Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear and promised to be a day filled with expectation, sessions, panels, music and to cap the evening, the “New Project Expo”. If an expression could suffice, it might be, “This is what we’ve been training for”. One of the things that make Film-Com unique are the networking breakfast and direct presentations where filmmakers can speak directly to those with the ability or connections to “Green Light” a project or put the person in touch with someone who can. The signup area (2nd floor AT&T building) filled with expectant filmmakers realizing the next session could possibly dictate the path of the next few years of their lives. Check-ins were sorted based on “Faith-In-Film”, “Feature Film” and “Television” and were handled smoothly by the Film-Com staff (thanks to all of them).
While I can’t say exactly what happened in the direct presentation rooms, the sheer variety of projects was impressive crossing multiple genres showing a true creative spirit. Each team was escorted to their respective rooms by Film-Com staff minutes before their sessions were to begin, they strode in confidently (some in costume) ready to make their pitch. And while I don’t know (I really don’t) exactly what transpired, I saw many exiting with a smile on their face; whether that was from a kind word, a potential deal or a connection to a distributor or financier, they would have to say.
Next up were the afternoon panels at the Ford Theater, Country Music Hall of Fame, with the panels broken into two session, unscripted and scripted. Moderated by Cary Burch (My Own Shingle) with panelists, Collin Reno (William Morris Endeavor), Dee Haslam (Rivr Media), Max Baxt (Tru TV), Brad Holcman (A&E) and Jennifer Andrews (Lionsgate) didn’t disappoint. Years of experience and tricks of the trade were laid out for the expectant audience, they didn’t promise an easy path, but they did point out the road signs along the way, and how those with the passion and dedication to ‘stick-to-their-guns’ should never give up on their dreams of seeing their unscripted project on the air.
Session two dealt with scripted television and panelists Maura Dunbar (Odyssey Network), Rosemary Tarquinio (CBS), Elana Barry (Anonymous Content), Stuart Goodman (Producer) and Steve Peros (Writer/Director) spoke with vision and clarity about what it takes to pitch an idea and get that all important pilot made. One element that seemed recurring was simply this, you MUST have representation, especially if you are new to the game, and DO NOT send a pitch via email, it will be deleted un-read (that’s for legal reasons).
As the sessions ended (we were on a tight schedule) next up was Music-In-Film On Stage which ran from 5-7pm at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and remains a highlight of Film-Com. The spacious lobbies filled with execs, filmmakers and guests who were able to decompress with a glass of wine, an assortment of Hors d’oeuvres and the expectation of hearing a world class orchestra. When the bell chimed we were ushered into the Grand Hall , which is room as close to acoustically perfect room as engineering can deliver. Robert Swope (SunRise Entertainment) produced the event and introduced Kelly Corcoran a young woman whose passion for the arts is evident and knowledge of “music in film” impressive. Together with the ensemble, she transported us into a world of music and showed us (visually on screen) how classical music could dramatically influence a scene and set the mood desired by the director/producer.
While it would have been easy (and enjoyable) to spend the evening listening to the melodious melodies of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and others, Film-Com is about allowing filmmakers to showcase their works and next on the agenda was the New Project Expo held at the Stadium Club inside Titans Stadium. A quick sojourn across the river brought us to the venue and honestly words fail to describe what this talented group of filmmakers had accomplished. While I knew the area would be filled, my imagination stopped short of what they had accomplished.
The evening was professionally catered, the bar well stocked, the band (The Dave Webb Quintet) enthusiastic and the filmmakers dazzling. Costumes, displays, multi-media, handouts, Elvis look-a-likes, Gherm Guys, twinkling city lights as a back drop, this was a New Project Expo for the record books. The Step and Repeat was in almost perpetual motion as our photographer Ashley Gillum worked diligently to keep up with the requests.
When the mayor arrived the question was, “How will we get everyone to quiet down, and listen for a few minutes”? Not to worry, this part had been well thought out as our GM, Andy VanRoon sounded the gong (yes, a literally gong) the sound reverberated through the hall and could not be ignored. The Mayor spoke briefly but encouragingly about film, Tennessee and his appreciation of the arts and expectation for the future.
To say this was a full day would be an understatement. Full, fulfilling and fantastic if you’ll forgive the alliteration, okay all, night for now, tomorrow is another day at Film-Com