The first draft of history…
For a few years I’ve been harbouring ideas for a number of exciting projects. These are the sort of pie-in-the-sky ideas that weren’t possible during the dark days of 2009 and 2010 when work was thin on the ground and money was thinner, but they kept me going and I was hopeful that one day I might be able to put one or two of them into action.
This year the work situation turned has turned around so completely that the excuses I’d been making for not marching on with these ideas simply couldn’t hold up. I finally had the money to put where my mouth was. I’ve had an idea for a while to write a travel book about world film festivals, a guide to their differing characters and missions and what they are like to attend. This was really an excuse — and a structure — to do some travelling as my protestant work ethic doesn’t allow me to simply travel for fun. There always has to be an end in mind. Wellington would obviously be a chapter — I know it so well — but what should be chapter two?
A chance meeting with Prof Richie Meyer while he was in Wellington earlier this year introduced me to the Telluride Film Festival — he raved about it, quite frankly — and a quick look at the dates demonstrated that it was possible. The clincher was when he told me that the programme for Telluride is never announced in advance — you have to go on faith. And you have to demonstrate a lot of faith, too, as Telluride is extremely difficult to get to, expensive to stay at and expensive to attend.
But the proximity to Hollywood (two hours by jet) — and the closeness to the Toronto Festival — means that films often get launched there and the attendance of filmmakers and stars is pretty much mandatory. So, it’s a great opportunity to get material for Cinematica as well as research the book. Impossible to resist. And when I realised I could tag on six days in NYC plus a trip back to Blighty to see old school friends and family for the first time since 1999, resistance was futile.
Since the decision was made in early May, it has been a flurry of saving, working three jobs, scheduling, buying tickets, arranging accommodation, following up leads — madness! But here I am, in Gunnison, Colorado, one day away from Telluride, three days away from the opening of the festival. I have media accreditation, a festival pass, two recording devices and some bright red shoes that are apparently quite the conversation starter. Bring it on.
These diaries are just stream of consciousness jottings and aides-mémoires, so I apologise in advance for the crapness of the prose. I will also be continuing to podcast for Cinematica on the road as well as tweeting even more random thoughts and pictures.
Thanks at this early stage go to Lawrence Green (who provided much-needed encouragement at a time when I was wavering), professional film festival worker Sibilla Paparatti (for connections), Miriam Ross (for encouragement), Ant Timpson and V 48 Hours (for indirect funding) and RNZ and the Capital Times for helping me secure the media accreditation.