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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #364  (Vol. 8, No. 11) This edition is for the week of March 12--18, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for March  by Nolan B. Canova
"Premonition"  by Mike Smith
The New Futurians: Frederick Pohl, Harry Harrison, Prof. Rick Wilber, and Rusty Hevelin at USF  by Andy Lalino
Gasparilla Film Fest Memories  by Paul Guzzo
Rondo Awards....Brad Delp -- RIP  by Matt Drinnenberg
Who Is That Guy....Rock and Roll Band....Was Gary Cherone Busy?...Coming Soon....Don't Mind Me, Mr. Blackmore....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 11: Treat Williams  by Mike Smith
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Filmlook by Paul Guzzo

Gasparilla Film Fest Memories

Thick smoke poured through the Cuban Club’s basement cantina as cigar after cigar was lit in celebration of the finale of the Gasparilla Film Festival. The awards dinner was over and the crowd of festival supporters made their way to the cantina, bellies full of dinner and blood tainted with alcohol, the smoke stinging their eyes as they tried to adjust to their hazy surroundings.

Normally these circumstances would be screaming to me to go home, rest my stinging eyes and let the dinner and drinks put me to a well-deserved sleep. But on this night, sleep was not in my immediate future; my heart was racing a million beats per second as a shot of tequila was handed to me. Oh, it wasn’t the tequila that got me so excited – trust me, I’ve drank enough tequila in my time to fill a book with stories that make me look an idiot (as if that’s hard!). Actually, the sight of tequila usually sends me running to the door. No, it was not the drink, but instead the circle of new acquaintances surrounding me that got my heart pumping. I didn’t have a film show at the festival, but I still came out a winner at the Gasparilla Film Festival.

Patrick Gallagher of Sideways fame, co-founder of Slamdance Film Festival Jon Fitzgerald, Wayne Beach of Murder at 1600 screenwriting fame, and Ron Vignone – one of the top independent film directors on the scene – joined Film Commissioner Krista Soroka and me for the shots. Just moments before the shots were passed out, Wayne Beach scribbled his email address down for my brother, promising to proof our latest script, and the producer of the Immaculate Misconception PJ Leanard handed me his card, telling me to call him when we show our film in NJ so he can bring a crowd to support us.

This was not the first time during the weekend I was hanging out with these individuals and others. All week long, whether at the movie theatre or a FREE post film party (yes, Free, you could have come FOR FREE), I constantly shook hands, kissed babies and handed out business cards to every industry professional I met – Director and actor of Wayne German of Bottomfeeder, Director of Purgatory House Cinday Baer, Director of Tell Me Cuba Megan Williams, editor of Motherland Afghanistan Roger Schulte, and local politician and Cuban enthusiast Al Fox come to immediate mind. Will any of these or my post-party shot circle contacts get me anywhere soon in the film industry? Who knows? It’s possible none of them get me anywhere … but at least I tried. I’ll just continue meeting people until one does pay dividends.

We can argue all year long about the quality of films (which I thought were tremendous), if the community has too many film festivals, technical gaffes and scheduling errors. All those topics are subject to opinion and we can argue them on the message board, though in all I think everyone who attended has more positive things to say than negative. But the opportunities for networking with industry professionals who can help further your film career were abundant. That is not opinion. That is fact. And the lack of local filmmakers who took advantage of these opportunities was distressing to me.

A few took advantage of every opportunity presented to them. For example, Gene May had a lengthy conversation with both an overseas distributor and a top dog at Netflix, both of whom asked Gene for his DVDs before they left Tampa. Jon Wolding and his crew were EVERYWHERE. I don’t know who he met and what happened, but he seemed to be at every second of the film festival. A young filmmaker, whose name escapes me, made a point to get the business card of every filmmaker in town and said he would email them all next week to start building relationships with them. And as for myself, as documented above, I met quite a few people.

The board of directors founded this film festival with these opportunities in mind. Despite showing 11 local films, it was said that the board ignored local filmmakers and were casting them aside. Let’s pretend 11 out of 40 –something films is a low percentage of local films (I know, it’s hard to pretend because it sounds so ridiculous, but try), how does boycotting the festival further your career? Does not showing up and losing out on networking opportunities hurt the board of directors? I hate to break it to you – but we did fine numbers-wise regardless. We brought in these top filmmakers and set up these parties and panels not for the everyday citizen to enjoy – why would a nurse or a lawyer enjoy having a drink with an award-winning director? – but for you, the local filmmakers to meet people who could further your career.

The opportunities for filmmakers didn’t end with networking. The two FREE public panels were outstanding. The distribution panel informed a low budget filmmaker like myself how to find other sources of distribution outside the mainstream. And, while the screenwriting panel wasn’t so much informative, it was fun to listen to war stories from accomplished screenwriters discussing how it never is easy to let your screenplay go and trust Hollywood won’t butcher it – because they always do.

For years I have read and heard local filmmakers complaining how the city does nothing to support them. How no one will help them get over the hump in their filmmaking career. A year ago Film Commissioner Krista Soroka heard you and put together this board of directors to run a film festival that would bring those things to Tampa the local filmmakers have craved. So if you are a local filmmaker, where were you?

I don’t want to hear or read anymore complaints from any local filmmaker who didn’t attend the weekend or take advantage of the opportunities. As the old saying goes, “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

On second thought … please, continue to whine and complain and not take advantage of the opportunities. Because when you all stay home, I have more water to drink … or should I say, more tequila.

"Filmlook" is ©2007 by Paul Guzzo.   All graphics unless otherwise noted are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.