Self-promotion is not my thing. I’ve spent my life learning about film and filmmaking, acquiring skills and honing them in. I didn’t go to film school and I didn’t grow up knowing anyone with a leg up in the “biz.” So when teaching myself how to make a movie became the most realistic option, that’s what I set out to do.
And I love being a student of film. It’s a craft that so few people perfect, because there’s always more to learn. I can talk about this learning process all day, but the one thing I don’t love about filmmaking is talking about myself.
Los Angeles Cinema Festival of HollywoodEarrings), “Wait” blared away – it was like a dream.
I was meeting my friend/one of the Wait’s leads, Micah Parker, at the sports bar, so he was the first person I told about the festival. I called my girlfriend and my parents and tried to keep up with the ecstatic words of praise on social media. A few minutes after breaking the news online, my girlfriend, Julie, called to tell me that the festival had already released their award winners, and Wait had actually already won Best Narrative Feature Film. So now you have Micah and I (two guys never really at a loss for words) sitting in a sports bar, utterly speechless. I didn’t have any context for my emotions, it was so overwhelming in the best possible way.
|left: Micah Parker, me, Matt Brown; center: Julie and I; right: Andrew Bongiorno, me, Ansuya Nathan|
At the screening a few weeks later, everything went perfectly. Most of the Wait family met at a bar a block from the theater, a bar where we actually filmed two scenes for Wait (it’s weird how in a town this big, things can fall into place in such oddly specific ways). As for the screening, it was small and intimate and, despite my ever-present anxiety about watching my own movie in a large dark room with a bunch of people, the film was very well received. People laughed where they were supposed to laugh, gasped where they were supposed to gasp, and even let out a few Ohhh shit’s for good measure.
After Wait played, I participated in a brief Q&A with a handful of other filmmakers. This Q&A was a doozy, let me tell you. One of the filmmakers on stage was so shockingly arrogant, it was actually quite impressive. I mean, this guy was really something. He made a two-minute animated short and spoke about it like it was the best thing since Spirited Away. It was jaw-dropping egotism; crazy entertaining, but so damn awkward. The few times I locked eyes with the other directors on stage, we shared looks of, “Is this guy for real?” A good reminder of the importance of humility.
Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival
I found out that Wait got into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival (HRIFF) at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday and the first thing I did was throw up. My body literally didn’t know how to handle the information. HRIFF was one of the biggest festivals I’ve submitted to. It’s co-hosted by Quentin Tarantino and routinely attracts notable players in the film game. I still can’t believe Wait gets to screen there.
A few days ago, HRIFF released the winners of their festival, and as I was making my way down the email, I figured Wait didn’t stand a chance. Best Actor, Gary Cole (one of my favorite character actors, who I’ve written about on this blog); Best Actress, David Lynch staple, Grace Zabriskie; Best Supporting Actor, Joe Mantegna (does anyone do Mamet better?); Best Actor in a Short Film, Upstream Color’s Andrew Sensenig (who I interviewed for this blog). Reading these names, I assumed Wait wasn’t on the same level, and that was okay. Genuinely, getting accepted was the prize.
Emerging Actor Spotlight, Micah Parker in Wait. I flipped out. Micah is really good in the movie, but obviously I’m biased. So seeing him be honored in this way is such immense validation of his work. I was so excited I almost stopped reading. When I saw that I had won Breakthrough Director Spotlight, I didn’t think it was real. My vision got blurry, I started breathing heavily – it was insane. I’m still at a loss that all of this is happening.
So, clearly, it’s been an emotional few weeks. This is such a thrilling ride to be on, and I’m so thankful that I have such a kind and sincere group of people supporting me. Thank you. For all the Facebook likes and comments, all the Twitter favorites and retweets, all the messages and emails and DMs – really, thank you. Wait will premiere at HRIFF on the evening of February 14. What better way to spend a day best known for celebrating love?
(Pictured at the top of this post, left to right: Catherine Warner, Micah Parker, me, Matt Brown, Chris Degner, Graydon Stroud, Andrew Bongiorno, Leah Fredkin)