Goodbye Until Next Year, Phoenix Film Fest

Today is officially the last day of the Phoenix Film Festival. For those of you out there that have absolutely no interest in it, you can breathe a sigh of relief, as this will likely be my last post about it for a while. Unless I decide to revisit any of the movies that I chose not to review. If that happens, well, just deal. Trust me, there are plenty of other posts on the way as well.

I wrote a post recapping most of the weekend. You can read it here. A few things have happened since then, so I figured I’d do a full recap of everything now that it’s all over. Oh, and I essentially have skipped the last two days of the festival. There were movies I would have liked to see, but honestly, this introvert is a bit wiped out from the first five days of the festival and decided that having some downtime to recharge was a better idea.

So first off, here’s a list of all the movies I’ve seen in the last few days as a part of the festival (in the order I saw them, even!):

  1. SOS: Save Our Skins
  2. Teddy Bears
  3. God’s Pocket
  4. The Shower
  5. Little Hope Was Arson
  6. The Joe Show
  7. The Sacrament
  8. Jake Squared
  9. Billy Club
  10. Dom Hemingway
  11. The Trouble With The Truth
  12. Oculus

Then here are links to all of the ones that I’ve reviewed:

If I had to pick a favorite of all the ones I saw, I’d probably pick The Trouble With The Truth, followed by The Shower. Pretty much all of the movies I saw had or were something different… something not quite like the mainstream films you’d head to your local multiscreen theater to see on a given weekend. That’s one of the things I like about the fest, one of the reasons I made the effort to be there for a second year. Another reason is the people. I met some great people last year, but working as a volunteer made it a bit harder to truly connect. I was either busy volunteering or watching movies the whole time, really. This year was different. (I even got a chance to talk to Paul Osborne finally, who I followed on Twitter after his movie Favor became one of my favorites from last year’s fest.) I’m so glad I got the opportunity to attend with a press pass this year. I would’ve paid for my ticket if I had to, but I also liked the obligation of providing coverage of the festival. Without that, I may not have posted as many reviews or blogged or tweeted as much about it. And honestly, doing all of that really did contribute to some of the most rewarding parts of the event for me.

My previous recap ended with the Copper Wing awards ceremony on Sunday night. So let’s pick back up with Monday. Monday night I headed to the theater in anticipation of seeing The Trouble With The Truth. I also had a heads up that Lea Thompson would be there, as she was on the interview list sent out to press. (Bummer that I didn’t get an interview with her, but being a lowly local blogger, I didn’t really expect to. But one can hope!) When I went into the movie, I headed for what had become my normal seat over the weekend – middle of the first row in the back section. Sitting there puts you right in the middle, close enough to the screen so that you get the big screen movie theater effect well, and it allows you to put your feet up on the metal bars in front of that row. There were some people that had sat at the closest end of that row, then the other end was blocked off. I started excusing myself and stepping over people when I was stopped by a lady standing up that said that the entire row was saved. So I headed to the row behind it. No sooner had I sat down when I realized who the first person I had stepped over was – Lea Thompson! I had been a fan of her since I was a kid, having watched Caroline in the City when it was on. And of course, I’ve seen all the Back to the Future movies (Marty McFly’s mom!). I’d also seen The Beverly Hillbillies movie she was in as well. I took advantage of the few minutes before the movie started to meet and get a photo with her.

After meeting Lea (and watching the movie with the lead actress sitting right there watching it in front of me) and really enjoying The Trouble With The Truth quite a bit, I knew that there was no way my night was going to get any better, so I skipped my second movie and headed home.

Tuesday evening I headed back again to see Oculus. I was expecting a lot from this movie. I watched the trailer, and it looked good and scary. I’d also read nothing but good reviews for it, so I was expecting something scary and unique. Well, while it had some good chills, it was anything but unique in my opinion. I left pretty disappointed, as did some of the festival staff that I talked to about it. You can read my review of it here.

Tuesday ended up being my last day at the fest. I had tickets for Kidnapped for Christand Proxy on Wednesday night, but honestly I just really needed some time to rest and relax. I’m also missing the closing movie Boyhood to do the same tonight. But truthfully, the rest of the festival was so much fun that I don’t really feel like my experience is any less for missing these last two nights.

While meeting Lea Thompson (she was so nice!) was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me, I do have to say that I think hanging out with the guys from The Shower might have been close to the top of my list of experiences there. I have Twitter to thank somewhat for that, as tweets, retweets and replies back and forth with Alex Drummond and the others in between movies are part of what inspired me to find them to talk more after their Q&A session on Saturday. Honestly, these guys are just a lot of fun. And so, so nice. I was happy to run into them again in time to grab a beer with Alex and Paul Natonek before the awards ceremony. (I was sad that Andy Hoff had left before I got a chance to ask him about his experience on How I Met Your Mother!)

Not only is The Shower worth checking out if you like comedy with a splash of blood involved, but I think I enjoyed hearing the stories behind the film just as much. You can read some of Alex’s experiences making it at his site, (aka “How To Make A Movie In 18 Years”). I definitely plan on keeping up with these guys as they visit more film fests and seeing what happens to The Shower.

All in all, the Phoenix Film Festival this year was everything I was hoping it would be. Great movies (and a couple not-so-great) and the opportunity to meet the filmmakers, actors, other press (shout out to Caleb who I was glad to find on Twitter after I talked to him briefly before my first movie of the festival – he also found a filmmaker to adopt for the weekend), and just generally some really cool and interesting people. Thanks to Twitter for keeping us all connected before, during, and after the festival. So goodbye #PFF2014 – have to say I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!