We're enjoying things in Philly as best we can despite some bad news from back home. We're missing our friends and looking forward to hugging them a lot.
Today was our American civics day, visiting Independence hall and the National Constitution Center. We snapped this shot as evidence that we were here. You can see a tiny Independence Hall just to the right of my head in the distant background...
Apparently, America's first everything was in Philadelphia -- the first hospital, the first prison, the first soda pop, the first lager, the first photograph, the first cheesesteak sandwich, the first yellow fever outbreak...
Speaking of yellow fever, yesterday we did some more macabre sight seeing, taking in Edgar Allen Poe's house and the famous Mütter Museum of medical oddities.
And last night was my film's screening at the Arbol Cafe, an outdoor venue -- think the Radio Bean with a large patio. This is the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival's first year and so some slack is to be afforded them for not exactly having their ducks in a row. I think they have the right idea for a festival -- it's very indy -- the venues are bohemian and laid back and all within walking distance of each other, the staff is young and hip, and the program is both a little edgy and a little serious.
That said, last night's screening was kind of a nightmare. First of all, the projection got my film's aspect ratio wrong and the technical staff was stumped about how to fix it. I've had years of film festival tech experience and I'm confident I could have stepped in and fixed the problem, but I was sensitive about being a prima donna filmmaker -- I'd already made them stop the film so they could get it right. In the process it became clear to me that the techs had not tested the media at all -- in fact they had not touched the DVDs until literally 30 seconds before show time. After it became clear that the aspect ratio was going to stump them, I said "it's good enough" and had them proceed, not wanting to hold up the show because my 7-minute short was the wrong shape.
As it turns out, I was the lucky filmmaker last night because the disk that the feature was on wouldn't play at all in their deck. The filmmakers were cool about it but I would have been pissed. This is why you test the media 30 minutes before showtime, so you can deal with the issue before there's an expectant audience sitting in seats waiting for the show to start. It's also why you have backup media for all films. You're better off showing a 3rd generation VHS tape recorded in EP than showing nothing at all.
There was also a VERY small turnout for the films, but that could have been program-specific and also due to the sticky heat. Next year will probably be much smoother. In general, I like the feel of the festival and what they're doing. They just need to work through some kinks.
Tomorrow we may check out the Eastern State Penitentiary before heading over to the event with Gerry Casale. Then we have along drive home.