Saturday, April 30, 2016

The 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival Logo and Promotional Video

We ticket sellers spent a great deal of time looking at promotional materials, including posters and postcards. These were created to persuade people to watch a film and some designs were more successful than others. Soon I'll write a blog post on them.

2016 Newport Beach Film Festival
This one concentrates on  2016 Festival logo and catchphrase, We're Being Watched. The eyeball was everywhere. Some people told us they found it creepy, others really liked it. Not many people noticed that the pupil was really an island. Look closely and you can see waves and a beautiful sandy beach.

I like it.

We're Being Watched was the Festival's catch phrase. It's an effective one because it covers both the films individually and the Festival as a whole. The eyeball encapsulated that.

I didn't like the phrase on the back of my volunteer shirt. A bit too Big Brotherish for my taste.

The Festival's promotional video ran before every film. It ran continuously on computers in the filmmakers' Hospitality Suite. It's unique, and everyone who watches it will never be comfortable in the bathtub again. Many Festival goers told me they found it creepy, but others, especially young people, thought it was clever. It certainly supports the Festival's theme because everyone is watched and watching. 

Watch it for yourself, and make up your own mind. 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival Promotional Video

Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Sell Out Your Film Showings at a Festival

Here's some hints to filmmakers who want their films shown to sell out crowds at film festivals.

Talk to the ticket sellers. Those volunteers get all the questions: what should I see tonight? What's playing that's good? What can you tell me about this film?

Of course the ticket sellers can look the films up in the program. So can the ticket buyers, but they want to know more than that.

If the filmmakers take the time to talk to us, to tell us about their film, to pass on some of the excitement they feel about their baby, we learn enough to pass on that excitement.

When someone buys a ticket for that film we can say something positive about it that reaffirms his/her decision to see it. That makes them more inclined to see another film.

Ticket sellers get excited when a film sells out. They get even more excited when they see it sell out because they encouraged people to see it. We gave each other high fives when we sold that last ticket. We were excited for the film maker.

Leave promotional cards with the ticket sellers. That gives us something tangible to Festival guests when we discuss a movie. It also gives them something to take away when the film they want to see is sold out. Many people asked us how they could see the films they'd missed, so the card should tell them how to follow the film on Facebook, or give a webpage they can visit to watch for future showings.

Posters are nice, but Festival goers can't take them home.

Bring your extra tickets down to the ticket booth so they can be given away. A Festival visitor will almost always go to a film when the ticket is free. Your film will have a larger audience and you just might make a fan for life.

Engage the public yourself. Several filmmakers hung around the ticket area, making themselves available to interested people, as Jesse Shapiro of Nobody Walks in LA did. As the photo to the right shows, he stood near a poster of his film, ready to talk to anyone and everyone. We ticket sellers could point to him and say, "There's the filmmaker right over there." People's eyes would light up and they'd look at him with awe. His film had three showings, two were sold out. Phil Furrey, the man behind Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 engaged in conversation with people as they walked in the mall. His film sold out it's first showing and a second was scheduled.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Latest from the Newport Beach Film Festival

2016 Newport Beach Film Festival
Yesterday I worked tickets at Big Newport instead of the nerve center at Fashion Island. Carol (the Big Cheese in Charge of Ticketing) sent me there because the computers there are wonky and she honors me by believing I can handle them. One worked fine, but the other was indeed wonky so our customer service was not up to the standards to which we aspire. But we managed to get everyone into their films on time.

Battalion was well received, judging from the comments people made to me as they left the theater. Several stopped by the ticket table to thank me for telling them about the film. One woman's grandfather fought in World War I and the fighting-in-the trenches scenes really impressed her. The filmmaker told me the German trenches were paved with running water and electricity, which certainly wasn't the case in the Russian trenches. The filmmakers were given access to uniforms and artifacts from the War so they could recreate them for the movie, which had a $10 million budget. Since I loved this film when I screened/reviewed it for the Festival, I was really glad for it.

Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103's audience had to be forced out of the theater and a second showing has been scheduled for today. Several family members of people who died were present, as were former Pan Am employees. I wish I'd been there.

No Greater Love, the film about the Army chaplain and the unit he served with in Afghanistan, was apparently excellent because several people stopped by to tell me how much it affected them. On Monday the chaplain who was the subject of the film had stopped by the main ticket counter at Fashion Island and my co-workers couldn't wait to tell me about the film when I returned from working at Big Newport the first time.

Nobody Walks in LA's director Jesse Shapiro spent time outside the ticket booth yesterday morning, talking to anyone who was interested in hearing about his film before its 10:30 showing. It plays again today, it's third showing. He answered my questions about the money they earn from Netflix and iTunes. Someday when I have time I'll write about it. He has been so nice to us and offered to send us a screener since none of us could see it. Working 12-hour days cuts into movie watching.

I have to run off to work the last day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Newport Beach Film Festival Fun

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalBetween working twelve hour days selling tickets at the Newport Beach Film Festival, sleeping and grabbing breakfast and a late dinner, there aren't many hours left to blog. I am taking notes so I can write when I have a chance, so I may post then edit later.

No Greater Love I wasn't there when the chaplain involved in this film stopped by the booth, but he made a great impression on my fellow volunteers. He served with the "Suicide Squad" in Afghanistan and through his work the suicide rate dropped dramatically. I wish I'd been there to talk to him.

The Lennon Report David Zayas and Adrienne Moore will be at the Q&A at the 8 PM showing on April 28.

Impossible Dreamers filmmaker Eric Goldfarb was the only person who talked to me at Big Newport while the tech guy worked on our mini-network. His documentary about senior athletes sounded very interesting. His flyer was cute, showing arms of different lengths holding various pieces of athletic equipment, like barbells and jump ropes.

Colby is a film about a girl who meets a guy and they crash together in a beach house. The family that owns the house call the police, but only the man is caught. The girl develops a relationship with the family and filmmaker Alex Markman wouldn't tell me any more. Actress Alexandra Bach attended the screening on Monday for the Q&A.

The Clockmaker's Dream Cashell Horgan's short sounds like one I wish I'd screened. A man tries to create a replacement for his dead wife and learns the true meaning of love. We had a nice conversation about love, that it's more than romantic love. There's the love one has for the work one does, the things one creates, for other people (non-romantic) and for the world at large.

Summer of 8 This sold out film has clever promotional cards. The size of business cards, but with curved edges, there are 8 different versions. Each has a shot from the film. I helped a little girl find all 8. I helped another woman find the card with the her grandson's photo. I'm going to do a whole blog post on the best promotional card designs, and this will be one of them.

Cat, Bird, Coyote This short film was one I screened. Two days after I watched and reviewed it the film kept popping into my brain because its graphics were so cleverly striking. I'm glad to say its promotional card had some of those images. I'll definitely include this one in my post on good design.

Madtown has a second screening and we hope it's as successful as the first one. I didn't catch the name of the filmmaker who talked to me (we got busy before I could ask him), but the film sounds interesting. The card gives a good synopsis, a comic asks the audience at a comedy club to try him for murder. I love a good mystery.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Films to Watch at the Newport Beach Film Festival

Selling tickets at the Newport Beach Film Festival is so much fun because everyone, including all the film makers, Festival Guests and the press, have to see for tickets to the films. No ticket, no entry to the theater. And our volunteer theater ops folks are doing their jobs well. Yesterday I had a miffed member of the press come back to me because I'd printed a ticket for the Thursday showing of a film instead of yesterday's. The volunteer at the door wouldn't let him in because his ticket was for the wrong day. I quickly printed the right one for him and he easily made the movie. By the time he left he was smiling because I accepted responsibility and had praised the door guy for doing his job well.

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalWe have talked to many producers, directors, writers and cast members. They get us excited about the films, and we in turn generate excitement in people who ask us what to see. It helps if the filmmakers leave promotional postcards that we can use as visual aids when suggesting films.

One Big Home Director Thomas Bena discussed his film about development on Martha's Vineyard. We here in Newport Mesa can certainly relate to the problems of that area, where smaller homes are torn down and mega-homes built in their places. This problem is acute in Newport Heights, where innumerable homes have lost their gardens as newly constructed neighboring homes block the sun. Mr. Bena stood outside the ticket booth with flyers and approached Festival goers. We had several people buy tickets because he talked to them.

Fare director Tom Torrey told us about his thriller. An uber driver picks up a fare his wife's unknown lover. A psychological drama for sure.

Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 This documentary covers the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing and the impacts on surviving family members. The Orange County Register did a fabulous job covering this film. The reporter interviewed the father of a stewardess who was killed on the flight. We had a former Pan Am stewardess buy a ticket. Phil Furey, the director and producer, actively promoted the film by discussing it with people outside the ticket booth.  Director Dustin Kahia told us this mystery/suspense thriller was shot in four days.

Beyond What Remains actor Peter Tharos spoke to us about the grueling shoot in the Mexican desert. We discussed how easy it is to get lost out there and the challenge of staying hydrated. The film is a road trip across the Mexican heartland. He said he felt safer there than most places.

Selling Rosario was one of my favorite short films. As you watch the events happening on the screen you are lead to one interpretation of them, but the ending shows you were completely wrong, and you are so happy it was. You get goose bumps and want to watch it again. I was lucky. I screened it and could rewatch it. Festival goers won't have that chance. I was glad I could tell Michael Winokur how much I liked his film.

Have You Seen Charlie filmmakers Alexander Le Bas & Alex Brisker stopped by to discuss this cute short. Mr. Le Bas said he wanted to make a likeable story and since I screened it I can say it is one. From what he said the actress Alyvia Ann Lind was hard to book because she has such a full career. We're glad to hear it when people are successful.

Population Zero Producer Tom Spraggs explained the premise of this film so well to people that it sold out its first showing. A man gets away with murdering three people because a little-known clause in the constitution prevents him being tried. A true crime story.

Call of the Void Actor Mojean Aria caught our attention by pointing to a photo on the promotional card and announcing, "This guy's performance is amazing!" All you can see in the picture is the actor's eyes behind a pair of glasses, so we didn't recognize him, but the people with him laughed so hard it gave him away. The film must be good because it sold out its first showing.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Selling Tickets at the Newport Beach Film Festival

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalWe at GHPALS are great supporters of the Newport Beach Film Festival. Our scribe is working at the Fashion Islands ticket counter full time through the run of the Festival and will be blogging on the experience.

We in ticket sales have an opportunity to promote a film because we are often asked what films are good. "They're all good, or they wouldn't be in the Festival," may be true, but it isn't helpful. A better answer is to ask the potential ticket buyers what kind of film they like and suggesting films based on the response they give.

I can only do that if I know something about the films. While I screened 474 of them, I watched mostly shorts and documentaries. My ticket selling compadres didn't screen any.

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalWe compensate by taking advantage of our unique position. EVERYONE has to see us to get a ticket for a film, so we see all the press, Festival guests and, most importantly, the filmmakers. Their badges are clearly marked so we always ask them to tell us about their films. We encourage them to give us posters and post cards to help promote their films. When someone asks us about a film, it is so helpful to have a card to hand them as we talk about the film.

I won't have time to write about everyone I talked to because I'm working 12 hour days, but here's the highlights of Friday and Saturday.

Irina Ugolnikova, the force behind Battalion, the film about the Russian female general who led a battalion of women in World War 1, stopped by and I was really excited to meet her. I confess I gushed about her film because I really liked it. I asked for more cards because I'd run out of them. She told me there is still mystery about the general's death. The official story is she was executed by the Bolsheviks for supporting the Mensheviks, but there are stories of her appearing in Shanghai, America and other places. With the destruction of records through war, changing regimes, etc. the record is unclear. Ms Ugolnikova was a delight.

The team behind The Lennon Report have been wonderful to us. They brought posters and the sticky stuff to hang them up, to make our jobs easier. And to show their appreciation they gave us a box of chocolate truffles. Their movie sounds so interesting as they tracked down the reporter who broke the story of John Lennon's shooting (he just happened to be a patient in the hospital where Lennon was brought). He apparently had one hell of a time getting to a phone to call in the story. The film makers also found the doctor who actually operated on Lennon. The one who's taken the credit all these years was in the operating room for less than five minutes. They smoked this out by interviewing the nurses. The film sounds so interesting. Wish I could go.

Nobody Walks in LA director Jesse Shapiro brought us his extra tickets to give away. His show was sold out and people were eager to see it. He made some folks very happy and we thank him for it.

Chasing the Win executive producer Laura Sheehy stopped by. Her film on her father, Newport Beach oncologist Patrick Sheehy, and his race horse Kinsale King sounds wonderful. My daughter went to the races at Los Alamitos Friday (crossing something off her bucket list) and this movie sounds perfect for her right now. Apparently Kinsale King was a phenomenon, racing all around the world, from Ascot to Dubai, and the film tells their story.

Gotta run now. More tomorrow as I report on the other nice folks I met.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's ˆShe Changed Comics" Campaign

We at GH Pals are huge supporters of the First Amendment. We also support historical writing. We support women being able to do whatever they want to do, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.

That's why we've have joined the Kickstarter campaign to fund the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's We Changed Comics. 

You should too.

She Changed Comics Campaign

Thursday, April 21, 2016

See These Films at the Newport Beach Film Festival

2016 Newport Beach Film Festival
We Are Watching

That's the theme of this year's Newport Beach Film Festival. The volunteers' T-shirts say that on the back. It's kind of creepy. Even creepier after you watch the commercial for it:

We Are Being Watched 2016 NBFF Commercial

What we really wanted to write about today was the great films being screened and to encourage you to buy tickets before you can’t. Tickets really are selling. Some films are very popular. Three screenings of Dirty Old Wedge have sold out already.

We’ve written about the fun we had had as a reviewers for the Newport Beach Film Festival.  Thousands of films are submitted and volunteer reviewers help select the best for showing at the Festival. Our scribe watched 474 films spending, 135.2 hours doing so

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalShe reports she learned a great deal about the art of film making by watching so many submissions. We could write a long article about that, but we'll touch on just two aspects.

Story and characters are everything. A viewer can overlook poor production values if sucked into what is happening on the screen. If one isn’t, all one notices is stuff like the crappy acting, the slightly off set decoration and inattention to detail in props (actors drinking out of empty coffee cups).

Editing is critical. It’s clear that too many filmmakers can’t, or won’t, cut anything out so films are often much longer than they should be. It must be hard to leave something you love on the cutting room floor, but if you want a good, taut film some things just have to be cut out. Disney cut out whole songs when he recognized they cut the flow. When they put one back in the extended cut of Beauty and the Beast it brought the whole film to a halt. Cutting it was the right choice.

One film, The Dynamic Double Standard, really impressed her and she's been telling us for months we have to see it. Festival rules prohibited her from showing us her review copy. We were all disappointed that it wasn't scheduled. Maybe we'll find out why it wasn't. It was shown at the Hollywood Film Festival.

Here’s the Festival programs we recommend based on the films we previewed.

Battalion Wednesday 2:30 Edwards Big Newport program page 132
Who knew the Russians had a woman general in World War 1? Or an all-female battalion that actually fought in the trenches? This is a wonderful movie about an incredible group of Russian women. It is not a typical war movie and the women are not stereotypes.

Jackson Pollock’s Mural   (playing with True Believer) Thursday 5 pm Fashion Island Cinemas. page 119 in the program.
A good documentary about an important painting. I did not know the University of Iowa had been in the forefront of abstract impressionism, or that the CIA used exhibits of that kind of art to highlight the artistic freedom available in the US.

Return to Cape St. Francis Several showings. page 106 in the program.
Revisiting The Endless Summer.

2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalProving Them Wrong Shortly Sunday a6:00 at The Triangle. See pages 194-196 of the program. This program includes these superb short films:
Counting Backwards: Every mother's nightmare is effectively portrayed through the eyes of three generations. This is a real horror story with a triumphant ending. It is not a women's story, it is every gender's. The men were as affected as the woman, maybe more so because they cherish their daughters. This film is the best one I've watched as a reviewer.
Three Year Three Month Retreat (Lo Sum Choe Sum): A young woman deals with her past. 

Older Not Shorter Wednesday 2:30 at Fashion Island. See page 194 of the program. This program includes these superb short films:
The right person for the job (La Bonne Personne pour L'EmploiAn elderly job applicant faces a condescending jerk at a job center. The twist ending made me cheer.
Maurice: I really cared about Maurice. Isn't that what a film is supposed to make you do? The actor who played him was excellent.

Blazing New Short Trail Docs  Tuesday 2 pm Fashion Island, page 184. Every doc in this program is wonderful. Two notable ones are: 
The Spirit of Iris It is so refreshing to have the subject of a doc narrate it. She's s great storyteller and a remarkable lady. 
The Trials of Constance Baker Motley How refreshing to watch a film about a civil rights leader who is serious, humorous and well reasoned instead of the strident, angry leaders of today. How much she accomplished. How supportive was her husband. What a great story about a great woman.

Short Dream Chasers Monday 8:15 The Triangle, program page 91. Some great short films, including:
Selling Rosario This one made me cry. Nothing is what it seems in this film.
Nelly The little girl was excellent. The scenes of the car in the snow were breathtaking. Fabulous cinematography.

Shorts for Shorties L Monday 11:00 am Fashion Island. Family oriented short films like:
2016 Newport Beach Film FestivalAria for a Cow  An animated musical short featuring a previously unreleased song by Howard Ashman & Alan Menken. It’s everything you love in a Disney musical.
Scaredy Bat A tired frog and a bat that's afraid of the dark. A great combination.
Lost & Shortly Found Tuesday 5:00 The Triangle. Pages 189-190 in the program. Shorts like this one:
Avo: The little boy in this film. What he does is totally believable. Kids do things like this.

From Land to Short Sea Docs Saturday 11 am The Triangle, page 186-188. Wonderful short documentaries, including this favorite:
The Cajun Navy  An inspiring film about the Louisianans who smuggled their boats into New Orleans after Katrina and rescued people from flooded homes, evading and defying authorities.

Mixed Short Bag Sunday 3:30 The Triangle, program page 192. Artistic shorts including: 
The Five Minute Museum The history of man in fleeting images.

Made in California Shorts Monday 3 pm Fashion Island, program page 190. Includes two of my favorite shorts:
The House is Innocent We’ve all heard of the Sacramento landlady who murdered her tenants and continued cashing their government checks. This is the story of the people who bought her house.
Welcome to the Last Bookstore The decor with the books is amazing, like the typewriter hanging from the ceiling with roll of paper flying behind it or the half-arches of books. It was interesting hearing what they found in books. The warehouse is amazing.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sampler 15: The Young Elites, by Marie Lu

Here we go again, a teenager discovers she has powers she hasn't tapped because she didn't know she had them. There was a twist though, in that the threat that caused them to appear was not an external one, but one from within her household. Her Dad was a piece of work, but not so bad considering the society in which he lived. He didn't kill her or throw her out on the street after she became a pariah, he did try to find her some kind of place in their world. Can't blame her for running away though. I liked she stole the silver when she left.

Naturally everyone is afraid of the folks who have powers, so there's an Inquisition. (Everyone's afraid of the Spanish Inquisiton.) And a rebellion against it.

Since I liked the main character I want to read more. Thankfully one of us acquired the whole book at Comic-Con and is willing to lend it to me. If it's any good I might read the sequel, though I long to read a standalone book again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Black Sails and Treasure Island-Both Glitter and Gleam Like the Urca Treasure

Image result for black sails starz
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest.
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.
                       Treasure Island

We at GHPALS are great fans of the pirate show on Starz. Several of our members attended the showing of the first showing at Comic-Con three years ago and proudly show off the great bags they cherish with the beautiful ships on them.

Last season was fabulous. We cheered when the pirates demolished Charlestown, though we were momentarily chagrinned when one of our kids pointed out we were cheering the murder of innocent women and children. Then we came back to reality. It's a TV show!

Season Three has been terrific. It started with a horrific storm and ended with a great battle. We cheered again as the pirates demolished representations of the mighty British empire. Seeing those soldiers standing in a line on the beach while the pirates fought from barricades was like watching the Battle of Bunker Hill.

One of our members is a graduate student in history, doing his dissertation on the illicit trade between the American Colonies and Jamaica and Cuba. Not piracy mind you, but trading on the black market. Like the trading done by the merchants who buy the cargo shipped out of Nassau in Black Sails. He loved the scene where the pirate captain was told to repackage his goods because merchants in Boston didn't like to see barrels covered in blood. The buyers know where the cargo comes from, but they don't want their noses rubbed in it.

After last week's episode where (spoiler alert) a principle player was hung, for real, we mourned his passing even as we cheered his refusal of rescue and the visible defiance of the men who finished the job when his neck didn't break. We hope that blonde gets hers cause she deserves it, the B^%&**.

We've decided to reread Treasure Island since we're watching Long John Silver mature into the one-legged smarter-than-anyone-else-around-him character in the book.

We've now discussed the chapters up to the sailing of the Hispaniola. The Black Spot figures prominently in the Season Three finale like it did in the book. Striking terror with a piece of paper!

Treasure Island is a masterpiece. Long John Silver is one of the great characters in English literature. He's unforgettable. While you're reading the book you feel like you are right there in the midst of it all. 

If kids read Treasure Island in school they'd learn reading is fun, not a drag. And they'd all be singing Fifteen Men on a Deadman's Chest, making up their own verses, instead of that lame Disney pirate song.