Don’t worry, your first film festival screening probably wasn’t as bad as mine.

Following is an account of my very first film festival screening for the feature film, LULLABY―a project we’re all very proud of but buried long ago. The film premiered at the 2000 Fort Worth Film Festival (now Lone Star International Film Festival) and went on to screen at the Dallas VideoFest (still going strong). Writer/director, David Lowery, was responsible for keeping the film alive; but last I heard, he’d copied over it, or something. And I haven’t seen my SVHS copy since I graduated college in 2002. Such is life. Introduced by David, and originally published on his website, here’s my accounting of our very first screening at the Black Dog Tavern in Fort Worth (now defunct).

Lullaby First Screening Review

Well, both screenings are now over. The Saturday show was great; however, with the screening on Friday, we had both the honor and the nightmare of being the very first film to play at the Fort Worth Film Festival (and it was more of a nightmare); they obviously hadn’t given their equipment much testing prior to the screenings. Luckily, as I predicted, hardly anyone showed up. Adam was there, though, and he has provided this first hand account of an experience no indie filmmaker wants to go through. So without further ado:

The room was dark―black―the very essence of its name. As I ran into the Black Dog Tavern to present the first screening of “Lullaby”; with sweat pouring down my cheeks and soaking my Kenneth Cole shirt, and rainwater having already dampened my freshly polished Versace shoes, I realized, as I was already five minutes late to the screening with a fresh tape―re-edited, color washed out and sound enhanced―that it was going to be a very long day. Running inside, I was confronted by one of the festival guys: “Are you the filmmaker?” he asked. “Yeah, I’m representing the film,” I responded quickly, “and I’ve got the refined tape.”

I addressed the audience, which consisted of two women at the front table whom I had never seen before; one guy directly behind them and to my right who I think may have been associated with the film playing directly after “Lullaby”; Doug’s father behind him; a good friend of mine, Evan, to the far left, my sister and her friend, Kevin behind Evan; my mother, directly behind them; and two club guys running around. They seemed relieved when the new tape came in, and I was too, despite the fact that I ran all the way from 1st to 8th street and four blocks of cross streets to get there. Panting and sweating harder then ever, I apologized for the delay as the club guys put in the new tape and pressed play. “Great,” I thought, “everything should be fine now.” But to my horror, everything went horribly wrong. The black and white contrast in the images was blurred and shaky, making it impossible to see what was going on at key points in the film. We stopped the film, and I ran to a corner and called David. No answer, so I left a frantic message on his voicemail.

A few minutes later he called and told me to apologize and cancel the screening. I couldn’t do that―most of the people who had gone out there were there to support us totally and I couldn’t take that away from them. So, the club guy went and got another VCR. Twenty minutes later as I was at the end of the bar out of sight, drinking a glass of water, and hiding my face, the VCR came. We plugged it in, taking another slight delay. Relieved once again, I prayed that the movie would run right.

Did it? Of course not, same problem occurred, albeit a tiny bit cleared up. The only thing that kept me from stopping the film altogether was the fact that no one left during the screening. I mean, the most exciting thing that happened during the screening was when the beer guy came with the beer and when an electrician started working outside the bar and then came in and said, “You’re online.” The screening sucked and the worst part was thanking everyone for coming at the end and having to hide my anguish and fear. However, the guy that I didn’t know asked for the website, so I guess that’s good. But, all in all, it was a pretty bad screening. And of course, when I took the tape home and played it on my Super VHS VCR, it worked fine. Bummer.

The less known half of Road Dog,
Adam Donaghey

Stay tuned for a report on the GREATLY IMPROVED Saturday show (we brought our own VCR)…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s