Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Key Grip Goes New York

For loyal readers who may have missed it -- all five of you? -- this past weekend I was asked to report from Gainesville's four-day experimental film festial, FLEXFest, for And I am here to tell you that the experience of writing 1,000-or-so words about a ninety-nine hour, sixty-five-title, juried film festival, was not only deeply gratifying, not only fully immersing, it may well end up being one of those milepost moments in a person's life. Certainly it is fair to say that I have not yet recovered my day-to-day equilibrium, and might not for some time.

It began with my recent decision to transition some of my film-review efforts to YouTube, and thence to credit the locally owned and suitably smart video rental store here in town, Video Rodeo. Since the store also has a Facebook page, posting copies of the reviews there seemed a logical way of introducing my love of good movies, my desire to support the business, and my appetite for listening to myself talk, all at once. What I hadn't fully appreciated was that the store's founder and proprietor, Roger Beebe, is also the eleven-year director of FLEXFest -- and that in such capacity he would shortly be contacted by Cinespect for ideas about who in the local area might be interested in scrawling a few words about the festival. Beebe graciously ignored my proclivity for, as someone recently put it, "structures so deep they'd give Noam Chomsky wet-dreams," and passed-along my name. After which I quickly became the dog that chases cars, and had just caught one.

To this point even the idea of attending all ten events of such a gathering would have stretched the limits of my capacity for digesting clever sensory input and keeping it all straight inside my fractious head. There would then of course be the question of a passably-done composition about the thing, turned in on short deadline. And by short, you understand, I mean significantly fewer than twenty-four hours.

But a funny thing happened on the way to being completely overwhelmed by the breadth of such a task: Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt enthralled -- exhilarated, even -- to an extent that had not been my privilege since attending a writers' workshop in New Smyrna Beach eleven years ago. I'd gone in expecting the one-word takeaway to be "unmanageable" and come out with something more akin to "liberating." The act of getting up Tuesday morning and confronting an un-graded pile of economics tests was nothing short of surreal: it was as if I'd been away from my normal self, not for four days but four years.

I'll leave the actual reporting on the event to the Cinespect article; since they've been gracious enough to take a chance on me, I'm not here going to undercut their readership by paraphrasing what I saw in, or how I reacted to the jurors, the venues, the individual films. But the long and the short of the matter is that disappearing into an unlit warehouse for four days, absorbing everything that some of the quickest-witted filmmakers in the world are up to, and putting something together about it that would be legible and only thirty- or forty-percent overweight vs. the requested word-length, will stand near the pinnacle of my list of memorable experiences for a long, long time. It's been years since I've been surrounded by so much excellence in such a creatively stimulating genre, or felt so included in it by my unfailingly gracious hosts. It could be years 'til I feel such things again.

And that, I guess, is the point of my column this morning: When such experiences grace our lives, they forgive a little bit of self-celebration (I hope), but they also deserve a moment's pause. Whatever I end up doing this weekend, or the next, or the one after that, it won't be anything nearly as special as the project I've just shared a tiny little role in and from which I've taken so much satisfaction. People often comment on how rarely we see the grand and fulfilling high-points of our existences as they are happening, how we can only really appreciate them long after the fact. Well, I see this one; I see this one for exactly what it is. And I couldn't be more grateful, for the having of it, or the seeing, either one.

Dave O'Gorman
("The Key Grip")
Gainesville, Florida


Unknown said...

The very elixir of life, as Chopin put it.

shred said...

This column was an example of your excellent work, but the actual reviews were breathtaking for the reader as well. Thanks.