Written by Hilari Scarl Tuesday, 31 August 2010 04:08
It's 4:30AM in Los Angeles as I'm still shaking off jet lag from a week in Melbourne with SEE WHAT I'M SAYING at The Other Film Festival. It was an extraordinary experience, and an honor to be in one of the premiere disability film festivals as the inaugural deaf program. This all-inclusive festival had Auslan interpreters (Australian Sign Language), ASL interpreters, audio description and captions for all of the films. We screened to a packed house at the Melbourne Museum. CJ and I did a Q&A after the film, and I was part of a panel discussion on directing deaf actors moderated by Ross Onley-Zerkel with Clayton Jacobson and his award-winning cast of I LOVE U. Highlights of the festival included getting to hang out with Academy Award winning director Adam Elliot, festival director and our host Rick Randall, the incredible festival staff (Dominque, Emily, Simone and others.) The other filmmakers' work were beyond inspirational, and it was an honor to meet Stella Young ("Carbon Whore"), Rob Spence ("Eyeborg"), Genevieve Clay ("Be My Brother") and the creators from the Restless Dance Company. The film that took home the festival award was "Nobody's Perfect," a mind-blowing documentary about 12 people affected by Thalidomide deciding to pose naked for a calendar. SEE WHAT I'M SAYING received an honorable mention at the awards ceremony, which was a huge compliment.
It was my first time in Australia, and I had an opportunity to pet kangaroos and hang out with the koalas at the Healesville Sanctuary. My new Australian friends taught me local expressions ("not to whing if I'm being shouted a flat white, lest I be bottled on Saturday arvo." - translated as "don't whine if someone buys me a cappuccino or someone will cut me with a bottle on Saturday afternoon." ) CJ had a chance to perform his comedy live at the Charcoal Lane restaurant after our screening to an appreciative crowd. I had an opportunity to audio describe SEE WHAT I'M SAYING to a sighted-impaired judge Tony, which was an incredible experience for me, as he was testing a theory that audio description is richer when coming from the director, although it was a unique challenge of balancing our subtitles while describing the action.
It was a great festival, a memorable week and an unforgettable experience. I'm already looking at ways to return with the film and more performers soon.
Written by Hilari Scarl Saturday, 03 July 2010 07:52
I realize I am a little behind in my blog. I've tried to keep up with posting all the news on our Facebook fan page and on Twitter, but since this is a holiday weekend and I have a few moments to reflect, I wanted to post a little update here.
These past few months have been unbelievable. After our breathtaking fairytale world premiere in Hollywood, we rolled right into two weeks of screenings at the Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles. My favorite part were all of the guests who showed up - all of the aerialists and musicians from the rock band Powder, Deaf West Theater, SAG, AIDS Service LA, actors, award-winning cinematographers, the deaf bikers who rode in from Arizona, the couple who drove up from Mexico, all of our volunteers and interpreters... and so many, many more.
I left the day after we closed for a month in New York, which was as thrilling as it was exhausting. I miss NYC! We had a great run at the Village East Cinema with crowds coming in from everywhere. I had the opportunity to visit several deaf schools and give short presentations, including the Lexington School for the Deaf, "47" and met with administrators at the St. Joseph School for the Deaf in the Bronx. SEE WHAT I'M SAYING beat out Avatar at the theater our opening day, but we were clobbered the day Dr. Who fans showed up for their sneak preview. Maybe we could get Robert to wear a long scarf next time.
My journey around the country after NYC gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most extraordinary people working tirelessly on a daily basis within their communities. Each city was uniquely different: Syracuse brought in CJ to join me to teach a day of workshops before the screening, filled with more laughter than should be allowed; Santa Rosa screened us at the Rialto Theater, the cutest little art house movie theater ever, and arranged for superstar performer Sherry Hicks to interpret for me; AFI Theater in Silver Springs, MD had our name scrolling on the marquee in lights... before Akira Kurosawa (the last place that will ever happen); New Jersey screened us in the student center on a foldout screen, folding chairs and a red carpet (for real - someone had taped a carpet that was red in the aisle leading up to the screen. Priceless.) And Sean Forbes had a great screening in Michigan and was able to hook me up via videophone from Los Angeles for the Q&A after the screening. I was projected on the big screen and was thrilled to have 300 people in my living room. It was magical.
I have also had my share of challenges, headaches and disappointments, which is par for the course. I don't usually blog/post about these since I want to focus on the positive. But anyone who envisions that this is the glamorous life needs to come out and spend a day with me. You'd probably find me still in my pajamas at my computer trying to iron out some dilemma. These challenges have forced me to grow professionally and personally, and hopefully I'm getting better at problem solving with grace, although I don't always succeed. But I'm trying.
The most recent accomplishments include getting a request for the film's transcripts by the Academy of Arts & Sciences ("I'd like to thank the Academy..."); having a screening at DreamWorks... twice (for the animation department and for the live action folks who work half way across town); getting a solid distribution deal for our DVD and some fantastic leads for television; receiving invitations to screen the film in Moscow, Hong Kong, Australia and the Korean Demilitarized Zone; and watching CJ, Robert, TL and Bob all continue to blossom and inspire with their various projects this past year.
Thank you, everyone, who has been part of this incredible adventure. The journey continues. Have a safe 4th of July holiday weekend everyone.
Written by Hilari Scarl Sunday, 21 March 2010 07:46
The world premiere was simply magical. It truly was a dream seeing so many people connected with the film come together to celebrate deaf entertainers. It was worth the wait to have it in Hollywood and was the perfect fit. I'm still putting together photos, stories and our glowing reviews while at the Laemmle Sunset 5 this week. I decided to be there all week to personally greet every audience and be available for questions after each screening. Folks are driving down from as far away as Arizona to see us at the Laemmle Sunset 5 and celebrate the first open captioned commercial film in American history.
Here is some of our fan mail. Re-posted with permission.
Sent: Fri, Mar 19, 2010 3:38 pm
Subject: The Premiere Was AWESOME!!
I met you at an event featuring documentary film editors a few months ago. We were sitting next to each other and chatted, exchanged cards, etc.. Well I joined your mailing list and I went to the premiere of See What I'm Saying last night and HOLY COW, was I blown away. I studied Hearing and Deafness in college as my minor, worked at a Deaf/Blind center, and took ASL so obviously I enjoyed the film. What I really want to point out is that I brought my boyfriend along with me who has never even met a Deaf person before, and knows next to nothing about Deaf Culture. Not only did I enjoy the film, but HE was also completely blown away by it. I kept looking at him and he was laughing at the high parts and was so invested in the lows. He said the most interesting part for him was when Robert DeMayo was walking down the busy street and you could hear what the world sounded like from his perspective. We talked well into the night about many aspects of the film and what both of us learned, but he kept coming back to the point about beginning to see the world through the eyes of your four incredible main characters. I have to agree, the stories were so well developed. It's easy to make a great film like Avatar when you have a $50 million budget. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you weren't given millions of dollars and support from a major studio, and yet you produced a wonderful, quality film product that is accessible (physically and cross-culturally) to so many if people just buy the ticket. I've been encouraging many of my friends to go see the film, both those who have experience with Deaf culture and those who don't. I am just so glad that someone (YOU!) took such a huge chance in making this movie because even aside from the intriguing subject matter, it is simply this-- A GREAT FILM.
Thank you (and I really mean it-- Thank You),
-- Crystal Riportella-Crose
Written by Hilari Scarl Monday, 08 March 2010 23:22
It is now 11:43PM. I have been up since 5:30AM. Here is a short sample of my day today: working on emailing hundreds of schools and organizations about our world premiere, attending a photo shoot this afternoon for Venice Magazine in the park, fielding booking requests from around the world, talking to Amsterdam about their screening of SEE WHAT I'M SAYING last Friday, talking with several distributors about potential deals, booking flights for our deaf entertainers to attend the premiere, talking with Powder and deaf sign language performers from out of town to coordinate rehearsals for premiere, getting deaf motocross rider Ashley Fiolek's new book KICKING UP DIRT in the mail from our partner Harper Collins, proof-reading our fantastic program that our event coordinator Alex Kalognomos wrote for the premiere (I LOVE ALEX - HE IS THE BEST), following up on theaters who are playing our trailer in movie theaters (HOW AWESOME IS THAT?), thanking Marc Bovee from Universal Studios on a daily basis for opening up doors for us right and left, thanking my kick-ass team Sheila Dvorak and Nathan Crocker for cramming into my small studio and doing the work of a major studio, wishing Brian Cole, Renee Ross and Barbara Cohen a happy birthday, sending my sister a quick email about another Hilari with my spelling finding me on Facebook, feeling southern and cooked some black eyed peas and collard greens for lunch, getting our CD sampler ready for the premiere, lining up volunteers for our run at the Laemmle and in NYC, finding a place to stay for a month in NYC in April, writing my boot camp instructor Bernardo to see if his new company Fit Food can be a sponsor of our VIP reception, talking with our post house to coordinate putting the music video onto our DVD for screenings (THANK YOU, MATT RADECKI, GOD OF KNOWLEDGE OF ALL THINGS TECHNICAL), following up for more VIP's to RSVP (no word from a very silent Marlee Matlin yet, which is odd since her Twitter is all about making noise for captions), watching our music video hit 4,600 views the first week it is up, feeling elated that the first female director just won an Oscar last night, and trying to figure out what to wear for the premiere. And I still feel guilty that I didn't hit the gym today.
Tomorrow I go to look at projectors, have an interview with Venice Magazine, have a technical run through at the Egyptian, see if my friend Paul Lucas is back from Australia buzzing through Los Angeles, seeing if NAD can come on board as a community partner and following up with Harper Collins about our book.
Let me know what you want to hear about and I will be happy to blog about it in my next entry. Until then, I'm going to bed.
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