Two more Los Angeles screenings today. The first was for my friends from the computer company I used to work for, and it was probably the most grueling to date: most people seemed to take a real dislike to the characters, and the event turned into a sort of audition for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Glassy-eyed, I took the film to a few of my LA friends in the evening, ready for the worst; but the second screening went well, with a few positive responses and a lot of helpful comments. My friend Strawn, the actress in my last movie, had the coolest reaction to the film: she laughed at all the black humor, winced with pain as the couple kept screwing up in the middle section, rooted for Mimi despite all the character's offenses. No matter how arty you make a film, you always hope to get an emotional response.
As incredibly sick of watching the film as I am, I can't bring myself to leave the room when I'm showing it to other people. I need to imagine their reactions.
It seems clear that even people who like the film have trouble with the first section, which I intended to be elliptical and which audiences find obscure or disorienting. It's too bad, because festival programmers are a busy lot and can't be expected to watch more than a few minutes of your film before yanking it out of the VCR and tossing it aside.
When I return to NYC tomorrow, I have to send the rough cut off to two festivals immediately, and another two the next week. After losing out at Sundance and Rotterdam, I've become a little less exclusive about which festivals I honor with my application....
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