Last week editor Greg Snider and I attended the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana where The Winding Stream was shown as a work-in-progress. Though we are not exactly where we’d like to be in our process (which is to say, done), it was gratifying to show the film excerpts to an enthusiastic crowd at the venerable Wilma Theater. It was also a pleasure to have the clips followed by the music of Cold Hard Cash, a great trio nailing down the Johnny Cash tunes to everyone’s delight. Good to have a celebration every once in a while. Greg and I needed it, I think.
But the festival was also worthwhile because it gave Greg and I the chance to connect with other filmmakers – something that doesn’t always happen when you’re hunkered down trying to finish your own work. There’s nothing quite like the support and encouragement of your peers when you’re in the throes of post-production. I think we all recognize that no one quite understands where you’re at unless they’ve been there themselves. That solidarity was evident at the various film gatherings, at a workshop I gave at the Missoula Art Museum on the trials and tribulations of making music documentaries, and most notably at the Industry Pitch Session at University of Montana. There, a dozen or so of us got up one by one in front of something that felt vaguely like a firing squad while we showed clips from our films and explained to distributors, broadcasters and programmers why our projects deserved to be funded. Heavyweights were in attendance and pointed questions were asked. The other filmmakers silently rooted for one another. I felt good about what I was able to do there – the pitch went smoothly, the work seemed well-received, I even got in a joke. It remains to be seen if decision-makers feel the same.
In the meantime, we proceed on, as Lewis and Clark would have said traveling through Montana. Sure was nice to be in such a beautiful state. Nice enough to inspire a Carter song.