We’re a Hit! (pun intended)

Posted in Diary of a Directrix, News, On the Fest Circuit
January 25th, 2010 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

hearse smSo, trippin’s premiere was not only a smashing success, but we also won our first award!  Go, team!

For anyone who’s had a film screen at a festival, one likely knows that the world premiere is both exciting and a bit nerve-racking.  All sorts of concerns run through one’s head…Will the picture look and sound good?  Will we have an audience?  If we do, how will they react to our film?  And so forth.hearse 2 smThis also being our first feature, it was sort of a double-whammy.  We usually do shorts that are both gory and funny, so we’re used to our audiences supplying non-stop laughs, gasps and fun interaction for the short duration. But with a feature, we’d have to hold the attention of an auditorium full of strangers for 87 minutes.  I have to confess, I was nervous.  Were we truly capable of that?  How could I bear it if the room was silent for an hour and a half?

irish pub smAfter nearly a year of following Death in Charge all over the globe, I forgot what it felt like to experience these type of nerves.  And I suppose it did not help matters that when trippin’ first  began there was a minor aspect ratio issue that led to me spending part of the intro in the projection booth.

As it turned out, however, this was almost a blessing in some ways.

I say this merely because most of our films’ world premieres have had an issue such as this – wonky picture, sound or aspect ratio challenges and so forth.  The good of this is that: 1)  you accept that this is what happens sometimes and it reminds one to not get  worked up about it at future screenings because…2) if your film works, the audience either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

I’m thrilled to announce that our audience not only didn’t seem to care – they LOVED us!!!

windshield smIt was a bit distracting no doubt to have the picture changing size and an aspect ratio chart being fiddled with on the screen during the first few minutes.  I was so worried it would pull people out of the movie.  But despite that, we still got laughs.  And mere seconds after the chart disappeared, you could feel the audience really sink into our story and even more laughter commenced.

Not wanting to disturb the audience further, I sneaked back in to the rear of the theater rather than rejoining our team front and center, which also proved beneficial.  Nobody in my section of the audience knew who I was and I got to hear a whole different group of reactions than the others.  And, boy, were there reactions!

zed sauce smWe had them from the beginning with intermittent laughs and the occasional audible utterance (especially one guy throughout the film who repeatedly commented to his buddy of Zed, “I LOVE this guy!”) , but at about 20 minutes in, the real momentum kicked in.  People laughed at lines I had long ago forgotten were funny, and I was surprised at all the little details they clearly picked up on.  There’s a scene in a bathroom that while rather disturbing in some ways, is really sort of sweet and bizarrely romantic.  I was beside myself when the audience reacted not only to the shocking part, but also to the sweetness thereafter.  I wasn’t sure trippin’s odd sense of romance would translate.  It did!  Multiple times in fact.  Even I found things touching that I hadn’t thought of that way before.  It was such a treat to watch our film with this audience’s energy.

jizz woods smHolly smI also noticed that verbal reactions seemed to fit into interesting categories.  Our audience covered a surprisingly wide demographic and so response from spectators often varied.  Of course there were the Zed fans who laughed particularly loud at his antics (mostly male).  Then I noticed we had an interesting gender divide.  There were times (usually during moments of relationship conflicts) where the laughter and comments were clearly predominantly female or predominantly male.  I caught the occasional comment from some couples behind me, “That is so you!”  or “You tell him, Sister!”  I even noticed that we seemed to develop “Team Giselle” and “Team Holly” among the crowd.

zed gore smroach smThe gasps and reactions to the gore and suspense (and our infamous drug trip of course) were more than I could have hoped.  We have since some time ago now come to the realization that our film is really more of a “dark dramedy” than a “true horror” film, but I was hoping, since we pay homage to so many popular horror movie tropes throughout the story, that our prime audience would still be horror fans, and I’m pleased to say from their reaction during and after the film, they are indeed.  Every gore shot got a loud gasp or groan and occasionally applause(!) I even heard some folks behind me trying to anticipate what would happen next with comments like, “Ohhhh, I bet it’s him” or “No, that’s just a coyote.”  And fun comments like “Uh-oh!”  and “Don’t do it!”  and “Oh, fuck!”  and “Catfight – sweet!”

coyote head gore smIt was a particularly nice treat when a couple came in halfway through, sat in front of me and about 15 minutes later commented, “This is great – I wish we came earlier” and later asked if copies were for sale yet. (not just yet, incidentally – we’ll keep you posted)

What a thrill to find out that our film plays so well on a big screen to a crowd.  Some friends and I went to see Daybreakers on opening night at the Arclight and had a blast because the audience energy was so great – laughing, gasping and occasionally applauding the more inspired gore.  I remember thinking, “Man, I wish we could drum up this kind of reaction.”

My wish came true!

blurry dinner smPerhaps the most rewarding part about watching our film with this audience was what several of the other cast members told me at our celebratory dinner thereafter, “I forgot I was watching our movie and just got sucked into the story.”  After watching it so many times the past few months dealing with final edits, frame rate issues, proofchecking approval copies and test screenings for friends, cast and crew, I didn’t know if I could ever enjoy watching our movie just as a movie again, but as Kenny put it, “It was almost like watching it for the first time.”  It truly was.  On the big screen through real speakers, we heard and saw details we never noticed before.  On a big screen, in front of an enthused audience, every so often I even forgot to pay attention to them and just enjoyed the ride.  I even got goosebumps a few times.  Wow, we really made a feature!  And here it was screening at a Cineplex larger than life before a real live (and lively) audience

brewery dinner smWe got two rounds of applause – first when the credits began to roll and then again after the surprise scene after the credits.  I was pleased that a good chunk of the audience hung around for the q&a.

Q& A was rewarding.  Lots of questions about a wide range of topics and we even got a gasp followed by applause when we revealed our miniscule budget.  I hadn’t planned to do so in all honesty as one is told not to in this day and age.  tempe 2But it didn’t feel right to keep it from these generous people who were being so supportive.  Besides, so many people donated so much hard work, time and energy into this project, it was rewarding to get applause for pulling this off for such meager funds.  Folks were positively flabbergasted.  In the lobby after (when folks were requesting autographs from us – always a treat!) many commented to me that they enjoyed our film far more than huge budget Hollywood films they’ve seen of late.  There was lots of interest in purchasing copies.  I did my best to be gracious without turning into Sally Field on the spot (but secretly kept thinking, “You like us, you really like us!”)

hearse 3 smCongrats to the team for winning “Best Ensemble!”  You deserve it!  And what a delight to get a nod for acting in a genre where that is not always one of the highest priorities.  Way, to go, Actors!  And way to go, everybody else!  It took all of us to make this come together and I’m grateful to each and every one of you wonderful, talented people!

Finally, I want to thank the programmers of Phoenix Fear Fest for giving us an awesome premiere and our wonderful first audience for making it so rewarding and special for us.  Tempe rocks!

One Response to “We’re a Hit! (pun intended)”

  1. I so wish I could have been there, and I am SO happy for our team. Excellent work everyone!

    So, when do we film the next one? :)

    BTW, Zed rules!

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