Marc and I are in his Mini Cooper heading out of London. Whilst driving, Marc is desperately trying to find out the result of the final frame between Judd Trump and Ding Junhui in the first session of their semi final at the crucible. It has just occurred to me that it is another piece of synchronicity that we are together this weekend, the weekend of the snooker world championship. If Ronnie O’Sullivan had made it to the final, I imagine that we may have driven from the screening tonight straight to the Crucible in Sheffield so that we could see it. Alas though, Ronnie was knocked out a couple of days ago and won’t be able to add another title to his collection.
Despite Judd doing well, Marc is not particularly in an upbeat mood. As always, making appearances at screenings or doing publicity, has little meaning for him. For me, though, it has great meaning - the chance to show my work to someone. I’m trying to cheer him up. Also, Bianca, our German Mausfrau friend has just texted wishing us both good wishes.
We have just arrived. The sat nav took us direct to the door of a beautiful old music hall. Only a few streets from our ‘final destination’, Marc spotted Roger on his Harley. It’s nice to see Roger in attendance here. I hope to also see Seanne (who was born in Southend), Steve, and Jonnie here. Julie texted me yesterday to say that due to an overrun on the shoot she is doing, she won’t be able to come.
Upon entering the foyer next to the music hall I see our poster and many people dressed in Southend Film Festival T-shirts. The volunteers direct me to Paul Cotgrove, the effusive director of the festival (a real cinephile – especially in British film) and the man we must thank for our selection. He seems upbeat. I asked him if he can arrange a technical check of the film. He agreed.
We killed time by chatting to people, doing interviews, listening to the Cajun band playing in the lobby and having our photographs. The festival photographers, despite knowing what they are doing seem to be quite nervous. I recommend a shot to one of them that she seemed to like.
The technical check, I find out, is the first the projectionist has done so far. No other director had asked to do one. The cinema is beautiful with wonderful balconies and boxes. Strangely the sound is best higher up in the gallery. In any event I set a level with the projectionist that is best for all. There’s not much I can do about the actual projection but all seems fine.
I have now just met Steve Di Marco and some of his family that live here in Southend. Still no Seanne yet but Jonnie has just sent me a text. It reads “Can’t make it. Bastard fuck up at work. Confusion on dates – on rota to work overnight. Tried to swap/find replacement but can’t”
Damn. Jonnie’s attendance is in the programme. I always expected us to do this one together. I have quickly decide that instead of Jonnie, we’re going to have Steve on stage with Marc and I. Paul Cotgrove seems to be fine with that.
Minutes before the start of the film. Still no Seanne.
Marc, Roger and I are now in a Mexican restaurant having dinner while the film plays. Steve wanted to watch it. I imagine Seanne is somewhere inside. I told Paul that I’d like to introduce the film which he was pleased about. In my intro I planned to mention the company who sponsored the film screening – Greens health Foods - but forgot (Mr Green I had met just before the screening). I’ll have to mention them in the Q&A. I thanked Paul for the selection, told the audience that the Designer was born in Southend and talked about how the film was made and how much it cost etc. We have just under a hundred paying customers as well as other people in the screening. Paul is happy with that number. It’s about the same number as were at the gala the previous night. Apparently, the best attended film so far has been the sing-along “Sound of Music.”
Before our film played there was trailer for tomorrow’s film “Room 36” which is a film that had an eleven year production history due to lack of money. I’d met the film-maker in Cannes a few years ago and heard his story – far worse than DEP. It’s a pity I cannot see it here finally.
At the start of our film, for the first two shots there was no sound. Then suddenly the sound came in super loud but just the sound of the birds and the lake. Before I could get to the projection box the big music cue came in flooding the cinema with a tsunami of sound and distortion. When I got to the box I shouted “Have you not got it on the setting?”
“It’s on it!” he replied.
“It can’t be. It’s too fucking loud mate!!”
After a few more minutes I got it to where it should have been.
Incredible… Marc, Roger and I are still laughing about it now - I did a sound check only to have the worst cock-up imaginable… The wall of sound was so fierce it physically cut through the body… I guess my deliberate jump to the audience has never been quite so profound before!!
We’re still laughing.
Paul has just joined us for coffee. Marc and Roger seem impressed when I tell them that Paul was one of the founders of the Lindsey Anderson Memorial Foundation. They ask him about it and when he met Lindsey. Finding out about Paul’s history with Lindsey is one of the things that warmed me to him. Like Paul, I am a great lover of Lindsey’s films. Not being a Hitchcock fan (all artifice, no truth), I rate Lindsey very highly, right up at the top table of British Directors, besides David Lean.
I’m waiting in the wings, watching the audience. No-one has walked out yet as far as I can
tell! I have just received a text from Seanne saying her daughter Vivienne is ill and thus she
isn’t here in the screening. That’s a real shame.
We have just finished the Q&A. Marc and I planned beforehand to try and get Steve as
involved as possible. It was hard to get a decent response from him though! Apart from
that the Q&A seemed to go well. Marc and I created some humour. Paul asked some
good questions. The audience response was warm.
At the end I also remembered to mention Greens Heath Foods.
Marc is just about to drop me off now. It’s been a fun and enjoyable night. Marc is also
happy as Judd Trump has made it to the final. As a film-festival attendance, Southend
must be the easiest so far. Just a simple quiet hop out of London for a few hours. Of
course, I wish I could have stayed over and seen some more films but I don’t have the
time with many things to do and Cannes looming...
11.46am Sunday 1st May 2011
David Holloway (the Assistant Programmer at the festival) has just texted me asking
“What’s it like to go to a non-competitive festival?” The answer I’ve just given him is that although it is lovely to attend a festival without stress of any kind, for me, it is always preferable to be in competition. Awards for film-makers are like medals for soldiers.