BACK TO THE SIDEWALK

Thursday

And so, back to the actual trip, Chris and I were greeted at the airport by a few members of the Sidewalk crew, including Kelly Marshall, John White and Mary Catherine Cutliffe, who used to work with Sidewalk as Development Director and Festival Manager, but has now moved to California to be a part of the Sonoma Valley Film Festival. Mary couldn’t resist Sidewalk’s magnetic force and it was great to see her again, along with the rest of the team as they bravely headed into this hectic four day weekend. It was already feeling like a family reunion, a feeling that would continue to grow as the weekend proceeded.

A quick freshen up at my hotel room and then it was off to the Sidewalk kick-off party at, what I believe was, the Birmingham Museum of Art. It was here that the family reunion kicked into high gear. I met up once again with Erik Jambor, Arik Sokol, Catherine Pfitzer, Alison Bagnall, Peter Gilbert, Skizz Cyzyk, Lucia Small, Gabe Wardell, Robert Rugan, Chuck Hartsell, Chance Shirley and countless others whom I had met at last year’s Sidewalk festival. And, it’s always great to run into a Film Threat writer whom I’ve never met personally before. We have writers all over the country, so it’s impossible for me to be able to meet everyone face to face, but I do my best. This time, it was my absolute pleasure to finally meet Rachel Morgan. Regular readers of the site will know her from all of the amazing reviews she’s done for the site. We have the coolest staff of writers ever and that’s no bullshit.

It was amazing to share drinks and stories with these people again, just as it was meeting a whole new batch of fresh faces, one of which was fellow jury member Alison Dickey, another absolute pleasure. Whenever I would run into her during the course of the festival, she was always so amped and all around excited to be there. That’s the kind of person you want on your team, no matter what you’re doing – jurying films, building an ark, robbing a bank, whatever. No doubt, I was proud to be on the jury this year.

Several drinks, conversations and interviews later, it was about time for the screening of “My Big Fat Independent Movie.” I was all set to ride over to Workplay (Birmingham’s entertainment complex featuring a sound stage, recording studios, production offices and theatre) with a certain local filmmaker, but that plan came to an end when he met me with a concerned look on his face outside of the museum. This certain filmmaker will remain anonymous as to not help spread his misery across the Internet. He pointed at his car just a little ways down the way, the one with the completely smashed in rear end. It was an evening of good cheer, so I took this as a joke at first. The filmmaker wasn’t laughing. Wasn’t even cracking a grin. Apparently someone had smashed into his car and then taken off while it was parked outside the museum. Shocking, yes. What was more shocking, however, was how calm this filmmaker was handling the ordeal. But it was my time to lose my cool as I wanted to organize a search party to find the road warrior than done it and make them pay. Of course, nothing of the sort happened and we were soon on our way to the screening…via another vehicle.

Workplay was packed for the screening of “My Big Fat Independent Movie.” This was actually the first time I had seen the completed version of the film, other past opportunities had eluded me, and it was great to see it with such a receptive crowd. People were laughing and for a movie spoofing many of the popular indie greats, you really can’t ask for a better reaction. It was a perfect night.

But of course, the night was not over. No, nights at Sidewalk don’t end until you’re well into the a.m. The party continued on at a few different bars and clubs, each location we ended up at, however, the crowd thinned out more and more. We were the few and the dedicated. It was at an amazing, cavernous bar called the Blue Monkey that we had to say farewell to Chris Gore. It was probably about three in the morning and the urge to sleep had gotten the better of him. Not to mention that he had an early morning TV interview to do, as well as a flight to San Diego to follow shortly after. His pain was felt by all, but the party continued, eventually leading us to a dance club called Station. I was told that it was a gay club, but I wouldn’t have known it otherwise. I guess I’m just used to the places in West Hollywood. Now those are gay clubs! Station was our last stop of the evening/morning. Getting back to my hotel room at about five in the morning, I was looking at only about three hours of sleep as I was planning to catch the filmmaker retreat at Vulcan Park, a great, casual meet and greet event.

The story continues in part three of BACK TO THE SIDEWALK>>>




Posted on October 11, 2005 in Festivals by
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