“In Everyone’s Life There’s a Summer of ‘42″

Posted in Diary of a Directrix, On the Fest Circuit
December 15th, 2009 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

overhead gang smI got back from Alaska yesterday and actually found L.A. a bit nippy – how weird is that?  I don’t know if this is common, but I always feel a little sad after a particularly great fest experience.  For 11 days I had a new home, family and lifestyle. We’ll all stay in touch naturally, but never again will that same group of people live in that same environment altogether like that. It’s the end of an era, albeit a tiny one.

summer42dvdI feel so fortunate to have had such a magical experience, but how can one not feel a sense of loss as well?  At the end of Summer of ’42, the narrator proclaims that to find something new sometimes one must lose something as well (only he puts it much better.)  topper_topperThat idea has always struck me as rather poignant.

Yesterday I left my unpacked bags on the already messy floor and played hookie in order to recupe a bit: napped, talked on the phone, ate Chinese take-out from the carton while I watched Topper and Topper Returns in bed.  Good intentions of laundry and organization were tossed out the door the minute I walked back through it.

The clarity I always get while away fizzled into a mess of mixed emotions and motivations by the time I reached this spartan little apartment.  Days ago I felt invincible – so self assured about what I needed to do next with my writing, trippin’, the next film endeavor and so forth.  I could see my life so clearly up in the frozen tundra so far away from it.  Yesterday my mind was a muddled mess.  I wish I could merely blame it on the jetlag, but it’s never that simple.

devi mirror smThe head of an artist is a crazy mixed up place – logic is often ousted in favor of passion which often detours far off the most efficient path to one’s end goal.  But then again, the journey is often times more important than the destination so perhaps that’s a good thing.

It is times like this I feel especially grateful for our team.  If they didn’t know that this is how I operate, they might think me a fickle freak.  One day I will adamantly make a case for plan A, then the next day I may just make an equally compelling argument for Plan B.  Ultimately, before any action is taken, I arrive at the right plan.  The other day, Natalie and I were marveling at how brilliantly Billy Joel’s song “Always a Woman” so beautifully captures a woman with whom we each identify:

bjoelOh–and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

Thanks, Mr. Joel.  You are a scholar and a diplomat.

Really it’s a luxury this sadness.  How fortunate to have something so wonderful to miss.  How necessary to have all these new emotions to infuse into my writing.  How amazing to know that life is constantly filled with these mini rebirths.

dicfamilystill smThe final weekend of the fest was jam-packed.  Our final screenings of Death in Charge were wonderfully received (we had 4 total!).  My favorite compliment came from a woman who’d seen it on Friday and came back on Saturday to see it again, confessing she’d awakened still thinking about it the next morning.  I was really touched.  And enlightened…

I write a lot because I have no choice.  If I didn’t spit stuff out on the page I’d likely explode.  It comes so very easily to me.  As does making people laugh.  It’s a wonderful gift to have, but it is also a handicap sometimes.  I can whip out a script in 5 days and people will be entertained.  But entertainment alone is simply not enough.  Sometimes it all comes too easy and I know I’ve failed.

Theyre Dead smThanks to this woman and a really wonderful lunchtime chat with J and Natalie, I finally saw my film for what it is, how it succeeds and what my other work needs to be to measure up.  Despite its flaws, Death in Charge is my perfect “Deviant Storm.”  Everything that’s important to me comes through on the screen– it is not merely funny, or gory.  It means something to me.  I had something to say.  And it has spoken to so many people as a result whilst still making them laugh and gasp and think.

the-hangoverA film like, say “The Hangover” is successful at the box office because it makes people laugh in the moment.  But in my newly enlightened eyes I feel it’s not a successful movie because it doesn’t stick with you.  I learned nothing from it, it didn’t take me on a journey, it was pure spectacle without substance.

I have several scripts I believe fall into a similar category.  Ones I repeatedly pull off the shelf and toil with, but ultimately put back up there because I know they just don’t work for some reason.  Now I understand why.

I used to think that a film merely needs to entertain.  And I suppose that’s more than most films offer in today’s over-saturated market.  However, I’ve learned that our films, to be successful in my own eyes at least, need to do something more.  I want to make people think and feel, not just in the moment, but long after they’ve sat through it.

title2hipster-filmThis past 3 weeks, 5 films have really had that effect on me:  An Education, Bomber, Birthday, Hipsters, and  Vincent: A Life in Color.  I’ve already written about the others, but Vincent was a special surprise.  I met director Jennifer Burns and her subject Vincent Falk at the Bendfilm Fest.  I knew just from hanging out from them that I would enjoy the film, but I had no idea just what a journey it would take me on.  I like documentaries, but find I’m even more critical of them than narratives.  Most are too long, have a tendency to meander and don’t always feel like a complete story.  Vincent, much like its subject, is full or surprises and emotion.  I was stunned to learn this was Jennifer’s first film.  She is a natural storyteller.  I will see anything else she does and so should you.

winter wonderland smshow film smI met some amazing people this past couple of weeks.  I saw beautiful sights, wonderful films and my own life and art with new eyes.  Thanks to the Anchorage Film Festival for making this all possible.  Thanks to Natalie and J and all of  the wonderful members of our Anchorage pack who made this one of the most special fest experiences of my life.

On the aforementioned movie’s poster it reads “In Everyone’s Life There is a Summer of ‘42.”  I hope there is also a “Winter of 2009″ for us all.  They’re not so different really.  Something gained, something lost, something indelible that will impact a lifetime.

2 Responses to ““In Everyone’s Life There’s a Summer of ‘42″”

  1. [...] Life, or perhaps watched any of our regional premieres there.  Bendfilm/Anchorage Film Fest buddy Jennifer Burns also came down to join the party (her fabulous documentary Vincent: A Life in Color shared Steph [...]

  2. [...] phrases and words that bring us regular traffic via search engines.  Who knew when I compared my Alaska film fest experience to the Summer of ’42 that it would compel random folks to check out our site and share their own [...]

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