Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Road to Blue November

This is my first log entry in the month of October. Events have unraveled and subsequently been pasted together again, all within the interior mechanics of the festival design. The highs and lows are more apparent at this stage than they were before.

The first week of October (coincidentally, the last week of September) saw the first newspaper article regarding the festival. John Wooley of the Tulsa World interviewed me over the phone on September 22. Originally slated for the Sunday paper, it was printed the following Wednesday.

I had also begun the process of securing an after party venue. I called the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the Greenwood Cultural Center to discuss the matter, since my first choice (Venue 216) was, at that time, unreachable. So, from September 27th until just last week somewhere around the 6th or 7th, I was playing a wicked game of phone tag that finally resulted in a complete waste of time. I was told the venue, being the Greenwood Cultural Center, would require renting of the space for $1400, although they offered the discount price of $900! Keep in mind that, when it is all said and done, both of my festivals combined will not even breach the halfway mark of what they offered. I have secured a free venue, a free after party venue (after dealing with the aforementioned disappointment!) and I have, for the second year in a row, created a totally free festival of film, music and art! I find that many of the “community supportive” organizations are anything but, and that, once again, it is an issue of money.

After this situation ended (and after I stopped laughing) I called Venue 216 and tried again. More often than not, when a door is slammed in your face, another one will open; that is the case regarding my story. After weeks of leaving messages, I was able to contact the owner of Venue 216 again, and I began working with his counterpart. And then…

Originally scheduled on the first day of my festival, the Spot Music Awards posed an interesting problem. Not only did this event create an undesirable element of competition, it also absorbed some of the musical talent and press contacts I had hoped for. Then, as if luck smiled down upon me and winked, the schedule changed to the 12th of November. Crisis averted.

Actually…, crisis not averted. Just last week, I found out that a band was coming to town that I would love to see, and so I checked the venue’s website. This same venue is the location of the Spot Music Awards. According to this website and the official website for the event, the proceedings (being the Spot Music Awards) will take place on November 19th, the first night of my festival. This is not like the event is on the other side of Tulsa, but in fact, it is mere walking distance from the Film Fest. So, I have a definite situation to contend with. Yet, as I think about it, the more I realize how there is a good potential to have a full house nonetheless, and I am prepared for low attendance, if it occurs.

This is a problem that I am still working on. Venue 216 is one of several after party locations for the Spot Awards. I have several friends, mainly musicians, that are either attending or are nominated. Ordinarily, that would free them from playing on the 19th, but then they would be available for the 20th, right? For the most part, yes. I have Brian Parton and VASTU on the bill so far, with a few more artists on my call list. I have decided to schedule the bands at Venue 216 on the 20th only, and go for a more casual atmosphere for the first night. This will be a relaxing, lounge-type environment where the filmmakers can mingle and discuss art. I am currently in negotiations with Tsunami Sushi in the downtown area. My friend, Jocelyn, has a new band called Rook. Unfortunately, they will not be able to be a part of the Festival this year, since they are nominated at the Awards Show, and they have a gig on the second night of the festival. Still, they offered and I am grateful and appreciative of that.

As of today, I have secured Circle Cinema 2 as an alternate venue for additional films. We will present the films, which may be primarily features, on Saturday, November 20th from 12:00pm to 3:00pm. All films will be included in the competition.

The frustrating thing to me is that it is so easy to give the space and the time and even the funds, and no one cooperates. Well, a few actually cooperate, but this community could do so much more and, instead, they are hungry for money and prestige, not art and the proliferation thereof. All it takes are a few willing people, and really, that is what I have achieved here. I have had some amazing people offer their time and money and their talents and/or labor. I just can’t help the feeling that so much more could be done. I had to struggle to obtain entries from my own State! I could have the entire town alive with artist and filmmakers and music and lights….if I only had the proper environment.

So, as you can see, being a festival promoter is not an easy task, and promoting a free festival is of an even greater challenge. But I love the challenge, and it is more rewarding than most people will know. It is frustrating, but a dedicated and passionate vision is all you need….oh, and patience! It all pays off in the end.

The selection process is currently underway and over 200 press contacts have been sent in the mail. I have to convert my Italian entry over to NTSC, and I am still waiting on a documentary from Microcosm Publishing in Portland, Oregon, and I have a film being sent from the Philippines that has not yet arrived. I am excited and nervous, knowing that in one week, the festival will be a month away. The “amazing” has yet to begin!


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