One of many good things about the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) folks is that they are always up to something. Even though it feels like the 2012 Festival was just a couple of weeks ago (it was three months, really), submissions for next year’s festival are already being accepted. In fact, the early Bird Deadline is July 6th, in office. Also, they host a plethora of workshops and screenings throughout the year. This makes me feel a little better about taking three months to follow up on the first half of my article covering the fest – ‘cause, you know, it’s perfect timing, really. A season… more wisdom gleaned… and you people want to know about the Early Bird deadline, don’t you?? This is what I tell myself.
Luckily, much made an impression on me from ATLFF 2012, so it’s easy for me to recall many of the moments from days 6-9. If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my previous article. The following picks up where that one left off, in the middle of the fest. As a quick reminder, I was also in the middle of moving to a new apartment…
DAY 6 (Wednesday)
I spent the day packing and geared up for an Evening of Awesome, the highlight of which was HBO’s premiere of GAME OF THRONES at the Rialto theater downtown. Beforehand, I took pictures with models dressed up as warriors and princesses and other wonderful things that I am not sure how to describe. They gave us free popcorn and a choice of soda or water, then ushered us inside. I ran into someone I knew, who happened to be taking pictures of the event for HBO. She invited me to sit with her in the VIP section. I was entitled to sit in the VIP section anyway, seeing as I’d been graciously given a VIP bracelet by one of the event’s organizers. Still, it was nice to have someone save a seat for me. The screening was sublime. As the opening credits rolled, I felt giddy like a kid. GAME OF THRONES (or GOT, as the kids call it) is so cinematic that it really should only ever be watched on a large screen, and the sound, so good!
After the screening, they gave us key chains (limited edition!) and I headed around the corner to the VIP party. It was a small crowd, and I made a couple of new friends there, running into the fabulous Doobious.com photography crew and enjoying the open bar and fried snacks. Then, it was home to get a decent night’s sleep.
DAY 7 (Thursday)
Ok, so there were awesome film-related workshops happening during the day M-F, and were I in a utopian world, where I could warp time to my liking, I might have attended at least half of them. It’s difficult to know what one would really do in that circumstance, isn’t it? In reality, the only workshop I managed to get to was the COLLABORATIVE FEATURE WRITING workshop. Even that I found challenging. I was, however, determined to go – no matter how determined my taxi driver was to NOT get me there! Although I arrived late, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good number of great seats open – including a seat next to Victoria Warren, DP for AMATEUR NIGHT (part of V/H/S). I was also pleasantly surprised to see that my uber-talented colleagues, David Bruckner and Nicholas Tecosky (writing partners and scribes of V/H/S) were on the panel, along with a handful of other wonderful screenwriters. The most influential nugget of platinum goodness that I took away from the event was this: arguing with one’s writing partner is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows that both parties are passionate. As long as both are willing to listen and to hash it out ‘til both are at least content, then this is where a lot of the best things happen. Hmmm… so, kinda like any close relationship, huh?
After the event, I had to wait a little while for a friend to get off of work and join me for the evening’s festivities, so I hung out, said hello to my colleagues, met a couple of new friends, and exchanged some cards. As will likely happen in any field – maybe especially in the entertainment field – I met a strange person. In the beginning of our conversation, this person claimed to be looking for collaborators on the creation of his film. Later in the conversation, he said the film was complete. Later that night, I found an email from him letting me know about how great his film was. What I find odd about these kinds of people is their bizarre need to be dishonest. I would have been perfectly fine with staying in contact with him, if he’d been straight-forward. Once I realized he’d been dishonest, however, I no longer wanted to know what he was doing… like, ever.
My friend arrived and we jaunted on over to The Goat Farm for an evening of live music, experimental films and video art exhibits. What fun! The live music was a mixed bag, and considering how hungry I was, it took a bit longer that I would’ve liked for the food trucks to get their food ready. Over all though, it was a fun time. I ran into many of the friends and acquaintances I’d seen from throughout the fest, and even a couple of unexpected familiar faces. I finally got to see Dan Bush/Lovett’s GHOST OF OLD HIGHWAYS, a musical short film that was so stylistically awesome that I didn’t mind the gore. Watching GHOST OF OLD HIGHWAYS was the pinnacle of an evening that I’m inspired to describe as a feast for the senses. Well, that, and the spiced rice crispy treats – delicioso!
DAY 8 (2nd Friday)
The day was devoted to moving. At night, I made it over to the Plaza theater for WonderRoot’s Filmmaker’s Night, a compilation of short films sponsored by WonderRoot, an Atlanta-based non-profit arts organization (WonderRoot.org). Not only did I get to see a bunch of interesting short films, I ran into creative masterminds Darrell C. Hazelrig and Beau Brown, filmmakers whose brilliant film THE WIND UP BOY was a part of the event. In tow were actor Tom Thon and actress/model Christie Vozniak. Mr. Thon is the human star of THE WIND UP BOY, and he plays wonderfully opposite the title character – an eerily life-like puppet. Ms. Vozniak adorably donned a sleek, “New Puppet Order” stamped little black dress. The event also included another screening of Puja Chaudhari’s haunting A HARD DAY’S PAY (which I originally thought was about a father and son, then thought that Puja had told me was about a grandfather and grandson and later found out that it was, as originally thought, a father and son. Got that?).
It was a special treat to get to sit with the crew. Afterwards we grabbed a drink next door and talked about the fabulous world of Atlanta filmmaking. Shameless plug: a few days before, Mr. Hazelrig and Mr. Brown had cast me to do the voice over for their next film, MAIDEN TO MONSTER, a story about Medusa and Perseus told from Medusa’s view – and done with puppets! The film premiered at the Center for Puppetry Arts as a part of their annual XPT (Xperimental Puppetry Theater) show, and an updated cut is on its way to make the festival rounds.
DAY 9 (2nd Saturday)
I was hoping to have all of my moving taken care of. It wasn’t. It took all day. I did, however, make it to the Closing Night Party at Guillotine Post, where I met the makers of TRASH DANCE and STREET DOGS OF SOUTH CENTRAL; two documentaries that I heard were very moving for different reasons. Vincent Ueber, one of the writers of STREET DOGS, gave me a copy of his film to take home. I still haven’t watched it. Truth is, I have a super soft spot for stray animals. In fact, I once brought home a dog I found in South Central… and I’m afraid of how the film might affect me emotionally. Maybe Queen Latifah’s narration will help somehow. She’s someone I’d like to work with. I digress.
So, anyway, there was a spread of make-your-own sloppy joes w/ side fixins of baked beans, coleslaw and rice. I don’t eat sloppy joes, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rest. I ran into Josh Wilcox, Hannah Fierman and Remy Swales and met up with Darrell, Christie, Puja and a few other new acquaintances, including actor Ron Ogden. When the party closed down around midnight, a bunch of us headed over to The Highland for a nightcap. The excitement of the evening was given a boost, when a car caught on fire on the other side of the parking lot! A bunch of us rushed over to see the hot mess, and I saw filmmaker Chance White in the crowd. It was a fiery filmmaker frenzy! Yay, alliterations!
DAY 10 (2nd Sunday)
The whole day was devoted to encore screenings of the winners and other favorites from the festival. All screenings happened at the Midtown Art Cinema. I did not make any of the screenings, as I was exhausted and still finishing cleaning old my old apartment. I think it’s pretty cool that they had them, though. I also think it’s cool that a big company like Xfinity sponsored the day. I’m not generally a fan of a lot of the practices of big corporations. I am, however a fan of the times when they do cool things like support the arts.
All said, my first experience of the ATLFF was one rich with yummy goodness. It greatly deepened my connection to the local entertainment world, and broadened my exposure to current independent filmmakers from across the country as well.
Will Atlanta be the next Sundance? No. It will always be Atlanta. Will the ATLFF continue to grow in its exposure and respect from the entertainment community as a whole? I’d bet on it. Personally, I have a new favorite film festival to look forward to in years to come. Heck, I don’t even need to purchase new snow clothes to attend!
For more information on ATLFF, including all kinds of good reasons for submitting early for 2013, visit: www.atlantafilmfestival.com
To keep tabs on the short film, MAIDEN TO MONSTER, “Like” the Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/MaidenToMonster
Tenaya Cleveland is a California native who landed in Atlanta in the Fall of 2011. She acts, makes films and coaches people who have an interest in following their deeper calling. She can be seen this month on the television shows DROP DEAD DIVA and NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. More details on these and future appearances can be found at www.TenayaCleveland.com.