What Day is it?

4:43AM, Friday. My thoughts are racing, my heart is pacing.  Sleep is hard to come by after a night like tonight.  The near riot that occurred during my Q and A session, among other things, has got me wound up.  Even after the exhaustively long week of wake up, work, go to bed, repeat, I have given up my futile attempts for the rest that I long for.  Figured I use these tired red eyes for something productive during this time and log this week’s memories before they get replaced by the next useless youtube video or Facespace post.  The two neighborhood owls hooting outside my front door are my soundtrack.

After weeks of anticipation, the St. Louis International Film Festival is finally upon us and has already almost passed us by.  The Big Three; Brian, Chris, and Cliff, have been running the show along with dozens of volunteers across six venues around the City screening over 400 films from around the globe.  Brian looked like he was wasting away yesterday; down about twenty pounds after running around and missing meals over this past week and a half.  I can only hope he had an extra slice of pizza at the Pi after party last night.

I have been doing my share in helping the SLIFF wheels turn, and I was lucky enough to be given the honor of running the projectors at the Tivoli Theater for a few nights for a series of short films.  After watching and making movies all my life, it was quite a surreal experience to actually be the guy upstairs behind the projector.  Hitting the switches, turning the nobs, and shoveling coal into the furnace that would take the audience away from this reality to other worlds from just a little while.  

Tivoli’s upstairs is another world in itself; a strange yet almost magical world where Major Tom watches over you and Thelma and Louise keep you company among the ancient projectors scattered about the room, miles upon miles of film, and the occasional Red Gypsy.  Down the long hallway from the main area you find the main theater’s projector room, with just enough space for two.  The walls are decorated with replacement parts, bulbs, rolls of film, and unrecognizable trinkets that only an artisan projectionist could begin to understand. Cables are strewn across the floor in organized chaos, connecting all the machines required to move the pictures. The films are played on a small box TV with built in VHS player along with the silver screen so you can make sure things are running smoothly, or just to watch and commentate on the films.  If the audio seems to be different in the next short, you must adjust by sticking your head out of the small window, looking out over the crowd of spectators, breathing in the warm, familiar scent of theater popcorn, and turn the big rubber audio nob accordingly.  Before you know it, the films are done, and the crowd rises in a daze as the real world fades back into their minds as you dim the house lights back on and close the mighty red curtain.

The real treat of the week was when the brown stuff hit the fan at my film Dignity Harbor's screening.  After personally acknowledging Bill Siedhoff, the City’s Director of the Department of Human Services, during the Q and A portion of the deal, a barrage of hisses and ‘F*** you Bill’s poured out from the balcony directed at the poor old man wearing a bright red zippered Christmas sweater.  If that wasn’t interesting enough, Wildcat himself took a step on his soapbox and spoke his mind on the subject, personally calling out Siedhoff after long brewing resentment towards Bill’s decision to bulldoze the homeless camps earlier this year.  This led to a rebuttal from Siedhoff and a back and forth banter from a few of the audience members.  I sat back trying to keep from laughing out loud at the controversy my film had caused.  As the angry hipsters’ comments became more intense, as much as I enjoyed watching the show, I did my best to try and regain control of the room. The situation gradually defused and the rest of the night played out without any tear gas having to be pumped into the room.  It was an unbelievable turnout and I was overwhelmed by the response from people I met after the film.  *Note to self, remember the Handle Bar*   It’s good to know the work that took the better half of my sanity was worth the investment.

It’s been a wild week. SLIFF has been good to me and I hope I’ve been good to her. Now the owls have gone to sleep, I need to try to do the same before the sun comes up and hope my computer turns on in the morning.

For more updates from the trenches, follow my bird www.twitter.com/MiketheEye