Saturday afternoon was the first screening of Gone Doggy Gone in San Diego. The turnout was light, but the crowd was warm and enthusiastic. Cinematographer Garrett O'Brien, Shaina Vorspan (who played Jill), Edward Winters (who played Devon), all joined Kasi and Brandon (and of course Laila) at the screening. The film looked great - sound was fantastic. I had only previewed it on my IPad so it was great to see it with a live audience on the big screen. Nothing beats the experience of watching a movie in a theater. It was nice to see it a second time in it's entirety. I picked up on a number of things I hadn't notice the first go around. I was starting to feel like an insider....Kate Conner (who played Kat) joined them after the screening. She was planning to be at the Q&A after the film, but Los Angeles to San Diego traffic is brutal on Saturdays. After a little down time in the VIP lounge and a quick dinner it was off to the Filmmakers Awards Show at the US Grant Hotel. The event is typical with various honors and awards to the best films of the festival. The US Grant's basement ballroom and the scripted format made for a much better show than in years past. There was a nice rhythm to the night that had been missing poolside at the Palomar. Even so, it was a big disappointment for the Gone Doggy Gone group. They were not included in any of the awards or recognitions. I think that ultimately surprised them. I'm sure the fact that they had a photographer following them around for 3 days had set them up for something big. I regret I may have contributed to their higher expectations. I too was disappointment they didn't win, but not surprised. I loved the film and thought it deserved recognition, but there were other filmmakers that seemed to be the darlings of the show. Still, Kasi and Brandon made a number of connections while they were at the festival. And they made a fantastic feature comedy, which is no small task.
Friday was pretty chill. Lots of down time. Brandon and Kasi dealt with the nagging issue of syncing up their movie with the theater's projection system. They had been less than successful getting that done on Thursday. They finally got with the projectionist at the Reading and were able to sort it out. It was also party night! Almost Famous party at the Tin Roof - mostly drinking, schmoozing, and playing life size Jenga....sorry, Tumbling Towers.
For the last few years I've gone Behind the Scenes at the San Diego Film Festival. This year, in order to keep it fresh, I decided to follow one of the filmmakers during their time at the festival. Festival producer Stephanie Inscoe gave me a couple of movies to screen ahead of time so I could see who might make for an interesting follow. I watched several films and wasn't too inspired until I saw Gone Doggy Gone. It's a small indie film by Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter. The premise is simple. A childless couple with a dog they love "too much" and what happens when that dog disappears. It's not an epic tale like the other films I watched tried to be. It's just a well crafted comedy written, directed, and starring Brown and Walter.
I knew through Stephanie that the 2 filmmakers would be in town for the festival. She also said many of the cast and crew would be in attendance. It sounded like a perfect fit. My first contact with the Gone Doggy Gone folks was a couple of hours prior to the Night of the Stars event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. So at the last minute I grabbed my cameras and met Kasi, Brandon and Laila (Kasi's real dog and co-star in the movie) at their hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. From there we headed out to La Jolla for their debut at the festival.
While they were not officially on the list of celebrities in attendance for the Red Carpet they made the most of it. After all that's what an adorable Yorkshire terrier is for, right. After a brief stint on the carpet they lined up with the rest of the VIPs and waited to enter the theater. And waited....