This has been the most insane month of my life. Getting to screen Wait at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival (HRIFF) feels like a dream. My participation in the festival resulted in three wondrously surreal days that I will never forget. Words simply cannot do those days justice. Or the days I’ve lived since.
On Friday Feb. 13, as myself and many of the actors from the film sat down at the festival’s awards ceremony, I leaned over and asked Wait’s star, Micah Parker, if he could believe it.
“Last summer, I was filming you half naked in a hotel room, stumbling around, drunk, and now we’re here,” I said. (Note: that’ll make sense when you see the film.) He couldn’t believe it either. None of us could. Wait was such a labor of love; a film that teased and dared me to make it. The production of the film was met with so many hard days and lonely nights, so to be given the opportunity to celebrate it is really a thing of wonder.
|left: Catherine Warner, me, Leah Fredkin, Micah Parker; center: awards ceremony; right: Catherine and I|
During the ceremony, Micah and I were asked to give our speeches at the same time. Micah spoke first, accepting his award for Emerging Actor Spotlight by saying some very kind things about me and urging everyone in the audience to come to the screening the following night. He was brief, funny and moving. When I accepted my award for Breakthrough Director Spotlight, I thanked HRIFF for their immense generosity and my Wait family for all their hard work. I called Catherine Warner, my longtime producer/star, out by name, noting that she and I met 12 years ago when we both worked at a Regal Cinemas in Virginia, and how fulfilling it was going to be to screen Wait at a Regal in Los Angeles.
After the ceremony, Micah and I talked with Gary Cole, who was so nice and appreciative of our (many) compliments about his work. Then we bumped into Joe Mantegna on the red carpet, and I gushed when thanking him for his work with David Mamet. I believe that life comes down to moments. And, for me, it’s very important to acknowledge those moments while they are actually occurring. This was a moment. And a great one. Red carpets and awards, movie stars and handshakes. If I never get to experience it again, I’d die happy knowing I got to live it once.
Romantic and Painful
|left: Micah and I at the awards ceremony; center: one-sheet poster at Regal; right: Micah and I with our awards|
As the lights dimmed for the screening, I was able to slip out of the theater unnoticed, which was a very good thing. Sitting in a dark, crowded theater while people watch my movie is something I derive zero pleasure from. I’m much better off pacing the hallway and sticking my head into the theater every few minutes to see (or rather, hear) how the film is being received.
I’m also glad I snuck out because in the hallway, I had a long and pleasant conversation with the director of the festival. At one point he said, “I played your movie on Valentine’s Day because it’s a romance. But I decided to play it at 11 p.m. because a lot of it is just so painful. You really didn’t pull any punches here.” I took that as a compliment. Pain through love (and love through pain) is what I was going for with Wait. Occasionally, unfortunately, those two things have been synonymous in my life, and it was important for me to stay true to that.
The movie was received far better than I could have imagined. It’s always funny listening to an audience while they watch it. The movie is dark and raw, but I did try to inject some humor in it. For those first few humorous moments, it’s almost as if the audience is afraid to laugh. But by the last few, the laughs always feel well earned.
Micah and Wait’s co-producer, Matt Brown, hosted an after party following the screening, which made for another fun and inspiring night. I was able to connect with actors I hadn’t seen in a long time, and we talked until the early hours of the morning about potential projects to collaborate on. When I woke up the next day, I was so appreciative of everything that had happened. I only let myself be down for a few minutes, knowing that on Monday, life would go back to normal.
What is Happening?
|WAIT cast, from left: Catherine, Graydon Stroud, me, Micah, Leah Fredkin, Andrew Bongiorno, Matt Brown|
It’s a tedious thing, writing these posts. As I’ve mentioned, self-promotion really isn’t my thing. And so much of tone and intention can be lost in print. But trust me, if my tone in this post is indicative of anything other than shock, appreciation and utter bewilderment, then that is a fault of my writing. Making Wait is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it is very, very surreal to watch it be embraced so warmly. Again, words cannot express my gratitude to those who have seen it, and those who lend kind words here (and on social media) reading about it.
After that industry party, Micah and I went to a bar with a few new friends. Soon after we got there, and young guy approached me and told me how much he loved seeing Wait at HRIFF. Turned out the guy was a casual acquaintance of Micah’s, but I had never met him before in my life. I felt like I was dreaming.