Last night, at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, my short film screened before a sizable audience. At least, it was sizable my standards. That my standards involve numbers I can count on my fingers should be taken into account.
Cranking out a film in two days leaves little time for the emotional roller-coaster I put myself through on creative projects. I usually hit a nice, bumpy stretch of doubt and self-loathing early into a project. I doubt the idea, or I wish I had done something more serious, or funnier, or action packed, or I worry that I’m not up to the task of turning the script into a film. The reasons barely matter. I just freak. This time, there was no room for self doubt. So I plowed through the project on determination alone.
Which meant the early part of this week was when I could become a basket case. The lead up to the screening was one of those long, clicky rises to the top of the hill, where you have plenty of time to see just how far you’re going to drop and think of how many ways things could go wrong.
The worst part was just prior to the screening, when they showed what felt like 45 minutes of the same commercial. I just needed my film to get up on that screen, hear the reaction and deal with whether it was good or bad. It was a good thing my film was screened third. I don’t know if I could have taken sitting through an hour of films with my stomach clenched tight enough to turn my dinner into coal.
As for the film itself, I barely remember watching it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I remember things during it, but it’s like it all happened at the same exact moment, all crunched together. When you’ve got “surprise ending” as your genre, you can’t relax until you see how people react to the money shot.
And they did. They really did. It’s the best post-film reaction I’ve ever had. I don’t know how we’ll ultimately stack up against the other films in the festival, but I can’t help but feel we succeeded.
If you haven’t had the chance to see it, now’s the time. It’s up on vimeo and, even better, you can watch it right here, right now, on this very blog.