There were those amongst us who spent the last few days at the crap tables in Las Vegas, or in the drunken splendor of the hot-tub haven of Saugatuck, MI. I, however, spent this last weekend in Oklahoma City, attending the Dead Center film festival.
Far from being resentful at this turn of events, as some (most) people might be, I went into the weekend with an open mind and found myself pleasantly surprised by what I experienced there.
It didn’t start well. The flight in took us through a long stretch of airspace that was peppered by what the gentleman in the adjoining seat colorfully referred to as "thunder-bumpers". As a card-carrying white-knuckle flyer, I found the last twenty minutes of the flight to be one of the most profoundly unpleasant, not to say panic inducing, episodes in my long, ambivalent flying career.
However, once I safely arrived (at Will Rogers World Airport, which is, appropriately enough, built in a semi-circle around a huge bronze statue of the man himself) and began interacting with the folks behind Dead Center, as well as the citizens of Oklahoma City themselves, the prospect of spending a weekend in the heartland seemed much less dismal than it had at the moment that Paul had "asked" me to take one for the team and make the trip east.
Oklahomans are truly OK. Cacky Poarch and Melissa Scaramucci of Dead Center were gracious and helpful hosts (Melissa even fronted me a Claritin tab on a day that the prairie winds were sending the pollen count soaring into the "Extreme" range), the staff at my hotel were friendly and gave mostly good directions, and even the homeless, mentally ill street folk were unfailingly polite, as evidenced by the guy who earnestly asked if I was with the Department of Homeland Security (the answer is "no"), then nodded sagely and strolled off into the night.
As my Grandma back home might say, they’re "good people".
As for the festival itself:
– The opening night party had plenty o’ free booze and food, which is always a plus. While there I ran into a couple of women from the Sundance Channel who, while their names escape me at the moment, I found to be excellent drinking companions. They were, after all, from Texas.
– Linda Dowell from the SAG Texas branch was on hand for the Chicks Rule panel, which included Patti Kelly of Scarpaci/Kelly Productions, who was in town with her film "Welcome to September". Ms. Kelly produced the film under the Experimental Agreement, a fact which I have just shamelessly exploited for SAGIndie’s promotional gain.
– Linda (as pictured above) also took the SAGIndie Traveling Roadshow and Workshop to the aspiring filmmakers of the South Central U.S., braving the hostile environs of a right-to-work state in order to spread the Low Budget gospel.
– Finally, I must mention that I breakfasted daily on the free muffins and coffee at the Filmmaker Coffee event, a great place to network and nurse a hangover. All thanks to Dead Center for helping me stretch my
meager very generous per diem.
All in all, it was an enjoyable, productive trip, which is all you can really ask for. That, and a "thunder bumper"-free flight.