Unbelievable screening at the Wisconsin Film Festival!
Let me start from the beginning. The festival gave me 16 tickets to the screening for my friends and family (and myself). Despite my best intentions of getting there 30 minutes early to dish out the tickets to my friends and family I got there probably ten minutes early in a semi-panic. I saw a long line of probably 75-100 people in line when I got to the theater, which immediately made me feel at ease. It was 11:00 a.m. and I was worried that nobody was going to show. I got to the front of the line asking for the volunteer who would be introducing me, and they told me that I was at the wrong theater and I had to go downstairs to the theater. I went down the stairs and there was no line at all. The only people down there were my friends waiting for tickets. No line at my theater. No 75-100 people. At least my friends were there I thought. So I introduced myself to the volunteer and walked into the Student Union Theater. It turns out that the festival director, Meg Hamel, was going to introduce me so we started looking for her. I walked into the theater, and not only was it ENORMOUS, but it was PACKED! I don’t know what the official headcount was, but I would guess at least 700 people… EASILY the biggest screening we’ve ever had. WOW! Absolutely surreal.
I met Meg briefly and she introduced me and the next thing I knew the movie was starting with Ashrita and his giant hula hoop. I can immediately tell how the screening is likely going to be by the reaction to the hula hoop. About ten seconds into this screening I knew it was going to be a good one. The audience was engaged from the beginning to the end. Unbelievable screening! Unbelievable audience!
My wife was sitting next to me and I glanced over and saw her shedding a few tears. I have to admit that I welled up a bit myself and I thought about the journey of making this film. I thought of how I met with Kelley Maher (producer) in the beginning and we decided to actually go for it and make this documentary that had been on my mind for so long. Then I thought of all the various places we shot footage and all the amazing people we met along the way. And I thought of the editing process with Ashley Nath (editor), and how many hours we spent editing this movie from 260 hours down to 88 minutes. I exhaled and just enjoyed watching it with such an engaged audience.
We did a quick Q&A with the audience, which was fun. And we got pushed out the door so they could get the theater ready for the next screening. I brought my camera but didn’t take any pictures. I always forget to do that, and my head was in the clouds a bit so you’ll have to excuse me. Somebody did get one picture of me and Kelley that I’m linking here.
My friends Paul and Tina may have a picture or two that I can post later (they came in from their anniversary celebration in Milwaukee. So nice!)
All in all, great time. I just wish it went on longer. Thank you, Madtown!