Reflections on the Green Bay Film Festival, March 2013
By Nicholas Wootton
This month, The Fashion Show, most ambitious project ever taken on by the Wisconsin Film School, premiered at the Green Bay Film Festival. The film’s producer, and WFS President, Jim Carrier asked me to attend the event as representative of the film. It was my first experience attending a film festival with the title “Filmmaker.”
If I didn’t already have enough desire to be labeled a filmmaker, my time in Green Bay gave me all the incentive I will ever need.
The festival, now in its third year, took place entirely within the confines of the Marriott Hotel, so it was easy to get around. After checking in to my room at the hotel, I found the registration table I reported my arrival. A look of awe crossed the face of the attendee checking me in. “You’re a … filmmaker?!” There was a brief whirl of activity as festival volunteers gathered my lanyard and a bag of welcome gifts. And I was invited to add my signature to a large festival poster containing signatures of other filmmakers who had already arrived. Festival organizer Cyndee Sweetnam was summoned to officially welcome me.
This VIP treatment was a big reward for my lowly efforts as one of several light techs for a WFS documentary. The Fashion Show followed three Madison area residents faced with physical challenges limiting their mobility, but who participate in the annual Fashion Show for All Abilities at the Monona Convention Center. I am proud of my work on the film, and seeing how the fashion show affects of the lives of people with physical and cognitive limitations genuinely moved me. But I never expected that setting up lights and a little camera work would earn me such honors. That is usually reserved for producers and directors. I guess it is true that eighty percent of success is showing up.
Showing up really paid off when a reporter from WBAY, a local TV station, asked to interview me about filmmaking in Wisconsin. I was on the news that night!
My focus at the film festival of course was to attend the presentation of The Fashion Show the next morning. Unfortunately, the presentation was not well attended; only about twenty people were there. But those who were there had good questions about both the fashion show and the process of making the film. And it gave me the chance to talk about how working on this film affected me personally, as well as taught me a lot about filmmaking.
But I would say the best part of attending the festival was the chance to meet people. At the opening reception I knew absolutely no one, yet found total strangers introducing themselves to me and interested in hearing about The Fashion Show and my current film project, Just God. I approached total strangers and they were glad to begin a conversation. And I gave out my business card to anyone who would take it. People meeting people, connecting, networking, is what it was all about. From now on, that will be my focus at every festival I attend.
So make a movie! Get it in a festival! Attend the festival and have a great time!