Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Re: The Toronto Experience Pt. 1
I got into Pearson airport at about 7am on the 12th after a great trip with Virgin America, my personal favorite and the chosen airline of our production thanks to, um... me. This was my first trip to Canada, so I was already excited, but to get off the plane knowing that I was headed to the Toronto International Film Festival with a buzzed about film, was more than I could've dreamed at that particular moment in time.
Jeff Castelluccio, my best friend (more like a brother, really) and I flew out with Donal Logue and Abigail Breslin, so we were in good film-making company. Jeff, if you don't know, is the editor on both of the films I've produced. He's kind of like my good-luck charm. I try to bring him on anything I do. Fortunately for me, he's talented in addition to being a good guy. Justin flew out with Sasha Grey... also on Virgin... As he so delicately put it, "irony."
The perfect start to my week at TIFF began with my bag being the first off at baggage claim. I was staying longer than Jeff, so I had to check a suitcase - something I'm normally loathe to do. Jeff had only his carry-on.
We grabbed the Airport Express and headed for our hotels. That night was going to be our World Premiere screening, though we were treating the screening on Monday the 13th as the real deal, since it would be attended by a large number of the crew who worked on the film and because we were being provided a Red Carpet After-Party by the great people at Tribute Events. The hotel was literally half a block from most of the events and right away I found myself in the mix. It had been nearly a year since the shoot and so this was already feeling like a bit of a reunion. Most of the cast and crew who were coming in would arrive the next day, but a few were already there. Jeff and I met up right away with Evan, Jason Olivier (Exec. Producer), Joe Turnbull (Cast), Darren MacDonald (Cast), Dan Turnbull (Cast), Seth Chatfield (Production Designer/Actor), Sarah Steinberg Heller (Co-Producer) and Jeff's parents who flew in especially for the event. We had a great lunch after Evan had introduced the 100 Monkeys at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Block Party. It was great to see everyone.
By the time it was 3pm on the 12th, I figured that I'd already been up for 32 hours. That's when I stopped counting.
The first night, you could feel the pressure. It was the first official public screening anywhere in the world. I may have been alone here, but my heart was pounding. My stomach was doing flips - of course, as a producer, I was covering it pretty well.
It's a complicated film and we knew that it could polarize an audience. Knowing that and trying not to worry about it though are two very different things. Justin spent a bit of time thinking about what to say when he introduced the film. He ran some ideas past me and settled on being brief as the best policy. After the screening, there would be a Q & A. I was not going to go on stage for this one. It seemed the film would be best served by having a minimal amount of people up there - meaning Justin, Jackson Rathbone, Shannon Woodward and, of course, Evan Sneider.
We sold out that first night and the audience was a crowd spread across all age groups with a heavy helping of TWILIGHT and 100 Monkeys fans who'd made the trek. After the first screening, I think we all felt that, while still overwhelmingly positive, it was a bit of a mixed bag. It seemed like they (the audience) were... maybe in a bit of shock as the credits rolled. When the Q & A began, there wasn't a single question... so our moderator, Lynne (who it must be said is stunningly beautiful) had to sort of take the lead. She did great getting the ball rolling and things went smoothly after that.
I kind of felt as though I was sleep walking through the whole experience that night. Seeing the film projected on that huge screen at the Scotiabank Theater was so incredible. We were playing in of the largest theaters they have, and knowing that your film has people standing in the rush line in the hopes of getting in is pretty humbling. Special mention should be made of Jane Schoettle here, our programmer for the TIFF Discovery section, who's efforts on behalf of our film were tireless and for which we are all so grateful.
Our Executive Producer had set up a dinner for the core creative team (aided by Co-Producer Sarah Steinberg Heller) and once the screening was done, we all headed over to a fantastic little place called Bistro 990 , where we had a private room reserved upstairs. The attendees were: Jerad Anderson, Kristina Anderson, Jason Olivier, Patch Cutler (Jackson's manager and Co-Producer on the film), Seth Chatfield, Sarah Steinberg Heller, Jackson Rathbone, Evan Sneider, Shannon Woodward, Quyen Tran (our amazing Director of Photography), Sam Reigel (Q's hilarious husband), Erin McPherson (Production Attorney), Justin Lerner and myself. It was a great night full of many toasts (most of them by Evan) and a few by the rest of us. After that, we all needed to head back to our hotels.
The next day was going to be pretty interesting as it would be the first Press Junket day.
Check back for Part II: The Toronto Experience and "Look, Ma! My name's in the Trades!"