Adonis launches in Athens, Ohio
After years of planning, years of buying dollhouses and model railroad buildings, months of pre-production, a week of shooting, and three long years of green screen compositing, Adonis was finally ready to be introduced to the world. The first notification from a film festival came all the way from Athens, Ohio. The Athens International Film and Video Festival promised to be a different kind of film festival, and it delivered on that promise.
Film Festival with a Casual Approach
The Athens Film Festival, unlike most festivals, does not have any events. There are no formal opening days or closing nights. No seminars or filmmaker workshops. No after screening parties or after-parties. They don’t even have an awards ceremony. The film festival simply shows a lot of films to enthusiastic audiences then filmmakers and staff hang out at the local bars afterwards. Most filmmakers go to film festivals for all of the events. It’s generally a prerequisite as they pretend to be important and schmooze with potentially important people (or people pretending to be important) at the parties. They need to mingle with fellow filmmakers and build a network. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I needed to fly all the way to Ohio but the reward of making films for me is showing them to audiences and I didn’t want to miss the first screening of Adonis.
I flew into Canton/Akron, Ohio to meet with my friend Jamie Jansen. Because he and I came up with the initial idea for Adonis ages ago, I thought it would be special that the film was shown in Ohio. We trekked down to
Athens and started hanging up Adonis flyers and postcards. When we met the festival staff, we immediately
knew that this would be a casual and fun time. This was a film festival that wasn’t pretentious. No need to schmooze with pretenders. Festival director Ruth Bradley and her staff were incredibly welcoming and created a very warm atmosphere. I was happy that I could leave the schmoozing for next time and simply enjoy the experience in Athens.
The Adonis screening went quite well. It showed in a block called “Giggles and Laughs” and had a receptive audience. I especially enjoyed when a young boy came up to Jamie and I after the show and said how much he enjoyed Adonis. Seeing another young boy treasuring an Adonis postcard in lobby was kind of neat too.
For me, the highlight of the film festival was definitely meeting Mr. McFeely (David Newell) from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He was there to present a “Speedy Delivery” congratulating Ruth on the film festival’s 40th year. After his presentation, he signed autographs and took photos. He was incredibly nice and very interested and enthusiastic about Adonis. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’s miniature neighborhood was certainly an influence on the world of Adonis, so getting to meet this wonderful man was very special.
Adventure Outside the Film Festival
When you travel to a film festival, you should experience the local community and area. Athens, Ohio was a bit of a culture shock. It is a quaint college town, but the Princeton Review has ranked Athens as the #3 college party town in the country. Talking to a few students, they were quite disappointed that they had lost the #1 ranking. This particular weekend showed that they were trying to earn it back. Every night the streets are crawling (with some who are literally crawling) with scantily clad girls and guys in tank tops. The bars are all packed. Every day of the week has different drink specials at every bar. The partying starts on Wednesdays. On Saturday, there was The Number Festival, where
everyone stocks up on alcohol (as we experienced at the local grocery store that morning), jumps in spray-painted pickup trucks (for $3-$5) and goes out into a muddy field for music and partying. Then they all return to the bars and swarm Court Street like zombies. I certainly had my share of college party life at USC but I wonder if these students ever actually go to class. Although sheltered a bit from the drunken masses outside on the sidewalks, the festival did get some spillover as our screening was delayed due to a inebriated student passed-out on the seats. He faced a tough night in jail. Maybe his sacrifice will help get Athens’ ranking back up to #1. Definitely don’t see that everyday at your average film festival.
We left Athens and traveled all the way to Cleveland so we could see the A Christmas Story House. Being that the movie is certainly one of my favorites, I think this museum may be the most fun museum on the planet. They have props and hats that you can use to reenact your favorite scenes. Ridiculous fun!
Ruth and her staff have a memorable film festival. It is Academy-qualifying and is celebrating its 40th year. Clearly, they are doing something right. I thank Ruth and her staff for being so welcoming and congratulate them on their 40th year. This was the perfect festival to warm-up Adonis and I’m honored to have been a part of it.