Monday, March 19, 2007
We did it! Our premiere showing, at the San Diego Latino Film Festival on saturday, March 17, was a sold-out hit!
I had been at the festival earlier in the week for some workshops and panels, so the anticipation was building. Boy, this was a thrilling event, I'll tell you. Family, friends, fans and filmgoers all made the event so memorable.
We had a press conference before the screening, with Tony Plana, producer Larry Rattner and myself, in the lobby of the theatre. Tony is such a dynamic figure, so strongly supportive of film festivals and Latino art, and very popular with the fans.
Here we are after the press conference. He was more than happy to pose for tons of pics from all the fans there, and I found myself the subject of quite a bit myself. (Good thing I invested in a suit!)
I lingered outside the theatre before the 8 o'clock showing, greeting my family and friends as they arrived. My three siblings and their families, along with mom, made the 100 mile trek down to San Diego. Heck, even one of my fans from my Muerto Message Board drove all the way down from the Bay Area to see the film! Here's a great pic: the line for EL MUERTO! These would be the first film fans ever to pay and line up for the film! Our previous screenings were private invites or American Film Market attendees. So this crowd made for a priceless pic! The showing was sold out and in fact there were about 2 dozen people waiting to see if any more seats would become available.
The film played to a packed theatre, and everyone had enthusiastic responses. It was great that our three executive producers/financers were there as well. Bruno Leone and his two sons Dan and Rich. They're really down-to-earth folks, and always supportive of me as the creator of the comic. The film began with the opening credits, featuring my artwork intercut with live action, and the viewers were following the film every step of the way, and thankfully laughing at all the right times! My cameo drew a lot of cheers, which made me happy and grateful that I picked that particular scene myself. I've already seen the film several times, but to have had so many entusiastic people in the audience was a whole new experience. After the screening, we had a Q&A up near the screen, with lots of great questions, followed by an impromtu autograph session.
Our writer/director Brian Cox was called out of the country for a production meeting on another project, but he had asked me to read a statement for him. I was honored to do so, and wish he was there to have heard all the great compliments on the wonderful film he made. If it wasn't for my initial faith in his approach for the project, I would never have signed on to make the film. Also, I was able to dedicate the film, in the spirit of Dia de Los Muertos, to four people who had passed away in the last year who I was hoping would be able to see it. My aunt Dora, uncle Greg, uncle Manuel, and friend Gary Burke. Tony and I were so busy with meeting people that they had to politley ask us to continue signing out in the lobby! And of course, more pictures were taken. Here's a nice one with (left to right) my sister, niece, brother, mom, Tony, me and another niece. Tony had some nice words for my mother, in espanol, no less. Mom was on cloud nine. In fact, at one point, she had me sign her an autograph! I was like "Mom, you're my mom!". That was so awesome, though!
Here's me, my leading lady Bernyce, cousin Jose Manuel and Tony. Sure was great to be able to celebrate with my loved ones and my fellow filmmakers.
After several minutes in the lobby, we all headed outside. By then, some people were leaving, and we were getting ready to be shuttled downtown to attend a nightclub. But it gave me a chance to meet up with friends and hear how much they loved the film. My cousin Manuel took this pic as I walked up the stairs outside the theatre. He says it shows me moving up higher and higher. And why the heck not?!