I just wanted to mention the Heartland Film Festival, which begins today.
This festival changed my life, no question. It was great for me professionally, it lead to the sale of my first film and inspired and fueled me to carry on making films in difficult times.
I also made many great friends while attending. I remember in my acceptance speech I was swept away with the emotion of the event and the night and said "I've made friends in this room, that I'll probably have for the rest of my life, I didn't expect that to happen." Afterwards I kinda felt a like I was being a bit hooky! But as it happened, I was right, I made many great friends who I still stay in regular contact with 3 years on. In fact 10 of the 140 filmmakers are past Heartland award winners. And of course co-pilot and good buddy Elliot Kotek, who has been a good friend and support these past three years, I met at Heartland.
On a personal level I did of course meet my wife there, Maryann Koopman, now Kelly! She was the film researcher and coordinator and the one who found my film. We communicated professionally leading up to the festival. I remember our first conversation, I actually thought for a second that the first call from Jeff, the president of the festival, was a prank! I have comedian friends who have on occasion called with phony accents! But then Maryann called to organise things and fill me in, phew! I had actually won something!!! But little did I now that the woman I was speaking to would be standing in that very same room today as my wife of one year and pregnant with our first child - due in 7 weeks!
Emily's Song won the Crystal Heart in 2006 and Bill, For Short was an Official Selection in 2008. I have remained in touch with the festival and hope to screen again there someday with a yet to made film!
The festival shows a diverse range of exceptional films that promote and celebrate the human spirit. If attending you are guaranteed to be moved, inspired, awakened and changed.
Best of luck to everyone at the festival, hope you have a great year. And to the filmmakers, enjoy! It doesn't get any better than this!