I went to Big Bear Lake Film Festival as my short film Juliana’s Story got selected to screen at the festival which was an exciting excuse to head to another part of the States and explore the area as well as use the opportunity to Network. Big Bear Lake is situated about two and a half hours out of LA. It’s a great drive through the mountains to get to a place with a man made lake amongst the mountains, with 7,000 altitude. Didn’t see any real bears there, but plenty of man made ones.
The festival is run by a lady called Monika Skerbelis and she has done an amazing job with the festival. One of the other directors is Sandy Steers (Hollywood Screenplay Consultant) and they have both done amazing jobs to get the people attending. There were so many volunteers from the community working at the festival that you couldnt really get lost or not know what you’re doing because it is all there.
The main centre is the Performing Arts Centre. Here is where most of the volunteers are located and there is always drinks and food being served there as part of your festival entry.
The food served at one of the meals
The theatre at the PAC centre
Basically if your film gets selected, they give you free tickets to all the screenings and all the events over the three days and most of the time an additional ticket for a ‘plus one’. There are seminars, screenings to all the Features and Short Films and plenty of get together events such as breakfasts, Gala Nights, A movie night where we watched Arbitrage and general networking at the PAC centre. Heaps of film makers took their advertising flyers and posters, putting them up and this really does work because people go past and look at the flyers to determine what they actually want to go and see. So take some flyers and even some copies of your film to give out to those that may not get to your screening.
I took my friend Paul with me for company and the whole experience was good overall. There seem to be less people at the Friday day screenings than the Saturday screenings because people work weekdays I guess. Friday afternoons are ok for screenings too as people start arriving after lunch. It is always a little nerve racking when your film is about to screen, especially on such a big screen. It was great to experience. I only wish I had all the cast/crew, my family and friends there with me to share that moment with.
Juliana’s Story Screening
My film screened at the 4-530pm time slot at the Village North Theatre 1. It was an intimate theatre as shot below. There were about 65 people in the theatre and it was full It could have fitted another 15 people max so i was happy with the turnout.
The front of the Village North Theatre
A shot of the big screen secretly (Bad angle)
Inside the theatre before the crowds arrive
Some of the other films that were screened with mine were Wallanda, Atlantis, Home of War, and City of Spires. I got to meet the film makers of these films. Wallanda is about a tight rope story and all done on Green Screen in one location. These producers are aiming to get an Oscar for this film so it was great to see the film. The producer came from a family of tight rope walking artists in the circus so had heaps of experience in this area. Atlantis was based on NASA with lots of footage from there and City of Spires (Kevin Kerr and Eric Weintrab) was based on a musician having to choose between music and his girlfriend. My favourite was Home from War (Writer/Producer, Steve Hartman – Director Jonathon Dillon). It was about two girls that were injured veterans from War and how they were at the US nursing base and based on the lack of support she received about bringing home her marine friend, (who she said to her family was the amputee), she committed suicide when we find that it was not her friend, but it was her.
Steve Hartman told me that 18 veterans suicide each day in America as they aren’t looked after and when they are sent home they are made to find their own way home. It is terrible that this is the case. I feel for those people as I sure know what it is like being injured from working for your country. I was clearly more fortunate than some of these people and pushed through the depression that consumes you to get beyond the thoughts of suicide and start to feel in control again. Good luck to these guys for getting it out there.
At the festival this year were some achievement awards like the honorary late, Jack Cardiff award (presented by McCall) and to Tim Schulman for his success over the years of all his written films like Dead Poet’s Society, Honey I shrunk the kids and many more greats. Patrick WIlliams got an award for his contribution and success with his music composing in films so the fact that these experienced men were there to receive their awards was great for those attending as we really got to rub shoulders with them.
I loved listening to Toms speech as he told us all about the amount of rejections he received trying to get Dead Poets Society going so it was a very inspirational time. I enjoyed hearing about their take on things and how when you write a screenplay, it is important to think of the whole feel of the screenplay, including music you will use etc, so that if it is important to that scene, you include it in the script. It gives the reader a sense of being able to visualise the scenes within the film and I agree how important that is.
Seminars and Panelists
I attended many seminars they had organised so I could meet with agents, and consultants in Hollywood. It was great and I enjoyed what I learnt from my time with them. Here are some photos below of the seminar rooms etc. A very relaxed environment and wherever you go to, there is water, coffee and tea available as well as a volunteer with a smile that will help you get to wear you are going.
Panelists: Seth Jaret, Nicole Jones, David Warden, Mathieus ? and Mark katter
Other panelist room with Diane Cairns, David again, Greg Beal, Agents like Jennifer Good and writers Bruce Evans and Tom Schulman on left.
Patrick Williams talking at a seminar.
Mr Mc Call, Tom Schulman and Patrick Williams
One of the agents that was at the festival was Seth Jaret and it was great meeting with successful people that are ahead of their field because they understand multiplatform and Transmedia Producing. A credit to him and his company Content Engine. Love the name. Here is a picture of Seth below after us all having lunch in down town Pine Knots Ave.
Meeting some of the film makers
I met some great film makers. One in particular was a guy called Robert Matthews and he gave me his short film Retribution to look at. It was a great film and his film company Beanstalk Films I’m sure will do well. He is so tall that no wander his company name is called Beanstalk. Check him out on line if interested in seeing his work.
Robert and I
I met some great girls from Canada, one which was a documentary film maker, Rachel Bower, and she was so funny and had the most animated face that I had to photograph us together.
Rachel and I (she’s pulling a face hehe)
I have included below a list of the panelists that were presenting and their bios on the pages.
Overall, I recommend sending your film to Big Bear lake and if selected, head down there for the whole three days. It is worth the money, the time and the trip. I managed to get my feature scripts looked at and that is a huge success in itself considering how tough this industry is so get out there and make your dreams happen people because like is short. You may even be able to meet up with people that will change your life, guide your life and/or simply find lifetime friends. You will also get to see some great scenic shots like this below.
Sunset at Big Bear lake
You can find plenty of Scenic shots on my blog article on Big Bear Lake CA as those that know me will know I love photography.