It was 2001 and I just been fired from my position at AV Grafx. A friend of mine wanted to cheer me up and asked what would. I replied, “let’s make a film.” Three months later, “Meet Bubba” premiered at U of M’s FOCUSfest 01′.
Eight years later, I am standing in front of two sell our theatres premiering my latest project, a documentary about Old School Pictures and Memphis Independent filmmaking called “Chasing Daylight.” To say I was nervous was an understandment. I rehearsed what I was going to say several times over and was confident on what I what my introduction was going to be. When I spoke my first word, everything went blank. I just stared into the audience of friends and family for what felt like hours, but I only paused for a half second. I turned to Erik Jambor, festival director of Indie Memphis, and it all came back to me.
I submitted “Chasing Daylight: The Making of ‘Daylight Fades'” as a “wouldn’t it be cool if” entry since I wasn’t sure if would be accepted.Many factors were in favor of it’s acceptance, including two time Indie Memphis winners Old School Pictures and Southern Independent ilmmaking. There were also factors playing against it, including my past with Indie Memphis and that it stood as a promotional piece for the feature film, Daylight Fades.
Indie Memphis is the biggest film festival in Memphis and dare say the south. My involvement began in 2004 when I was a intern and served as errand boy for the festival. It was definitely an education on what goes into a film festval. From getting tapes to judges, to making sure all the filmmakers are happy, it was a fall that I wouldn’t forget. I used my newly found creditably with the festival to work on the festival website. This would be the first site for a major company I would do on my own. It was running Mambo and it was an incredible opportunity. However, time constraints from my 9 to 5 job took proirity and the last minute rush of the festival played against each other and I lost the contract the next year. Definitely disappointed, but I soldiered on and moved to St. Louis.
I don’t think the festival folks would hold that against me, but as I submitted the application for Chasing, the thought did cross my mind. Memphis is very clickish when it comes to it’s filmmakers. If you don’t run in the Mid-Town social scene, it’s as though you don’t belong to Indie Memphis. I didn’t think that was true until this year, when it really came apparent when I attended the different venues of the festival.
Several months had past and I didn’t hear word on the outcome of my application. Then one day in August, I recieved the phone call from the festival director. “It’s too promotional, we want to show it, but it will need to be changed.” My work was cut out for me. I was working a more than full time job, about to shoot the Daylight Fades re-shoots, and now would have to redo the documentary that took 3 months to do in less than 20 days. Could I do it?
I didn’t leave my house for the month of September except to shoot footage and reshoot the documentaries interviews. Several long nights of pulling my hair out followed as I tried to re-imagine the documentary and comb through 45+ hours of footage. I wanted to tell the story of how a group of high school friends worked to make their 10 feature film in the original piece. The new piece would focus on the friendships and drama of making an independent film in Memphis. I was releaved when Ryan (exec. producer of ‘Daylight Fades’) loved the new piece.
Seeing everyone turn out the premiere was awesome and a bit nerve-racking at the same time. I turned to Erik once more and thanked Indie Memphis for making this night happen and turned to the audience and said “I will let the documentary speak for itself.” I wanted to keep it short and sweet and the story that would play out on the screen above would say everything I needed to say. I walked away and then moved to the back ot the theatre.
I have been chasing the dream of filmmaking since 2001 and at that moment I had accomplished something that I have always wanted. I introduced a work of my own to a sell out crowd. It was an incredible experience. I couldn’t savor the experience though, I was rushed to the other sold out show to introduce the same documentary. It was easier the second time.
Here’s hoping for several more times.