Readers, does it seem a little chilly to you? Feeling a nip in the air even though it's the middle of summer? Perhaps you wander to your calendar and find, to your great perplexity, that today simply is not on it. Is there a gap in the time-space continuum? So very odd. Well, wrinkle your brow no further; I'm here to clear up the mystery. Everything seems a bit askew because HELL HATH FROZEN OVER AND IT'S THE TWELFTH OF NEVER.
That's right, dear Readers. Don't make me yell it (because heaven help me, I will, and many times, with increasing volume:)
OUR 48 HOUR FILM PROJECT MOVIE, THE CASE OF THE WILD HARE, WON THE AUDIENCE AWARD!
And not by a hair, Readers. (Hair! I crack myself up.) By a freakin' landslide. There were 400 people voting, and we had like 40 votes more than the second-place finishers.
But let me tell the tale in a more luxurious fashion, as I am wont to do. There were 52 teams entered in the San Diego competition this year. Five were disappeared. Seven more were disqualified for lateness. But every movie that is submitted receives a screening (there are four) at the UltraStar Cinemas and is eligible for the Audience Award, or popular vote, conducted by an exit ballot. Everyone may vote three times, which makes it more fair if one team invites 50 people, for instance. Though the cinematography and acting awards will be pending for some time, the Audience Award is tallied right after each screening.
A big shout-out to Robyn (Hi, Robyn!) for her tireless promotion this year. She and her boyfriend, Steve, created a "vintage" '40s poster we were permitted to display outside the theater. She also made mini-posters, and ballots featuring photos of each cast member, with the question "Guess Whodunnit?" about the fate of our giant bunny. (David designed a DVD of our movie as a prize, but we, um, got distracted and still have it.)
Before the show, most of the cast and crew trolled the crowd, handing out cards and ballots, and best of all, Eva reprised her role as the giant bunny, sweating mightily and nearly blind under all that fur, but making a visual impression the impact of which we may never truly know. At one point, she begged me to let her take it off, but I'm a cruel taskmistress and said no. (We freed her before the films started.)
Robyn also created gorgeous t-shirts for us, with the poster on the front. For the three writers (Robyn, me and Calvin), she included "I'm not married to it." on the back, which became our catch phrase because so many people asked us to cut lines (and sometimes we wanted to chop each others') that the weekend became an exercise in playing nice and sharing with others.
The theater was nearly full, and our film was second to last, so we had a nail-biting wait. It was especially torturous because so few of the films in our group were comedies--lots of horror, fight scenes, and tense drama with scary music. Don't get me wrong--most of them were very well-made; in fact, David (who's in a position to know since his company does the transfers for the screenings) said he's never seen such a uniformly competent group of films. But the laughs were few and far between, and I was in agony waiting for ours.
When it was finally time, people were ripe for some laughs. The bunny emerging from the purse was the first big one. Thrillingly, the laughter kept building, so towards the end they were laughing almost constantly. I sat back and marveled at how gorgeous the lighting and angles were, how masterful the acting, how effective the costumes, how atmospheric the music, how clever the editing, and--wow--how brilliant the dialogue. Who wrote that script? So smart and hilarious, really capturing the stylized flavor of the period and genre. I mean, wow--I was just speechless. I'll stop now.
Afterward, I went to the front of the theater for the Q&A, but there wasn't much Q and I think I got a bit cheated on my A, being at the front of the line and wanting to mind my manners. Never mind--I was just up there to look pretty, I mean, to represent the Cane Toads.
On the way out of the theater, I dropped my ballot in the box, and I could see the two on top had voted for us. Wow. That was like a punch in the stomach, but in a good way. A little voice in my head whispered, "Could it be true? Do they like us, do they really like us?" But I couldn't let myself continue. My people don't do that--it would be unseemly to be optimistic about anything.
We walked next door to the DoubleTree Hotel, where there was a reception for our screening group. Almost everyone from our team was there (though Tyler--sniff--had returned to Seattle on Tuesday. For some reason he thought it was relevant that he, like, LIVES there, and has, like, work or whatever) and we made a big, jolly crowd in one corner. I was perfectly content to laugh and play with our peeps, reliving the best moments of the screening and the overall experience, and believe me when I say I had completely forgotten that we were waiting for a very significant piece of news.
Right. Completely forgotten. So, when, Duane the Organizer entered the room holding some envelopes, it definitely wasn't me who screamed like a bunny (which, if you've never heard a bunny scream, sounds weirdly like a woman.) Without fanfare, he announced the third place winner (that one surprised us a bit) then the second (which I voted for--a sort of super-hero gang/martial arts fest that was really quite funny) and right after that my last thought was "The superhero one came in SECOND? Does that mean we could..." and then Duane was saying something else and I couldn't hear and I said to Lisa, "What did he say?" and she said, "Wild Hare?" and then I heard Duane repeat, louder, "Wild Hare! The Case of the Wild Hare!" and then the rest is fuzzy because I was screaming so loud I almost passed out. We were all jumping up and down and hugging each other and it was like winning an Oscar.
With my heart pounding, I kept yelling "Six years! Six years!" because I honestly thought we'd never see the day, and you have to believe me when I say that when people ask me which award I've most wanted to win, the Audience Award is it. That's when you know you're The People's Princess. You've captured the hearts of the nation. What could be better that that? Not some cinematography citation, if you ask me.
Everyone was lovely. There was some hand-shaking with the competition, and congratulations and protests of "No, it wasn't me, it was YOU" all around. All of it heartfelt and sincerely meant (at least on my end.) We got a certificate. And I took a moment to admire the radiant faces of my fellow team members before a shadow crossed the sun and I suddenly wanted to pat everyone's shoulder and say "Awww. You're getting the idea that you enter the 48 Hour Film Project and fame and glory follows, aren't you? That couldn't be more deluded." I did sort of say it, but not very loud.
And I shouldn't have said it at all. For one night, a girl can dream, can't she? And so can everyone else. We made a movie. It was fun. It was good. The people liked it. And then we won. THE END.
After David drove me back to my car, I wanted to savor this moment, all by myself. Do you ever feel that way? I had celebrated with loved ones, and now I wanted to just bask in the glow, not let the night end. I was also starving, since dinner had been sort of unsatisfying (another story.) I let David head home to pay our babysitter, and I drove to In n Out Burger, where I haven't been in years. That line is always a commitment, but I cranked up the radio and started texting everyone I could think of (texting, where have you been all my life?) Finally, I was on the road, singing at the top of my lungs between bites of a burger that tasted like it'd been airlifted from Mount Olympus, and smiling from ear to ear like a total dork. It was about 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday night, the roads were deserted, and I was alive and awake and deliriously happy, thinking: Right now, Samantha. This is it. One of those times.
Don't you love that?