National Post: Slamdance Diary: Day 2 – The weight of film release limbo and the levity of letting go
This week, Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson will take their second feature film, Diamond Tongues, to the Slamdance Film Festival — the Park City, Utah, film fest that acts as an unofficial counterpoint to the more glitzy and star-filled Sundance. As the filmmaking team prepare for the journey, they’ll file one diary entry per day right here. Today, Moondi on the terrifying road to opening night.
In less than a week in Park City, Utah, we’ll premiere Diamond Tongues, the film a small group of us started filming 10 months ago in Toronto. It’s been a wild ride putting this film together for the past year and a half and it’s been all consuming to the point where I barely even remember what my life was like before it.
When we received the invitation from the Slamdance Film Festival, I was thrilled to be premiering the film within weeks of its completion. That period of limbo where a filmmaker has to sit on a finished film waiting to get it out into the world is not an enjoyable one. The work you’ve done doesn’t feel real until an audience of strangers has seen the film. As festival rejections start to pile up, your dramatic side starts to wonder if things will ever be made real.
I wouldn’t change a single thing about the film we made, and I’m happy to be going to Slamdance to present our film. It’s a festival with a rich history that reflects our approach to filmmaking and it’s played a large part in discovering some great filmmakers (Christopher Nolan, Greg Mottola, Lena Dunham).
But, given what has been, frankly, a pretty draining year, I’m not sure that I’m happy just to be going to Slamdance to present our film. I hope the film does well and that people like it. I hope it catches the eye of someone who can find us a meaningful audience in the long run. I hope it can help us get the next project made to pull ourselves out of the pretty dire financial reality we now find ourselves in.
The thing about Diamond Tongues is that I have never worked harder on anything else in my entire life. There’s a satisfaction in that, absolutely, but the terrifying truth is that if the film fails — whether it’s by being outright rejected by festival audiences and critics, or by receiving a lukewarm, polite reception and simply being forgotten the next day — I’ll be forced to confront the reality that if you’ve worked as hard as you can on something and you still don’t succeed in any significant way — well then what?
Being in limbo puts an enormous weight on your shoulders, but it’s accompanied by this small shred of possibility that the film will succeed in ways you only allow yourself to dream of. Every independent filmmaker has this insane, beautiful, tiny, unrelenting bit of optimism in them. It’s the only reason why anyone would pursue such an implausible career choice to begin with. Next week, that remaining shred of possibility will be supplanted by reality — whatever that may be — but at the very least the weight of the limbo will be off my shoulders and I will get to go skiing on a beautiful mountain. Things could be worse.
Pavan Moondi is the co-director, writer, producer and editor of Diamond Tongues.
Source: National Post