In less than a month, I did what few people (with the exception of Fae) thought was possible: I established the Festival, here, in Seattle. This marks a new direction for the event, which is more or less a return to the humble roots of the first installment, a small, yet highly significant festival with a tightened focus on art and artist. It is our first screening here, and it will not be the last for some time.
The Greenbean Coffeehouse is a glorious place, filled with peaceful creativity and welcome smiles. A true coffeehouse, Green Bean is Fair Trade and organic, where they serve coffee in actual mugs. The place is warm, West Coast and rustic. I feel that music and words feel at home and wander aimlessly around the cozy space. We are thankful to the staff for allowing the Fest to take place in such a wonderful setting.
The first night was a lesson in technical prowess, having technicians run audio and video in the past, I would learn the craft quickly.
I purchased and A/V switcher for my VCR/DVD components, for effortless transition. The Green Bean have their own projector; I was fortunate that it was a simple plug-and-play device. All I had to do was establish sound via the Fender Passport PA system, plug in my components and I was in business! I organized my films, and laid in order. The sheet acting as screen was set into place. I did a sound check and we were ready to begin.
It is always customary, for an event director to want everyone imaginable to be in every seat possible. People filter in and out, and sometimes, the people who were sitting there leave only moments before. It is the internal tug-of-war that a director endures. He or she wants the artist, filmmakers and musicians to receive the attention of the whole world. Reluctantly, I begin.
The count is small at first, and I give my introduction and description of the Festival and the nights proceedings as usual.
The films begin. The coffee flows, and I am adorned in the ceremonial garb of my office, my beige polyester Lee sport coat. The eerie yet satisfying glow of limited lighting, screen, projector and image fill the cavernous feeling of night down in this sanctuary in Greenwood.
I regret that our featured artist never showed, never called and totally flaked out on an opportunity to display his artwork for free. Unfortunate.
A few shorts ran, then intermission. Our final film, was the spectacle Purgatory House, a film directed by a woman, starring and written by a fourteen year old girl. The film will be available for purchase in the new year...I will keep you posted! The film was well done, well produced and the story was unlike anything I have conceived or heard of. I was proud to show this film.
Our musical performer was Charly. She is an artist of voice and electronic dance. As you may know, this is a challenge for a coffeehouse setting. She already held two songs written for piano and she would be able to perform those, easily, on keyboard. I challenged her to adapt one other song, three in total, for the performance. She adapted another, and chose one more for keyboard performance with an alternate voicing.
The entire mission of the Fest and Blue November in general is to uplift people, whether they are onlookers or the people on the field. Charly is a transplant from Colorado, and until Blue November, she was a musician in need of her first gig. I love to challenge people, and that is what I did here.
The second night was more relaxed, having made it through the first night with success. On the other hand, we had more movies to show, and a Q&A session.
Where we managed to arouse the interest of twenty-eight or more individuals, we sunk to a modest twenty to twenty-five by Saturday. I think considering the amount of time to promote, the fact that we placed very few flyers, and that we had minimal press, these were more than admirable and acceptable figures. I was pleased with it all.
Gary Parrish was on hand to witness another Seattle screening of his animated short. The joy I received was immeasurable, as I opened the floor to questions related to Gary and his film. As people asked one question after the other, my fear of silence in the room dissipated. The questions were very specific and intelligent. The people took everything seriously. As Gary spoke, half an hour went by! I was proud to have a good friend have his moment, and the audience paid their respect well.
The finality of the evening was near. Our final musical performer was Fae and her immense songbook. She began modestly, moving through song after song. I enjoy watching people react. Her voice was weary, yet she held firm. A couple in back watched the ceiling with smiles, as they listened to the air.
My favorite moment came, when she played my favorite song, In My Time. Frustrated with the hum in her acoustic pick up, she dislodged from the electrical devices completely, and she sang without PA and with the strength of her acoustic. This was the scene: Fae, foot planted on a nearby chair, her right knee supporting the guitar, and the song spiralling through the room like incense and steam.
Our first night was success. Our second was solidification of our new path. The Festival is alive and will not falter.
I walked away tired, but not exhausted. I have nothing but gratitude for Lisa and Haydn, and I speak highly of the Green Bean Coffeehouse.
I am ready for next year!
And what of next year, the future...I can only answer with this: we will continue! Our quest is to remain dedicated to our roots, and to bring that ideal to the masses in whatever fashion we can. Through Green Bean, I have already gained the contacts for a major part of what will be forged into the MicroFilmFest for 2007.
Until next November..
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