I’m sitting in the American Pavilion during a torrential rain storm. It’s rained several days since we’ve been here. I feel like I’m back in Los Angeles.

Despite the weather I’m very glad to be here and grateful to all of the industry people who have donated their time to speak to the students. Yesterday, film director Stephen Frears 1060611_img_1 braved the rain and freezing winds to share his experiences on such films as Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity, and Dangerous Liaisons.

And today, actors Benjamin McKenzie (The OC, Junebug) and Pell James (Broken Flowers, The King) hosted the 3rd Annual All-American Barbecue at the SAGIndie Student Union. 1060633_img

It was fun to watch all of the female students put on their fanciest dresses and make-up in preparation for Benjamin’s appearance.

It was just embarrassing to watch Darrien and Rene doing the same.

1060625_img_11060621_imgI’m consistently amazed by the generosity of all of the actors, filmmakers, managers, producers, and other professionals who donate time from their schedules to spend with the next generation of filmmakers. We don’t pay them, they are already incredibly busy, and in most cases there isn’t even a public relations benefit… yet we never have a problem scheduling high-profile industry representatives every year. I think they enjoy helping the students as much as we do. I think the students remind them (and us) what it’s like when you’re just starting out, unjaded, and really love the movies. I’m grateful for that as well.

And speaking of students, I’d like to throw a special shout out to Ellery and Becca, 1060617_img_1the student workers who have been helping us research speaker bios, publicize round tables, meeting our guests, doing our laundry, and will be acting as our drug mules after the festival.

I’m just kidding!

We aren’t really making them do our laundry…

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