Electrick Children at Deauville American Film Festival
The highlight of my summer was the opportunity to travel to France for the Deauville American Film Festival. Previously, I blogged about Electrick Children screening at Berlin Film Festival and SXSW. I had always wanted to escape away to a film festival for a week. It felt like summer camp. Most of the actors, directors, and producers were all staying in the same hotel. Each day, there was a new film premiere. The day would begin with photo calls and press conferences. Afterwards, we would indulge in delicious French lunches that would go on for hours, catch a late afternoon movie, take a nap, rise for a dinner party, and then go to late night dance parties. It's pretty surreal to rap the Jay-Z/Kanye West lyrics, "Excuse my French but I'm in France" when you're actually in France for the first time. There's no better way to begin new friendships than a week in the countryside of France. These fellow peers are the ones I hope to know and continue to work with for years to come.
Ever since I was a kid, I imagined what it would be like to get the chance to play a character in a film. Then, I got many wonderful opportunities to do that when I was living in New York City. There was an abundance of independent projects that were always casting. After a while, I realized it was taking months, sometimes even years for the footage to see the light of day. For instance, I had a part in The Oranges. I filmed it when I was 20 years old and I'll be 23 next month. It will finally be out in theatres this Friday. It was also frustrating when I worked on student films in return for copy/credit. Often times, the students didn't hold up their end of the bargain and would stall on releasing the footage for reels.
Then, my dream transitioned into imagining what it would be like to be in a project that actually got distributed. It's a let down when you work on a film with a story that means something to you and it never gets to be shared with an audience. I had been in films that went straight-to-DVD but that wasn't really a part of the dream. It was surreal to be doing exactly what I had dreamed of doing. It also re-inspired me to keep with it. Every now and then I get really burnt out and imagine what it would be like if I left la-la land for a while. It was inspiring to be in the company of legendary industry vets who shared stories of their struggles in the beginning of their career. The talented director William Friedkin commiserated it, the regarded producer Paula Wagner shared it, and the ever so lovely Salma Hayek unanimously agreed. The common thread from all of them revolved around one central theme, "Don't give up."
I met someone last week that recognized me from this blog. She had recently moved to Los Angeles. I remembered what a long road it had been to find stability, peace, and happiness in this crazy town. There were so many times I wanted to move back to New York City. My time at this dreamy film festival reminded me of how much I love movies and there is nothing quiet as satisfying as when a little piece of your dream gets realized. I just wanted to remind all of you readers, "Don't give up."
By the way, I met the director Rebecca Thomas and got the part through doing a student film at Columbia University. She was always extremely gracious in getting the footage to me for my reel. I meet a lot of actors starting out who scoff at "wasting their time" on student films. You have to do what's best for you but sometimes it forms bonds that might open doors later.
Photo: Jean Sébastien Baschet