The movie showing at the Roxie Theater was a success. It sold out the screening room a good hour before the show. I was really glad that I was able to reserve some tickets ahead of time so my closest friends were able to get in. There were some ticket confusion at the box office and some seats were sold twice, resulting in an overpacked room. Luckily, there were folding seats available and I didn’t have to give up my seat. I sat at the front row last seat. This is important to know because I really have no idea what the surround mix will sound like in a theater–the experience I wholeheartedly have been looking forward for.
I was reluctant to write about the premiere right after the event because I had mixed feelings. I truly am grateful to the universe that conspired to let it all happen the way it did, my friends who came out despite their busy schedules and distance, the festival with all the covid restrictions and budgetary restraints, and the film file itself which played flawlessly with the color grade I intended and surround sound mix I was so anxious to hear finally. I want to say this first before I express what my real emotions were during and after the event.
I watched the other films being featured in the festival and, I must say, I am humbled to know that my movie was in the same roster as these magnificently made flicks. I wholly enjoyed the movies that I saw and I’m really honored to be considered as in the same league. Because of that, it was easier for me to accept that I did not get the audience award, even though the showing sold out. I remember the person next to me checking her watch about 3/4 into the movie so I think that many people thought the movie was too long. I poll’d the friends that did show up and they all said the same thing, basically.
After the showing, there was a quick Q&A and questions that have been asked before like, “was this based on yourself?” and “what took so long?” were asked, as anticipated, and I’m glad I was able to respond with a polished answer. Some people asked some questions regarding the music programs and the visual processing I used and I started nerding out kind of hard. Luckily, I caught myself and was able to take command of the audience again. It was strange. I was anxious about being in front of people but, somehow, I felt the most comfortable I’ve ever been. It was like being on stage at The Stone. Or, in front of class at Ex’pression. It just felt normal and where I should be. It really made me think where my anxiety is really coming from???
The friends that came all genuinely made me feel at ease and the love I felt seeing them there were enough for me to have the bravery in exposing myself to so many strangers. I’m so glad to have these friends who stuck by me even when it was inconvenient or unpopular. Friends who weren’t able to make it but posted, shared, messaged others, linked me up with folks, those friends also prepared me. I’m really thankful to them.
But while I saw the faces of people I love, I also noticed whose faces I did not see, words I never heard. It made me realize something about this whole filmmaking journey that made me sad. The community of underground artists I’ve supported for years showed zero support. It was as if the writing was on the wall and I pretended the message wasn’t for me. But, it very much was. It made me sad to realize that people who I thought were my community did not rally for me and, some, really never did care, evident in their passive responses to my invites, if they responded at all. I can tell if they read the message by the way. It really did bum me out. I totally understand not being able to make it because of covid, family, work, whatever it is. But, there was absolutely zero buzz. One person straight up said they don’t support my movie because “It’s not (our) jam.” They never even saw it.
One thing that was interesting was the reception for the music in general. People in the audience not familiar with my music really liked it and friends who watched the movie before said that listening to it in the theater was a totally different experience. I heard words like “brilliant” and “outstanding” so my ego was a bit flossed but, most importantly, I felt validated by the universe. I was doing exactly what I should be doing, when and where I should be doing it. As to why…it is because of my mother’s grit. Underlying this movie journey, which took over a decade to complete, is the spirit of my mother’s testament that anything we can “conceive and believe, we will achieve”.
I plan to detox from social media for a little while and focus on next steps. The director’s cut premiere is now done and I will be shopping out the abridged version for theatrical distribution. I’ve also started writing a book related to the film. I’ll have more news on that soon. Meanwhile, I’ll be working on the next phase of this movie’s journey: THE TOUR!! This is just the beginning!