The common reaction I get from friends and family whenever I mention a festival screening is, "You must be so excited!" I suppose that is one way of putting it... In reality, though, I'd say, "I must be such a nervous wreck."
Certainly, as a filmmaker, I want an audience to view my work. Why else would I make it, if not for an audience? Nonetheless, public showings are nail-biting experiences for me. Every time, it goes a little like this:
The lights darken. The projector throws the first flicker of light. I sink down in my seat. Perspiration begins to seep from my forehead. My breath catches in my throat. My tongue feels like beef-steak in my mouth. I go into a state of paralysis.
During the film, I listen intently-- not to the dialogue (which I can recite in my sleep), but to every gasp, chuckle or groan that emits from any individual in the room. This is the ultimate feedback: The immediate reaction. Because I know that later, no matter what, they will be polite to me. During the screening, though, the audience members have no conception of politeness. They are either involved in the film, or they are not.
Twenty minutes later, when the credits roll and (hopefully) the audience applauds, air suddenly rushes into my lungs, making me light-headed. Typically, I discreetly duck out the side door for a few moments. My hands don't really stop shaking until a few hours later. Ironically, most people will never know the hell I have just endured.
I have been very fortunate over the years that the majority (though not the entirety) of my films have been genuinely well-received. Banks of the Vltava is no exception. People were engaged in the film.
I credit the film's warm reception to many factors, not the least of which is the amazing talent that participated. Director of Photography Matthew Mandarano provided some phenomenal images. Editor/VFX Artist Shane Smith pieced the film together with precision and panache. Production Designer Xoey HAWK wowed audiences with the depth of detail and authenticity of the film. Composer Bruce Kiesling transported audiences with his mesmerizing score. Makeup Effects by Lisa Edwards and Gretchen Adams were amazing. Outstanding performances by actors-- including Rami Rothstein, Mike Shuford, Franny Civitano, Skyler Narotsky, Antje Price, Michael Kamtman, D.G. Holland, Woody Andrews and William Davis-- were hailed as "completely convincing." Undoubtedly, my greatest success as a Director was in my selection of the talented people with whom I worked.
I am proud of Banks of the Vltava. I am honored to have been included in the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival. I am "excited" to be presenting the film soon at ConCarolinas Short Film Festival. But mostly, for now, I am just thankful that I can breathe easily between these showings.
I offer my ineffable gratitude to everyone who supports my endeavors! Without you, the audience, I would have no film.