I head out this week to assist on Kim Voynar’s first film, I am encouraged to have met so many strong, talented women finding a way to express their voice. This includes running into the fantastic Ashley Martin Bias after her screening of Prairie Love (which won the Oxford Film Fest Best Narrative Feature earlier this year). If I had a smidgen of that woman’s talent, I’d be a lucky girl.

As if the entire weekend was not enough to inspire me to pick up my pen again and write something, then to cap it off as I was heading out, I run smack into Jason Baldwin after the screening of Paradise Lost 3. Standing there looking at a true life happy ending (such a rarity) I couldn’t find the right words to say anything about how inspiring it is to see the three free or how in awe I am of the tremendous filmmakers behind the three-part documentary. Several friends also met him at the same time. With all of us roughly the same age as the three, we all felt connected in similar ways to their story and to them. There was no way to not be moved by the moment.

As I am sure he is quite used to this reaction, when he asked if I wanted a hug, I realized that yes, it really was exactly what I needed to end the festival. So I hugged Jason Baldwin, in Memphis, as he stood free amongst supporters and filmmakers. And really there are no words that could have expressed what that hug did. People like Jason are why films need to be made. Stories to be told. Truths to be shown brightly on the screen. It’s time for me to remember that I have something to say and so do many other talented people and I want to thank Indie Memphis and the people I met along the way recently for reminding me that this is why we embrace the madness of indie filmmaking. Free hugs.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Paula permalink
    November 7, 2011 11:09 pm

    Really missed attending this year! Great blog – love that you got a hug from Jason Baldwin. I tried to see JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME in Austin bot got boxed out. ;( I did get to attend the Duplass Brothers’ panel though. They seem like pretty cool cats.

    Even though it clearly states “advertisement” above the video at the end of your blog, I clicked on it thinking it was a trailer for one of the films you saw. Hope you get paid! 😉

    See you in February.

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