We just got back from what turned out to be the most unexpectedly exhilarating trip to the Durango Independent Film Fest. Long story short, our movie The Advocate premiered to two sold out screenings. And when all the ballots were counted, we ended up walking away with both the JUROR AWARD and the AUDIENCE AWARD for BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE!
To say that showing the film to an audience of strangers for the first time was nerve wrecking would be an understatement. Durango was our first test of a story that was shaped over two years of rewrites, many discussions on set, and agonizing trims in the editing room. Adding to the pressure was the fact that this was my first time in Durango and we had little indication as to what kind of turnout we could count on for our premiere screening.
We got our first encouraging signs at the Comcast sponsored kick-off party where several people started to recognize our lead actor Sachin Mehta from the printed festival programs, and I got to watch him give his first autographs as a movie star. The next day, we also landed an interview at local radio station KDUR, for their weekly film program, Reels to Radio. The stage was set for our debut screening on Thursday night.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching a line form outside the theater for your first screening, but it was as close to an out of body experience as I’ve gotten. People had told me before that the audiences here were enthusiastic for indie films, and fortunately, that turned out to be very true in our case.
Thanks to the great folks here at Durango, we ended up not only selling out the Gaslight theater, the local art house venue, but two days later—thanks to word of mouth—we also filled up the Durango Arts Center screening room which boasts an extra fifty seats. The audience’s response was amazing, and if you saw the premiere scene in the recent Hitchcock biopic, you’ll know exactly what I was going through during the screenings.
Many thanks to the sponsors and organizers of Durango Film 2013: Joanie Fraughton, Festival Director; Brandon Donahue, Head of Features Programming; Gregg Weiss, Hospitality Co-ordinator; Derrick Casto, Print Traffic Co-
ordinator; Bo Sandine, Kristin Hopper, and the rest of the crazy and enthusiastic team over there who championed us!
I hope I have the chance to share other stories with the good people of Durango soon.
For a full list of award winners, check out: http://durangofilm.org/festival/awards2013.html